Close the laptop, drop that tablet, pause the smartphone and join your fellow humans in Bay Area theaters this week with recommendations from our film critic Michael Fox.
How to apportion the last movie-going hours of summer? Seeking out Hollywood hits that slipped by, like The Secret Life of Pets, or August dregs such as Ben-Hur? Slipping into the mood for fall’s serious dramas by catching thoughtful films like Indignation, Little Men or A Tale of Love and Darkness that are lingering at the art houses? Or disdaining new releases altogether, and disappearing into past masterpieces whose insights into human behavior and nature, remarkably, are as piercing and poignant as the day they debuted?
If that last option has the most allure, you must set your GPS this week for the Pacific Film Archive. The riches alternate between the sublimely intimate -- Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring on Thursday, Sept. 1 and Tokyo Story on Saturday, Sept. 3 -- and the sublimely epic -- Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on Friday, Sept. 2 and A Fistful of Dollars on Sunday, Sept. 4. If you crave something lighter, Max Ophuls’ elegant and unapologetically adult 1950 adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s play, La Ronde (Saturday, Sept. 3), portrays the convergence of infatuation and sex (and, it must be noted, venereal disease) with smarts and style to burn.