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.
A Fuller Life
Roxie Theater, San Francisco and Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael
A reporter, screenwriter and pulp novelist until 1941, Army Corporal Sam Fuller landed at Normandy and shot 16mm film of the liberation of the concentration camp at Faulkenau. You think he came back and made romantic comedies? Nah, he wrote and directed take-no-prisoners movies like Shock Corridor and Pick Up on South Street.
Need any more incentive? Christa Lang-Fuller, the man’s muse and collaborator and Samantha’s mom, shares the stage. And if you want another reason to celebrate, Sept. 24 is Art House Theater Day.
Hong Kong Cinema
Embarcadero Center Cinemas, San Francisco
Savvy filmgoers figured out years ago that there was more cinematic energy coming out of Hong Kong than Hollywood. The SF Film Society’s annual survey of new work and revered masters encompasses a murder mystery (Kill Time), a poignant drama of Taiwanese sisters separated as children (Murmur of the Hearts), a baseball underdog tale (Weeds On Fire) and a Johnnie To action blowout (Three). Hong Kong Cinema honors Stanley Kwan with an opening night revival of his epic 1991 drama Center Stage, starring peak-strength Maggie Cheung as Chinese silent film star Ruan Ling-yu.
Another week where you have to be caffeinated to the max to catch everything worthwhile. A new documentary about the Swiss-born photographer and filmmaker, Robert Frank: Don’t Blink, plays Yerba Buena Center For the Arts Sept. 22-25 (with a bonus show of a couple of his vintage films).
Local filmmaker Robert Arnold is at the Roxie Sept. 22 with The Exchange, the new indie feature he made with Cynthia Mitchell and Rachel Krief inspired by those smart, talky French relationship movies that give philosophy a good name.
You must have heard that the late, great Anna Magnani haunts the Castro Sept. 24 in four (count ‘em, four!) marvelous films before segueing to BAMPFA in Berkeley the next day for an even more immersive retrospective. They don’t make them like that anymore, that’s for sure.