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.
Friday, Sept. 30, 7-10pm
Alhambra Theater / Crunch Gym
2330 Polk St, San Francisco
No evidence remains, other than old photographs, of the Fox Theatre and the other movie palaces whose grand marquees lit up Market Street for much of the 20th century. But we can still take some physical-world pleasure in another shuttered theater, the Alhambra.
The handiwork of architect Timothy Pflueger, who designed the Castro Theater a few years earlier, the Polk St. landmark turns 90 on Nov. 5. It’s hard to say who’ll mark the occasion with a cake, as the building has housed a Crunch Gym for several years. However, you can pay your respects on Friday night, Sept. 30, when the doors open to the public (beyond the usual mix of patrons and employees) for the unveiling of local filmmakers and artists Lynn Marie Kirby and Christoph Steger’s The Alhambra Project.
Unfolding in and around Pflueger’s Moor-inspired monument, the evening encompasses moving-image installations, the poetry of Lebanese American Etel Adnan, a participatory reenactment of movement in Hollywood movies (including, we hope, George Raft’s coin flips along with Fred Astaire’s tap dancing), oral histories and a tour of Russian Hill. The complex thematic underpinning of Kirby and Steger’s labor-intensive urban chronicle can be summed up in three words: The Alhambra lives!
It’s never made sense to me why surfers are attracted to surfing films. Watching someone else’s adrenaline rush is a poor substitute for enjoying your own, right? Then I realize that I’m overlooking the basic appeal of nearly all movies, namely enjoying the vicarious pleasure of someone else’s experience from the safety of my aisle seat.
Aimed at climbing aficionados but a certified thrillfest for more sedentary types, the touring program Reel Rock 11 brings together five films that take us to dizzying heights with a wide variety of bootstrapping, gravity-defying, sky-sniffing rockhoppers. Reel Rock 11 plays Thursday and Friday evenings, Sept. 29 and 30 at the Castro.