Give thanks for the Bay Area film calendar, which is as packed as that of any city outside of New York or Paris. But there's no possible way a movie lover can catch all the festivals, retrospectives, one-off revivals, filmmaker visits and worthwhile new releases brightening our screens every month. As a public service of sorts, the following is a quick-hit fistful of movie-going highlights in the upcoming weeks.
The San Francisco Film Society's third annual spotlight on local filmmakers, Cinema by the Bay (Nov. 3-6), covers the waterfront from personal narrative filmmaking (Joshua Moore's moody, ambiguous character study, I Think It's Raining) to vintage experimental shorts (Essential SF: Canyon Cinema) to a live music-silent film event (The Bat with acoustic guitar accompaniment by Ava Mendoza).
The Price of Sex
Special mention goes to photojournalist and UC Berkeley professor Mimi Chakarova's unrelenting investigation into the trafficking of Eastern European women, The Price of Sex. (The East Bay filmmaker also screens her gutsy documentary Saturday, Nov. 26 at Other Cinema (at Artists Television Access in the Mission). For more information visit sffs.org.
Longtime Roxie programmer Elliot Lavine returns to the screen of the crime with Not Necessarily Noir II (Nov. 4-8), his latest excavation of post-noir tales of obsessive love, doomed characters and laughing chance. A certified highlight is Brainstorm (1965), William Conrad's brick-by-brick unraveling of a brainy, otherwise rational analyst (Jeffrey Hunter of The Searchers) who falls for the suicidal wife (Anne Francis at her most fetching) of the controlling, Howard Hughes-ish magnate (Dana Andrews) who owns the company. If it's camp you crave, don't miss the Ed Wood, Jr. triple feature of Jail Bait, Glen or Glenda? and Plan 9 From Outer Space (Tuesday, Nov. 8). For more information visit roxie.com.
Eddie Muller, who knows a thing or three about noir himself, dives into the deep end of the Castro pool with actor-director Thomas Jane (Hung) on Friday, Nov. 18. The macho duo square off onstage following a rare screening of Dark Country (2009), Jane's atmospheric 3-D yarn about a honeymooning couple whose fun abruptly ends when they run into a man in the Nevada desert. For more information visit castrotheatre.com
The Man With the Movie Camera
If field trips can be arranged, I encourage Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland to send rotating groups to Kino-Eye: The Revolutionary Cinema of Dziga Vertov, screening through Nov. 29 at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. The brilliant Soviet film pioneer was convinced that the young medium of movies could be a tool for people building a new Utopia. Not all movies, mind you, for Vertov derided conventional narratives as "the vodka of the masses." Montage was the sledgehammer he employed to destroy bourgeois ideas, and the paintbrush he used to plant fresh ideals. For more information, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu.
Bring on the Lumiere!
Let's go back even further in time to the Lumiere brothers, the French duo who, desiring to promote and sell their groundbreaking, turn-of-the-20th-century movie cameras, created the first films and the original theaters. The mustard's been cut ever since, as some hard-boiled wit once said about something else. In Bring On the Lumiere!, director/choreographer Catherine Galasso and lighting designer Elaine Buckholtz combine dance, video and evocative illusion in an homage to the permanent influence and temporal nature of moving images. Performances take place at the ODC Theater in San Francisco Nov. 11-13. For more information visit odcdance.org.