February – March 2015
In January 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras was in the process of constructing a film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four,” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes. Poitras is a great and brave filmmaker, but she is also a masterful storyteller: she compresses the many days of questioning, waiting, confirming, watching the world’s reaction and agonizing over the next move, into both a great character study of Snowden and a narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat as it inexorably moves toward its conclusion. CITIZENFOUR is a major work on multiple levels, and a deeply unsettling experience. Directed by Laura Poitras. 2014. USA. 114 min.
“Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a teen grappling with loss in Portland, Oregon”
Youth coming-of-age drama starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Virginia Madsen, Evan Ross, Isabelle Furhman and Danny DeVito. James, an isolated young boy, falls into a world of dark imagination following the disappearance of his father. After visits with his psychiatrist prove unsuccessful, James rebels against his single mother and takes to the streets. He ultimately befriends a mysterious kid who helps him navigate the eccentric city and wrestle with the reality of his own personal wilderness.
Directed by Michael Johnson, 76min., 2014, U.S.A.
دختر در شب قدمزنان به خانه میرود
Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps, and other sordid souls, is a place that reeks of death and hopelessness, where a lonely vampire is stalking the towns’ most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom…blood red.
The first Iranian Vampire Western, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno and Morricone-inspired riffs, its airy, anamorphic, black-and-white aesthetic and artfully drawn- out scenes combine the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the weird surrealism of David Lynch.
Directed by ANA LILY AMIRPOUR, 2014 / 99 minutes / Color / in Farsi with English subtitles
Director Nemanja Bala IN PERSON for a Q&A after the show!
“one of the most refreshing New York independent features since Ramin Bahrani’s “Man Push Cart.”
-The New York Times
In the 1990’s, singer-songwriter Milan Mumin, the lead singer of the seminal Serbian rock band, Love Hunters, electrified and gave voice to a generation of Serbs fighting an oppressive regime. Now, after ten years, we find Milan in New York City, driving a taxi (long shifts and loopy fares), cobbling together funds for a recording session of his dream album—to be recorded and released in America. When his bass guitar player suddenly quits, he finds a talented but prickly replacement, and a romantic spark, in a free-spirited guitarist named Kim. Just as rehearsals start picking up steam, Milan’s longtime Serbian girlfriend Lela arrives with very different plans for their future—she wants him to come home to Serbia where his reputation will let him be anything he wants—but Milan is determined to make his recording—in America, at any cost.
Language/Subtitles: English and Serbian with English subtitles
Directed by Nemanja Bala, Brane Bala, 86min., U.S.A., 2014
A Unique Weekend-long tribute to the internationally known Spanish filmmaker who simultaneously launched the film careers of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Curated by Bigas Luna’s daughter, Betty Bigas.
Contrary to what was printed in the Sunday Chronicle: Peter Coyote will not be in attendance.
March 6, 7:00pm Jamon Jamón “Ham, Ham”
A modern classic of Spanish cinema starring Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà and, in her debut film, Penélope Cruz, Jamón Jamón is seared into cinema history as much for its image of Cruz taking shelter from a storm under a testicle she has ripped from a giant billboard bull, as for rival lovers Bardem and Mollà squaring off, each armed with legs cured ham. An allegory for Spain itself, Luna engages in intricate word play while rhapsodically juxtaposing the new and the old and food and erotic desire. Staring: Penélope Cruz, Stefania Sandrelli, Anna Galiena, Javier Bardem / Directed by Bigas Luna, 95min., 1992, Spain
March 7, 7:00pm Huevos de Oro “Golden Balls”
Benito González works construction in Melilla and dreams big – of building the tallest building in Benidorm, a great phallic symbol of power, González Towers. Over several years, we see Benito’s rise and fall, much like the construction of his tower. Through force of personality, he puts the financing together, taking advantage of women who love him – Claudia, a model who wants to be a star, and Marta, the US educated daughter of a banker whose loan Beni- to needs. Can his force of personality – his huevos de oro – compensate for shoddy building materials, no permits, and undercapitalization? Nature may have her own power and surprises in store for Benito. Staring: Javier Bardem, Maria de Medeiros, Maribel Verdú, Benicio Del Toro / Directed by Bigas Luna, 95mins, Spain, 1993.
March 7, 9:30pm La Teta y la Luna “The Tit and the Moon”
Beautiful, playful, innocent, funny, endearing. Nine-year-old Tete (Duran) has a problem any older brother can relate to; the family’s new arrival has replaced him at his mother’s breast. He must invoke the moon for a new tit to call his own. Cue the entrance of Estrellita, an imposing Gallic cabaret performer. However, adolescent Miquel already has his eyes on Estrellita, while the lady herself seems sweet on her stage partner, Maurice, never mind his impotence. The director sets up symbolic oppositions between the relative youth and sexual experience of the various males, and even the French, Spanish and Catalan speaking participants in the drama – the whole affair being unified by the image of the breast suckling one and all. It is a paean to a Mediterranean culture. Staring: Biel Duran, Mathilda May, Gérard Darmon, Javier Bardem / Directed by Bigas Luna, 90min., Spain, 1994
March 8, 7:00pm Angustia “Anguish”
After being hypnotized by his bizarre mother, a man goes on a brutal killing spree complete with telepathic commands from mom to carve the eyeballs from his victims. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, comes the most shocking twist imaginable.
Zelda Rubinstein (POLTERGEIST, SOUTHLAND TALES) and Oscar nominee Michael Lerner (BARTON FINK, MANIAC COP 2) star in one of the most acclaimed and unconventional horror films of the ‘80s. You won’t believe your eyes as controversial Spanish writer/director Bigas Luna, known primarily for his ‘art house films’ like JAMON, JAMON, creates an otherworldly twist of reality in the William Castle tradition. Staring: Zelda Rubinstein, Michael Lerner, Talia Paul / Directed by Bigas Luna, 89min., Spain, 1987.
*All titles are Original Spanish version with English subtitles.
Special Thanks to:
Dark Comedy/Suspense starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Leland Orser, Chris Ellis, Beth Grant, Lance Reddick and Jon Gries. Claire (Winstead) is under the grip of a mysterious new cult called Faults. Desperate to be reunited with their daughter, Claire’s parents hire Ansel Roth (Orser), one of the world’s foremost authorities on cults and mind control, to kidnap and deprogram their daughter.
Directed by Riley Stearns, 89min., 2014, U.S.A.
Back in the day, we’re talking way back in the 1990’s, MTV was the shiznit whether you were rollin’ with the homies, tubthumping, or just jumping around. We’ll turn the Roxie sound system up for the fly music videos the 90s made famous, because whether they were the soundtrack to your highschool or your college jam, you know you still know all the lyrics! (But don’t worry, we’ll be running the words on screen just in case.)
And you can win tickets to RIGHT?!?! on March 28 (The Cat Club’s monthly 90s dance party).
The show is 21up. Doors open at 9:30pm.
“Potrykus has fashioned a vigorous and strangely compelling character study, a sustained burst of punk-rock ferocity, and one of the most original American films to emerge in some time.”
-Calum Marsh, Village Voice
Marty is a caustic, small-time con artist drifting from one scam to the next. When his latest ruse goes awry, mounting paranoia forces him from his lousy small town temp job to the desolate streets of Detroit with nothing more than a pocket full of bogus checks, a dangerously altered Nintendo® Power Glove, and a bad temper. Albert Camus meets Freddy Krueger in BUZZARD, a hellish and hilarious riff on the struggles of the American working class.
Directed by Joel Potrykus, 97min., 2014, U.S.A.
Nippon Nights is a monthly series presenting different genres, styles and generations of Japanese Cinema to Bay Area audiences.
Join us for a discussion with Mr. Aaron Kerner (San Francisco State University Cinema Department Associate Professor) after the screening to discuss the world of Seijun Suzuki
“Reputedly one of Seijun Suzuki’s finest works and unquestionably very stylish in its ‘Scope framings (Jim Jarmusch copied a few shots from it in his Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai)”
-Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
A hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, putting him into conflict with his treacherous wife, with a mysterious woman eager for death, and with the phantom-like hit-man known only as Number One.
Directed by Seijun Suzuki, 91min, 1967, Japan
Branded to Kill review – genuinely bizarre Japanese thriller
Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill is a very 1960s metaphysical thriller, a cult item treasured by connoisseurs as the kind of film that – for all its delirious craziness – could even be a truer product of Japan than the higher artefacts of Ozu and Kurosawa. It is an erotic and dreamlike pulp noir, and its disdain for any sort of conventional plot infuriated the director’s employers at the Nikkatsu studio. Jô Shishido is Hanada, a hired killer with a sexual fetish for the smell of boiled rice; a bungled job brings him into mysterious contact with Misako (Anne Mari), a woman who hires him for three hits. He becomes obsessed with her, and finds himself in a duel with the legendary top killer, the No 1 (Kôji Nanbara). The obvious comparisons are with Melville’s Le Samouraï or Godard’s Pierrot le Fou – this film holds up against these perfectly well – with hints of John Boorman’s Point Blank and Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. It is, however, closer to Luis Buñuel in its gleefully disquieting insistence on sudden horrific closeups: the glass eye removed from the skull, the bullet hole, the bleeding head in the toilet bowl. Where Godard had his jump-cut, Suzuki has his disorientating ellipses, his sudden dreamlike time-slips. Genuinely fascinating and bizarre.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Nippon Nights Program is Endorsed by Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco & Japan Foundation
The author of more than twenty books including biographies of David O. Selznick, Orson Welles, and his indispensible, New Biographical Dictionary of Film, Mr. Thomson comes to us on the eve of the publication of his latest work, Why Acting Matters, wherein he considers acting’s place on stage and screen and in everyday life.
Schedule:Wednesday, March 11
6:00pm: BOOK SIGNING RECEPTION ($15)
7:00pm: David Thomson Discussion & Film ($10)
9:40pm: David Thomson Q&A
To be published February 17 by Yale University Press, Why Acting Matters probes deeply into this most elusive of subjects, examining the allure of the performing arts for both artist and audience while addressing the many paradoxes inherent in acting itself. Tonight Mr. Thomson will discuss among other things, EXACTLY why acting matters and why he has chosen to show you THE MISSOURI BREAKS before introducing Arthur Penn’s 1976 film starring Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest & Harry Dean Stanton, to be projected on 35mm.
After the film, Mr. Thomson will take questions from the audience. Of course copies of the hotly anticipated book, Why Acting Matters, will be available for purchase, and David Thomson will be there in person to sign those books at a Beer & Wine reception for the author at 6:00pm.
Film: THE MISSOURI BREAKS
Directed by Arthur Penn. Written by Thomas McGuane & (uncredited) Robert Towne. With Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest & Harry Dean Stanton. 1976. 35mm. 126 mins.