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Film Noir Weekend

The Roxie Theater plays host to two particularly intriguing cinematic events in the coming week. There’s the big ticket event of a series of international film noir from the folks who brought the highly popular The French Had A Name For It French film noir series last year. The other event is an evening devoted to Nicolas Winding Refn.

For those who want to go further afield cinematically speaking, the Pacific Film Archive has some intriguing films in its Georgian cinema film series as well as a Mario Monicelli anti-war comedy that raised the hackles of nationalistic politicians.

The Bittersweet Films Of Mikhail Kobakhidze

This collection of short silent narratives by beloved Georgian filmmaker Mikhail Kobakhidze range in tone from humor to deep sorrow. If you’re a fan of Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, or Norman Mc Laren, make time to check this program out.

Screens March 22 at the Pacific Film Archive

Cracked Actor: David Bowie On Screen Weekend

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ David Bowie film series offers a weekend featuring a trio of Bowie’s most famous screen appearances. In The Hunger (March 19 & 20), Bowie is an ailing centuries-old vampire whose lover (Catherine Deneuve) seduces mortal Susan Sarandon. The Man Who Fell To Earth (March 21) stars Bowie as an alien whose efforts to save his dying planet run afoul of human greed and ruthlessness. In The Prestige (March 22), Bowie took a supporting role in this tale of dueling professional magicians. But his performance as inventor Nikola Tesla was highly praised.

Screens March 19 through 22 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Docunight #13: Before The Revolution

During the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Israelis lived in Tehran in what they believed was an Iranian paradise of wealth and luxury. But this charmed existence was made possible by Israeli arms deals and financial ties to the corrupt dictatorship of the Shah of Iran. When the Shah’s regime started to crumble, the Israelis living in Tehran didn’t realize that a revolution was coming.

Screens March 25 at the Roxie Theater

The Experimental Film Movement In Serbia: Formative Years (1950s – 60s)

As part of a series on Yugoslav avant-garde cinema, the S.F. Cinematheque, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Pacific Film Archive present a collection of experimental narrative short films made in Serbia which questioned the nature of the socialist social system. The filmmakers, which included Dusan Makavejev, wound up creating a movement known in Yugoslavia as the Black Wave.

Screens March 22 at the Pacific Film Archive

The Great War

Part of a retrospective of Mario Monicelli’s satirical comedies, this film will cause any jingoist you know to froth at the mouth. Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, and Silvano Mangano play two reluctant soldiers and a pickpocket who survive World War I’s madness through wit and luck instead of violence. Politicians may have hated Monicelli’s favoring shirkers over nationalistic heroes. But that didn’t stop the film from sharing a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Screens March 20 at the Pacific Film Archive

Little Saints

This documentary follows director Olive Quintanilla and six American men and women on a trip to Mexico to meet Mazatec Shaman Natalia. The shaman will guide these people in a ritual to purify their spirits and help them heal physically and/or psychologically. Since ingesting psilocybe mushrooms is part of the ritual, the documentary also looks at current knowledge regarding psychedelic medicine and Mazatec rituals.

Screens March 24 at the New Parkway Theater

March Mysteries: Night Moves

Arthur Penn directs this classic noir starring Gene Hackman and Melanie Griffith in her first film performance. Hackman plays Harry Moseby, ex-football star turned private eye, who gets hired by an aging film actress to find her runaway teenage stepdaughter Delly (Griffith). However, this simple case soon leads to a lot of bodies piling up.

Screens March 20 at the Mechanics Institute Library

The Nylon Christmas Tree

A New Year’s Eve bus carrying travelers from different social classes provides the setting for an allegorical study of Georgia’s sociopolitical problems. Actor/director Rezo Esadze’s film earned the admiration of legendary director Federico Fellini.

Screens March 21 at the Pacific Film Archive

A Rare Noir Is Good To Find: International Film Noir, 1949-1974

The folks who thrilled Bay Area audiences with their French film noir film series The French Had A Name For It return with a collection of 15 film noirs from such countries as Finland, Mexico, South Korea, and Poland. The directors whose works appear in this series include such names as Robert Bresson, Lee Man-Hui, Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez, and Seijun Suzuki. Among the series’ tales are: a meek man discovers he’s a dead ringer for a notorious crime boss (The Ogre Of Athens); a daring train robbery becomes an indictment of economic inequality (Assault On The Pay Train); and a cold-hearted wife who attempts to make a suicide look like murder (There’s Always A Price Tag). So come check out as many of these amazing films as you can.

Series runs March 19-23 at the Roxie Theater

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn & Only God Forgives

Like Hearts of Darkness, My Life… is a wife’s documentary portrait of her director husband’s making of a very difficult film. In this case, filmmaker Liv Corfixen captures husband Nicolas Winding Refn during the making of his new film Only God Forgives. Refn attempts to remain true to his artistic vision while dealing with audience expectations raised by Refn’s prior film Drive.

Screens March 24 at the Roxie Theater. Corfixen and Refn will participate in a Skype Q&A before the screening of Only God Forgives.

The Way Home

Georgian director Aleksandr Rekhviashvili’s partial tribute to Pasolini is a stylized allegorical journey home. The path in question winds through the poetry of Bella Akhmadulina, Georgian history, and sociopolitical concerns, among other sources.

Screens March 21 at the Pacific Film Archive

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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