A Skateboarder And An Average Man

The Castro Theatre offers two intriguing presentations about a skateboarder (well, quite a few skateboarders) and an average man in the coming week. One is a screening of a King Vidor classic of silent film with live organ accompaniment. The other goes globe-trotting with several skateboarders trying to test the limits of what can be done on a skateboard and the wild results are captured in glorious 4K.

For those who want something a bit more visceral, there’s a documentary about a pioneering UK punk band. Alternately, the two entries in this week’s Hardcore Cronenberg film series take viewers to the limits of violence and schizophrenia.

The Crowd

King Vidor’s classic silent film captures the struggles of average man John Sims to make it with his wife Mary in the big city. However, such conditions as cramped living quarters, a boring white collar job, and the many unnamed others simiarly trapped like John soon undercut his dreams. Vidor’s visually striking film was influenced by work by F.W. Murnau and other 1920s German filmmakers.

Screens August 30 at the Castro Theatre with live Wurlitzer accompaniment by Bruce Loeb

The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead

The Damned was the first U.K. punk band to both make a record and try bringing their sound to America. Yet these punk pioneers still remain unknown today. Documentarian Wes Orshoski sets out to correct the record with this history of the band’s changing fortunes, including solo careers and bouts with cancer. Interviews with such luminaries as Chrissie Hynde and members of Guns ‘n Roses and The Buzzcocks and footage of their highly fractious 35th anniversary world tour spice up the film.

Screens August 29 at the Roxie Theatre

A History Of Violence

Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello head up David Cronenberg’s visceral adaptation of a graphic novel by Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and Vince Locke. Small-town diner owner Tom Stall (Mortensen) accidentally becomes a national media hero after stopping a vicious armed robbery attempt in his diner. Stall’s hopes of returning to an uneventful life with his lawyer wife Edie (Bello) and his family fall through when the arrival of the mysterious Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) raises uncomfortable questions about Stall’s past and identity.

Screens September 3 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Imba Means Sing

This documentary screening is part of a fundraiser for the Oakland Youth Chorus. The film’s principal subject is Moses, a drummer for the Grammy nominated African Children’s Choir. Moses’ family is so poor that they cannot afford even a first grade education for the boy. Working with the Choir offers Moses and fellow members Angel and Nina their one chance to change their lives for the better.

Screens August 30 at the New Parkway Theater. The Oakland Youth Choir and the director of “Imba” will appear at the event.

I Wake Up Dreaming: David Goodis Double Feature

This week’s double feature of rare noir adapts two novels by noir master David Goodis. Nightfall concerns an innocent man pursued from Los Angeles to Wyoming by those who believe he knows the whereabouts of a fortune in stolen loot. Directed by Jacques Tourneur (Out Of The Past) and script by Stirling Silliphant. The Burglar is a tale of an aging thief, a mysterious young woman, and some desperate crooks whose alliance to rip off a fake spiritualist goes seriously south. The visual style of this film, according to the program notes, would have fit in very well with the then-blossoming French New Wave.

Screens September 3 at the Castro Theatre

Jerry Ross Barrish: Two Films

The Smith Rafael Film Center presents two films associated with San Francisco bailbondsman turned plastic sculptor Jerry Ross Barrish. Plastic Man: The Artful Life Of Jerry Ross Barrish traces Barrish’s colorful life, which includes being bailbondsman for 1960s radicals and filmmaking. But when Barrish takes an interest in sculpting with scavenged plastic, he’s caught between finding his muse and obtaining public recognition. Shuttlecock, one of Barrish’s three feature films, concerns painter Mona and her fascination with her new neighbors stand-up comedian Jack (Will Durst) and exotic dancer Cristie. When Mona and Jack start an affair, the repercussions of their secret relationship plays out in their art.

Both films screen at the Smith Rafael Film Center on August 30. “Plastic Man” screens at 4:15 PM. “Shuttlecock” screens at 7 PM. Barrish appears in person at both screenings.

Last Angel Of History

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Maggot Brains film series concludes with this little-seen 1997 documentary from John Akomfrah. It discusses the links among “Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and computer technology” as a way of looking at forced displacement and cultural displacement, among other subjects. Interviewees include such figures as DJ Spooky, George Clinton, and late writer Octavia Butler.

Screens August 29 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey Of Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw had the potential to have a spectacular professional career in the WNBA. However, her long suppressed struggle with mental illness would endanger her dream of being the female Michael Jordan. When Holdsclaw decides to re-invent herself as a public advocate for mental health reform, she faces a new set of challenges including her own ability to effect a personal mental recovery.

Screens September 1 at the New Parkway Theater. Director Rick Goldsmith will conduct a post-film Q&A.


The Hardcore Cronenberg film series continues at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Patrick Mc Grath’s gothic novel. Spider (Ralph Fiennes) has been released from a mental institution after twenty years to a halfway house for the mentally ill. But rather than continuing his recovery from schizophrenia, he starts emotionally retreating into his personal emotional darkness and a childhood moment that he’s obsessed with.

Screens August 30 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

We Are Blood

Director Ty Evans’ documentary follows Paul Rodriguez and other first-class skateboarders as they travel the world experimenting with the limits of skateboard stunt work and finding cameraderie with fellow skateboarders. State-of-the-art cameras capture the most cutting edge cinematic experience possible. This San Francisco premiere screening will be shown in full 4K ultra HD on the Castro Theatre screen.

Screens September 2 at the Castro Theatre. Theotis Beasley, Jordan Maxham, Boo Johnson, and Chase Webb will appear in person at the screening.

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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