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Bad Brains And A Fat Wreck

Punk music and lesser known works from cinematic masters highlight this week of special film screenings. On the punk side, there are documentaries on seminal punk/reggae fusion group Bad Brains and the independent label Fat Wreck Chords. Veteran directors are represented by rarities: David Cronenberg fools around with virtual reality; Satoshi Kon details a decades-long search for a missing man through movies; and Stanley Kubrick shows the violent consequences of a boxer’s act of chivalry. The week’s prize for most obscure offering, though, belongs to the retrospective of the films of Jerry Ross Barrish. The well known local bailbondsman was also a filmmaker, and inquisitive audience members will have a chance to see both Barrish and his films.

Abbas Kiarostami: A Report

Iranian film critic Bahman Maghsoudlou’s first feature-length documentary examines the career of acclaimed Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami. Repeated themes and stylistics from Kiarostami’s early shorts to his more recent films are examined, with special attention given to Kiarostami’s first feature film The Report. There are also interviews and commentary with people ranging from Academy Award-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo to late film critic Andrew Sarris.

Abbas Kiarostami

Screens August 26 at the Roxie Theatre

Bad Brains: A Band In DC

Mandy Stein and Ben Logan’s documentary traces the history of Bad Brains, the path-breaking band which melded together punk and reggae. The band’s influence is reflected in the work of such later bands as The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and Jane’s Addiction. Yet despite being together for 30 years and having an eccentric frontman, Bad Brains has never achieved the commercial success that it’s been due. The fact that Bad Brains is an all-black group couldn’t have anything to do with that, could it?

Screens August 22 at the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts

eXistenZ

David Cronenberg’s virtual reality-set story is either a mash-up of Cronenberg’s favorite themes or an underappreciated gem, depending on your point of view. Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as video game designer Allegra Geller, whose rollout of her new virtual-reality game eXistenZ gets interrupted by a crazed fan’s assassination attempt. Geller winds up going on the run with businessman Ted (Jude Law). To save eXistenZ, Ted winds up having a damaged copy of the game uploaded into him. That’s when things start getting truly reality-mangling.

Screens August 23 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

A Fat Wreck: The Punk-u-mentary (The Story Of Fat Wreck Chords)

Shaun Colon’s feature-length documentary traces the history of the early years of the 100% independent punk rock record label Fat Wreck Chords. The film goes from its founding by Fat Mike and then wife Erin Burkett through looks at Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, Strung Out, and other successful bands who defined the label.

Screens August 22 at the Roxie Theatre. Advance tickets are sold out, but it couldn’t hurt to see if Rush tickets are available.

Jerry Ross Barrish: A Retrospective

In conjunction with the screening of the documentary Plastic Man: The Artful Life Of Jerry Ross Barrish, the Roxie Theatre is presenting a one-day retrospective of Barrish’s three feature films and assorted short films. The retrospective includes Recent Sorrows (two men whose love affairs have recently ended meet in a cafe in bizarre circumstances, and murder follows), Dan’s Motel (a trio of short narratives all taking place in a cheap rundown motel which provides its hard-luck guests a haven from the world), and Shuttlecock (a Pacifica-set drama involving relationship problems between two neighboring households: one consisting of a successful comedian (Will Durst) and his erotic dancer girlfriend, the other consisting of a German chanteuse and an artist rebounding from a failed love affair).

Screens August 23 at the Roxie Theatre. Barrish will appear in person for an on-stage interview with Peter Moore.

Killer’s Kiss Noir Triple Feature

As part of the I Wake Up Dreaming 2015 film series, this program offers a trio of noir rarities. Killer’s Kiss, from director Stanley Kubrick, follows the violent consequences of a boxer’s intervention into a slimy man’s violent assault on his B girl lover. Witness To Murder stars Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who witnesses another woman’s fatal nighttime strangulation, yet can’t get anybody to believe her story…other than the murderer. The silent Dementia follows a young woman’s visually sensational nightmarish plunge into madness.

Screens August 27 at the Castro Theatre

Millennium Actress

In Satoshi Kon’s incredible film, reclusive ex-movie star Chiyoko Fujiwara is spurred to reminisce about her career thanks to an old key given to her. The actress’ recollections wind up being connected to her decades-long search for an artist and revolutionary she once shielded from police capture.

Screens August 27 at the Roxie Theatre

Saturday Cinema: Vintage Education

This program of vintage educational shorts may ostensibly offer life lessons on classroom dos and don’ts, navigating social dilemmas, and even some health how-tos. But their real value is providing some unintended entertainment.

Screens August 22 at the Exploratorium

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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