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David Bowie Cinematic Wake

The passing of LGBT icon David Bowie earlier this week has spurred public tributes of various sorts. For the cinematically inclined, several theaters around the Bay Area offer chances to get together with fellow Bowie fans. They can choose from seeing Bowie’s performance as the Goblin King or even sing along to a few of his classic music videos. The biggest David Bowie local cinematic tribute won’t happen until March 12, though. That’s when Marc Huestis presents Bowie’s first film The Man Who Fell To Earth, with an in-person appearance by Candy Clark, Bowie’s co-star in that film.

For film lovers who aren’t David Bowie fans, there are two other must-see special screenings this week. Orson Welles’ amazing re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays about the War of the Roses gets shown in a wonderfully restored version. Aleksei German’s critically acclaimed Strugatsky brothers’ adaptation finally gets an S.F. premiere. Be warned, though: it makes the nastier parts of Game of Thrones look like an elementary school primer.

The Anderson Tapes

The Mechanics Institute continues its month-long film series of Sean Connery films. This week’s offering is the Sidney Lumet-directed suspense thriller that showed Connery could do more on film than play James Bond. Connery plays John Anderson, a burglar who’s just finished a 10-year prison stretch. Anderson decides to get back into the crime game with a plan to burgle an entire luxury apartment building. However, this ambitious plan doesn’t account for the bugs, cameras, and other surveillance devices that infest Anderson’s target.

Screens January 15 at the Mechanics Institute Library

Calculating Odds And The Possibility Of Miracles

A collection of half-a-dozen short films by directors Kevin T. Allen and Jeanne C. Finley + John Muse get a one-night presentation courtesy of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and S.F. Cinematheque. The films include Real West, Allen’s portrait of South Dakota ghost towns, and Manhole 452, Finley + Muse’s a speculative consideration of the buried history of Geary Boulevard.

Screens January 15 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Chimes At Midnight And F For Fake

This Orson Welles double-feature begins with a restoration of Welles’ famed Shakespeare adaptation Chimes At Midnight, drawn from five of Shakespeare’s plays about the War of the Roses. The director/actor/writer plays Sir John Falstaff, whose carousing with Prince Hal comes to a sad end when Hal becomes King Henry V. In F For Fake, Welles’ controversial free-form documentary examines the life of such professional fakers as renowned art forger Elmyr de Hory and the forger’s biographer Clifford Irving. But the film goes beyond simple biography to celebrate fakers of all kinds…including Welles himself.

Screens January 19 at the Castro Theater.

David Bowie Double Feature

Besides making an indelible mark in the world of rock, late musical legend David Bowie also pursued movie acting. This double feature stars the late singer/songwriter in two indelible performances. In the Jim Henson fantasy Labyrinth, Bowie’s Goblin King kidnaps a girl’s (Jennifer Connelly) baby brother and challenges her to rescue the child by midnight. Bowie makes the villain both repulsive and oddly charming. In the seminal lesbian fantasy The Hunger, the singer plays the male half of a centuries-old vampire couple who needs a doctor’s (Susan Sarandon) services when he mysteriously begins to age rapidly.

Screens January 18 at the Castro Theatre. The New Parkway Theatre will do late-night screenings of “Labyrinth” from January 15 to 17.

The David Bowie Music Video Celebration

The new Alamo Drafthouse on Mission Street is first out the gate with local theaters’ cinematic mourning for the recently departed cultural icon David Bowie. In this case, it’s a from-scratch collection of David Bowie music videos that attendees can sing along to. Very few onscreen lyrics are provided. But come on, can you not know the lyrics to “Heroes” or “Under Pressure?”

Screens January 14 at the Alamo Drafthouse. Advance tickets are utterly sold out. Maybe some Rush tickets will be available?

Found Footage Festival Meets Everything Is Terrible!

In this SF Sketch Fest event, two of the greatest purveyors of funny and weird videos meet on the Castro Theatre stage! Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher of Found Footage Festival showcase the best of their oddball VHS discoveries, found in everything from garage sales to dumpsters. The Everything Is Terrible crew, on the other hand, treat the weird videos they find as raw material for creative video manipulation. Who else can turn videos of massaging cat ladies and Inferno-based pizza parties into wonderfully odd entertainment?

Screens January 20 at the Castro Theatre

Hard To Be A God

Revered Russian filmmaker Aleksei German died before completing this adaptation of the Strugatsky brothers’ science fiction novel of the same name. (German’s wife and son completed the film.) It’s the story of a scientist who travels to the planet Arkanar to observe life there. Unfortunately for him, Arkanar’s civilization is undergoing its version of the Middle Ages, with all the brutality and suffering associated with that time period. A critical and festival favorite, this film finally gets its San Francisco premiere.

Screens January 14, 16, and 17 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Hey Monster, Hands Off My City!

This S.F. Sketchfest film presentation stars local comedians Johnny Steele and Reggie Steele in this San Francisco-set spoof of monster movies. The two Steeles play SFPD homicide detectives trying to track down a monster busily half-eating SF citizens. The trail of colorful characters encountered during the chase for the monster include sinister soft drink company executives, a hunter riding a unicycle, and an incarcerated soprano.

Screens January 16 at the Roxie Theater. Post-film Q&A with writer/director Michael Meehan and both Steeles.

Moonwalkers

Remember the conspiracy theory which claimed director Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo 11 moon landing? Antoine Bardou-Jacquet spins that theory into this Swinging Sixties-set action-comedy. Questionably stable CIA agent Kidman (Ron Perlman) has been sent to London to recruit Kubrick to fake the Apollo 11 landing in case the real one goes belly up. However, ambitious rock-band promoter Jonny (Rupert Grint, the Harry Potter films) learns of the plan and wants to scam the CIA’s money by passing off his stoned roommate (Robert Sheehan) as Kubrick.

Screens January 15 at the Roxie Theater

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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