Castro Theatre Does September Right

  • by David Lamble
  • Sunday September 10, 2017
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This back-to-school month affords the Castro Theatre the opportunity to provide some juicy takes on affairs cultural, political and personal.

"Wonder Woman" (2017) Without leaping tall buildings in a single bound Gal Gadot is awesome as a latter-day Amazon warrior princess. Director Patty Jenkins helms a great supporting cast: Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis and Connie Nielsen. (9/11)

"Fool for Love" (1985) Sam Shepard (1943-2017) was well on his path from avant-garde playwright to handsome virile screen star when this Robert Altman-directed film appeared. A man (Shepard) wanders back into the life of an ex (Kim Bassinger) to her deep distress. With Harry Dean Stanton and Randy Quaid.

"Paris, Texas" (1984) It's been 33 years since Shepard artistically shacked up with German-born director Wim Wenders to celebrate a father's (Harry Dean Stanton) trip across a desert to find his young son (Hunter Carson). Mostly for die-hard fans of both men, but if you ever plan to see this one, there won't be a better time or place. (both 9/12)

"Jules and Jim" (1962) Young Americans of my generation discovered the amazing Jeanne Moreau when she co-stared in Francois Truffaut's film, a love triangle beginning in WWI where she seduces and leads both a Frenchman (Henri Serre) and a German (Oscar Werner) to their deaths.

"Bay of Angels" (1963) Jacques Demy directs Moreau, as a blonde, in this relatively obscure romantic drama set in the high-stakes world of casinos. A couple's unexpected winning streak brings them brief happiness. (both 9/14)

"Lust in the Dust" (1985) Paul Bartel directs this buried-treasure comedy with Lainie Kazan, Tab Hunter and Divine. In its day it was viewed as an oddball second-career choice for one-time hottie Hunter. (9/15)

"North by Northwest" (1959) Cary Grant gives arguably his best performance for Alfred Hitchcock as a Madison Avenue ad man mistaken for a spy by a fiendish cell of foreign agents headed up by James Mason. A real treat for fans of old-fashioned train travel, as Cary begins his escape by sneaking onboard the 20th Century Limited in the compartment of smart blonde Eva Marie Saint.

"The Bride Wore Black" (1968) Francois Truffaut displays his love for Hitchcock with this thriller starring Jeanne Moreau. Determined to avenge the murder of her fiance, Moreau tracks down his five killers, exploits them sexually, then kills them. A delicious 60s endpiece from the French New Wave generation. (both 9/17)

"Baby Driver" (2017) A getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) attempts to leave his life of crime for the girl of his dreams (Lily James). His plans are thwarted by a smooth-as-silk crime boss (Kevin Spacey). This Edgar Wright caper is enhanced by a soundtrack featuring the music of The Beach Boys, Beck and Dave Brubeck.

"The Driver" (1978) Veteran studio director Walter Hill helms this latter-day noir where a getaway (Ryan O'Neal) driver matches his wits against a weird cop (Bruce Dern). (both 9/18)

"The Beguiled" (2017) Sofia Coppola provides a feminist twist to her remake of this Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel Civil War-era tale from the early 70s. A wounded union soldier (Colin Farrell) is taken in by the women of an abandoned Confederate school. Jealousy between the women (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst) escalates as the drama unfolds.

"A Ghost Story" (2017) David Lowery directs Casey Affleck as a spirit who returns to haunt his old suburban home and comfort his young widow (Rooney Mara). (both 9/19)

"Edward Scissorhands" (1990) Johnny Depp is a human-created boy whose maker died before giving him functioning hands. Tim Burton directs, pits Johnny against a mean kid (Anthony Michael Hall) who gets his just desserts.

"Cry Baby" (1990) John Waters created this tale with Depp as a motorcycle-riding Baltimore youth. (both 9/20)

"The Big Lebowski Viewing Party" The hilarious 1998 Coen Brothers classic is the centerpiece of an evening's entertainment that includes live music. The Coens concocted the ultimate shaggy-human flick: A gregarious bowler (Jeff Bridges) gets caught up in a weird crime story. With John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Flea, Sam Elliott, David Thewlis and Ben Gazzara. (9/21)

"Pee-wee's Big Adventure" (1985) Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) creates his own cartoonlike playhouse in this Tim Burton-created comic caper.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986) Matthew Broderick aces this John Hughes fantasy about escaping high school for a day. With Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones as a draconian truant officer, and Ben Stein as a witty economics teacher with the laconic class roll call, "Bueller, Bueller!" (both 9/22)

"Love and Anarchy" (1973) (Tribute to pioneering auteur Lina Wertmueller.) A timely dramatic tutorial on the perils of Fascism and the very real dangers of standing up against it.

"Behind the White Glasses" (2017) Director Valerio Ruiz presents a bio-pic study of Wertmueller.

"Swept Away" (1974) A Communist vs. Capitalist love story set on a desert island. The film defines Wertmueller's appeal as well as anything else.

"Seven Beauties" (1975) Casanova trapped in a WWII concentration camp is the premise for a world-class drama with a huge contemporary resonance. With Giancarlo Giannini and Fernando Rey. Received four Oscar nominations.

"The Seduction of Mimi" (1972) Giannini is a brave worker whose refusal to bow to the Sicilian Mafia costs him dearly. A comic tragedy of immense value. (all 9/23)

"The Third Man" (1949) Joseph Cotton is a pulp fiction writer whose plan to visit an old pal (Orson Welles) has unexpected consequences. This Carol Reed-directed masterpiece features a climactic tour of the Vienna sewer system, plus the memorable zither main theme.

"The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) Welles' follow-up to "Citizen Kane" was butchered by the studio but remains an intriguingly flawed classic. Based on a Booth Tarkington novel. With Welles regulars Cotton, Ray Collins and Agnes Moorehead. (both 9/24)

"Dunkirk" (2017) Christopher Nolan's take on a key moment in the Allied Forces' battle against Hitler. With thousands of troops trapped on a beach 26 miles across the British Channel, a small brigade of British boatsmen and military personnel sail across to rescue as many soldiers as they can. Had the German military been successful in wiping out this expeditionary force, history may have turned out differently. With a sexy Anglo-Irish ensemble headed up by Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. (9/25-26)

"The Nutty Professor" (1963) The ultimate in what many European critics saw as Jerry Lewis' comic genius.

"The King of Comedy" (1983) Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro showcase Jerry as a talk-show host who is kidnapped by De Niro's wannabe standup comic. With Sandra Bernhard. A chilling demonstration of how a man's inability to process reality can have terrifying consequences on innocent lives. (both 9/27)

"Vertigo" (1958) Jimmy Stewart, a retired cop who left the force after a rooftop accident cost another officer his life, becomes obsessed with an old pal's estranged wife (Kim Novak). The shots of Stewart driving about Nob Hill are matched only by Bernard Herrmann's score. (9/28-30, with different co-features:)

"Eyes Without a Face" (1960) A plastic surgeon practices on his daughter's disfigured face with frightening results. (9/28)

"Body Parts" (1991) A man loses an arm in an accident, gets an experimental transplant, has homicidal visions and impulses. (9/29)

"Diabolique" (1955) Two women, a vulnerable spouse and a determined mistress, plot revenge against the cruel master of a French boys school. Henri Georges Clouzot's scary masterpiece has influenced decades of aspiring horror filmmakers. With Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot and Paul Meurisse. (9/30)