New releases, rep picks, double features, film festivals, and movie marathons all demand your popcorn crunching, babysitter funding, brain whittling attention this November. But what if you can only make it to the cinema a measly few times? Stand By For Mind Control suggests you prioritize these five best of the Bay Area cinema events.
Purple Rain / Amadeus
Castro Theatre, San Francisco : Saturday 11/16 at 2:30, 4:40, and 8:00 pm
Purple Rain is almost wholly unwatchable but it isn’t close to Prince’s worst film. Plus, its all about the listening anyway. This film’s soundtrack made your adolescence extra tingly (or, if you’re youthful, it still can). When paired with Milos Foreman’s excellent Amadeus — another story of battling (and batty) musicians — what you’ve got is one wriggly earworm for your eye holes.
Opens November, or see it at the Napa Valley Film Festival on 11/12
Director Alexander Payne is a nipple tweaker. That means he’s happy grabbing you somewhere sensitive just so he can watch your face pucker — metaphorically, of course. If you loved his films Election or About Schmidt or Sideways or The Descendants, then his latest — featuring Bruce Dern and Will Forte in a story about a crotchety codger who mistakenly thinks he’s hit the jackpot — will almost certainly get you all squirmy.
Wild at Heart
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley : Thursday 11/21 at 7:00 pm
Actor Nic Cage is one of a rare breed, both totally bonkers and utterly brilliant, sometimes in the same film — such as this one, David Lynch’s Southern Gothic conflagration: Wild at Heart. Watch Crispin Glover stimulate himself with cockroaches and Willem Dafoe get his rotten grill all up in Laura Dern’s for scenes that will make you reconsider what exactly it means to be ‘hot and bothered.’ Introduced by Oscar-winning sound designer Randy Thom for a bonus lesson on sonic incitement.
Dallas Buyers Club
I’ll be honest. Matthew McConaughey exposing himself as a talented actor is about as shocking as Matthew McConaughey exposing himself to your grandma during Thanksgiving dinner. And yet… here he is, throwing down hard in films like Magic Mike, Bernie, and Mud. This tale of an HIV+ cowboy who teams with a transvestite Jared Leto to smuggle FDA-unapproved drugs to AIDS patients in Texas is hard to ignore. Will it be schmaltzy, feel-good Erin Brockovich bait or something better? Let’s find out.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Opens wide 11/22
I agree. The Hunger Games wasn’t anything too exciting for those of us who weren’t already fans of Katniss Everdeen and her foolish disregard for flame retardant fabrics. Still, there are a whole lot of people who think Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong and they might be right. Having read the books, I’m fascinated to find out just how they’re going to make their seriously unpalatable occurrences safe for the preteen hordes to swallow. If you think the first film took itself far out on thin ice, just you wait.
Have a tip for next month’s Best of Bay Area Film? Don’t be shy.