Best of Bay Area Film — January 2014

How many films have you seen in 2014 so far? What? None!?

There is no way you’re going to meet your new years resolution to watch 500 movies a year if you don’t get crackin’, and toot suite. I understand that December was a fatty repast of last-minute Oscar-contenders that you still have to catch up on, but they just keep making films. The good news is that January is when they release a mess of crap. Yep. Just a pathetic trickle of tired looking horror schlock, indie turds, mentally challenged action pictures, and the occasional hopeful stranger.

You still need to get out to the theaters, though. And here’s what you need to see in January:

Noir City 12

The Castro, S.F. : January 24 — February 2

Charles Vanel(left) and Yves Montand (right) in Henri-Georges Clouzot's THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953). Courtesy Janus Films. Playing 12/9-12/22

Once you check out the Noir City 12 program, you’re going to be awful glad the new releases this month include such enticing gems as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and I, Frankenstein. Why would you watch Chris Pine jump through his own rectum while firing seven bazookas at the Arch-Pope of Slavistan when there are a dozen days stuffed with classic, rare, unavailable, and/or seriously weird film noirs screening at the Castro Theatre? Exactly: you wouldn’t. Festival highlights include Journey into FearThe Third Man on 1/24, Akira Kurasawa’s Drunken AngelStray Dog on 1/26, and South American noirs Black VampireWages of Fear on 1/31. Buy a festival passport and see ’em all.

The Past

Clay Theater, S.F. : Now Playing

the-past

Asghar Farhadi made 2011’s stunning A Separation, a film with one of the most perfect endings ever made. This year the Iranian director brings us Berenice Bejo (of The Artist) as a French woman looking to divorce her Iranian husband so she can wed her boyfriend. As with A Separation, I think it’s safe to assume that Farhadi will be using this personal landscape of relationships to explore the more expansive truths of human society. I think it’s also safe to assume that The Past will be more emotionally potent than Aaron Eckhardt in Frankenstein make-up killing an army of gargoyles with his twelve-bladed monster hatchet. I will, in fact, take bets to that effect.

Akira

Clay Theater, S.F. : Jan 3 & 4 at Midnight

akira tetsuo

Neo-Tokyo is fucked and you’ve got a front row seat. Careful you don’t get splattered with milk, blood, or orbital incineration. Come watch this kingpin of anime masterpieces on the big screen in Japanese (with English subtitles) as you have long been destined to do. I love AkiraI wrote a paean to it a while back and if you need convincing, read and listen and try not unleash the monster within.

Big Bad Wolves

Opens 1/17, perhaps even in the Bay Area (or at least on VOD)

big bad wolves

Are you curious to see the Israeli revenge thriller Quentin Tarantino called the best film of the year in the year it wasn’t officially released? Me too. I like revenge. I like years. I like release. This film goes on a picnic with a victim, a vigilante cop, and the suspected perpetrator of a string of ghastly crimes. I’m pretty sure the biggest worry won’t be ants or rain. It will be an angry dude with a blowtorch.

 

That’s it. Only four films (on currently published schedules) that demand big screen viewing in January so far. It’s still 2013, though, so make sure to check for new developments as all those lazy film programming slobs return from gorging on Llewyn, Wolfie, and Joaquin Phoenix’s porn star mustache.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.