Your Weekend in Film

What major releases and one-off screenings are worth your theatre time

From a must-see doc on the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and a contemplative study of two loners adrift in a city of modernist architecture to a young girl growing up in Japan during World War II, and a striving hip-hop star trying to make it on the mean streets of New Jersey, welcome to this week's extremely eclectic recos from our own in-house experts.

This Week’s Pick: Whose Streets?

Reviewer Steve Davis writes of Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis’ documentary about the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, and the civil unrest that followed: “Bristling with unapologetic righteousness, the ragged documentary Whose Streets? takes no prisoners in its raw depiction of events transpiring in the predominantly African-American community of Ferguson, Mo. … At its core, this movie is a piece of unflinching activism that forces you to look at something uncomfortable, something those of us in the cocoon would probably rather not see. But see it, you should. See it, you must.” 4 stars

Also Reviewed

Columbus. Marjorie Baumgarten writes of this gorgeous and resonant tale of two loners in Columbus, Indiana, who connect through the town’s architecture: “Columbus is an assured first feature film by Kogonada, the single-named video essayist who makes film-analysis shorts about such auteurs as Ozu, Linklater, Tarkovsky, and Malick for the Criterion Collection and Sight & Sound magazine. You would be able to guess many of Kogonada’s influences without knowing this fact, however.” 3.5 stars
(See Kahron Spearman’s interview with Kogonada, who will be in attendance for a Q&A following the 7pm screening on Saturday at AFS Cinema. He will also speak following a free screening Saturday, 4:30pm, of “Kogonada: The Art of the Video Essay.”)

In This Corner of the World. The life of a Japanese girl during wartime is explored by Studio Ghibli alumni. Marc Savlov: “Life during wartime may include privations, anxiety, and in this deceptively beautiful and gracefully animated film, a bright white flash from the direction of Hiroshima. But director Sunao Katabuchi leavens this multi-award-winning portrait of teenage protagonist Suzu with oodles of heart and soulfulness.” 3.5 stars

Patti Cake$. Marjorie Baumgarten: “Patti Cake$ might be what you’d get if you shifted the gritty Midwestern musician origin stories of Eminem’s 8 Mile and Prince’s Purple Rain into the body of a plus-sized white girl in northern New Jersey who dreams of success as a rap superstar. Which is to say that Patti Cake$ treads familiar territory while also presenting something fresh and original.” 3 stars

Also Opening

All Saints. A preacher tries to save his church from being sold by enlisting the help of townsfolk and newly arrived immigrants to turn the surrounding land into a farm.

Birth of the Dragon. A legend is born in this "inspired by true events" story of the early years of kung fu legend Bruce Lee.

Leap! An orphan girl runs off to early 20th century Paris with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer in this animated musical.

The Only Living Boy in New York. In this summer's other film named after a Simon & Garfunkel song, a young man discovers his dad is having an affair and things get complicated (and utterly bourgeois).

Special Screenings

Sean Malin writes: “In the decade-and-change since its release, A Scanner Darkly has shifted in the critical consciousness from an admirable peculiarity to an acknowledged masterpiece of hybridity and illusion. The time is certainly ripe, then, for a conversation with one of its heads of animation, Paul Beck. …

“Adapted and directed by Richard Linklater from the futuristic Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, Scanner fused digital photography with interpolated rotoscoping to imitate the psychotropic experience of Substance D drug users in Dick's nightmarish dystopia. With this idiosyncratic technique, animators trace over the original footage frame by frame, requiring thousands of labor hours. …

Beck recalls, ‘When it first came out, people didn't know how to absorb it. It didn't really fit into live-action or animation; it had to prove itself.’”

A Scanner Darkly With Animator Paul Beck” screens Wed., Aug. 30, 6:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Mueller.

Hitchcock Week. The Paramount’s annual ode to the master of suspense winds down on a high note: with Friday and Saturday double features of North by Northwest and Psycho, and Sunday’s special screening of the 1927 silent The Lodger, with live musical accompaniment by Graham Reynolds.

“She’s emotionally disturbed. She’s unbalanced!” The Bette Davis/Joan Crawford Grand Guignol thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? will be preceded by cocktails, appetizers, a photo booth, and it's all hosted by Sable Scities in celebration of Pride Week. Friday, AFS Cinema.

A queer cult classic. A woman goes to Nevada to get a divorce and becomes enmeshed in a romance with a high-spirited local woman in 1985’s Desert Hearts. Saturday & Sunday, AFS Cinema.

Alt Girl Cinema. Ovarian Psycos, a doc about the East L.A. bicycling group, will have members live for a Q&A. All proceeds benefit Women's Community Center of Central Texas, and there is a ride hosted by Bikin' Betties prior to the screening. Sunday, Alamo South Lamar.

Cine noche. Cine Las Americas award winner El Techo centers on three friends trying to make it in Havana. Sunday, Violet Crown.

“Observe, Mr. Bond, the instruments of Armageddon.” Cinemark Hill Country Galleria 14 closes the weekend out with The Spy Who Loved Me. It's a classic tale of Russian subs, nuclear warheads, and a man named "Q." Screens Sunday.

Check out the Chronicle's Film Listings for daily showtimes, reviews, and Special Screenings.

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Whose Streets, Columbus, In This Corner of the World, Patti Cake$, A Scanner Darkly

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