News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.


home | metro silicon valley index | movies | current reviews | film reviews

This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack

Movie Times Boxed Up/Superhero
The Almaden Valley's Sean McCarthy is an independent who isn't yet 30 and who has made some 80 films—features, commercials, shorts and rock videos—on the sly and on the cheap. I think he's the most broadly talented local filmmaker I've encountered since I started writing for Metro more than 20 years ago. Boxed Up delivers 22 chaotic minutes with flashbacks, but the gist of it is the vengeance-crazed rampage of a woman warrior. She is played by Sean's sister, Syra. She is trying to solve the case of a masked maniac who is drugging and killing local girls. We see her on both sides of her transformation from an ordinary student to a tigress. What made her go on the warpath was personally witnessing an everyday act of domestic violence. Superhero shows McCarthy's gift as a comedic filmmaker. McCarthy plays chronic dweeb Montgomery van Chance, who believes himself to be a superpowered vigilante. A British documentary crew watches him on his rounds. The sequence of Montgomery breaking and entering on the empty house of a criminal suspect—actually a soccer-mom neighbor he has the hots for—displays Richard Lester–worthy visual invention matched with the keen raunch of Judd Apatow's comedies. (Plays Dec 6 at 7:30pm at 7:30pm at Camera 7 in Campbell.) (RvB)

Movie Times Hot Saturday/Double Harness
(1932/1933) Cary Grant plays a notorious wastrel millionaire in the small, gossip-ridden town of Marysville. When word gets out that a local girl (Nancy Carroll) attended a wild party at his estate, she ends up with cooked goose and reputation shot. The young Grant's mannerisms here are like Tony Curtis' imitation of him in Some Like It Hot; he's a bit predatory, which isn't like the star he became in later years. BILLED WITH Double Harness Anne Harding tricks William Powell into marriage, but learns to win his heart later on. The director is the multitalented John Cromwell. (Plays Dec 7 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times It's a Wonderful Life
(1946) Frank Capra's based-on-a-pamphlet fable is animated by James Stewart's kindliness as self-sacrificing George Bailey, who decides to take his own life when he's ruined by a chortling banker (Lionel Barrymore). Bailey is saved by a silly apprentice angel (Henry Travers) who decides to show him what the world would be like without him. If the film alternates moments of film-noir clarity with more typical Capra clowning, remember that Dorothy Parker, Clifford Odets and Dalton Trumbo were among the hands that sanded up the screenplay. McBride notes that Trumbo's version had Bailey as a suicidal politician who'd gone corrupt: "He was his own Potter." The movie has smothered such self-doubts and fantasies of celestial redemption, in such a way as to eventually make it the most American Christmas movie ever. (Plays Dec 8 at noon at Camera 12 in San Jose and Dec 9 at noon at Camera 7 in Campbell.) (RvB)

Movie Times Mr. Smith Goes to Washington/American Madness
(1939/1932) A Boy Ranger leader (James Stewart) goes to Washington to clean up the Senate, with only his secretary (Jean Arthur) for help. Meanwhile, a chorus of cynics predicts doom. The great character actor Thomas Mitchell co-stars with Claude Rains, Eugene Pallette, Guy Kibbee and Edward Arnold (Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth and Wrath—that's four of the Seven Deadly Sins right there). The film was thundered against by Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley. Sen. James Byrnes of South Carolina was more specific: "Here is a picture that is going to tell the country that 95 out of 96 senators are corrupt; that the federal, state and municipal governments are corrupt; that one corrupt boss can control the press of a state; that the newspapers are corrupt; the radios are corrupt; reporters are corrupt. ... The thing was outrageous ..." (quoted in Joseph McBride's essential Capra book, The Catastrophe of Success). Today's viewers may be less than shocked by these conclusions. The film's intimate moments—such as the drunk scene between Mitchell and Arthur, supposedly coached by Howard Hawks—outdo the big patriotic heartstring-pullers: Stewart's filibuster is, instead, a vague blob of populism. Still, there's real bravery in this film, and it was Capra's highlight, before the coda of It's a Wonderful Life. BILLED WITH American Madness. Walter Huston stars as a populist banker who rescues the institution from both his doubting employees and the suspicious customers. A hot button film at the time, with bank collapses occurring everywhere in the United States, it's still reputed to be one of Capra's fastest and most urgent films. (Plays Dec 8-11 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Niles Essanay Film Museum
Regularly scheduled programs of silent films. Tonight: Conductor 1492 (1923) with the obscure silent comedian Johnny Hines. Hines plays an immigrant who goes to work on the streetcar lines, just as local gangsters are muscling in. Making a Living (1914) is Charlie Chaplin's first film, and he's not yet in Tramp costume—he even has a mustache and a monocle. Chaplin plays a society slouch who sleazes his way into the newspaper business. "We sent it out under various titles, such as A Busted Johnny, Troubles, and Doing His Best," remembered Mack Sennett. "No matter what we called it, the film was a flop." Also: Bromo and Juliet (1926) with Charlie Chase. Greg Pane at the piano. (Plays Dec 8 at 7:30 in Fremont at the Edison Theatre, 37417 Niles Blvd, Fremont; (RvB)

Movie Times Psychotronix Film Festival
Among the films not showing at this offering of celluloid peculiarities: 1956's Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping with sultry Peruvian sex bomb Sensualda! Born just plain Sensualda and discovered at Los Noches Charismaticos de Lima 1932, Sensualda was given a nose job, a skin peel and an exclamation point by the publicity department at Monotone Studios. Also not billed: a 1942 Edgar Wallace mystery, The Mystery of Edgar Wallace, about an immensely prolix crime novelist who is secretly the viceroy of the Soho underworld. Not following is The Fungus Among Us (1956) with Rex Reasonable as an astrophysicist who detects mold from Uranus. At 9:15, not playing is episode 12 of the serial Biff Grogan, Commie Basher (1951). FBI agent Grogan (broad-shouldered brute Moultrie Corncrake) continues to punch his way to the Kremlin, in his never-ending mission to "slug Joe Stalin right in the mustache." Here, Grogan busts his knuckles on a kindergarten teacher (Evelyn Tremble) who voted for Henry Wallace in 1948. Finally, not playing is an episode of Yoo Hoo, Jezebel! the long-redacted (for flagrant, mind-roasting racism) 1956 TV show about an all-wise maid (Delta Smelt) and the Krumhorns, the bird-brained suburbanites for whom the belle toils. Is this the episode where Jezebel spills a red-hot tureen of lobster bisque into the lap of special guest celebrity L. Ron Hubbard? No, it is not. But maybe they've got an episode of Johnny Sacco and his Flying Robot or some other crazy crap like that. (Plays Dec 8 at 7pm at Room 5015 in Los Altos Hills at Foothill College as a benefit for KFJC. Bring $2 in quarters for the evil parking machines.) (RvB)

Send a letter to the editor about this story.

Movie Finder

Silicon Valley | Santa Cruz County | Sonoma / Marin / Napa

New and upcoming film releases.

Browse all movie reviews.