Recent Stories

  • Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Our Man in Havana’

    There was a time when the writings of Graham Greene were film producer catnip. Most of Greene’s novels have been adapted for the screen at least once – the most recent example being ‘Brighton Rock’, remade in lackluster fashion by Rowan (son of Roland) Joffe in 2010.

  • Lights, camera, action: Time to shine for film at BAMPFA

    The last coat of paint has been applied, the fixtures are all in place, and the hard hats have departed: it’s time to celebrate the re-opening of BAMPFA’s film programming. Yours truly managed to get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Bay Area cinéastes, and I can happily report that we’re all in for quite a treat.

  • Big Screen Berkeley: ‘They Live by Night’

    Cinema is knee deep in films about star-crossed lovers on the run from the law. From Bonnie and Clyde to Badlands to Natural Born Killers and beyond, ‘bad kids in love’ has been a reliable Hollywood trope for decades — and it all began with They Live by Night (1948), screening at Pacific Film Archive at 8:45 p.m. on Friday, July 17 as part of the series ‘The Cinema According to Victor Erice’.

  • The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

    Want to know what a world-famous chef peruses in the comfort of her own home? If so, rush down to the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s store on Channing for its annual cookbook sale. Mollie Katzen, who shot to fame with her “Moosewood Cookbook,” and who has since written almost a dozen others, including 2013’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation,” donated about 400 books for the sale. They are cookbooks for which Katzen has written a foreward, has reviewed, and maybe, just maybe cooked from. There are even some of her own cookbooks. And, as usual, the prices are “ridiculously low.” The Friends of the Library store is at 2433 Channing Way and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (There is also a Friends store in the Central Branch but it does not have Katzen’s books) (more…)

  • Big Screen Berkeley: Double Indemnity

    When it comes to leading ladies, I’m apparently a bit of a cad. I have no trouble telling my Alan Ladds from my Errol Flynns, but put headshots of (for example) Merle Oberon and Joan Fontaine in front of me, and, despite decades of intense movie watching, chances are no better than 50:50 that my ingénue identification skills won’t let me down.

  • The It List: Five Things to do in Berkeley this weekend

    GOODBYE TO THE OLD BERKELEY ART MUSEUM For 44 years, the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Ave. has been a galvanizing force for culture in Berkeley and beyond. Many of the world’s greatest artists have performed or displayed their work there. But the Brutalist building designed by Mario Ciampi, and opened in 1970, is not seismically safe. It will close at the end of 2014 as BAM prepares for its move in early 2016 into a new 82,000-square foot home on Center Street designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. To celebrate the transition, BAM/PFA is throwing itself a goodbye party on Sunday called Let’s Go! A Farewell Revel. Starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 5 p.m., the free celebration includes a create-your-own-museum art workshop, a dance battle by TURFinc, “vibrant vocals” from the women’s group, Kitka, a performance by pianist/composer Sarah Cahill of Gyorgy Ligeti’s 1962 composition “Poème symphonique” for 100 metronomes, and more. (Be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign in progress to record the acoustics of the building.) The day will end with a procession from the Bancroft building through the campus to the new structure at 2155 Center St. Luckily, the forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds. During the year it is closed, BAM/PFA will put on mobile exhibits around town. The PFA will continue to show films at its current site on Bancroft, across the street from the art museum. (more…)

  • Big Screen Berkeley: The Cranes Are Flying

    Tbilisi is the capital city of the republic of Georgia – one of the pawns in what is now being touted by some (including Mikhail Gorbachev) as a ‘new cold war’. Previously known as Tiflis, Tbilisi was the 1903 birthplace of Soviet filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov and the youthful stomping grounds of one Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, also known as Joseph Stalin.

  • Audrey Martin: A dream fulfilled, plus more Berkeley gigs

    On her 40th birthday Audrey Martin decided to sing. As a marriage and family therapist, she had spent years helping other people work through traumas, resolve deep-seated conflicts, and discover their true selves. Along the way she had set aside her adolescent ambition for a life in music, a sublimated dream that resurfaced with her midlife milestone. Martin’s long and winding creative journey resulted in the captivating debut album Living Room (full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes). She celebrates the CD’s release Sunday afternoon at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory, which played an essential role in her musical education.

  • Stanley Kubrick’s early films offer rich rewards

    I’ve always been a little ambivalent about Stanley Kubrick. I never grokked the appeal of his science fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), found much of A Clockwork Orange (1971) offensive (which was probably the point, but still), and — as much as the word ‘bravura’ could have been invented to describe the filmmaking displayed within it – The Shining (1980) has always left me cold.