Tag Archives: Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

‘Cheatin” showcases Bill Plympton’s remarkable animation

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The animation of Bill Plympton is definitely an acquired taste. If you spent a lot of time watching MTV in its early days, you’re probably already familiar with his work: ballpoint pen drawn and long on grotesque characterization, it’s instantly recognizable, but tends to repulse as many viewers as it attracts. Pretty it is not.

Though he’s since done great work developing couch gags for ‘The Simpsons,” by and large I’ve never been much of a Plympton fan. The arrival of a new feature-length Plymptoon (Cheatin’, opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, April 17), however, provides me an opportunity to reassess his work.

Most animation incorporates exaggeration and overstatement, but few animators exaggerate or overstate as much – or as effectively – as Bill Plympton. His world is one where bodies elongate, expand, and shrink, where tears flow and fly like gigantic watery tennis balls, and where physical characteristics – breasts, waists, muscles, wrinkles – are taken to the extremest of extremes. … Continue reading »

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The Asian-American Film Festival comes to town

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If it’s March (and unless someone is playing cruel games with my calendar, it is), it’s time once again for the Asian American Film Festival. As in previous years, 2015’s festival includes a number of screenings at Pacific Film Archive.

This year’s festivities get underway Friday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. with a film I was unable to watch in advance, Iran’s Tales. It’s double-billed with Vietnam’s Doat Hon (Hollow), a rather late contribution to the turn of the 21st-century Asian horror boom that relies overly on the now passé ‘long-haired ghost’ trope. If you’re a fan of the genre, you could do worse; otherwise this is a very, very average example of the style.

Far more interesting is director Dean Yamada’s Senrigan (Cicada), an endearing character study from Japan screening at the Archive on Saturday, March 14 at 8:15 p.m. What initially threatens to be one of those awful ‘multiple perspective’ storylines develops into a tight little tale about an infertile schoolteacher (Yugo Saso, good but perhaps a wee bit too old for the role), his unsuspecting fiancé (Hitomi Takimoto), and an unfortunate 4th-grade pupil (Houten Saito). It’s a lovely little film anchored by fine performances all around and writer Yu Shibuya’s slightly cheeky screenplay, which manages to blend elements sweet and sour to near perfection. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley movie theater under scrutiny for staff safety

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood has not changed their signs for over a month following a safety investigation. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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The Rialto Cinemas Elmwood has been ordered not to change the movie titles on its marquee until it develops a safe way for employees to switch out the letters.

The state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, sent a Dec. 29 letter to the theater ordering it to stop changing the movie names on its marquee. Since then, the theater, at 2966 College Ave., has not changed its sign. Three of the four movies currently featured outside are no longer playing; only Boyhood is still screening there. … Continue reading »

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‘The Babadook': Australian thriller aims to chill

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Happy Halloween!

Oh, I’m sorry – is my calendar off? Last week’s dabbling in the vampire genre must have got me into the seasonal mood a little late this year, because Australian thriller The Babadook is coming to Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, Dec. 12, primed to give you late October chills as the dead of winter approaches.

Director William Friedkin claimed recently that he’s “never seen a more terrifying movie” than The Babadook, and distributor IFC Films is giving that claim pride of place in its promotional material. Is it typical hyperbolic ballyhoo, or is Friedkin – whose legendary pea-soup epic The Exorcist never remotely scared me, at least not since its original TV ad campaign – on target?

Amelia (Essie Davis, who deserves an Oscar nomination – really!) is a widow taking care of her six-going-on-seven year old son Samuel (an equally fine Noah Wiseman, who can scream with the best of them) while working at a South Australia nursing home. She’s never recovered from her husband’s death, which occurred on the day Samuel was born: his birthday remains a dark spot on the family calendar, a time of mourning rather than celebration. … Continue reading »

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

Students at Le Conte Elementary enjoy persimmons from the school's tree. Photo: @BerkeleyDineOut on Twitter
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BERKELEY DINE OUT Berkeley schools district-wide incorporate gardening and cooking into the curriculum. The idea is that the school gardens produce healthy habits and interdisciplinary lessons, along with the fruits and vegetables. But the program has lost federal funding and needs help. To support the garden-based learning program at 16 BUSD campuses, participate in Dine Out on Thursday, Nov. 13. A portion of all bills at over one dozen popular Berkeley restaurants — from Café Clem to Comal — will go directly to the program. See the full list of participating restaurants. … Continue reading »

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‘Jealousy': Beautifully shot, affecting and to the point

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Sometimes a one-word title doesn’t tell you much about a film, but sometimes — Todd Solondz’ 1998 feature Happiness, of course, being a prime example — that single word can be downright duplicitous. For better or worse, truth in advertising laws don’t apply to the movie business, and a one-word moniker can lead even the canniest of viewers astray.

And then, of course, there are films like Philippe Garrel’s La Jalousie (Jealousy). Opening on Friday, Sept. 26 at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, Jealousy’s title bluntly describes exactly what you’re about to see on screen, in all its painful glory.

Jealousy begins with a heartbreaking close-up of a woman learning that her man is about to leave her. Trembling slightly, tears rolling down her cheeks, she is Clothilde (Rebecca Convenant); he, Louis (director’s son Louis Garrel) a tousle-headed stage actor with a mop of dark curls and a way with the ladies. … Continue reading »

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‘The Zero Theorem:’ Terry Gilliam’s twisted brain on view

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The very first new release I ever reviewed for Berkeleyside was Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Released in January 2010, it was Gilliam’s best effort in a while – and now, four years later, he’s finally completed a feature follow-up, which (while not quite being up to Imaginarium’s standards) will still satisfy the director’s many rabid fans.

Opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, Sept. 19, The Zero Theorem once again allows viewers to explore Gilliam’s decidedly twisted brain, a cavernous place resembling a slightly surreal dystopia of the near future, or, perhaps, a parallel universe of the now. It’s also a place not so very far from the one seen in the director’s 1985 classic Brazil. … Continue reading »

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‘Code Black': behind the scenes in L.A. emergency room

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Two years ago I penned an all too brief single paragraph recommendation for The Waiting Room, an outstanding documentary about the emergency room at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, the East Bay’s primary trauma center and public health care facility. The film deservedly ended up being shortlisted in 2013 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Documentary, but ultimately didn’t make the final cut.

If you were as impressed as I was by The Waiting Room, you’ll get similar mileage from Code Black, a new medical documentary opening at Rialto Cinema’s Elmwood next week, on Friday, July 18. Shot in and around Los Angeles County Hospital – like Highland, a publicly funded facility — the film details the work done by doctors, nurses and interns in one of the country’s busiest emergency rooms. … Continue reading »

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Boy asks girl to the prom using movie theater marquee

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Look what happened last week at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on College Avenue!

A young man named Zane asked if he could use the movie theater’s marquee to ask his gal to the prom.

“We couldn’t resist this John Cusack moment,” said Melissa Hatheway who works for Rialto. … Continue reading »

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‘Maidentrip': A 13-year-old’s remarkable personal odyssey

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As Lao Tzu’s well-worn bromide goes, ‘every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ In the case of Maidentrip (opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, March 21), however, a lengthy trip can also begin with as little as a gentle breath of wind.

Dutch teenager Laura Dekker made international headlines in 2009 when, at only 13 years of age, she announced her intention to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe. The daughter of a Dutch father and German mother who themselves had previously sailed around the world, the New Zealand-born Dekker spent the first four or five years of her life at sea and clearly never became comfortable on land. … Continue reading »

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

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VIENNA PHILHARMONIC The three-day residency of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Cal Performances this weekend focuses on the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, with three concerts, a symposium bringing together scholars from both Berkeley and Vienna, and pre- and post-concert talks. Friday night’s concert, conducted by Lorin Maazel, features Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Mahler’s Fourth. Saturday night, conducted by Andris Nelsons, has Haydn’s 90th, Brahms’ Third and Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn. Sunday afternoon, Franz Welser-Most conducts the orchestra in Mozart’s 28th and Bruckner’s 6th, as well as a new composition by Viennese composer Johannes Maria Staud. The symposium, The Vienna Philharmonic 100 years after the outbreak of World War I, examines the intermingling of arts and politics, and in particular the role an arts institution can play in the course of history. The symposium and other residency events (but not the concerts) are free: RSVP to reserve your place, seating is first come, first served. Tickets for the concerts at Zellerbach Hall are available from Cal Performances.  … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: The Trials of Muhammad Ali

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We’ve been awash recently in reminders that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ momentous first trip to the United States. As a confirmed Beatlemaniac of long standing, I have no quarrel with celebrating the Fabs – does anyone have a black and gold-label first pressing of Please, Please Me they’d like to sell? — but let’s not forget that February 2014 is also the 50th anniversary of another significant event, the first Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston bout in Miami Beach.

By 1964, Clay — soon to change his name to Muhammad Ali — was already an African-American hero: the smooth-moving, fast-talking Kentuckian had rocketed to fame at the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he clobbered his way to the light heavyweight gold medal. His Miami Beach opponent, on the other hand, was a strong silent type with deep connections to organized crime. Despite his criminal past, Sonny Liston most definitely wasn’t Muhammad Ali — which meant he had most of white America in his corner. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Oaks Theatre efforts stall in negotiations

A local group spearheaded by Councilman Laurie Capitelli hopes to turn the Oaks Theater into a community arts space. Photo: Oaks Theater Consortium
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[Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional information from Councilman Laurie Capitelli.]

A local consortium’s attempts to come to an agreement to use North Berkeley’s Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue and convert it into a community arts performance space have thus far been unsuccessful, reports Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who has spearheaded those efforts.

Capitelli provided an update to his constituents via email Friday. He thanked those who had expressed support for the venture, which kicked off last fall.

Last year, Capitelli, along with the Youth Musical Theater Company, formed a task force — the Oaks Theater Consortium — to spearhead the campaign to renovate the auditorium to remove the wall that separates the two theaters, take out several hundred seats from the balcony, and rebuild the main stage as a single performance space. The idea would be to bring together a group of anchor tenants from a range of arts organizations, and also potentially to offer simulcast viewings of special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl, as well as host film festivals or smaller symposiums or panels. … Continue reading »

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