Tag Archives: Rialto Cinemas Elmwood
The Federal Reserve Bank is a favorite whipping boy for both left- and right-wing conspiracy theorists, its role in manipulating currency — and (by extension) managing the economy — the source of endless controversy. Calls to ‘audit the Fed’ have been heard from both the Ron Paul libertarian right and the Alan Grayson liberal left, but such an audit would still be unlikely to assuage the frenzied palpitations of Alex Jones and others convinced that America’s central bank is nothing more than a tool the New World Order uses (alongside fluoridation, vaccinations, and chemtrails) to maintain its control over us.
Consequently, I anticipated Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve (a new documentary screening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 4) with some trepidation. Watching the film until the end, I kept waiting for the penny to drop: when would narrator Liev Schreiber reveal the awful truth about our reptilian overlords inventing one fiat currency to rule them all? … Continue reading »
According to the Internet Movie Database, 1897’s Death of Nancy Sykes – a long lost production based on a single scene from Oliver Twist — was the first screen adaptation of Charles Dickens’ work. Since then, of course, the adaptations have flowed virtually non-stop, with well over 300 different Dickens features hitting screens big and small in the intervening century and a bit. And still they keep coming: IMDb lists four more features as currently “in development”.
The latest to hit cinemas, director Mike Newell’s take on Great Expectations, has some particularly big shoes to fill. Opening at Rialto Cinema’s Elmwood on Friday, Nov. 8, this Great Expectations will be endlessly (and perhaps unfairly) compared to David Lean’s near perfect 1946 version – and, sure enough, it does pale in comparison. That said, it’s far from a complete waste of your time. … Continue reading »
The possible transformation into a performance space of the shuttered Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue remains uncertain, but the final word on the deal could come sometime in November, according to several people involved with the transaction.
In the meantime, local real estate agent and council member Laurie Capitelli has been raising awareness, surveying the public and drumming up pledges of financial support to the tune of more than $120,000. … Continue reading »
Where were you on November 22nd, 1963? For many years most American adults could answer that question in their sleep, but November 22nd has since been eclipsed by September 11th on the roll-call of infamous historical dates. No longer American collective memory’s gold standard, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination passes quietly most years.
This year, though, will be different: the 50th anniversary of the assassination has temporarily revived interest in all things JFK, with a new made-for-television movie, Killing Kennedy, airing on the National Geographic Channel on Nov. 10. If you can’t wait that long for your Kennedy fix, however, consider Parkland (opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, Oct. 4), a small but handsomely mounted recreation of the events that rang down the curtain on Camelot.
Produced by Tom Hanks (and burdened with a portentous, Saving Private Ryan-style score from James Newton Howard), Parkland takes its title from the hospital in which both President Kennedy and his accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, were declared dead. Dallas’ primary public hospital, Parkland remains open today, its place in history acknowledged by a memorial plaque in the radiology department. … Continue reading »
What is a C.O.G.? That question is at the heart of the unimaginatively titled C.O.G. (opening at Rialto Cinema’s Elmwood on Friday, September 20), director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s (Easier with Practice) sophomore effort. The answer isn’t terribly surprising, but turns out to be one of the more predictable aspects of what is otherwise a fine example of character-driven, American indie filmmaking.
Set in Oregon, C.O.G. stars Glee regular Jonathan Groff as ‘Samuel’, a Yale graduate (legal name: David) who’s abandoned his cell phone and comfortable Connecticut home for an opportunity to get his hands dirty and experience a ‘Grapes of Wrath’-style slice of working-class life. Arriving in the middle of nowhere after a Greydog ride from Hell, Samuel anticipates being joined in a few days by girlfriend Jennifer (Troian Bellisario) for an idyllic summer spent picking apples and reading Willa Cather together.
Instead, Samuel finds himself hired by unforgiving apple magnate Hobbs (Dean Stockwell, making the most of a small but meaty role), who expects him to – shock! – work just as hard as the Mexican migrant workers he employs. Taking a break to enjoy ‘Walden’ is strictly verboten, and to make matters worse, when Jennifer arrives, her new boyfriend has come along for the ride. The summer is not going to be as idyllic as Samuel imagined. … Continue reading »
The Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue may be getting another lease at life.
City Councilman Laurie Capitelli and the Youth Musical Theater Company are launching a task force to transform the theater on Solano into a multi-use venue. The task force has already started reaching out to the numerous Berkeley arts organizations operating without a permanent space in the hopes of attracting a group of anchor tenants.
“We’d like to see some activity going on at the theater every night,” Capitelli, who represents the Solano Avenue area on the council, said. “Bringing in a simulcast of a Paris opera, having special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl. We’re thinking of children’s matinee films, a summer series for kids who are out of school. Also panels, discussions, symposiums, etc.”
The Oaks Theater has long been an anchor site on Solano Avenue, but it has sat dark and vacant for the past two years. It was built as a single-screen theater in 1925 and upgraded to two screens in 1973. Renaissance Rialto Theaters operated the Oaks between 1994 and 2005, and then the Metropolitan Theaters Corporation ran it until 2010. Merriment Media used the theater to show Bollywood flicks for several months in 2010, but the company lost its lease after it failed to pay rent for three months. … Continue reading »
I’ve never been much for bicycles, and now I know why: according to cycling legend Jonathan (Jock) Boyer, it’s an activity predicated upon suffering – an opinion borne out by personal experience, as I invariably topple off any bike I attempt to ride. Boyer, the first American to compete in the Tour de France, no doubt knows from suffering, and is central to the story told by Rising from Ashes, an uplifting documentary about the redemptive power of pedaling opening at Rialto’s Elmwood on Friday, September 13th.
Narrated laconically by executive producer Forest Whitaker, Rising from Ashes follows convicted felon Boyer as he works with a select group of amateur athletes to build a national cycling team in the central African republic of Rwanda. His work pays off when one of his protégés wins the 2006 Wooden Bike Classic, and the film follows the team’s exploits all the way to the London Olympics, where star Adrien Niyonshuti finished 39th (second from last) in the Mountain Biking event. … Continue reading »
I’m not speaking from experience, of course, but I have to believe that adapting a play for the big screen isn’t easy. Tough decisions must be made: are you going to film an Olivier-style Shakespearian adaptation, sticking to every jot or tittle of the original text, or are you going to trim a little fat from the edges? Is your adaptation going to be little more than a filmed version of the play (making for a dull and static — if faithful — representation of the original work), or are you going to open up the story and take it places it could never go on stage?
These haven’t proven to be particularly formidable challenges for the good folks at PlayGround and Dances With Light. Based in the Bay Area, PlayGround has produced over 100 short plays since 1994, while Dances With Light has been in the film biz since 1979. In one of the best synergistic developments since one teenager got his chocolate in another teenager’s peanut butter, the two have combined forces for the 2nd Annual Playground Film Festival, screening at Rialto Cinema’s Elmwood at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1 and at the Zaentz Media Center, 2600 10th St., Berkeley at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. … Continue reading »
In late 2004, the Elmwood Theatre — owned at the time by San Carlos Cinemas — closed. I passed the theatre on the way to and from work each day, and, despite the somewhat hopeful message on the marquee (“Closed for Remodel”) I was convinced that the last bucket of spilled popcorn had been swept up there.
Victims of America’s love affair with the multiplex, over 500 single-screen movie theatres around the country had been shuttered over the preceding five years. How could Berkeley’s little neighborhood cinema resist the inexorable market forces working against it? … Continue reading »
You’re no doubt familiar by now with Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, but do you know from which town he hails? The answer is Janesville, Wisconsin, the small downstate city that’s also the focus of As Goes Janesville, a new documentary that is screening — for free — at 7:00 pm this Wednesday, October 10th at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood.
For decades, the city’s fortunes were inextricably linked with those of General Motors, Janesville’s largest employer. GM operated an assembly plant from the early 1920s until late 2008, when the financial crisis dealt a fatal blow to consumer spending. After the final sport utility vehicle rolled off the line two days before Christmas, union jobs that had allowed generations of residents to buy homes, send their children to college, and (of course) purchase their own Chevys literally disappeared overnight.
In a community of 63,000, the loss of 11,000 well-paid jobs was a stunning blow. Hundreds of other Janesville residents were forced to relocate to Indiana or Texas, home foreclosures skyrocketed, and, in the space of only a few months, Paul Ryan’s hometown went from boom to bust. Atlas, of course, merely shrugged. … Continue reading »
Even if you’ve never heard the name Wayne White before, you’ve probably seen his handiwork. An artistic polymath and obsessive junk collector whose influence on late 20th-century pop culture is greater than one might suspect, White is the focus of Beauty is Embarrassing, an entertaining and surprisingly uplifting documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, September 14.
Born and raised in rural Hixson, Tennessee, White grew up in a home filled with folk art made and collected by his mother Billie June. An obsessive artist from the age of two, White’s drawings were already controversial by the time he reached high school, where the principal described his work as “not the drawings of a red-blooded American boy.”
Inspired by the sneering disapproval of his elders, White matriculated at Middle Tennessee State University in 1975, where – in addition to pursuing a self-proclaimed “education in braless hippie chicks” – he began designing and constructing puppets, staging bizarre theatrical shows, and making crude animated films. MTSU soon proved too small a pond for the ambitious White, who moved to New York City in 1980. … Continue reading »
Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about Arizona. Despite being stereotyped as the land of border-patrolling Minutemen, gun nuts, Birchers, and birthers, it turns out that the Grand Canyon State is just like Berkeley, only with more pools. All this and much more is revealed in Kumaré, a new documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, September 7th.
A second generation Indian-American from New Jersey, Kumaré director Vikram Gandhi was immersed in Hindu philosophy and ritual from an early age by his deeply religious parents, who – like many first-generation immigrants – were desperate to ensure their offspring didn’t stray too far from his roots. Gandhi predictably rebelled, and, despite studying religion in college, became increasingly skeptical as he grew older.
Even a skeptic, however, has questions he can’t answer. In Gandhi’s case those questions centered on his grandmother, whose ability to achieve profound calm through prayer had puzzled him since childhood. Determined to find the source of her calm, the aspiring filmmaker began the spiritual journey documented in Kumaré. … Continue reading »
Few things personify the musky odor of mid-20th century American masculinity quite as potently as the writings of Mickey Spillane. Born Frank Morrison Spillane in Brooklyn in 1918, the jut-jawed, fedora-wearing beer enthusiast penned a series of wildly popular Ayn Rand-approved pulp novels featuring a private eye named, with appropriate lack of subtlety (or perhaps candor), Mike Hammer.
Selling several hundred million books is a sure way to get Hollywood’s attention, and, since his print birth in 1947, Hammer has appeared on the big screen half a dozen times — most memorably in 1955’s Kiss Me Deadly, an ink-black nuclear noir directed by Robert Aldrich. As for Spillane, he was celebrity enough to play himself in Ring of Fear (1954), a goofy but enjoyable circus-set thriller, and actor enough to play his own creation in 1963’s The Girl Hunters, one of a double bill of Hammer adaptations screening this Thursday, June 29th at Pacific Film Archive as part of the pulp writers series ‘One-Two Punch ’. … Continue reading »