Filmex opens tonight with the British comedy "A Private Function," a return to the kind of humor which marked Britain's glory days and which has already won three British equivalents of the Oscars--for its actress and supporting actor and actress. (Word is that we will have it commercially within the month.)
And after that, the deluge. To give readers a leg up on planning their moviegoing, what follows is a list of the most recommended pictures of the next seven days, of those already press-screened. The quotes are from our reviewers.
Friday: the Artie Shaw documentary "Time Is All You've Got," a skillful blend of archival footage and contemporary interviews with Shaw and friends. "Streetwise," "so good it could wither your heart," a portrait of a dozen or more street children in Seattle, expanded from an award-winning Life magazine story by photographer Mary Ellen Mark and Cheryl McCall and photographed by expert documentarian Martin Bell. And finally "Blanche," almost unseen since its release in 1971, a film by Walerian Borowczyk: a delicately balanced fable of love and death in 13th-Century France.
Saturday: In "Kerouac," the style of John Antonelli's off-beat, meticulously detailed yet dramatic study of the Beat Generation author of "On the Road" uniquely suits his subject. "Snowdrop Festival," a sly bucolic comedy, is the best Jiri Menzel we have had since "Closely Watched Trains." "28-Up," by Michael Apted, is a documentary more fascinating than any fiction, which traces a group of 7-year-old British schoolchildren through their next 21 years, at 7-year intervals. A withering portrait of class and privilege and of opportunities, taken and not, it is a mesmerizing, tragic and utterly memorable work.
Sunday: Hideo Gosha's contemporary "Onimasa," notable for the superlative performance of Tatsuya Nakadai as a Bogart-like gangster chieftain. "Jungle Girl," experimental film master Richard Meyer's intensely personal tribute to Frances Gifford, star of the Republic Pictures serial of the 1940s, a gentle, dream/memory work of haunting visual beauty with comic punctuation. "Blue Money," a quirky, frenetic British comic thriller with Tim Curry.
Monday: "Balkan Spy," a Yugoslav film in which a landlord's odd belief that his tenants are international spies leads to slapstick and tragic results.
Tuesday: "The Roommate," an "American Playhouse" gem from the John Updike story "The Christian Roommates," given subtle, hilarious, poignant life by director Nell Cox and especially by Barry Miller and Lance Guest as two wildly mismatched college roommates. And "The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt," Harrison Engle's film, both panoramic and personal, which is enough to inspire genuine nostalgia for a strong, knowledgeable political practitioner.
Wednesday: "Small Happiness: Women of a Chinese Village," a revealing, infectious, remarkably candid portrait of women's lives before and after the Revolution. "Sonatine," Canadian actress-director Micheline Lanctot's second feature concerns the actions of a pair of teen-age girls and their do-or-die pact to gain attention, a brooding work with references to the style of Bresson.
Next Thursday: "Before Stonewall," Greta Schiller's comprehensive, entertaining and enlightening history of the American Gay movement prior to its years of activism. With narration by Rita Mae Brown.
Keep in mind that not all films in this time frame have been press screened, and be on the alert for the late entry which may be a sleeper. You might have hopes for Sunday's "The Young Visiters" if the adaptation is up to that small classic of the 1890s by that precocious 9-year-old, Daisy Ashford.
Kevin Thomas, Michael Wilmington and Leonard Klady contributed to this round-up.