The Reel Less Traveled – January 2019


First in a Series (Collect ‘em all!)

    I am writing this column very softly so as not to exacerbate the hangover you might be feeling this beginning of the New Year. There’s a paucity of news on the film front, but what we have is all good.
    I am delighted that The Moraga Movers is back! For too long, this organization has been absent from the cinematic landscape. Its selection of films has always been top-notch and, for me at least, informative. In an age where only the newest and latest get attention, it is gratifying indeed to see older films get screen time. After all, where do you think some of that which we now take for granted comes from, more often than not in a purer form?
    This month, in particular, you will have the opportunity to see an original that you might not have known even existed. I speak of A Star is Born – the 1937 version! Starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. This is the one that started it all. In viewing it, you have a chance to watch history. You think you know this show-biz story? Think again. The later versions may have more notable music and flashier production values, but here you’ll be able to see something closer to the source. This is the one that you should compare with all others. Also featuring such luminaries as Adolphe Menjou and Andy Devine, it will show at the Rheem on Jan. 9 at 4 p.m. For updated information, be sure to go to
    Another welcome staple of the Lamorinda community is the International Film Showcase (IFS). This time Jo Alice and Efi are making absolutely sure you don’t miss what they have to offer this month. In an unprecedented move, their chosen film will have a one week run in both the Orinda and Rheem theatres. Though solid dates are not yet available, I cannot stress how important is will be to keep tabs on what is going on with the IFS by checking in frequently at
    This month, they will be featuring Becoming Astrid, the true story of Astrid Lindgren, the author of such famous children’s classics as The Children of Noisy Village, The Brothers Lionheart and, most famously, Pippi Longstocking. Represented here as a wild free spirit, Lindgren gets depicted as someone whose very unconventionality places her at the heart of a personal scandal that throws her life into a chaotic holding pattern of sorts. Forced to make a heart-rending decision, she finds herself shamed and filled with self-loathing. What follows calls to mind the concept of what to do when given a bunch of lemons. The lemonade that results is quenching. The one to watch here in this 2018 Swedish film would be Alba August. In the title role, she dominates the film and fully fleshes out the character she plays. It will be here in the Lamorinda community for two weeks: one week at the Orinda and the next at the Rheem. Check out the IFS website and/or the Lamorinda theatre website mentioned above for details as the showing gets near.
    January is, of course, a dark month. Fitting then that I suggest you stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies.

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