The Reel Less Traveled – October 2019


Cinema With a Guest List

    This month offers far more than sitting in a darkened room, watching images projected on a screen. Two of the offered movies include special guest stars to add and enrich the movie going experience.
    In a way October’s selection of movies has a sort of film festival vibe to it without the searchlights and red carpet. Nor will there be much traveling involved. Because the Rheem is still dark, it looks as if the Orinda Theatre will be a sort of one-stop shopping for all cinematic needs. To continue with the film festival theme, there also will be a first, of sorts, that I have never written about before, but we’ll get to that later.
    Right now let’s take a look at what the International Film Showcase has in store. We’re going to travel to a place that, at first glance, might not seem like a location that would be on anyone’s first choice list. Indeed, the exact location is not really revealed but if a parallel is to be made, it would probably be Siberia or some other place that is just as inhospitable. (A further hint as to the location of this film might come in the form of the name of the central character: Nanook.)
    For now, let’s just call it the North and the name of the film is Aga. Here we meet Nanook and his wife Sedna. They lead a quiet, isolated, traditional life hunting, fishing and tending to the home. Even though this sounds primitive, they are not so cut off that they do not know about the possibility of climate change. It is exactly this that Nanook initially thinks of when their food become harder to come by.
    Their two children have long since moved away, preferring to live a more modern, opportunistic life. Though one visits them regularly, it is, due to Sedna falling ill, the desire for a full family unification that drives this film.
    There is an immense icy beauty and anyone who appreciates films from the likes of Malick, Kubrick or Tarkovsky will definitely find something to appreciate. The film has a one-week run at the Orinda, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 4. For more information and previews of this and coming attractions, go to
    The next selection is a little odd insofar as one might well wonder why this one film was chosen and not the other two. (It’s part of a trilogy.) It gets odder still when you find out that this is not the first part of a trilogy, or is it the last but the one in the middle.
    I do not speak of The Two Towers or The Empire Strikes Back but rather Back to the Future Part 2. Often overlooked when one speaks of to-be-continued movie story lines, it must be mentioned that, when it’s all put together, it is actually regarded as one of the more successful movie trilogies of all time.
    It was also one of the earliest, which, in part, could be one of the reasons for its popularity. The other reasons, of course would be its director. Robert Zemeckis has always tried to push the envelope, technologically, with his films. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Contact come immediately to mind and the Back to the Future films certainly follow suit, not just because they were ahead of their time but also (as anyone who has seen these films will attest) behind it, too.
    Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd also deserve a lion’s share of the accolades associated with this movie as they lend their respective gravitas and lunacy toward making this outlandish tale just that much more enjoyable.
    And speaking of the cast, one of the cast will be on hand to speak about his experience on the set. Jeffery Weissman, who plays George McFly, Marty McFly’s dad, promises to regale the audience with behind-the-scenes stories, including how he got the part in the first place. That you don’t want to miss!
    This 30th anniversary showing takes place at the Orinda Theatre at 7 p.m. Oct. 10. Admission is free. “Great Scott!”
    Now, as mentioned, I’m pleased to announce that I’m doing something in this column I’ve never done before. We’ve talked about every sort of film there is from silly teen comedies to heart-rending tragedies but I don’t think I‘ve ever covered a documentary. That deficit ends now with a special screening of The Gate: Dawn of the Bahai’I Faith.
    As the title implies, this film traces the history of the faith back to its roots. Indeed, there is great significance in this as this film will be showing a little under a week before the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab.
    Featuring learned scholars and historical re-enactments, The Gate attempts to explain and elucidate all facets of this faith while staying true to its tenets. There will also be a discussion afterward with Massoud Fanaieyan serving as moderator and the film’s co-producer and actor, Adam Mondschein.
    This event takes place at the Orinda Theater at 7 p.m. Oct. 23.
    No column would be complete without me imploring you to make frequent visits to so you don’t miss many of the other additional shows, including several live concerts.
    And always remember to stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies.

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