The Reel Less Traveled – February 2022


Time Flies

    Of the 28 days we are allotted for February, there are at least two during which you should spend at the Orinda Theatre. For this month, the two major offerings that are not current first-run movies are truly well worth taking time to enjoy. Flipping a figurative coin, I choose to write about what the International Film Showcase will be showing first.
    The importance of sound in movies cannot be overstated, not only for the audience but also as a plot device. Two great examples of this are The Conversation (1974) and Blow Out (1981), both of which detail the intricacies and importance sound recordings play in our lives.
    Now, Black Box can be added to this subset of the paranoid thriller. It covers much the same ground. The central character here is Mathieu, whose job is to analyze and interpret recordings taken from black boxes, those devices aboard all aircraft that airlines use as a means of record should the very worst happen.
    The disaster in question here involves a new type of plane that crashes, killing 300 people. It is Mathieu’s sorry task to find out exactly what went wrong. Being highly skilled at his job, he notices certain peculiarities with the recording, and here is where the drama begins.
    Mathieu finds himself alienated from just about everyone close to him when his search for the truth is stymied at every turn. From then on we, the audience, are left not knowing where or how it will resolve. Stories like these are always enthralling, and organizers Efi Lubliner and Jo Alice Canterbury hope you will come to the Orinda to find out how it all plays out. No firm dates have been set at press time, so make frequent visits to for trailers and further information.
    Next on the list is the ever-growing in popularity, Chiller Diller Theatre. This month is something of a departure from the usual fare: this film is actually good. The Time Machine has several distinguishing features, not the least of which is its director. George Pal, known for his special effects wizardry, spearheaded this film, and it turns out he’s just as good with direction as he is with movie magic and attention to detail.
    Typically, historical accuracy is often the first casualty in films like this, but all the periods represented (even the fanciful future ones) look as if a fair amount of research went into imagining them. Released in 1960, the film takes a pointed, slightly conservative jab at the prevailing attitudes of the time, but this should in no way discourage you from seeing this minor masterpiece. It shows at the Orinda Theatre Feb. 19. For further information and show times, visit
    So now onwards towards March, but in the meantime, remember to always veer towards those wonderful images made from light and sound, since that’s where the reel magic lies.

Tom Westlake can be reached at

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