Pass the Remote: Old-school movies plus a Kurdish film fest

New Yorker Jan (Nik Xhelilaj) embarks on a journey to understand the meaning behind a song in "Zer." (Photo courtesy the Roxie Theater)

Pass the Remote goes retro this week, rooting around the old-school movies toy chest to find some prizes while keeping an eye out for the Nomad Kurdish Film Festival at the Roxie in San Francisco.

This week, we even appeal to opera lovers with a special taped production of “Tosca” on the big screen in San Rafael. But the cinematic hotspot this weekend is over at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive with two must-sees.

“Stella Dallas” landed Barbara Stanwyck an Oscar nomination. (Photo courtesy the Pacific Film Archive)

The PFA continues its stellar “Ball of Fire: Barbara Stanwyck” series with the 1937 mother-daughter drama “Stella Dallas.” (Not that overdone remake starring Bette Midler, but the original). Directed by King Vidor and sporting one of Stanwyck’s most memorable Oscar-nominated performances, it finds the star playing the complicated Stella, a scapegoated mother who takes selfless action to help her daughter (Anne Shirley). It screens at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

For tickets:

“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” remains an unsettling work, 100 years later. (Photo courtesy the Pacific Film Archive)

Another PFA series — “F.W. Murnau: Voyages Into the Imaginary” — digs further back into the annals of cinema. You really can’t consider yourself a hardcore horror buff if you’ve never seen influential German filmmaker Murnau’s surreal, spellbinding silent film interpretation of the vampire legend. Every frame of 1922’s “Nosferatu” sears into your brain and then will haunt your nightmares for eternity. A hundred years later, “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” still has the power to creep you out and even make you look over your shoulder in a darkened theater. Another bonus is that the PFA’s 7 p.m. Saturday digitally restored presentation features Judith Rosenberg on the piano.

Here’s where you can get some tickets … if you dare:

New Yorker Jan (Nik Xhelilaj) embarks on a journey to understand the meaning behind a song in “Zer.” (Photo courtesy the Roxie Theater)

Over at the Roxie, a unique traveling, one-night only presentation piques our interest. The Nomad Kurdish Filmfest originates in Los Angeles and hopes to heighten the awareness of the Kurdish film industry. Here’s your chance to expand your global filmmaking horizons by attending the 3:30 p.m. Sunday screening in the Big Roxie of “Zer,” an award-winning 2017 drama about a New Yorker returning to Kurdistan to better understand the meaning behind the song his grandmother sang to him just before she died. Filmmaker Kazim Öz’s film will be preceded by the short “Judi of the Wishes” by Semiha Yildiz and Mesut Alp.

For tickets, visit

If you’re still not feeling comfortable about venturing into the theater right now, the Roxie has hot tickets. The first pays respects to late and treasured filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, who died Jan. 6 in Los Angeles. His career spanned decades, with the 1971 B&W drama “The Last Picture Show” being considered one of his highest points. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, it stars Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Cybill Shepherd and Cloris Leachman, who took home the best supporting actress trophy, and Ben Johnson, who took the best supporting actor award.

For tickets, visit

A teacher is the object of disdain when a personal sex tape accidentally migrates to the web in “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.” (Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

If you want something racy, provocative and for adult-eyes-only, buckle up those seat belts for “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.” Romanian filmaker Radu Jude aims his satire at the puritanical in everyday life and in government. It starts with an X-rated sex tape (shown at the start) that lands a school teacher (Katia Pascariu) in big trouble when it accidentally goes viral. “Banging” isn’t for all tastes, but it’s one wild, angry and raucous ride; unlike pretty much anything you’ve seen this year.

It’s playing at the Roxie,, and the Smith Rafael Film Center,

Need some other options? If you miss the experience of going to the opera, book on over Sunday to the Smith Rafael for “Tosca.” Be sure to find a comfy spot in the theater since the Royal Opera production clocks in at more than 3.5 hours. Luckily, there will be two intermissions.

It starts hitting those high notes at noon. Tickets:

It’s the next best thing to being there: A taped production of the classic “Tosca” should appeal to opera buffs. (Photo courtesy the Smith Rafael Film Center)

And finally, if you just need a good laugh and don’t mind being in a theater, Berkeley’s Elmwood revisits two Mel Brooks offerings: The “Spaceballs Quote-a-long” shows at 10:40 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and should provide some chuckles. Are you more of a “Blazing Saddles” fan? You’re in luck, too. The Elmwood will be screening that classic Western spoof also at 10:40 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For tickets and additional info, visit

Oh, one more thing. If you’re an aficionado of cheesy sci-fi, head over to El Cerrito at 7 p.m. this Thursday to bask in the stand-alone film of the ’70s TV series, “Battlestar Galactica.” I prefer the more thoughtful 2004-2009 series with Edward James Olmos, but if you prefer a lot of kitsch, this 1978 movie with Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Rick Springfield(!) provides and then some. It’s showing at Rialto Cinemas Cerrito.

For tickets and info, visit

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