The work of three prominent Bay Area entertainment personalities gets showcased in theaters and, in one case, online, this week.
First up is Livermore native Kyle Allen’s performance in Kenneth Branagh’s third – and perhaps best adaptation of an Agatha Christie puzzler (1969’s “Hallowe’en Party.”), “A Haunting in Venice.”
After Allen’s impressive performances in a round of indie releases (Amazon Prime’s “Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” “The In Between,” and “Rosaline”), the nimble (he’s a movement specialist on-screen and off) talented actor leaps into the A-list ranks, working alongside Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, Branagh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, and so on in a major Hollywood production. Not bad company to keep. The plot hinges on a seance in the Italian city that sets the stage for murderous goings on that lead to dead bodies and fire up the little gray cells of Hercule Poirot as he clues into a number of suspects.
Early buzz is that out of Branagh’s three Christie attempts – the overstuffed “Murder on the Orient Express” and the sluggish, rather terrible “Death on the Nile” – the filmmaker comes up with a good one as his propensity for lavish production details matching the material and the setting.
It opens Friday in area theaters.
The legacy of Chris Strachwitz, the innovative founder of the El Cerrito-based Arhoolie Records who died in May, lives on in the remastered version of a musical documentary that he co-directed along with two others, “I Went to the Dance.”
It’s a toe-tapping musical journey into Zydeco which was originally released in 1989 as “J’ai été au bal.” “Dance” immerses itself into the intoxicating Cajun culture and features electrifying performances from Clifton Chenier (who became a global sensation afterwards), BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Marc and Ann Savoy, D.L. Menard, Rockin’ Sydney, and more.
The musical documentary was spearheaded by the late Les Blank – one of the directors – who was in Southern Louisiana in the ‘70s and made a series of shorts, including the 21-minute “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoes” in 1980, before he tackled this musically infused documentary, which is based on author Ann Savoy’s “Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People.” It’s now receiving a 5K restoration by his son, Harrod Blank, and Anthony Matt.
But you’ll need to hop to it to see it. It’ll be screening for one night only at select Bay Area venues this week, and will also include Q&As along with special live musical performances.
The screenings include: 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito in El Cerrito and will feature a Q&A with co-director Maureen Gosling of Oakland and Harrod Blank along with live music from Berkeley’s Eric and Suzy Thompson; 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Rialto Cinemas in Berkeley and Q&As with Gosling and Harrod Blank along with music form the Bay Area’s Creole Belles with Andrew Carriere; and 4 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Roxie in San Francisco with Q&As and live music from Eric and Suzy Thompson. It will also be shown on Sept. 15 at the Lark Theater in Larkspur and the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol.
Should you be in the mood for a campy spoof of schlocky ‘80s horror movies, the shot-on-the-cheap in Chico “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is certain to induce fits of hysteria and laughter.
The re-release of this 2015 sendup of slasher flicks of the sort where stupid characters fumble around in the dark and refuse to turn on the lights right next to them, is a cheeky delight directed with jaunty style by Tom Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet and John Salmon. Ridiculously gory, it features Walnut Creek native Greg Sestero as a clueless hunk who is man bait for a serial killer. The hilarious plot – if you could call it that – hinges on a murder victim’s twin brother (Alec Owen) going undercover at a Chico frat to deduce who killed his bro.
It makes for ideal party viewing, and is available to rent now.