There are masterpieces, and there is Federico Fellinis 8 1/2. The peripatetic, one-of-a-kind plot centers on a successful movie director (played by the incomparable Marcello Mastroianni) desperately searching for inspiration. Alas, he is perpetually distracted and bothered and interrogated about his new project, snuffing every chance of progress. The great irony of this great film is that it is an endlessly, audaciously creative saga of a man whose creativity has seemingly deserted him. 8 1/2 is a daring, though not obvious, choice for an outdoor screening -- its flamboyant imagination and psychological acuity seem better suited to the confines of a theater than competing with the harsh sights, sounds, and smells of the real world. But North Beach still has the power to conjure magic under the right circumstances. A good bottle of Chianti under the stars is hard to beat. And with a little luck, Fellinis ghost will swing by to silence the sirens and the cellphones.
Sat., Aug. 25, 8 p.m.