Robot Wars

In a weird yet illuminating coincidence, the most ambitious and accomplished sci-fi flick of 2010 opens the very day that the restoration of a 1927 science-fiction classic receives its local premiere in the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Will Christopher Nolan’s Inception incite and thrill moviegoers 83 years hence, as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis still does today? Not bloody likely, as a storyline involving the devious but isolated infiltration of dreams for financial gain lacks the undying appeal of the mass exploitation and climactic revolt of the working class. Along with 30 minutes of long-lost footage, the sure-to-be-sold-out screening of Metropolis (July 16) features the venerable Alloy Orchestra performing its pulse-pounding soundtrack. Alloy fans won’t want to miss the intrepid trio reprise another beloved hit, Man with a Movie Camera (July 18), while original-score aficionados are salivating over the West Coast debut of Stockholm’s Matti Bye Ensemble with the delirious Swedish cult classic, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (July 17), and the scathing French comedy L’Heureuse Mort (July 18). which wraps the four-day frolic. But if it’s special effects you crave this weekend, there’s the preternaturally contemporary and gorgeous Louise Brooks (Diary of a Lost Girl) and John Ford’s epic re-creation of the first transcontinental railroad (fest opener The Iron Horse, screening tonight), among a smorgasbord loaded with black-and-white treats.
July 15-18, 2010

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