Arts & Events

Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed--
Roxie Theatre in San Francisco and the Christopher B Smith Rafael film Center in San Rafael

Gar Smith
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:42:00 PM

Spanish director David Trueba's award-winning film, Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed, draws its title from the lyrics of John Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever." The famous song was written while Lennon was in Spain playing the role of Private Gripweed in Richard Lester's Film How I Won the War. Like any road picture, Looking Is Easy unspools a lot of scenery and a fair number of roadside characters—some are welcoming; others are overbearing bullies. All three lead actors are wonderfully naturalistic, relaxed and lovable. It's an absolute pleasure to be in their company. The landscape and scenery is as wide open and promising as the trio's expectations. -more-

The Greatest Films of Mario Monicelli: From Lowbrow Farce to High Drama
Playing through April 19 at the Pacific Film Archive

Gar Smith
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:31:00 PM

The films of Mario Monicelli—a beloved Italian director whose work is little known in the US, despite his six Oscar nominations—are enjoying a welcomed renaissance thanks to a major digital restoration undertaken by the Italian film industry. Seven of Monicelli's classics currently are being screened at venues across the United States. Locally, UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive is screening a mix of Monicelli's comedies and dramas through April 19. The series opened on March 5 with The Passionate Thief, a 1960 caper comedy that proves Monicelli can be even wilder than Billy Wilder. -more-

LA CLEOPATRA: A Venetian Opera Never Seen Since Its Premiere in 1662

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:08:00 PM

Composer Daniele da Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra premiered in Venice’s Teatro San Salvatore (also called Teatro San Luca) in 1662. A week earlier the Council of Ten, Venice’s top governing body, prohibited the opera from being performed and barred its prima donna, Anna Maria Sardelli, from singing in it. However, a week later a newspaper article declared the opera a success at Teatro San Luca. Why this opera was banned, at least temporarily, is a mystery. -more-