News Column

Bay Area repertory picks, Sept. 19-22

September 19, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 19--"Bullitt": William Friedkin told 96 Hours last week that he thought the famous chase scene in Steve McQueen's signature film is overrated. "I like it, but I don't think it's great," Friedkin said, but " 'Bullitt' is the best cop film I've ever seen. I probably watch it five times a year." Now you can see it on the big screen Friday night at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland and judge for yourself. (And if you want to give Friedkin a piece of your mind, he'll be at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley at a book signing at 6 p.m. Saturday before a screening of "Cruising"). But the chase is great. As The Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub wrote in his appreciation of director Peter Yates after the he died in 2011, "The greatest moment in the famous 'Bullitt' car-chase scene through San Francisco had nothing to do with muscle cars skipping down Taylor Street in Russian Hill, or exploding in a fireball in Brisbane. ... It was a 2-second scene where the bad guy driving a Dodge Charger dramatically fastens his seat belt, a half-moment before the chase begins with a squeal of tires. 'There's a click, and then you know something big is about to happen,' 'Bullitt' cinematographer William Fraker said in 2003. 'Then you know you're in for a ride.' " Indeed. 8 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. (510) 465-6400. www.paramounttheatre.com.

Midnites for Maniacs: Repelled by Paul Schrader's take on Bret Easton Ellis with "The Canyons"? Try the viewpoint of Roger Avary, the "underrated" half of the "Pulp Fiction" writing team, according to programmer Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. His adaptation of Ellis' "The Rules of Attraction" was ridiculed at the time, but it's raw and honest. "There are always movies that are misunderstood at the time," he once told me. "If a film is earnest, I can bring something to a movie myself -- and make it good. As an audience, maybe we are active participants." With 1998's teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait." 7:15 p.m. Friday at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F. (415) 621-6120. www.castrotheatre.com.

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