BERKELEY -- The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and the Downtown Berkeley Association are going dark. Nah, they're not closing. They're teaming up for free outdoor, nighttime movies across the street from BAM/PFA's future home at Oxford and Center streets.
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978) screens on Sept. 27 and "Harold and Maude" (1971) follows on Oct. 4, both copresented by the Downtown Berkeley Association.
The two films, likely to make you lean back on the Crescent lawn and say, "Yeah, the Bay Area was hip before hip hugger pants came into fashion and we'll be hip long after hip hop is out of style," showcase the local geography. And not just the literal kind. Beyond their San Francisco and Berkeley settings, the films map a certain dark-edged, West Coast, cowboys and contrariness mindset.
Rely on Donald Sutherland for bad hair and great acting in the 1978 podification thriller.
The film is a redo of the 1956 science fiction film of the same name; both based on Jack Finney's novel, "The Body Snatchers." Invading aliens do what invading aliens do: They take over the human race, duplicating the bodies of real people but subtracting emotion from the equation. A city health inspector (Sutherland) dodges plantlike "pods" that are making his friends appear "different" while parading through instantly recognizable San Francisco streets. Too bad for him, because we all know that "different" always wins in the Bay Area's liberal ether.
"Body Snatcher's" vistas are familiar and practically the only oddity will be seen during scenes while Sutherland is driving. "Where's all the bumper-to-bumper traffic?" you might mutter to your date. Caught up in the film's spider-web paranoia, there may be no reply, but don't be alarmed ... unless, when you stop at a Berkeley watering hole for a post-film brew, there's something decidedly "different" about your companions.
With solid performances from Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nimoy, body snatching becomes a dark delight. The film begins at 8 p.m. on and is preceded at 7:30 by Ernie Fosselius's mock movie trailer short, "Hardware Wars."
One week later, you can rely on suicide-inclined Bud Cort as "Harold" for bad outfits -- trust us, these go way beyond "unruly." Boredom, too much money and heavy-handed mothering drive "Harold" to mock hangings, shootings and other life-ending escapades, but also to funerals, where he meets 79-year-old "Maude."
Deliciously and quirkily played by Ruth Gordon, it's possible to see why the young man falls across the 59-year gap in their ages and into love.
"Maude" has a way with cars, first of all, which resembles a precursor to today's Zipcar: groovy wheels are available to her 24/7.
And when her delicate, deviant disregard for convention eventually causes her to swallow a lethal pill, there's a whiff of comfort in the fact that "Harold" is no longer a self-centric schmuck.
Shot in Berkeley and with music by Cat Stevens, it's another dark delight with nostalgic auditory bonuses. Sally Cruikshank's animated "Quasi at the Quackadero," set in what a news release calls "a zany amusement park," (aka, Berkeley?) leads off the feature film at 7:30 p.m.
Endless Summer Cinema screenings start at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 on the Crescent lawn at the West Gate of the UC Berkeley campus, Oxford and Center streets.