With A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Swedish director Roy Andersson concludes his trilogy about "being a human being," which began with 2000's Songs From the Second and 2007's You, the Living. One could argue, though, that none of the characters in this final chapter are alive at all; there are zombies with more skin tone.
Unfolding as a series of casually overlapping vignettes, the film gravitates toward a certain deadpan view of life's little tragedies and disappointments. The camera does not move, observing people move slowly within a given space usually drained of most color. Each frame is dynamically textured; a mosaic of interlocking shapes and bodies that suggests the world still has a pulse.
If Pigeon has a central narrative, it revolves around two hapless salesmen hocking novelty items to uninterested business owners. Jonathan (Holger Andersson), the sad one, can't stop crying when his partner Sam (Nils Westblom) yells at him. Sensitivity like this exists in the strangest and most beguiling moments, which include a sublime musical interlude set inside a pub during a flashback to 1943.
Roy Andersson's treatment of history is fascinating. Time periods often collide, like when Charles XII and his army suddenly invade a town stopping over in a restaurant space and for an aggressive breather. Here we have the lavish grandeur of period piece fluff contrasting with blue-collar melancholia in perfect fashion.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, which opens Friday, July 24 at the Digital Gym Cinema, challenges traditional notions of cinematic pacing. Its glacial speed takes some getting used to. But once you've settled in to the film's sly and tactile view of human nature, its virtues are revelatory. It all may look like rigor mortis incarnate, but that's just life stripped of all the fantastical trimmings.
3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets: In 2012, a white man got into an argument with four black teenagers, resulting in a tragic shooting that left one of them, Jordan Davis, dead at the scene. This documentary examines the event and Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground laws. Plays through Thursday, July 30 at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile: During the Arab Spring in 2011, a Syrian writer named Amina Arraf is abducted for launching a blog that charted the gains made by those participating in the uprising. Plays through Thursday, July 30 at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence: A series of vignettes that loosely involve two hapless salesmen who witness the human condition and all of its absurd glory. Plays through Thursday, July 30 at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Do I Sound Gay?: A documentary about the stereotype of the "Gay Voice" by filmmaker David Thorpe.
Irrational Man: In Woody Allen's latest comedy, a college professor (Joaquin Phoenix) finds the will to live after he commits an existential act.
La Jolla Fashion Film Festival: A celebration of fashion in film that features screenings, gala parties, and panels. Event runs on Thursday and Friday, July 24 and 25, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla.
Pixels: Aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as acts of war, then attack the Earth with massive incarnations of some of those games' most classic characters.
Southpaw: Jake Gyllenhaal buffs up for his role as a down-and-out boxer trying to fight his way back to the title.
One Time Only
The Third Man: Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martin, who travels to postwar Vienna after the death of a mysterious friend, the black market racketeer, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at the Mission Valley Public Library.
Blazing Saddles: A corrupt politician appoints a black sheriff in order to ruin a western town, and his plan backfires in hilarious fashion in Mel Brooks' scathing frontier satire. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Goonies: A group of childhood friends embark on an adventure to save their homes from being foreclosed on in this classic from the 1980s. Screens at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at The Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
More Than Honey: Documentarian Markus Imhoof looks at the honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia to address growing concerns over global warming. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas.
To Catch a Thief: Cary Grant's reformed jewel thief must return to a life of crime to prove his innocence after being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Overboard: Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn star in Garry Marshall's comedy about a cruel heiress with amnesia who gets convinced she's married to a lowly carpenter. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 24, at the Portwood Pier Plaza in Imperial Beach.
The Secret of Santa Vittoria: At the height of WWII, a village known for its wine-producing prowess hides a million bottles from the advancing German army. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, July 24, at The Hotel Lafayette in North Park.
Fargo: You betcha, this film about murder, blackmail and clogged wood chippers is a real gem. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Two Night Stand: Two young people who've hooked up after an online date are forced to spend another night together when a snowstorm hits. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 27, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.
Woman in Gold: A determined Jewish refugee takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Dumb and Dumber: Boneheads Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) bumble their way to Aspen, Colorado, only to get caught up in a criminal conspiracy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.