Alice’s House is crowded with, in addition to the possessive Alice, three strapping sons, a straying husband, a vision-impaired mother (“Which one of you peed on the toilet lid again?”), and, outside the house, an old flame who happens to be married to Alice’s best customer at the beauty shop. All in all, a densely textured slice of São Paolo life, a little overseasoned, but unadorned, humble, modest, narrow in scope if not ramification, easy to chew and to swallow. (The director, Chico Teixeira, is a past documentarist in his fictional debut.) Each of the family members marks out an independent life, and Carla Ribas in the title role makes a sterling representative of womanly maturity not yet disfigured by cosmetic surgery, an all but unimaginable being in contemporary American cinema. None of the family members, what’s more, brings us into contact with a ripped-from-the-headlines social problem, as in the likewise Brazilian City of Men, which opened a week ago. They bring us merely into contact with the sort of middle-class domestic unit that might scan those headlines over breakfast. The universal sort.
And that’s my cue to remind you once again of the start of the San Diego Latino Film Festival, today, March 6, at the UltraStar Mission Valley in Hazard Center. Alice’s House, opening tomorrow at the Ken, in direct competition, would have fit comfortably in the festival setting, and it affords you an alternative should you wish to avoid the crowds.
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Pacific Theatres, I notice, have now gone the way of UA Cinemas and Mann Theatres. Gone, gone. Their remaining houses in town, the Carmel Mountain, the Grossmont Center, the Clairemont Town Square, and the downtown Gaslamp, have fallen into the hands of an entity called Reading Cinemas, out of New Zealand and Australia. There has as yet been no further loss of screens, but it nonetheless feels like a passing. Maybe not as poignant a one as the passing of Pacific’s single-screen Grossmont or single-screen Cinerama. (The then single-screen Clairemont was the first theater I attended after moving to San Diego: Johnny Cash and Kirk Douglas in A Gunfight, for forty-nine cents.) But all the same, a passing. I call for a moment of silence.