Whether you’re going home to see the family for the holidays or just want to kick back in your apartment, it’s a perfect time to cozy up on the couch or head to the theater to see a movie.
Here are five of my favorite Bay Area-connected films from 2022 worth catching.
If the chilly Bay Area mornings and nights are getting to you, why not vicariously feel some heat coming off the screen by watching “Fire of Love”? Berkeley filmmaker Sara Dosa’s award-winning documentary boils over with creativity as it celebrates the trailblazing work of two passionate volcanologists — the late couple Katia and Maurice Krafft — and of the French New Wave movement. Evocatively narrated by Miranda July, “Fire of Love” is filled with spectacular footage of nature in exploding action along with entertaining interviews with the endlessly curious dynamo couple. See the PG-rated feast for the senses on Disney+ now.
San Francisco-born Anthony Fabian’s power-to-the-worker “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” puts a pep in your step and boosts your spirits. The always reliable Lesley Manville gives a tender and comforting performance as a likable, resourceful and spirited 1950s London cleaning woman whose trip to the House of Dior in Paris so she can buy a gown leads to major changes for her and those around her. The great Isabelle Huppert is a hoot as the pretentious, by-the-book House of Dior power-tripping assistant who learns to see the error in her snobby ways. You can rent it on various streaming platforms or watch it for free with a subscription to Peacock Premium.
Although much has been written about its terrible box-office performance, director Maria Schrader’s “She Said,” an adaptation of the best-selling nonfiction book that detailed the Harvey Weinstein investigation by two New York Times journalists and their editors and fueled the #The MeToo movement deserves to be seen. Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan respectively portray committed reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in this thoughtful and engrossing account, which also features Kantor coming to the South Bay (New Jersey subbing for Mountain View) to interview one of Weinstein’s accusers. “She Said” avoids the sensational and is respectful of the survivors as it commends vetted, old-school journalism, which, in this case led to the ultimate fall of one of the most powerful and abusive men in Hollywood. It’s now showing in select Bay Area theaters and is also available to rent on various streaming platforms.
If you’re looking for something to binge over the long holiday weekend, “The Dropout” will get you hooked from the get-go. Amanda Seyfried delivers an uncanny performance as Elizabeth Holmes, the enigmatic Theranos CEO from San Jose who was sentenced to just over 11 years due to fraud and conspiracy involving her biotech company. In eight addictive episodes, showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether’s production gives a detailed account of the dubious inventor whose blood-testing “product” was unproven. Nothing is exactly revelatory, but you won’t care. It’s yet another example of truth-is-stranger storytelling, and the cast couldn’t be finer. Watch it on Hulu.
Emeryville-based Pixar also felt the curse of the box office this year in June when its sci-fi take on the Buzz Lightyear character, called “Lightyear,” flared out fast. Too bad. As it stands, this origin story — unlike the earthbound “Toy Story” franchise — takes us to outer space as the cocky Buzz (voice of Chris Evans) learns that going it alone doesn’t do anyone any good and that teamwork is far more fulfilling. A cute robot-cat will steal your heart. You can give Berkeley director and co-screenwriter Angus MacLane’s feature another chance on Disney+ now.