After its award-winning run on the film festival circuit, director Christine Yoo’s “26.2 to Life” finally makes a big leap into Bay Area theaters this weekend. The inspiring documentary covers the 1000 Mile Club, a long distance running group made up of San Quentin State Prison inmates.
Yoo’s engrossing film follows a few men as they train for the main event – an annual marathon that takes place inside the prison and requires a brutal 105 laps around the yard.
The film includes interviews, training sessions and — of course — the 26.2 mile run itself overseen by head coach Frank Ruona. The program launched in 2005.
Yoo’s film introduces us to Ruona and then takes the time and care to expand upon the stories of those inmates in the race. All have powerful stories to relate, but it is Markelle “The Gazelle” Taylor’s commitment along with his athletic grace and steely resolve to both complete the race and turn his life around that turns out to be the heart and soul of the film.
Yoo’s film avoids being pigeonholed into a punch-the-numbers, feel-good documentary. She delves into the lives and the crimes committed, with her and her crew spending time on the outside with family members as well.
A number of screenings with Q&As are slated for “26.2 to Life” this week and weekend including: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Roxie in San Francisco; 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Smith Rafael Film Center; 1 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Elmwood in Berkeley; 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Roxie; 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Smith Rafael Film Center; 12:30 p.m., Sept. 24 at the Roxie and 4:15 p.m., Sept. 24 at the Smith Rafael Film Center. The film will also be shown at the Rialto Cinemas Sebastopol.
One of the biggest gay-themed events in the Bay Area arrives this weekend when the Folsom Street Fair gets its kink on for a 40th annual celebration of all things leather — or, if you’re so inclined, pleather.
To whip up some interest for this Sunday’s street fair, the Roxie is showing two films. The theater’s LeatherWeek program started Monday with a screening of the 2017 biopic “Tom of Finland” and continues Tuesday (Sept 19) with the late William Friedkin’s criticized and later more appreciated 1980 serial killer thriller “Cruising” with Al Pacino. For more info, visit https://roxie.com/film/cruising/.
Should you be a big fan of the “John Wick” action franchise, a prologue of sorts — Peacock’s three-part series “The Continental: From the World of John Wick” — is a must, even minus the charismatic presence of Keanu Reeves. Some might well say why bother given Reeves’ absence. That’s fine but they’ll be missing out on a richly imagined gritty New York world of the ‘70s and a hotel where assassins and the rich hobnob. San Francisco native Colin Woodell stakes a claim for action-star heartthrob as Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane in the films). He returns to his tangled hometown roots and becomes ensnared in a showdown between a mob boss (Mel Gibson) from his past and his estranged brother (Ben Robson).
Created by Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward and Shawn Simmons, “The Continental” moves like a runaway train and is stuffed with the qualities — martial arts fights, bloody battles and hissable villains — that made the Wick franchise such a success. The three-part event begins Sept. 22 and continues on Sept. 29 with the final installment dropping Oct. 6.
Meanwhile, San Francisco’s 4 Star Theatre continues to celebrate one of our most celebrated filmmakers — Martin Scorsese. If you like noirish thrillers, there’s a killer double bill this Friday and Saturday of Scorsese’s 2010 shocker “Shutter Island” (6 p.m.) with Leonardo DiCaprio and his intense 1991 remake “Cape Fear” (9 p.m.) with Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis. If that’s just too scary for you, there’s the 2011 delight “Hugo” (1 p.m.), which is appropriate for families.
If you’re a big Meryl Streep fan, the 4 Star Theatre is the place to adore and applaud her Sept. 29-Oct. 1 when the theater sponsors Merylthon, featuring eight films starring the multiple Oscar-winning actor. Proceeds go to benefit Queer LifeSpace. The lineup includes “Doubt,” “Death Becomes Her,” “The River Wild,” “Into the Woods,” “She-Devil,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Julie & Julia.” For more information, visit merylthon.com.
Over in the East Bay, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive welcomes filmmaker Dawn Porter for a three-day program. Porter will participate in a Q&A at two screenings — the 7 p.m. Sept. 21 showing of her latest documentary “The Lady Bird Diaries” (taken from Lady Bird Johnson’s prolific audio recordings) and the 4 p.m. Sept. 23 showing of her 2013 award-winning documentary “Gideon’s Army,” which recounts a landmark Supreme Court case. She’ll also be featured at 3 p.m. Sept. 22 in a conversation with UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism professor Lisa Armstrong. For more information and to get tickets, visit https://bampfa.org/program/dawn-porter-person.