Friday, November 17


It Pours

I'm way behind in keeping this blog up-to-date on the latest Frisco film screening news. Here's a meager attempt to come close to catching up:

I've added another theatre to the first section of my sidebar, where I link to Frisco Bay theatres worth keeping tabs on. Oakland's glorious Art Deco movie palace, the Paramount Theatre, shows the first of five beloved movie "classics" tonight, the first films scheduled to be projected there since before I started this blog. Tonight's selection is the Sting, and it will be followed by Duck Soup December 15, the Wizard of Oz December 29 (it also plays the Castro December 9), Casablanca January 5 (also at the Castro December 27), and last but not least Double Indemnity January 12. Friday nights in downtown Oakland just got a lot better for movie lovers.

Tonight is also the opening of the five-day, nine-title 8 Films to Die For horror film festival at the Four Star in Frisco and hundreds of other theatres nationwide. At first I wasn't terribly excited about the festival because the one title I'd seen, the Hamiltons, hadn't impressed me much. But then I started reading positive reviews of films in the series like the Abandoned and Reincarnation, and I started to wonder if I'd just solved the mystery of the discrepancy between the number of films in the festival and its name: perhaps the one I saw was the only one of the nine not "to die for"? Here's hoping. I'm just glad to see a film festival at my neighborhood theatre. I was sorely disappointed that theatre owner Frank Lee had decided to skip running his nearly-annual Asian Film Festival this year.

Tomorrow at the nicely-laid out theatre at SFMOMA, the masterpiece of midwestern malaise that is Stroszek will play at 3PM as part of a substantial Werner Herzog retrospective held select Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons there through this January. I feel extremely remiss not having mentioned this series before, as I'd been quite vocal about my hopes for a Herzog retro to accompany his receipt of an award from the Film Society earlier this year. But I didn't find out about the series until a mere day before it opened last Thursday with Aguirre: Wrath of God (which I wasn't able to attend), and I didn't find time to post before last Saturday's screening of Signs of Life (which I was). Other particularly noteworthy screenings in the series will include a January 25 double bill of his Nosferatu the Vampyre and the F.W. Murnau film it remakes, Nosferatu: a Symphony of Horror, which will be accompanied by music from the excellent local band Tarantel. The series wraps with a trio of rarely-screened "documentaries" on January 27: the Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner, Lessons of Darkness and Bells From the Deep. In addition to the Herzog mania, SFMOMA will also host a lecture on Alexander Sokurov December 7th, followed by a screening of his deservedly-acclaimed The Sun.

Missing Aguirre: Wrath of God projected in a newly restored 35mm print almost had me upset enough to throw a squirrel monkey, until I realized I'd get a second chance January 28-30 courtesy of the Red Vic, which just released its latest calendar. Herzog is also represented on this calendar with a February 4-6 engagement of the Wild Blue Yonder. Other auteurs with films planned to grace the Haight Street screen include Jan Svankmajer (Lunacy Dec. 21-23) and his stop-motion puppetry disciples the Quay Brothers (the Piano Tuner of Earthquakes Dec. 8-14), D.A. Pennebaker (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars Feb. 7-8), Woody Allen (Annie Hall Feb. 13-14) and Terry Gilliam (Tideland Feb. 18-19 and Brazil Feb. 20-22). And of course the late master Akira Kurosawa, whose signature film Seven Samurai plays January 21-22 (it also plays at the Pacific Film Archive on December 9). Less recognizable but worthy director names on the Red Vic calendar include Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson Dec. 17-18), Kirby Dick (This Film is Not Yet Rated Dec. 19-20) and Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy Jan. 17-18). And lots more I'm leaving out- pick up a calendar yourself to learn just what.

The screening room at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts has been very active lately, and will continue to be so for at least a few more weeks. December events to note include two screenings of Japanese puppet filmmaker Kihachiro Kawamoto's Book of the Dead on the 14th and 15th, and a program of his shorts on the 17th. And, on the 6th, Jonathan Marlow of Greencine will present a second helping of his Cabinet of Curiosities. I attended the first this past March, and it included rare shorts by the likes of Alan Resnais and Jiri Trnka I don't know how I'd have been able to track down on my own. Lots of fun. This time around shorts by Karel Zeman and Guy Maddin are promised among others.

Finally, as a reward for your patience in regard to my last-minute (or well-past-last-minute, as in the case of Signs of Life) retrieval of several of these upcoming events, here's a link to one last tidbit of information that any self-respecting appreciator of film noir will definitely want to click on.

Quote, "almost had me upset enough to throw a squirrel monkey", got a chuckle from this reader!
Same here. I don't know if you've ever tried to throw a squirrel monkey, Brian, but it's really quite difficult. Howlers are a little easier. And spider monkeys are just a noisy bother.
I've never tried, but Klaus Kinski makes it look effortless. But thanks to your advice, I'll try howlers first and work my way up.
If you train hard enough, you can just make it to the monkey throwing competition early next year.
Great news about "This Film..." and "Old Joy", both of which barely had 2 weeks of release throughout the Bay Area. The Red Vic site still doesn't have their new calendar up, so I'm glad you're out there, Bri, fighting the good fight and raising spirits along the way. Too bad the Paramount's staying ultra-conventional with its programming (the only one I'm likely to revisit is "Double")

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks, archiveguy. I agree with your comment about the rather safe Paramount choices, but to be honest the only ones I've seen before in 35mm are Casablanca, and Wizard of Oz (and the latter was when I was a kid). I hope to go to most of these. Maybe I'll see you at Double Indemnity!
I've always been disappointed in the quality of prints at the Paramount, though the venue (of course) is intoxicating.
I've seen some excellent-quality prints there and some poorer ones. The one thing that I've found consistent is that the sound system isn't so hot for dialogue-heavy films.

There's another new venue in the East Bay showing classic films. The Cerrito has plans for weekend screenings through the end of the year, starting this Saturday.
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