Thursday, July 21


Hey, check out my thing that's not a blog!

So the new issue of Senses of Cinema came out earlier today, and with it my article on the San Francisco International Film Festival. It's almost certainly the longest thing I've written since college, which may not be the best way to sell it to a potential reader, but it makes me happy because I think it has more unity than my 2004 piece. And it took less time to write (not that either was a breeze). Even at 3000 words or so I couldn't pack in all the ideas I wanted to but I'm still pretty happy with the result. Let me know what you think, nitpicks included. Be brutally honest.

Good news! The new Balboa calendar indicates that two of the films I most regretted missing at this year's festival, Jia Zhang-ke's The World and Thomas Riedelsheimer's Touch the Sound, will be playing in my neighborhood in mid-September! And two I was disappointed to miss at the 2003 festival will play in August: the French Fear & Trembling (August 4-10) and the Argentinian Historias Minimas (August 26-September 1). Other highlights include a week of the classic I Am Cuba (September 30-October 6) and a pair of silent films with music by the Devil Music Ensemble: Murnau's incredible Nosferatu and a more obscure pick Big Stakes, both on October 13.

I didn't make much of a fuss about the Louis Malle retrospective at the Pacific Film Archive when I found out about it because director retrospectives at the PFA are a pretty regular occurance, and I rarely am able to travel to Berkeley for more than a few programs in a series, even when the director is a particular favorite like Anthony Mann or Hiroshi Teshigahara. I should have read the fine print; though they're showing 11 Malle films in Berekeley, the Balboa is going to be hosting 18 between August 11 and 25! This is the first time such a big retrospective of a single director has come to the Richmond district since I've been old enough to pay attention, and it's the biggest examination of a director Frisco has seen in a while; Yerba Buena does retros but they're always smaller. The Castro showed some Bergman and Welles last summer but they were nothing close to complete surveys. To get something this big without crossing the Bay or going down to Stanford you have to go back to the Ozus at the Castro in 2003 or maybe even the Fassbinders at the Roxie earlier that year.

So it's Louis Malle, who I must admit is not a director near the top of my list to delve into. But why not? I've only seen a single one of his films (My Dinner With Andre, which I definitely liked at the time and could easily revisit when it plays on a double-bill with Vanya on 42nd Street August 15) even though many of the titles are familiar to me: The Lovers and Murmur of the Heart (August 11-12), Au revoir les enfants and Lacombe, Lucien (August 19-20), etc. I guess he just hasn't been discussed much by the film writers I read most frequently, though one of my favorites, Jonathan Rosenbaum, put both Atlantic City (August 13 with Pretty Baby) and Zazie dans le M├ętro (August 23-25 with May Fools) on his recent Essential Cinema list. I''m already feeling excited by the prospect of near-virgin territory. I made it to about half the programs in the excellent Human/Nature series at the Balboa last month, and I think I can do at least as well with this Malle series. I hope so, and I hope lots of other folks can too, because I want Gary Meyer and the Balboa to keep the series programming going!

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