Friday, November 25


Miscellaneous-ness for the long weekend

1. Lincoln Spector, who has just made his Bayflicks site even more useful than it was before, points out that a Palo Alto theatre that I barely even knew existed, the Spangenberg, is about to stop showing films this weekend. The last film to play there will be that old warhorse Gone With the Wind, tonight and Saturday night at 7PM. Though this news story makes me wonder if perhaps film screenings in a high school auditorium was not the best fit, I can't help but wish I'd been able to check out the venue at least once before it closed. Not spending much time in the South Bay, I'm sure I'm not aware of many interesting corners of film culture there. Please let me know if you think there's a particular venue (on the Peninsula or anywhere else on Frisco Bay) that you think I should keep an eye on or add to my sidebar.

2. Speaking of points South, Spike & Mike's latest Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation has been running at the Cinema 9 in Santa Cruz for a few weeks already. Right now it's only playing midnight weekend shows, the last scheduled for December 10th. Then it disappears from the Northern California until February 4, when it takes up residence at Frisco's Victoria Theatre every Saturday (Thursday & Friday shows to be added starting February 23) until April 29. From the looks of the flyers to be found in bookstores, coffee shops and other sick and twisted locations around town, it's more of the usual fare, including new Happy Tree Friends episodes and a reprise of audience favorite No Neck Joe. To my surprise, they also promise an undisclosed Don Hertzfeldt title. I was under the impression that Hertzfeldt, whose shorts like Billy's Balloon were highlights of Spike and Mike's festivals in the late 1990's, had sworn off showing his films there after helping start up the Animation Show with Mike Judge. However, Spike includes a note that they've made an effort to pick films with higher production values "beyond just the normal gross-outs". I guess they realize that they just can't keep letting quality slip in an age when audiences so readily turn to the internet and DVDs for oddball cartoon viewing. The return of Hertzfeldt's oh-so-cinematic animation sensibility is probably a good sign.

3. On to a wholly different breed of short subject: I'm very excited to see that two programs of Bruce Conner films will be playing at SFMOMA in December. If I were forced to pick a favorite experimental filmmaker it might well be Conner, whose films are a hard-to-imagine combination of aesthetically rigorous and accessibly entertaining. I've seen nearly all the selections playing on Saturday afternoon, December 10; some are hilarious (Permian Strata), others serious (the White Rose), others adrenalized (Breakaway), and others somehow all at once (a Movie). The soundtracks feature everyone from Devo to Miles Davis to Ray Charles to Brian Eno. I can't think of a better selection of films to show someone whose conception of experimental film is that it's unforgivingly pretentious, to blow apart that myth. And I'm personally excited about the December 8 evening program because it includes most of the more rarely-screened films and versions of films from Conner's body of work (i.e. the ones I haven't seen yet!).

4. The San Francisco Public Library has announced the December selections for its large-screen video presentations at noon on Thursdays. The theme is "Down in New Orleans", and features films set there like Interview With a Vampire (December 1) and Louis Malle's Pretty Baby (December 8). Most exciting is Les Blank's appearance following the screening of his documentary Always For Pleasure on December 15.

Spangenberg was an interesting theatre, and a great resource for those in the area. $5 movies, many times movies that did not play anywhere else. I saw one film there that never played in the city. It was a huge auditorium, so it neveer came close to filling.
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