Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Austin Wolf-Sothern Has Two Eyes

The Frisco Bay repertory/revival scene cannot be taken in by a single pair of eyes. Thankfully, a number of local filmgoers have agreed to share their favorites from 2009. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from Austin Wolf-Sothern, who blogs at Placenta Ovaries:

Midnites for Maniacs (Castro)

This year, I could've done a Top 10 made up entirely of Midnites for Maniacs events, as I went to and loved all eleven(!) of them. Programmer Jesse Ficks once again did a fantastic job, seeming to choose half of the movies directly from my own list of favorites, and mixing them in with obscurities and some classics that I'd not yet been blessed with seeing. If forced to pick a favorite, I might have to go with the "Fighting Back" Quadruple Feature, co-presented by the Alamo Drafthouse, and featuring cinematic treasures Vigilante, Raw Force, Escape from New York, and Lady Terminator. But that choice makes me feel guilty because three of those films were chosen by some guys from Texas. So instead, I'll go with "Love Kills...In the 1990s", which started with the most likable movie ever made, True Romance, and was followed by two movies I was completely obsessed with in high school, Natural Born Killers and The Doom Generation. I was also thrilled to enjoy old favorites Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Cheerleaders (at Yerba Buena), Adventures in Babysitting, Midnight Madness, and Near Dark, and was blown away by new discoveries Never Too Young to Die, Risky Business, Desperately Seeking Susan, Ice Castles, and Junior High School.

Midnight Mass (Bridge)

Peaches Christ didn't disappoint with another summer of cult favorites. The most exciting moment for me was the appearance of my favorite actress of all time, Linda Blair. There was an excellent tribute number, followed by a charming onstage interview, and then onto a screening of one her greatest films, Roller Boogie (The Exorcist played as well the next night, but I had to skip it in order wait in line and get my Savage Streets DVD signed.) The best film Peaches showed, however (besides Showgirls, obviously), was her first one-off show in October, the hugely underrated Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, which in my opinion is far superior to the original, and through and through, one of the most perfect horror films ever made. And the best pre-show of the year would have to go to the return of Polter-Christ, preceding Tobe Hooper's other bit of horror perfection Poltergeist (also amazing to see again).

Various Things at the Phenomenal Castro Theater

The Castro Theater, in general, even outside of hosting Midnites for Maniacs, is fucking amazing. This is nothing new for us Bay Area cinefiles, but I still can never quite get over how brilliantly varied and unique their programming is, allowing all brands of movie lovers to experience their favorites, be it older foreign classics or campy horror, within their enormous palace, and on their huge screen. Something I love just as much as discovering new movies, is re-discovering movies I was previously underwhelmed by. This year, the Castro helped me finally realize why Taxi Driver is such a masterpiece (it played as part of a week-long Scorsese series). Likewise, the incredible Badlands (played as a part of the first of two Terrence Malick double features). I also took in some old favorites with Possession (part of a week-long series called Women on the Verge), Dog Day Afternoon (Pacino series), and Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino series), and some new favorites with West of Zanzibar, Sunrise (both from the Silent Film Festival), Brighton Rock (part of a Best of British Noir series), and Ace in the Hole (Noir City).

The Rest

Some other notable screenings this year were a midnight screening of 90s pop classic Spice World at the Clay, screenings of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the Clay and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze at the Red Vic (both with shitty, disrespectful audiences, unfortunately), and the double feature at Yerba Buena of the charming Italian crime obscurity Mister Scarface along with the sleazy women-in-prison masterpiece Chained Heat starring Linda Blair.

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