Monday, January 17, 2011

Max Goldberg's Two Eyes

Since my own two eyes were not nearly enough to see and evaluate all the repertory/revival film screenings here on Frisco Bay, I'm honored to present local filmgoers' lists of the year's favorites. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from sfbg critic Max Goldberg who blogs at Text Of Light:

I began by compiling those rep knockouts that were new to me—Dion Vigne’s North Beach and Jim McBride’s My Girfriend’s Wedding sprang to mind—but then decided that it might be more interesting to limit myself to those films which I’d seen before, but which made a different kind of sense to me in the cinema. Here are five:

The Postman Always Rings Twice/He Ran All the Way double bill at the Castro. Specifically John Garfield’s fighting frame. Cinephile discourses tend to privilege formalist elements of composition and color in defense of the big screen experience, but actors work on that same canvas, and we might easily miss their tempos at home. Garfield with Lana Turner is a fever dream Philip Roth’s Portnoy would have admired.

Bad Lieutenant at the Roxie. There are certain factors—both dispositional and spiritual—which prevent me from “getting” Ferrara/Keitel’s howl at the void. At a certain level, I just need to trust that people really do shake before the cross. But wasting sunlight to view a scuffed print of Bad Lieutenant at the Roxie was exactly what I needed to respond to Ferrara’s oozing moral tale. Walking past the well dressed on a beautiful afternoon afterward, I could only smell garbage.

Love Letters and Live Wires: Highlights from the GPO Unit program at the Pacific Film Archive. I’ve long marveled at Night Mail for its amazing rhythms and railroad fetishism, to say nothing of its startling combination of talent (Basil Wright, John Grierson, Alberto Cavalcanti, Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden?!). Seeing it with seven other wildly inventive films produced by Britain’s General Post Office Unit was a revelation, however. The two by Len Lye confirm him as a great pop artist before the fact, and all these films remind us that the cinematic obsession with technological connectivity did not begin with The Social Network.

Invocation of My Demon Brother as part of the Bay Area Ecstatic program at SF MoMA. My pleasure in this was partially the result of having screened Stones in Exile, an authorized look at the making of Exile on Main Street, earlier that same day. The doc is mostly just watching the boys polish their silver, which made it especially delicious getting tossed overboard by Mick’s demonic score for Invocation—an un-recoupable strand of the Stones’ legacy. I’m certain that I would have turned down the volume were I watching Anger’s film at home. And that’s not witchcraft.

Viaggio in Italia and Gertrud on consecutive Sundays at the Pacific Film Archive. I had seen both of these films only once before, when I was a freshman in college—which now strikes me as an almost comically inappropriate time to absorb their truths. Among other things, I hadn’t realized that both films were such frightening contemplations of acting. It’s difficult to think of too many other films which so acutely crystallize the trouble with living in the trouble between men and women.

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