Friday, January 13, 2012

Carl Martin Only Has Two Eyes

It's impossible for any pair of eyes to view all of Frisco Bay's worthwhile film screenings. I'm so pleased that a number of local filmgoers have let me post their repertory/revival screening highlights of 2011. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from Carl Martin, the keeper of the Film On Film Foundation's Bay Area Film Calendar.

this year's short list was modest compared to years past. still tough to winnow down to ten:

april 3, pfa: north beach
the fragment of dion vigne's film i'd seen before is brilliant. i'd heard the complete film was even more so--but how could it sustain its frantic energy for 17 minutes? it could!

april 27, kabuki #1: salvador
i've never been an oliver stone fan but this early buddy movie (?) has just the right tone of general nonpartisan political cynicism. james woods is a lunatic. a first-rate print, well projected.

may 13, castro: out of the blue
finally allowed to direct again after the last movie, dennis hopper made a film almost as radical and disruptive, yet, to its benefit, with more confidence and cohesion. linda manz. linda manz!

june 5, red vic: the great muppet caper; june 19, castro: the muppets take manhattan
i hadn't seen these first two muppet sequels since their original releases, and they had me choked up from scene one. masterful puppetry, masterful command of cinema's emotive possibilities. plus great songs and cameos. lovely prints. (the new muppet movie was ok but they shot the dang thing with a video camera!)

july 1, roxie: tex
matt dillon: a dumb mug awash with pathos-inducing, vulnerable bravado. this movie tore my damn heart out. followed by the somewhat cathartic over the edge, an earlier, nearly as good effort (as screenwriter) from tim hunter.

august 1, roda theatre: the juggler
the early part of the day is a dead time for repertory. but that's when i'm most alert, most receptive, before the drowsiness of early evening cycles in. thank you, sfjff, for showing this lovely print of a heartbreaking film at mid-day. i felt every twist of the emotional wrench. kirk douglas gives one of his finest performances as a charismatic man revealed to be quite mad--the only sane response to the madness of his world. too bad the ending's a bit pat.

august 5, pfa: king queen knave
usually i don't like to "read the book" before i "watch the movie" but when i read nabokov's novel five years ago i had no idea who skolimowski was, let alone that he'd adapted it. oddly, some of the clunkier material from the book, such as the robot mannequin sequence, reveals itself to be cinematic gold in this hilarious sex comedy. the print, alas, was faded.

september 9, pfa: payday
no punches are pulled in this dissection of country music's seedy underbelly, back when country music was good. now it's even more cynically commercial, but, worst of all, bland. rip torn--bland he is not.

september 14, pfa: ice
a ballsy super-low-budget agit-prop feature that really seems to embody its own convictions and contradictions. the first part of zabriskie point meets... it happened here, maybe? why the hell is it called ice?

december 2, roxie: hi-riders
i was surprised the same auteur lay behind the ultra-schlocky joysticks and this considerably more interesting work. it's shamelessly exploitative, to be sure, with a breast count to rival its body count, but dean cundey's photography elevates it, and the finale is shockingly effective. this original print had, shall we say, lots of character.


  1. I saw ICE too. Not only was the plot confusing, the actors all looked alike and I couldn't tell who was who. Hippies all look the same to these 21st-century eyes.

    I hated the film so much that now I kinda like it and would see it again.

  2. Ha! I was disappointed to miss a rare screening of Ice, and doubly so when I saw Carl put it on his list. You've taken the edge off that disappointment, Shahn! Though I still hope I get another chance some day.

  3. I'll go with you, Brian! Call Carl and make it a Hell On Frisco Bay field trip!