Friday, January 20, 2012

I Only Have Two Eyes 2011

What's in store for us in 2012? Interpreters of Mayan archaeology, Biblical prophecy, ecological indicators, Presidential polls, etc. all have their ideas. I personally don't think anybody knows in advance when a given era is going to end, but we do get a cultural charge out of imagining ourselves in a Fin de siècle moment.

These days I'm equally skeptical of oracles predicting apocalyptic changes in the cinematic landscape. I've heard the warnings, seen the threatening letters to exhibitors, read the premature eulogies, and signed the petition. But though of course technological change is undeniable, the idea that it's all-encompassing, spelling the sudden death of repertory film as we know it, defies the everyday evidence I see as a moviegoer. Perhaps I'm being obstinate or naïve, but the popularity of going to the cinema to watch a print of a beloved classic or an undiscovered treasure (which can be the same movie to different people) continued through 2011 and looks like it will in 2012 as well. It's hard for me to see how completely upending that ecosystem benefits anyone.

I'm sure my perspective is skewed by geography; the San Francisco Bay Area for all its modern sheen is a hotbed of technological contrarians. And our cinema programmers are a resourceful bunch, as they must be in order to stay in step with the desires of the passionate filmmakers, students, historians, fans, critics, archivists, projectionists, collectors, and other everyday punters who make up their audience. As I've done for the past four years now, I've invited a handful of such folks to share their favorite experiences watching repertory/revival cinema in the Bay Area over the last twelve months. I'll be updating with new lists daily. The following testimony should convince any doubter that there's still vigor in Frisco Bay's film scene:

Film preservationist/researcher Rob Byrne, who blogs at Starts Thursday!.
Kurtiss Hare, cinema enthusiast and blogger at
Cinephile/critic Michael Hawley, who blogs at film-415.
Critic Lincoln Spector, who operates Bayflicks.
Cinephile Lawrence Chadbourne, part of the Film On Film Foundation.
Film studies major Shahn, who blogs at six martinis and the seventh art.
Adam Hartzell, who has written for many outlets, listed here.
Box Cubed manager and lapsed cinephile Ben Armington.
Carl Martin, who compiles the Bay Area Film Calendar.
Critic Frako Loden, whose writing is seen at The Evening Class & elsewhere.
Victoria Jaschob, who has written for the SF Silent Film Festival.
Cinephile Jason Wiener, who blogs at Jason Watches Movies.
Educator/impresario Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, who runs MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS.
Artist & writer Terri Saul, whose website is found here.
Maureen Russell, film festival volunteer & cinephile.
Filmmaker Mark Wilson, who has work available through Canyon Cinema.
Ryland Walker Knight, who blogs at Vinyl Is Heavy.
Comedian-actor-projectionist Austin Wolf_Sothern, who blogs here.
Margarita Landazuri, who writes & edits articles for the SF Silent Film Festival.
Cinephile David Robson, who blogs at The House of Sparrows.
James Brown, cinephile, musician and DJ.
Your host, Brian Darr.



  1. The Mostly British Film Festival has posted their lineup which runs from Feb 2 to 9 at the Vogue and Smith Rafael. Highlight for me is the first three installments of Apted's 7 Up series. 28 Up through 49 Up screen in rump sessions after the festival officially ends on Feb 18 and 25 at the Vogue although the webpage also lists them as screening at the Balboa on those dates. 33 Postcards and Albatross also caught my attention.

  2. Thanks, Dan! The Up series is definitely worth catching from the beginning I've heard good things about Stormy Monday too. And The Great White Silence impressed many of us who saw it at the SF Silent Film Festival, including several contributors to this survey! I wonder how much of the Mostly British program will be screened digitally, and how much on film?