Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Two Eyes Of Kurtiss Hare

If you didn't attend some wonderful repertory/revival film screenings in 2012, you missed out. As nobody could see them all, I've recruited Frisco Bay filmgoers to recall some of their own favorites of the year. An index of participants is found here.  

The following list comes from Kurtiss Hare, who has laid out his selections far more attractively at his own tumblr blog, but has allowed me to reproduce text here as well.

Bresson, Bresson, Bresson. Thanks to the series Susan Oxtoby coordinated at BAM/PFA, Keith Arnold’s work at The Castro and the programming crew at SFFS, I was able to see a number of life-altering Bresson films this year. This is not hyperbole. Starting with Au Hasard Balthazar in January, on to Mouchette, Pickpocket and The Devil, Probably in August, Bresson’s contemplative, transcendental odes unto isolation changed the way I was thinking and writing about film.

I wonder... how many films have I seen that I have still never seen? This year’s screening of Vertigo in 70mm reminded me the answer is probably “too many.” Love is complicated and dangerous and radical and villainous. And I am complicit.

Another film event which doesn’t need my advocacy, but garners it nevertheless, was Abel Gance’s Napoléon. Here was my immediate reaction to the proceedings in a conversation with a fellow audience member.

Perhaps less visually astonishing, though entirely as frenetic and profound was the recent restoration of Shirley Clarke’s The Connection, which made its way to The Roxie in June. Here, Clarke lures us like a fly, entranced by the irresistible, acrid sweetness of rotting fruit, onto the walls of a jazz age heroin den. We survey its occupant’s dreams and realities; we question our very motivation for rubber-necking our way through the scene. That damned and uplifted scene.

Then there’s Crossroads, Bruce Conner’s mesmerizing montage of a 1945 A-bomb test in the Bikini Atoll. Together with the miraculous green sunset of Rohmer’s Le Rayon Vert, these two screenings brought me to that uncanny precipice where only celluloid dare tread.

And I simply cannot leave out: Thieves’ Highway, The Duellists, Week End, Celine & Julie Go Boating, Pandora’s Box and The Wages of Fear. But is it right for me to just list them here? All without triggering those elemental curiosities? Those searing fricatives and discordant tonalities? Those modes of thought and being towards art they inspired in me? How Bresson haunts me still.

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