Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Two Eyes of Ryland Walker Knight

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 Ryland Walker Knight, writer, filmmaker, and contributor to this annual project since the beginning.

My repertory cinephilia seems to decrease every year so to keep things simple let me select just one film for this list and say thank you to YBCA for programming Celine et Julie vont en bateau [Celine and Jule Go Boatingearlier this year. It's my favorite movie for a number of reasons but one of the best ways of putting it comes from Dennis Lim: "His signature special effect is the uncanny impression that the story is being generated by the characters as we watch; or, spookier and more thrilling still, by the very act of our watching." The saddest part of the experience was that the crowd consisted of exactly 9 people and three left the screening an hour into it. Seems I'm not the only one with problems with cinema-going, but, by the same token, cinema-going doesn't seem to be the same (across the board) as it was when Brian started this series five years ago. Movies just don't hold the public's attention (and even less of their respect) the way they used to before the HD/flatscreen/streaming shift made this art more product for comfort, to say a private affair, rather than any kind of shared experience. After all, your couch is more comfy than the seats at the Castro, but seeing Thunderbolt and Lightfoot with fifty unknown friends all vibing on crime's absurd logic beats seeing Eyes Without A Face alone in bed eating cookies.

A few days later, a second paragraph was submitted...

For whatever late night reason, my brain failed to register seeing Abel Gance's Napoleon twice last spring at the Paramount. This is baffling. Because both of those screenings were quite dear to me. And both times that the screen opened up into its three panels I felt the true meaning of the word "awesome" in my whole body as if I, in turn, was given the freedom of expression Gance made manifest in that twenty minutes of crowd pleasing triumph trumpeting (and string soaring) capped by one of the most majestic eagles you've ever seen on three screens. And both times I saw the snowball fight, with what I was told are as many as 28 exposures captured in camera, and layered in a rush of simultaneity, the image as giddy as the boys playing heroes and villains (but mostly that little Napoleon playing hero), well, my eyes went pretty bonkers with excitement.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love Celine et Julie vont en bateau, aka Celine and Julie Go Boating. How could anyone walk out on it? I'm perplexed. It's true what you say, there's little patience these days for surreal cinema unfolding and crystallizing at its own pace. Celine et Julie vont en bateau reminds me of the actual experience of dreaming more than any other film I can think of.