WHAT: This comedy, a hit made between Newman's two ambitious flops made with Robert Altman (Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson and Quintet) is not exactly a canonized classic, at least outside of hockey movie devotees. But it provided a perfect midcareer role for Newman. As Nick Pinkerton wrote in the Village Voice on the occasion of the star's death in in 2008:
if Slap Shot isn't as rollickingly, raunchily funny as it thinks, Newman's middle-aged player-coach, hustling to keep ahold of his youthful heedlessness, is one of his most felt roles.WHERE/WHEN: Tonight at 9:25 PM at the Castro Theatre.
WHY: 'Tis the week for Paul Newman double-bills. Slap Shot screens tonight along with Newman's biggest hit, The Sting, while the Stanford Theatre's current focus on the 1950s brings two films he released in the penultimate year of that decade: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Elizabeth Taylor, and The Long Hot Summer, the film responsible for connecting Newman with his costar Joanne Woodward; their fifty-year marriage began just prior to its release.
Of course it's also the week of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, which begins tomorrow (the 14th SFIFF in 1970 brought Newman to town for an onstage tribute and screening of Puzzle of a Downfall Child, which he had produced). With much of the cinephile community (including me) focused on this event over the next two weeks, some local alternative moviegoing hotspots (that aren't full-time festival venues like the Pacific Film Archive is) suspend or at least slow down their activities during the biggest festival in town.
The Stanford and the Castro aren't among those. The Stanford calendar includes, in addition to the Newman pairing this Thursday and Friday, the 1959 Ben-Hur over this weekend, and double-bills devoted to fifties science-fiction, Marlon Brando, and technicolor noir while SFIFF is up and running. The Castro is a SFIFF venue on certain days: tomorrow's opening festivities and screening of the Henry James modernization What Maisie Knew, the closing night showing of Richard Linklater's third installment of his trilogy featuring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, the lovely Before Midnight, and a few other special screenings (perhaps to be joined by the still-unannounced Peter J. Owens Award presentation?) But although tonight's Slap Shot showing doesn't conflict with the festival, obviously, the Castro is clearly determined not to have too many empty seats on the nights SFIFF isn't renting them: over the next week and a half it's luring movie lovers with 35mm prints of Steven Spielberg's Duel, Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (paired together), Nicolas Roeg's Performance and The Man Who Fell To Earth (also together), Linklater's Dazed and Confused, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko, and James William Guerico's Electra Glide In Blue. Some of these have screened fairly recently in 35mm at the Castro or at other Frisco Bay venues, but a number of them have not.
Other screenings that may tempt some moviegoers away from SFIFF screenings this year are this Friday's Paramount Theatre presentation of The Maltese Falcon (the Oakland movie palace has announced its summer season, incidentally), the May 2 SFMOMA screening of new works by Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, and the Roxie's May 8th showing of hyper-local (as in, he lives just a few blocks from the theatre) filmmaker Sean Gillane's CXL. And the Roxie will continue to show cinephile-friendly indies like Room 237 and Upstream Color during SFIFF, to be joined by one of the hit documentaries from last year's 55th edition of the festival, The Source Family, which opens there May 3rd. Local Landmark Theatres continue their regular programming as well.
Now that's out of my system. expect daily posts on San Francisco International Film Festival titles starting tomorrow (although I reserve the right to highlight a non-festival title upon occasion during the next couple weeks, just to make things exciting.)
HOW: Slap Shot screens on 35mm, and The Sting via DCP.