Monday, May 27, 2013

Angels (2013)

WHO: Jim Granato directed this short.

WHAT: Thanks to the Sequester, Fleet Weeks all over the country are being cancelled, including New York's, which normally would be occurring today, with an air show by the Blue Angels in honor of Memorial Day today. San Francisco's Fleet Week is usually in October, but will be cancelled for 2013 as well.

I mention all this because Granato's brand-new short comedy is set during Fleet Week, although it's not expressly mentioned in the film; in fact the film's entire comedic premise is the knowledge gap between those of us who've been Frisco Bay residents long enough to understand the rhythms and traditions of our fine city, and those newcomers who can become confused when thrown into a situation they never experienced before coming here.

It's also a celebration of San Francisco traditions, particularly those of the cinematic variety. Settings include some of the Mission District's most vital purveyors of alternative culture, Artists' Television Access, Other Cinema curator Craig Baldwin, and the Roxie (pictured above). Both of these venues need to be supported, especially in these times of massive immigration (and its accompanying displacement) into the neighborhood, by people who may be so used to whatever mall multiplexes and streaming services they used to see movies in their former residences, that they would never even think to look for a cinema that might be screening films and videos they'd be hard pressed to find using any other distribution channels.

But Angels is a comedic tribute, not a harangue. It'll be through the gentle catalyst of humor, if it gets Mission residents (whether long-timers or newcomers) excited about the storied traditions of San Francisco moviegoing - and moviemaking. Indeed, Granato takes a mid-film shift from semi-naturalistic urban comedy (not so far removed from the tradition of American slapstick that grew up mostly on the streets of Los Angeles in the silent era with the outdoor-shot pictures of Mack Sennett and his competitors) to a more fantastic, meta-cinematic mode when he starts making explicit reference to some of the great films shot here in the past. 

What films? I don't want to spoil the surprises and perhaps the biggest laughs in the picture, but with the 2013 Cannes Awards just announced, I'll give a few hints: one of them is the only San Francisco-located film to have won a previous Palme d'Or at Cannes, and another's star handed out one of the awards at the French festival yesterday.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Roxie at 7:30 PM.

WHY: There's no better place to see Angels than in the Roxie, one of its most prominent locations, so this is the perfect place for its world premiere. I previewed it on my home computer and, though I enjoyed it, I felt a bit rueful that I'll never be able to watch it for the first time with an audience to laugh along with, and to see the 104-year-old cinema's cameos on the screen being depicted.

I covered this a bit in my "WHAT" section above, but it's great that the venue is hosting periodic "Neighborhood Nights" to help engage the community with their local big screen. The last one was Sean Gillane's CXL earlier this month, and I'm liking this frequency. Hopefully there will be more on the Roxie's forthcoming summer calendar. In the meantime, there are plenty of other enticing film and video programs at the venue, including Czech That Filma selection of new films from a European country that Mission Bohemians ought to be able to relate to, and a 6-title Jon Moritsugu series including his brand new Pig Death Machine. Both of these series begin later this week.

HOW: Angels will be screened with Granato's award-winning documentary feature D Tour, about a local musician named Pat Spurgeon, who must contend with a failing kidney while embarking on a tour with his band Rogue Wave. Granato will be on hand at the screening, and so will the band, who will perform a live acoustic set following the digitally-projected short and feature.

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