Saturday, February 1, 2014

Two Eyes: James Brown

In the San Francisco Bay Area, moviegoing is not just for the newest releases. In 2013 there were more theatrical opportunities to see films spanning the history of cinema than any one person could take advantage of. Therefore, I've asked a sampling of local moviegoers to select a few favorites seen in cinemas last year. An index of participants is found here.  


The following list comes from James Brown, cinephile, musician, DJ and blogger




Here are my favorite vintage films that I saw last year.


The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) at Alliance Francaise
Max Ophuls' delectable bon mot starring Danielle Darrieux and Charles Boyer as an aristocratic French couple whose surreptitious affairs are exposed by a pair of earrings that are secretly traded amongst their illicit lovers. Ophuls' camerawork is dazzling, as usual.

Tree Of Wooden Clogs (1978) at The Randall Museum
This three hour masterpiece, directed by Ermanno Olmi, is a triumphant homage to an earlier cinematic age of Italian neorealism. A film about 19th century poor Italian peasants in which every role is played not by an actor but by real farmers and locals.


And Give My Love to the Swallows (1971) at PFA
Czechoslovakian director Jaromil Jires, best known for Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders, adapted to the big screen this dramatization of the real life letters written in prison by young Czech resistance fighter Maruska Kuderíková, who was imprisoned by the Nazis, sentenced to death, and beheaded with an axe. Haunting, powerful imagery.

Rolling Stones performance clips (1962-1972) at the SF Main Library
Local rock music historian and writer Richie Unterberger often does shows of music video clips around the Bay Area, but this one composed of rare live and studio performances by the Stones in the first decade of their career was exceptional.

French Can Can (1954) at Alliance Francaise
A light-hearted Jean Renoir film about Paris' most notorious dance hall, the Moulin Rouge, starring Jean Gabin. Fun fun fun.



Shintoho exploitation flick with the stunning Michiko Maeda trapped on an island with five horny male castaways. First Japanese film to feature female nudity.

Le Joli Mai (1963) at Opera Plaza
Director Chris Marker takes to the streets to interview Parisians about love, life, politics and other social issues, made around the same time as his infamous La Jetee.

King Of Marvin Gardens (1972) at The Castro
Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Scatman Crothers, Atlantic City, the 70s. Enough said.

Street Angel (1937) at PFA
A Depression-era Chinese film set in Shanghai about a good-hearted musician tries to rescue two young sisters from poverty and prostitution. Great black and white cinematography and made by a leftist collaborative.



Bring Me The Head Of Afredo Garcia
(1974) at The Castro
Sam Peckinpah's surreal Mexican bloodbath starring the inimitable Warren Oates. A flop at the time but now considered one of the best cult films of the 70s.

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