Friday, February 5, 2016

Carl Martin: IOHTE

The San Francisco Bay Area is still home to a rich cinephilic culture nurtured in large part by a diverse array of cinemas, programmers and moviegoers. I'm honored to present a selection of favorite screenings experienced by local cinephiles in 2015. An index of participants can be found here.

IOHTE contributor Carl Martin runs the Film On Film Foundation's invaluable Bay Area Film Calendar.

Image courtesy Noir City film festival.
January 22, The Castro (Noir City): The Sleeping Tiger.  On this second viewing, Joseph Losey's bold sleight of hand stood out.  What looks like dubious psychology is a misdirection.  As in Ride the Pink Horse (seen later in the year in Elliot Lavine's series at the Castro), at film's end a female character comes to the fore and proclaims her centrality.

March 13, The Castro:
Dead People (aka Messiah of Evil).  An ecstatically-shot slice of American Euro-trash.  The print was fragile and it was a privilege to be in its presence.

March 16, private screening:
Darby O'Gill and the Little People.  This Disney live-actioner is notable for landing Sean Connery the lead in a certain iconic spy franchise, for its remarkably effective forced-perspective effects, and, if you make allowances for the somewhat watered-down ending and in your mind allow the film to be what it wants to be, for being pretty goddamn devastating.

April 24, The Stanford:
Devil and the Deep.  I don't make it down (up?) to Palo Alto much but trust David Packard('s programmers) to turn up delightful obscurities like this.  The titles make a big deal about introducing Charles Laughton, who had made films before, but no matter.  He makes a meal of the scenery in this underwater potboiler. Gary Cooper and Cary Grant are also featured.

Screen capture from Warner DVD
June 1, The Castro (SFSFF): Ben-Hur: a Tale of the Christ.  I also revisited the Wyler (Heston) version, which is quite good, but the Niblo version has it beat.  The color sequences (with boobs!) are breathtaking.  Unusually for the Silent festival, a recorded score (by Carl Davis) was used, but it was brilliant.  To digress, I'm sad that the new restoration of Napoleon will exclude Kevin Brownlow and Davis, and of course that it isn't being done on film.

June 10, The Castro:
Body Heat.  No great rarity i guess, but i'd never seen this wonderful and hilarious neo-noir.  Ted Danson's shining moment.

August 12, The Castro:
Blue Steel. Kathryn Bigelow, paradoxical lady master of the male gaze, is on a hot streak with her third feature.  Gorgeous print!

August 27, The Castro:
Dementia.  A movie from another planet!  Nothing about Dementia fits into a standard narrative of film history. Who are these people who think they can make a feature with no dialogue?  Even Chaplin was making talkies at this point.

October 2, The Castro: Assault on Precinct 13. Laurie Zimmerman is one of many totally badass things about this early John Carpenter slow-burn actioner.  It is Night of the Living Dead with gangs instead of zombies.

And, lastly, 3 small-gauge selections from different shorts programs.
March 5, Exploratorium:
The Mysterious Villa (forgotten formats program).  A program of oddball film gauges unearthed this 28mm corker.  Hilarious!
June 18, The Lab:
Postcard from San Miguel (See a Rose Hear a Bomb: films by Lawrence Jordan). The promise of the film's title is fulfilled: the beautiful amalgam of image, music, and text (by Garcia Lorca) had me "wishing I 
was there".
Screen capture from Fantoma DVD
November 9, New Nothing: Puce Moment (Other States: a program of films selected by Paul Clipson).  I must have seen this Anger film before but here its parade of sparkly dresses, brought by the simplest of tricks to life, struck me as a magical cinematic gesture.  The anachronistic psych music (added decades after photography) casts an eerie spell over the proceedings.

1 comment:

  1. There are many reasons why I appreciate your friendship, Carl, from your wisecracking popcorn concessionaire quips to the admirable admittance that you remain privileged to be in the presence of fragile prints.