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 2016. An index of participants can be found here.
Eight-time IOHTE contributor Maureen Russell is a cinephile, a Noir City volunteer, and member of various screening organizations (SFIFF, The Roxie, SF Silent Film Fest, SFMOMA).
In preparing this list, I noticed almost all my screenings were at my favorite theater, the Castro. My favorite film festivals are also held there.
|Blood Simple screen capture from MGM DVD|
Mel Novikoff Award - Janus Films and the Criterion Collection
This the first time I saw Blood Simple – the tense plot doesn’t let up. The stories in the onstage interviews were funny and fascinating.
2. The Station Agent (2003) SFIFF - BAMPFA
Kanbar Award with writer / director Tom McCarthy for onstage interview
3. Noir City 14 – The Art of Darkness - The Castro
This is one of my favorite festivals and I catch most of the screenings.
The Red Shoes (1948, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – screenplay, directors) I hadn’t seen this since I was a child. The creative scenes vivid Technicolor and the use of actors who are also dancers (Moira Shearer) make this film magical.
The Bitter Stems (1956, Argentina, Director: Fernando Ayala) Beautifully shot with a tense plot and even a great nightclub scene, the end shocks.
Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
4. San Francisco Silent Film Festival – The Castro I’m choosing the whole festival since I like the variety of films. Highlights:
The Italian Straw Hat (Rene Clair, 1928)
Behind the Door (1919) - Live accompaniment by Stephen Horne – restoration
One of the most shocking endings out there.
A Woman of the World (1925) – restoration. Live accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Pola Negri is spot on in this comedy dealing with American values and scandal.
|Barry Lyndon screen capture from Warner DVD|
The use of candle light and natural light is an achievement in itself.
Notable film event for 2016: Kubrick exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
Film clips included, but props, memorabilia and how the films were shot were fascinating.
6. Cast a Dark Shadow (1955, UK, Lewis Gilbert, The Castro) - SFIFF - starring Dirk Bogarde
7. Bruce Conner- films as part of the Bruce Conner: It’s All True retrospective exhibit at SFMoMA
Sadie Thompson (1928) Gloria Swanson stars in and made this film happen
The Last Command (1928)
|Multiple Maniacs screen capture from Strand DVD of The Cockettes|
New DCP restoration – The Castro – Halloween, 2016
It’s been a while since I had the shock of the first time viewing of a John Waters’ film. Unavailable for decades, his second feature looked beautiful in this restoration. The black and white images were funny, gross and perverse.
10. Wild at Heart (1990) – The Castro 35mm, scope – X-rated version (David Lynch) I didn’t know there was an X-rated version of this, but 35mm scope is the way to see this one.