Monday, June 23, 2008

Calendar Catch-Up

I just got back from Frisco's most unpretentious repertory venue, the Red Vic Movie House, where I saw Max Ophuls' the Earrings of Madame de... for the first time in several years, and the first time in a cinema. It's fantastic to see the director's long takes unfold on the big screen. The film plays again tonight, June 23rd.

I picked up the latest Red Vic calendar as well, detailing the program selections through early September. Potential highlights include, but are not limited to:

Errol Morris's the Thin Blue Line on July 22, following a two-day run of his latest Standard Operating Procedure July 20-21.

Two of the acknowledged greats of the rock-concert-doc: Stop Making Sense July 29 and Gimme Shelter July 30, for comparison a week after Martin Scorsese's own Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light July 23-24.

Jim Jarmusch's neo-acid-Western masterpiece Dead Man August 19-20, perhaps a tie-in with the two-day stand of Hamony Korine's Mister Lonely August 26-27.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind August 21, presumably selected in connection to the Frisco theatrical premiere of the space-race documentary Sputnik Mania August 14-17, and not so much in connection with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on July 18-19. Though I wouldn't be too sure.

You Are What You Eat, Roger Corman's the Trip, Riot on Sunset Strip and L.A. rock band documentary Love Story take over Labor Day weekend, all hosted by Dominic Priore.

Another big-screen chance to see Killer of Sheep August 24-25.

Jean-Luc Godard's recently-redistributed 1965 Pierrot Le Fou finally plays this side of Frisco Bay on September 1-2. It's played the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley recently, and plays there again August 2nd as part of a widescreen series.

Yep, the PFA has a fresh new calendar out too, and as usual the glimpse of the next couple months on offer has diverted my attention slightly from the programs closing out the current month's offerings; I feel like I need to conserve my anticipatory drool! (though honestly I'm eager to see Mad Detective this Friday and Opening Night next Sunday).

I've long considered the PFA perhaps my favorite local venue to see a vintage widescreen film; the theatre's shape seems particularly ideal for the format and just thinking about getting a chance to see all these CinemaScope, Totalscope, Tohoscope, etc. films is pretty distracting. I can't decide if I'm more excited to see Markéta Lazarová and Bigger Than Life again, to see the Red and the White and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the first time ever, or to see Yojimbo (pictured above) and McCabe and Mrs. Miller for the first time on that particular screen.

Widescreen worship is available for films in a couple other PFA summer series too, namely the set devoted to films based on the writings of noir fiction author David Goodis (widescreen: Shoot the Piano Player / not wide: Nightfall) and a tribute to the United Artists studio (widescreen: West Side Story / not wide: the Shanghai Gesture.) Unlike the Castro Theatre booking of this 90th anniversary traveling series, the PFA will be bringing films going back to the silent era and the studio's very beginnings: Steamboat Bill, Jr. July 6th, Thief of Bagdad July 20th, and Broken Blossoms August 3rd. The latter film by United Artists founder D.W. Griffith celebrates its own 90th anniversary next year, and will also be showing at the Stanford Theatre August 20th.

Another series with some, but not much, venue crossover is the retrospective of films shot by the great Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, who worked with directors like Luis Buñuel, Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, Ferndano de Fuentes, and John Ford. A few of the films in the Figueroa series also play SFMOMA this summer, but only a few, so you'll have to coordinate your calendar to get them all in (and I've never seen a Figueroa-shot film that wasn't worth looking at, especially in a good print, so I'd recommend expending this effort.)

Finally, the PFA is hosting a Manoel de Oliveira series in anticipation of the Portuguese filmmaker's 100th birthday this December. From the PFA program guide: "It’s not often that we can celebrate the centennial of a director who is not only still living, but still working." I've seen shamefully few of Oliveira's films; one, to be exact, his documentary Oporto of my Childhood. It's not playing the PFA, but as I recall it includes a clip of the first film he directed, the silent Douro, Faina Fluvial, which will play in a program of shorts on August 27th. The series runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays through August and even September (incidentally, this is the first time in my several years of PFA calendar-watching that they've announced dates for a major program this far in advance.) It closes out with a September 28th screening of Abraham's Valley, which I hear is a tremendous film, and only available on a very inferior DVD copy. Other than that, I have no idea which titles to prioritize in this series, and would love to get suggestions from more experienced Oliveira-watchers. Anyone?


  1. I've just begun with de Oliveira myself, but I liked I'm Going Home.

    Also, not related, but Wise Kwai has announced his Nonzee blog-a-thon for the month of August.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, Peter! These blog-a-thons are coming up fast and furious! I want to contribute to the Kiyoshi Kurosawa Blog-a-thon announced here, Movies About Movies, and now this one.

    And thanks for the tip re: I'm Going Home. I notice it's also one of the five Oliveira films found among Jonathan Rosenbaum's 1000 favorites. The other four: Benilde, or the Virgin Mother, Doomed Love, Non, or the Vain Glory of Command and Anxiety.