Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Only Have Two Eyes: Adam Hartzell

2008 was another great year for Frisco Bay repertory/revival screenings. I'm so pleased that a number of local cinephiles have agreed to provide a list of their favorite events attended here over the year. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from
Adam Hartzell, contributer to koreanfilm.org, Hell on Frisco Bay and elsewhere:

1) ZIDANE: A 21st CENTURY PORTRAIT (Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, 2006, France/Iceland) February 7th at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I missed this during its first sold-out run at the YBCA the previous year, so when I saw it was coming again, I took a bunch of fellow hooligans from work to check it out (with another packed crowd) and I was awestruck. Yes, it fell flat on some of my co-workers, and another actually felt his admiration for Zidane diminish from watching the film. ('Look at how much time he spent just dragging his ass around?!') But I was grinning for joy throughout and long after.

2) I WAS BORN, BUT . . . (Ozu Yasujiro, 1932, Japan) on February 29th at the California Theatre in San Jose. My first (and so far, only) trip to the beautiful California Theatre in San Jose was to watch this film along with Brian and my girlfriend (now wife). Ozu is always a pleasure, but silent Ozu with a Wurlitzer (Jim Riggs at the keys and foot pumps) is heavenly.

3) NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS: 1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in April. This retrospective has a special meaning to me because I was in Udine, Italy in 2005 at the Far East Film Festival where Mark Schilling curated the original series from which this retrospective drew. This enabled me to catch two I’d missed the first time around, A COLT IS MY PASSPORT (Nomura Takashi, 1967, Japan) and ROUGHNECK (Hasebe Yasuharu, 1969, Japan). I hope the SF Film Noir festival gives me another chance some day to revisit these fascinating takes on the gangster lean yet again.

4) CINEMA JAPAN: A WREATH FOR MADAME KAWAKITA at Pacific Film Archives in November and December. I have been wanting to see Oshima Nagisa’s THE CEREMONY (1971, Japan) and BOY (1969, Japan) ever since I moved to the Bay Area and was further introduced to his work through a screening of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (1976, Japan) at the old Pacific Film Archives screening room in the Berkeley Art Museum. (Maureen Turim’s book THE FILMS OF OSHIMA NAGISA: IMAGES OF A JAPANESE ICONOCLAST and Oshima’s own collection CINEMA, CENSORSHIP, AND THE STATE: THE WRITINGS OF NAGISA OSHIMA helped fuel that interest too.) I knew an Oshima retrospective was touring, but the Bay Area wasn’t scheduled to host the retrospective until the summer of 2009. Well, summer came early and I wasn’t disappointed. Plus, the series introduced me to some more Ichikawa Kon, checking A FULL-UP TRAIN (1957, Japan) and appreciating the satire of stubborn positive thinking.

5) MON ONCLE ANTOINE (Claue Jutra 1971, Canada) as part of Québec Film Week at The Opera Plaza in December. We would learn this was the first ever film festival devoted to the films of Québec in the U.S. A sad fact, but I’m just glad this rare print was included in an otherwise contemporary series. I’d seen it on DVD before, but nothing beats seeing it on screen, regardless of the state of the print. Films better allow stories to envelop you with a texture I have yet to find from DVDs, which is why I, like Brian and the other folks he called upon here, appreciate the repertory houses and the first-run theatres that occasionally take a second look at films that flashed from the past.

PostScript – I know Brian only wanted us to include local SF screenings, but if he can humor me for one international shoutout. If you ever find yourself in Dunedin, New Zealand, home of Straitjacket Fits, The Chills, The Clean, and several other great Flying Nun label bands, first, 'Good on ya for making it there!' Second, check out The Film Archive Annex at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. It’s a treasure trove of NZ films you can’t get easy access to. I caught New Zealand’s first Maori/Pakeha romance set to film BROKEN BARRIER (Roger Mirams and John Shea, 1952) during my last rainy day in Dunedin’s downtown octagon (a square was apparently not good enough for them) and am wishing I’d taken greater advantages of the stock of tapes they had available for everyone, free of charge.

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