Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Only Have Two Eyes: Austin Wolf-Sothern

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 Austin Wolf-Sothern, creator of Placenta Ovaries:

1. Double Feature: Selena with The Fast and the Furious at West Wind Capitol 6 Drive-In in San Jose

A completely random double feature at one of the few remaining Drive-Ins! It was also an option to watch either of these movies with The Wizard of Oz. And, it was free! I think it was because it was their birthday or something, I'm not sure. It was just "Free Movie Night". I had seen The Fast and the Furious before, and I like that movie a lot, but Selena was new to me, and it completely blew me away. I don't think I've ever seen a movie before with so little drama. Selena's life starts out pretty ok, and then continually gets better and better, with almost nothing bad ever happening, until the powerfully depressing and tragic ending. There's a performance about halfway through that nearly brought me to tears from just thinking about the movie's inevitable conclusion.

2. The Beyond/Zombie at the Clay

Two masterpieces of gore from Lucio Fulci. On the night of Zombie's midnight screening, I had already seen four movies that day at the Castro; Shock It To Me's double features of the Hammer films Horror of Dracula with The Curse of Frankenstein, and the Dark Shadows films Night of Dark Shadows with House of Dark Shadows. I enjoyed each of those films (all of which were new to me) to varying degree, but they couldn't compete with all of my anticipation and excitement for seeing Zombie's infamous eye-gouging scene on the big screen. Maybe this year, the Clay will show Fulci's equally brilliant City of the Living Dead?

3. Singin' in the Rain at the Paramount

It's one of my favorite films, but what really made this experience amazing was seeing it at the incredible Paramount Theater in Oakland. It felt like a real event, with many of the 3,000 or so audience members dressed up, and a prize giveaway and short film shown before the movie.

Some other favorites seen in the theater this year include Return to Oz, Paper Moon, Funny Games, and Planet of the Apes at the Castro, Leprechaun at the Clay, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors at the Bridge.

4. Quintuple Feature: Phase IV, Alligator, Jaws, Day of the Animals, and Piranha Part Two: The Spawning at the Castro

Five movies in a row about animals attacking humans. Phase IV and Alligator were the only ones I hadn't seen before, and they were probably the best of the lot, especially Phase IV. Jaws and Day of the Animals were amazing to see again as well, and Piranha 2 was better than I remembered.

5. RoboCop/Flesh+Blood/Starship Troopers at the Castro

This wasn't a triple feature, it's just a coincidence that Castro showed three classic films this year by Paul Verhoeven, each one cementing him as one my Top 5 Favorite Directors Of All Time. I had seen RoboCop before, and hadn't been especially impressed by it, but watching it again, I loved every fucking frame. It's exceedingly violent, disturbing, and insanely riveting. A perfect sci-fi film. Also perfect was the unrelentingly vicious epic Flesh+Blood, which I had never seen before. The movie is amazing on every level, but the real standout is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who gives one of the greatest, most complex performances I've ever seen.

Also, Showgirls at the Bridge (with cast members Rena Riffel and Patrick Bristow in attendance), and Showgirls/Viva Las Vegas (also great) double feature at the MoMA.

6. Double Feature: Batman with Batman Returns at the Castro

It had been so long since I had seen these that it was practically like seeing them for the first time. They are both completely fucking amazing, especially Returns. No one will ever be a better Batman than Michael Keaton.

Some other movies I barely remembered, and was able to rediscover this year include Back to the Future and Rosemary's Baby at the Clay, Jawbreaker at the Bridge, and The Hudsucker Proxy at the Castro.

7. Milk at the Castro

I know I'm cheating since this is a new release, but it's obviously something that could only be experienced in San Francisco, so how could I possibly leave it out? I saw it in the second week, when it was still selling out every show, and I feel sorry for anyone who saw it any other way. Though not too much, because it's a fantastic film no matter what. It reminded me a lot of Selena actually, in that I almost started crying halfway through just knowing the fate of this incredible man.

8. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II at the Castro

I had only seen the first Godfather film long, long ago, and thought it was alright. The gorgeous print shown at the Castro definitely let me know why it's considered such a classic, and I was even more impressed with the extraordinary sequel. I don't generally have the patience for long movies, but I could've continued watching Godfather II for hours and hours.

9. Triple Feature: Starstruck, Times Square, and Breaking Glass at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Three films about Grrrl Rockers, two of which star the adorable and charming Trini Alvarado. Starstruck was a rare 80's TV movie shown on 16MM, and I'm a sucker for 70's and 80's TV movies. My favorite of the night, though, was Times Square, because I'm also a complete sucker for 80's movies about teenage girls, and this was one of the absolute best.

10. The Room at the Hypnodrome

This movie has become kind of legendary in LA, due to several rowdy, packed screenings, where everyone shouts their own lines at the screen. The movie itself sounded pretty great, but I was very nervous because there is nothing I hate more than people loudly shouting out their own retarded jokes during a movie that is perfectly entertaining on it's own. So a sincere thank you to the small crowd at San Francisco's Hypnodrome, who shut the fuck up, and allowed themselves to be taken in by Tommy Wiseau's hilarious, surreal, and undeniably unique masterpiece.

Other movies seen for the first time that I completely fell in love with include The Muppets Take Manhattan at the Red Vic, and The Beastmaster and The Unknown at the Castro.


  1. Amazing, right? It was part of their Las Vegas exhibition last month.

  2. I really wanted to go to that myself. I've only seen the film on DVD and at Midnight Mass and a museum screening of a 35mm print seems like a completely different animal.

    I'm also really jealous I missed #4, 9 & 10. #9 was through no fault of my own- I had an unbreakable commitment that evening. But if I'd worked on it I could have swung the other two.

    But very glad I got to see the Beyond! I'm with you in rooting for more Fulci.