Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Only Have Two Eyes: Frako Loden

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 Frako Loden, contributer to SF Weekly and elsewhere:

Two repertory screenings stand out most vividly in my memory this year:

In April YBCA hosted a severely truncated version of the 18-film series Mark Schilling showed at Udine Far East Film Festival called "No Borders, No Limits: 1960s Nikkatsu Action Cinema." The strongest entries were Masuda Toshio's Gangster VIP (1968) and Red Handkerchief (1964), starring Watari Tetsuya and Ishihara Yujiro respectively. In both they're growing out of their youth-idol superstar personas into something darker and tinged with worldly regret--the best examples of Nikkatsu's brooding, often savage "mood action" films.

In September at the 4 Star Theatre I caught Boston's 3-man Devil Music Ensemble accompanying Episode 6, the only extant portion of the 13-part silent martial arts film serial Red Heroine, from 1929 Shanghai. Apparently they've come to the Bay Area with Caligari and Nosferatu, but I was especially curious to see what they would do with a Chinese film. Wow! I didn't expect them to play vibraphones, synthesizers, and electric guitar alongside electrified versions of traditional erhu and guqin--and whip the audience into a frenzy of action excitement. The only other time I was that enthralled this year was at third i's Om Shanti Om. You should see these guys' extensive touring schedule--they recall the vanished silent-era vaudeville circuit performers.


  1. I genuinely regret missing most of YBCA's "No Borders No Limits" retrospective, though grateful that at least I caught (and much enjoyed!) Red Handkerchief.

    And wasn't Om Shanti Om a blast?!! Talk about spectatorial sport.

  2. Michael, I can't believe I got the Om Shanti Om 2-disc box and will be showing the film to my students! (Frako the Anonymous)