Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Only Have Two Eyes: Michael Hawley

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 Michael Hawley, operator of film-415:

Of the 250-some films I saw in a public setting this year, over 50 were revival/repertory screenings – a testament to the Bay Area's passion for the history of cinema. A million thanks go out to the Pacific Film Archive, Castro Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF MOMA and all the individual festivals who were willing to dig up the past. For me, these were the most memorable:


Distant Voices, Still Lives: Shot by Shot (PFA, Terrence Davies in person, finger ready on the remote control pause button, offering a piquant running commentary to his 1988 classic)

Bones and In Vanda's Room (PFA, Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa, a rare opportunity to see parts one and two of The Wanda Trilogy, the films which preceded 2006's astonishing Colossal Youth, with the director in person.)

The Patsy (Castro Theater, the SF Silent Film Festival closed its red-letter 2008 edition with this screamingly funny 1928 Marion Davies/Marie Dressler comedy)

The Maelstrom: A Family Chronicle and The Danube Exodus (Castro Theater, this year the SF Jewish Film Festival gave its Freedom of Expression Award to Péter Forgács, a Hungarian director who's made a career of transforming the forgotten photographs, diaries and home movies of European Jews into a singular form of documentary filmmaking. These films were from 1997 and 1998 respectively).

The Exiles (Castro Theater, Kent MacKenzie's acclaimed 1961 docu-drama depicts 24 hours in the lives of a group of urban-Los Angeles Native Americans. A memorial to an L.A. that no longer exists, featuring perhaps the most beautiful nocturnal B&W cinematography I've ever seen.

Six in Paris (Landmark's Clay Theater, a highlight of the SF Film Society's French Cinema Now series; the surprise of this 1965 omnibus was that my three favorite segments were by directors I was previously unfamiliar with: Jean Douchet, Jean-Daniel Pollet and Jean Rouch.)

Tractor Drivers and Carnival Night (PFA, Envisioning Russia: A Century of Filmmaking, what could be more delightful than an evening of communist musicals!)

Trapeze (Castro Theater, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster and Gina Lollobrigida, all of whom never looked more beautiful than they did in 1956, woo and wage war under a Parisian bigtop; in Cinemascope with Color-by-Deluxe.)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Castro Theater, Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent classic as it's rarely seen…with a 200-member orchestra and chorus performing Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light).

Blue (SF MOMA, Derek Jarman's final feature, in which there's nothing to watch but an unchanging, solid blue screen, was the perfect film to see while recovering from the flu. I simply laid on the floor of the Phyllis Wattis Theater, closed my eyes, and listened intently to Jarman's sound collage of music, ambient sounds and the director's own caustic, poetic discourse on the indignity of going blind from AIDS.)

And here are a few other revivals worth mentioning: Gun Crazy and Jeopardy at Noir City. The Velvet Hustler, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and Day of Wrath at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Last Year at Marienbad and The Wild Bunch at the Castro. Night of the Hunter and Victims of Sin at the PFA. If… at SF MOMA. The Adventures of Prince Achmed at the SF Silent Film Festival.

cross-post from film-415.

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