Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Only Have Two Eyes: Miriam Montag

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 Miriam Montag:

In no particular order, the five films I felt like writing about:

Both heartbreaking and squirm-inducing in its look at young lust and what it might to have Fassbinder trouper Ingrid Caven as a mother, MY LITTLE LOVES (1974), Jean Eustache's second and last feature length film, is a worthy complement to his better known THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE. (No Wave: The Films of Jean Eustache, Pacific Film Archive)

A nine-year old girl braves a sampling of life's harsh cruelties in the sunshine-bright, tree-lined world of THE SUMMER WE MOVED TO ELM STREET (Patricia Watson, 1966). Free of narration and exposition, this subtle short transcends its original purpose as an educational film for mental health professionals. (We're a Happy Family shorts program curated by Dennis Nyback, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts)

Naming the tag team wrestlers "Molly" and "Iris" was the tip-off, ...ALL THE MARBLES (Robert Aldrich, 1981) wanted to be a Warner Brothers film of pre-code vintage. Ned Sparks and Una Merkel would not have been out of place here, although one can't quite imagine either of them trying to cut down on their smoking. (A Dirty Dozen: The Films of Robert Aldrich, PFA)

2008 saw all but one of David Lean's theatrical films on Bay Area screens, and after a sampling of his mighty miniatures it was impossible to drag ass and eyeballs to the "epics." The most surprising was the homey and horrifying IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942, Lean/Noel Coward), which forced me to try to imagine what it might be like to have seen this tale of the blitz and then walk home through rubble-strewn streets. It stunned even as it brought to mind the parodies it no doubt inspired. (PFA, David Lean: Before Big)

A favorite from many pan-and-scan VHS viewings, THE IPCRESS FILE's striking horizontal wide-screen compositions by Otto Heller raised my endorphin levels for days afterward. Cinephilia aside, there's Harry Palmer. Harry Palmer, the spy so cool it took two men to portray him: author Len Deighton for the close ups of his omlette-wrangling hands and Michael Caine for everything else! Harry Palmer, who made James Bond look even dorkier than that hideous powder-blue terry cloth sun-suit ever could. Harry Palmer: the man they couldn’t "IPCRESS." I was not the only one caught up in TIF's spell. Days later a Castro regular greeted me with, "Beef-a-roni...extraordinary." Features the best title sequence ever! (Sidney J. Furie, 1965, John Barry Legendary Composer, Castro Theatre, shown on a double bill with GOLDFINGER, as if you couldn't tell.)

Some films and film experiences I couldn't write about without getting my list in in February, but really loved:

DAYS OF ECLIPSE (Alexander Sokurov, 1988, The Long View: A Celebration of Widescreen, PFA)

DIE REBELLION (Michael Haneke, 1993, Bitter Pills: Michael Haneke Made-for-Television, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts)

DILLINGER IS DEAD (Marco Ferreri, 1969, PFA)

WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? (Frank Tashlin, 1957, The Long View: A Celebration of Widescren, PFA)

THIEF (Micheal Mann, 1981) and the rest of the line-up of The Second Dark Age. Keep rep at the Castro!

Regular repeated viewings of the TRAILER for Jean Luc-Godard's Contempt throughout the spring at the Castro Theatre. Le Statue Greque, bebe!


  1. So you are the "west coast" Miriam Montag. Someone told me that there was another writer on facebook with my name. I will have to read your blog later. I haven't published in a while, my works were mostly children's stories for my puppet company. I don't spend much time on the intranet but now I will have to do so to see what the other Miriam is doing. ~ Mir

  2. Miriam Montag of the Golden West8/21/09, 11:59 PM

    It's a nom de web! Yes, someone you never met chose your name, like it was a new screen saver or something. Is this disconcerting? I really wanna know. I always liked the name Miriam, from the actress Hopkins, the character played by Paulette Goddard in THE WOMEN not to mention Moses' li'l sister. What do I do? I go to as many movies as my brain and schedule can stand and once a year Brian invites me to write about them on his esteemed blog.