Saturday, January 24, 2009

Society Information

Noir City 7, a newspaper-themed edition of the beloved festival, opened last night and runs through February 1st. Dismal weather has arrived with the festival, all the better for enhancing the rain-soaked city mood associated with noir (not to mention for enhancing the water table.) Check the Film on Film Foundation blog for some pointed comments on "noirsters" and film recommendations, and sf360 for an interview with Noir City publisher Eddie Muller.

This Wednesday, January 28, the Noir City screenings of Fritz Lang's extreme-widescreen While the City Sleeps and the Frisco-set Shakedown will be co-presented by the San Francisco Film Society. Last year at the SFFS/Noir City co-presentation of D.O.A., Film Society director Graham Leggat announced an intention to team with the Film Noir Foundation to put together an international film noir series- still no word on when that might be or what it might involve, but I hope it's still in the cards, and that it involves more than the obvious European suspects- I'd love to see some Latin American or Southeast Asian noir someday! Perhaps there will be an update on Wednesday.

The Film Society has a hand (or both) in a multitude of events including classes and film screenings all over town over the coming months, however. They resume programming a screen at the Kabuki on January 30th, when the Uruguayan hit the Pope's Toilet begins a week-long engagement. The just-Oscar-nominated documentary Trouble the Water plays four matinees on the SFFS screen on January 31, February 1, 7 & 8. These are joined by the Eritrean war-set Lake of Fire (Feb. 6-12), the 2007 SFIAAFF Audience Award winner the Owl and the Sparrow (Feb. 13-19) a Danish thriller called Just Another Love Story (Feb. 20-26) and a documentary on modern-day philosophers that's already getting buzz off the coast of cinephile island, Examined Life (Mar. 6-12).

I've not seen any of those, but I have seen the SFFS screen film scheduled to play from February 27 through March 5: Silent Light, by young Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas. It's quite something, and I'm thrilled to know it's going to be in town for a whole glorious week. It's a film that fell through the cracks between my year-end lists for sf360, since it didn't play commercially on Frisco Bay in 2008, but was technically not "unreleased" since it was picked up by a distributor and played for a week at New York City's MoMA last September. The Secret of the Grain and In the City of Sylvia are two other films that fell into in this netherworld of list ineligibility, that I would have otherwise seriously considered for my top ten; perhaps the SFFS will bring them to the Kabuki this year, as they are Silent Light? One can hope. All are beautiful films that I can hardly imagine trying to appreciate in the distracting world of home video.

On February 3, the Film Society is presenting 13 Most Beautiful... at the Palace of Fine Arts. This event pairs a set of Andy Warhol's enigmatic Screen Tests in an unorthodox manner: accompanied by live music performed by Dean & Britta. The lucky thirteen faces to expect are: Paul America, Susan Bottomly, Ann Buchanan, Freddy Herko, "Baby" Jane Holzer, Dennis Hopper, Billy Name, Nico, Richard Rheem, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, Ingrid Superstar and Mary Woronov. I saw Hopper, Holzer, Buchanan, and number of others including Gerard Malanga, Susan Sontag and John Cale on my last trip to New York five and a half years ago, silently screened together in a museum; this promises to be a very different presentation. This set is touring to promote a new DVD release, billed as "the first ever authorized DVD of Andy Warhol's films" though some of us are aware that Helmut appeared on DVD a few years ago.

Of course the Film Society's biggest annual event is the San Francisco International Film Festival. Its 52nd edition will run from April 23 to May 7, 2009, and two restoration premieres have already been announced: a Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes, and Le Amiche by Michaelangelo Antonioni are expected to screen in new prints on April 25th at the Castro Theatre. That's good news, if I do say so myself.


  1. While the City Sleeps is prime Lang, with interesting echoes of M and the most forcefully dystopic view of the newspaper office in the whole series (outside The Big Clock ). Exciting news about the "international" angle on a future noir bash. There's an interesting chapter on the subject in James Naremore's great book, More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts .

  2. Max, thanks for the recommendation. In fact While the City Sleeps has been at the top of my can't-miss pile for this year's Noir City since the program was announced. And though I've heard many praise the Naremore book, you have spurred me to finally request it from interlibrary loan.

    I was considering the Big Clock expendable (especially with Gorin introducing Man With a Movie Camera and a Propos de Nice at the PFA that night), but your "forcefully dystopic" descriptor intrigues...

  3. Brian,

    Hate to bring the bummer, but Gorin has canceled his appearances at the PFA.

  4. Well, that certainly makes my weekend easier to navigate. Glad to get the news, even if it is a bummer.

  5. Trivia: 13 Most Beautiful is the the first ever authorized DVD of Andy Warhol's films, but the first authorized DVD set containing any Andy Warhol film will most likely be Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986, which will be released in early March, a few weeks ahead of the 13 Most set.

  6. Interesting trivia, IA. I don't know if the Cinema 16 DVD was an "authorized" release but I think it predates both. However, I'm glad to be reminded of the Warhol presence on the new Treasures set as well; I haven't seen Mario Banana (No. 1) but I very much look forward to the opportunity.

    On that set, I have seen Christopher MacLaine's The End, George Kuchar's I, An Actress, Larry Jordan's Hamfat Asar and Jane Conger Belson Shimane's Odds and Ends and they're all amazing. I can't wait for the opportunity to see them again.