Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Carl Martin's Two Eyes

Since my own two eyes were not nearly enough to see and evaluate all the repertory/revival film screenings here on Frisco Bay, I'm honored to present local filmgoers' lists of the year's favorites. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from projectionist & Film On Film Foundation co-founder Carl Martin, who blogs and maintains the invaluable calendar at that site:

january 23, castro: fly-by-night
a perfect cheapo b-noir: brisk, ludicrous perfection. belying the apparent one-take budget, several rather complex action shots come off brilliantly.

february 12, pfa: rain or shine the pictures can talk now! let's film some carnies and let them have at it with their delightful repartee. the camera operator's no slouch either. also released in a silent version, for some reason.

march 2, ybca: bondi
the best of a very strong program of aussie shorts. rolling waves meet beach bums in a simple split-screen effect that folds space onto itself, escher-style.

may 19, roxie: the red house
delmer daves continues to blow my mind--jubal might have made the list but for its digital workover, and rome adventure but for its silliness--here trading in archetypes and allegory. a certain close-up of allene roberts, held for a duration far surpassing normal narrative requirements, creates a perfect transcendent moment. the 16mm print kept weaving in and out of alignment with the projector's sound optics, rendering some plot points a bit obscure.

june 10, moma: play misty for me
one of the most fantastic prints of the year. clint eastwood's recent movies vary from decent (gran torino) to unwatchable (changeling, hereafter), and he loves to digitally wring the color out of them. not so misty: it's beautiful, colorful, poetic, and fully invested in every scene.

august 23, roxie: something wild
this print was utterly gorgeous when it wasn't buckling in the gate, going wildly, tantalizingly out of focus. and what a sordid, delicious film. rape, attempted suicide, victim exploitation--thrown across the screen with no sentimentality. and then, a final redemptive knife-turn to the heart, flying in the face of today's mores as much as those of 1961.

september 20, roxie: o.c. and stiggs
the titular teens live in a strange, solipsistic version of arizona, in the same universe where all altman's films are set. their hi-jinx are classic. why does ferris bueller get all the respect?

october 30, roxie: the brood
the film medium favors the visible, the corporeal. this occult-psychological horror movie is full of strange, disturbing, corporeal ideas. kind of a perfect fit for cronenberg--his masterpiece? oliver reed's performance is towering. amazing print.

november 18, moma: filmpiece for sunshine
into what starts as a rigorously formal exploration of an institutional-looking building steps a human element, and a sort of oblique narrative of a tryst develops. ernie gehr meets robert bresson? i loved every phase of this film by unknown (to me) local john luther schofill, including the of-the-moment needle-drop soundtrack.

december 17, ybca: night train to terror
all the "good bits" from three earlier '80's horror throwaways, ranging from the obscure to the never-completed, culled with little regard for continuity and mashed into one mondo monstrosity of surprisingly consistent tone. stitched together with voiceovers that introduce more plot incongruities than they resolve, and a too-ludicrous-for-words linking story that has compartment-mates god and satan jawing at each for possession of the characters' souls, not one of which looks worth having. meanwhile, a howlingly bad hair-glam band is stuck in a perpetual-loop music video in the next car. wall-to-wall wtf of the highest caliber.

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