Friday, January 21, 2011

Maureen Russell'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 film buff, SFFS member and Noir City/SFSFF volunteer Maureen Russell:

Ted Kotcheff, director (Australia, 1971)
Once lost film, rediscovered print, restored
Director in person for Q&A 4/30/10
When I attend many screenings during a festival, not many of the films get stuck in my head. I was so taken with this film, I went across town just for the Q&A I found out director Ted Kotcheff was doing – worth it! This film caught me like I woke up on the floor with flies, empty beer bottles everywhere and broken furniture and … I like a good film with a protagonist getting caught in a downward spiral.

Carl Th. Dreyer (France, 1928)
An Oratorio with Silent Film; Music by Richard Einhorn
At the Paramount Theatre, Oakland
Presented by the Pacific Film Archive, Paramount Theatre and Silent Film Festival
December 2, 2010
I’d seen this film once maybe 25 years ago and the images stayed with me. A rare treat to see a beautiful print with a small orchestra and huge choir, which I was sitting directly behind.
The lead actress is amazing, plus there’s Antonin Artaud as the cool monk. Dreyer’s use of the closeup is something else. This was a perfect way for my first visit to Oakland’s incredible art deco Paramount Theatre.

Mario Camerini, director (Italy, 1928)
Live accompaniment by Stephen Horne
July 2010
A charming and beautiful film of a young couple, in love but without money, who find a lost wallet filled with cash. Neo-Realist yet dreamlike, beautifully shot and acted. Stephen Horne’s piano accompaniment fit the film perfectly.

Fritz Lang, 1927
restoration to original cut, found footage in Argentina not seen since film’s original release
live accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra
July 2010
I’d heard the buzz about the restoration with found footage, and it was great to go to the SF premiere during the Silent Film Fest with a full house. I’d seen this film a number of times over the years in different edits, but this time it really made sense – no holes in the story. And the driving score by the Alloy Orchestra really added to the drama. I was not disappointed.

5) CRY DANGER (1951) Robert Parrish, director, USA
Restored premiere, with co-star Richard Erdman in person (best wise cracking noir lines)
THE MOB (1951)
1/23/10 double feature
Noir City festival theme: Lust & Larceny
The Castro Theatre, San Francisco
This was one of the strongest nights at last year’s record attendance premier noir film fest. It was a treat to see Cry Danger restored.

6) JOHNNY COOL (1963) – “Rat Pack noir”
COP HATER (1958)
May 22 double feature
I STILL WAKE UP DREAMING: NOIR IS DEAD! / LONG LIVE NOIR! Rare B Noirs from Hollywood’s Poverty Row - The Roxie
A very fun double feature. Johnny Cool had the Italian tough man brought to the US to take out some business competition, featuring appearances by Sammy Davis Jr. and many who starred in favorite tv shows after appearing here.
Cop Hater had one tough femme fatale.

7) Western noir double feature
NOT NECESSARILY NOIR series – the Roxie Theater
Written by then-blacklisted screen scribe Dalton Trumbo. Great performance by its star, Sterling Hayden, with Sebastian Cabot too.
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis.
Atmospheric psychological black and white western set in the winter, with fog and snow, photographed by Russell Harlan. Great acting starring Robert Ryan against a sadistic band of outlaws led Burl Ives! And if it wasn’t enough seeing Burl Ives heading the outlaws, a young Tina Louise co-stars. Directed by Andre DeToth.

8) Special event: CLUB FOOT Presents: A Generous Illusion, Post-Punk SF (1978-82)
July 29, 2010. Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, Main Library.
This special evening included films and videos of actor/musician Richard Edson, Christian Marclay's Bachelors Even, Bruce Geduldig's Childhood Prostitute (starring JoJo Planteen from Inflatable Boy Clams) and much more, compiled and curated for this presentation. Standing room crowd for rare videos and films of live music performances.

E. Mason Hopper, director (US, 1022)
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Castro Theatre
Restored melodrama of immigrants arriving in New York. I enjoyed the new commissioned score performed live on stage by the Moab Strangers, composer Ethan Miller, innovative Bay Area psychedelic and folk heroes and even a female Gamelan band

Mystery Science Theater 3000 work over this film which set on an island with issues like virgin sacrifices and mutating man-eating plants, a guy with dwarf servants, etc. Commentary from the MST3K Cinematic titanic crew which includes Joel, Crow, Tom Servo and others from the TV show.

2/2/10 – San Francisco – SF Sketchfest – The Castro Theatre- Danger on Tiki Island aka Brides of Blood (1968) My first time seeing this group live, it was fun to laugh along with the full house at the Castro.

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