Friday, January 14, 2011

Victoria Jaschob'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 researcher/writer Victoria Jaschob, who has written for Film International and the SFSFF.

15th San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Highlights - Panorama pris d’un train en marche, a George Méliès short taken from the top of a train in 1898, accompanied by Stephen Horne's haunting piano, moved me to tears with its glimpse of a vanished world, just before the century turned and it all went to hell; Rotaie - a revelation. Once of the best films I've seen - period - in its effortless, timeless storytelling, again accompanied by Stephen Horne - on piano, flute AND accordion; L'Heureuse Mort, hilarious and witty film made by Russian emigres in Paris, accompanied by the sublime Matti Bye Ensemble in a perfect synthesis of image and sound. The composer told me he was trying to evoke the feeling of being on holiday at the seaside in the south of France - if this was his intention, he certainly succeeded. And lastly, "The Complete Metropolis" - not so much for the film itself, which I've always found a bit over-wrought, but for the talk given by the pair of Argentinian film historians who spent 20 years trying to find it. Their dedication was truly inspiring, as was realizing they would be viewing their efforts for the first time that night, along with the other 1,400 some-people in the theater.

Noir City 8 at the Castro: Highlights were Serena Bramble's Endless Night - A Valentine to Film Noir - set to a soundtrack by Massive Attack, and Cry Danger with Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming. But the best part for me was hanging out in the back room of Tosca afterwards, listening to the owner Jeanette's stories about hanging out with real gangsters in Palm Springs in the 50's.

Radical Light series at the PFA: Highlights for me were George Kuchar's Wild Night in El Reno (another great image/music marriage), Bruce Baillie's Valentin De las Sierras and Bruce Connor's A Movie, which never fails to astonish and move me, no matter how many times I've seen it. I love the shot of the beaver at the end.

Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc at the Paramount: I don't know which impressed me more - the quality of the print (including scenes I'd never seen before, since the last time I'd seen this film was in the early 80's, before this print was discovered in a mental hospital in Norway!), or the fact that on a rainy Thursday night, almost 2,000 people showed up to see a 90-year old film!!!

Lastly (and I know this doesn't really qualify), Beggars of Life at LACMA - I'd been wanting to see this film for 30 years, but somehow always managed to miss it. It just happened to be showing when I was in LA for the weekend. On my birthday. One of my best birthday presents EVER.

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