Monday, January 14, 2013

The Two Eyes Of Adam Hartzell

If you didn't attend some wonderful repertory/revival film screenings in 2012, you missed out. As nobody could see them all, I've recruited Frisco Bay filmgoers to recall some of their own favorites of the year. An index of participants is found here.  

The following list comes from Adam Hartzell, a frequent contributor to Hell on Frisco Bay and other sites, and now available to follow on twitter.

I only have 4-eyes this year, appropriate since I am dependent on glasses in order to see far in front of me.  Here are my favorite rep house events - not necessarily in preferential order

1)  Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley, Compensation (Zeinabu irene Davis, 1999, U.S.), part of the L.A. Rebellion Series.  

Of course, Charles Burnett's classic Killer of Sheep (1977) is a masterpiece, but all I was able to catch from the L.A. Rebellion Series was Compensation and what a delight this film was to see.  As Davis noted in her Skype-recorded introduction, she re-configured the structure of the film after she found the best actress for the role, Michelle A. Banks.  Davis incorporated a partial silent film narrative because Banks is Deaf and Davis wanted to make sure Banks' community could enjoy the film as much as hearing folk could.  Such efforts to create a work accessible for a greater number of individuals is just plain awesome!  Again, the PFA is my teacher, introducing me to great cinema from artists I knew nothing about until their programs hit my mailbox.  

2)  Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco - Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (Antoinette Jadaone, 2011), part of New Filipino Cinema Series  

This list is limited to what we saw in theaters, so I will refrain from mentioning the excellent films, like Benito Bautista's Boundary (2011), that I saw as screeners on DVD, but of the two films I saw in the YBCA theatre, the US premiere of Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay was truly the highlight.  An amazing mock-umentary that leaves the willing real-life subject with such an amazing sense of dignity, you forget  for a moment you were watching a mock-umentary and realize again how fiction can often present us with greater truths than non-fiction.  

3)  The Bridge, San Francisco, Studio Ghibli Retrospective 

The perfect way to say goodbye to The Bridge's last year in operation.  How wonderful to see the long line of patrons queuing up for a screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hiyao Miyazaki, 1984).  How nice for my wife to now know that when dubbed with care, My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988) can translate.  (Although she could do without all the extra music imposed upon necessary breaths of silence.)  What a true joy it was watching Kiki's Delivery Service (Miyazaki, 1989) with my goddaughter's friends.  What a surprise it was to see the amazing Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata, 1991) for the first time and learn that Ghibli doesn't need to just be Miyazaki.  And equally important, how nice to know that Studio Ghibli is human and can fail too with crap like The Cat Returns (Hiroyuki Morita, 2002).  

4)  The Roxie, San Francisco - Dance Craze (Joe Massot, 1981, United Kingdom) at San Francisco Documentary Festival,  

Once,  when I was in high school, the British ska band Madness was coming to The Shoppe, our local record shop back when every town had one, along  with a local bookstore and cinema.  In order to impede my brother and I  from playing hooky to meet them, my mother offered to go in our place and get albums signed for me, my brother, and our cousin Nathan.  I ended up with a signed copy of the 'One Step Beyond' 12-inch.  I also ended up with a story of my mother telling the young men of Madness - I really hope it was Suggs - "I don't know anything about you boys, but my sons sure like you."  

That is why I went to see Dance Craze as a double date with my British friend who experienced much of what we were witnessing on screen.  Dance Craze is a wonderful snapshot and breakbeat of the  vibrancy of youth creating (or, in this case, re-creating, since this was a revival of the ska genre) musical movement that would make its way to my little city of Berea, Ohio well across the pond.

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