Sunday, March 31, 2013

Notorious (1946)

WHO: Alfred Hitchcock

WHAT: This is probably the most highly-regarded of Hitchcock's 1940s films. Though the decade may not match the 1950s or (arguably) even the 1930s or the 1960s in sheer number of masterpieces,, Notorious stands with just about anything he ever made as a fully-assured, controlled, work of entertainment and art. Here's part of what the director said about the film to Peter Bogdanovich in 1963, the year the latter helped MOMA put together the first (essentially) complete retrospective of Hitchcock films in the United States:
This is the old love-and-duty theme. Grant's job is to get Bergman in bed with Rains, the other man. It's ironic, really, and Grant is a bitter man all the way through. Rains was sympathetic because he's the victim of a confidence trick and we always have sympathy for the victim, no matter how foolish he is. Also I would think Rains' love for Bergman was very much stronger than Grant's.
WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto at 5:35 & 10:00 PM, and at 7:00 PM on Monday, April 8th at the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma, California.

WHY: As the Stanford's Alfred Hitchcock series winds down (after tonight, there's only next weekend's double-bill of Psycho and The Birds left at that venue) it's time to get ready for the next phase in 2013's celebration of the Master of Suspense.

First of all, the Castro includes a Hitchcock film on it's April calendar: The Birds, which as of this week has been giving avian nightmares for fifty years now, and which will screen there on April 14th.

The excitement is building for the US premiere of new restorations of nine of Hitchcock's silent films, also happening at the Castro thanks to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The festival website has been updated to include all the showtimes and musicians expected to perform for this mid-June event. Only the identity of the organist expected to accompany Easy Virtue on Sunday afternoon on June 16th has yet to be revealed, perhaps because the fate of the Castro's Wurlitzer is currently up in the air. Or that may be a coincidence.

After the Castro screenings, these silent features will tour cinemas around the country, and among the stops will be Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive, which still has seven talkies to go in its own retrospective.

The Lodger will return to San Francisco on October 31st, where it will screen at Davies Symphony Hall accompanied by organist Todd Wilson. This is part of a musical-minded Hitchcock week at the venue that also includes an October 30th screening of Psycho with the San Francisco Symphony (albeit presumably just the string section) performing Bernard Herrman's score live on stage to a version of the film with only sound effects and dialogue audible, a similar treatment of Vertigo (this time presumably not just the string section- gotta have those flutes and horns) November 1st, and a November 2nd set of "short films", by which I presume the Symphony staff means excerpts from other Hitchcock features from the period of his collaboration with Herrmann (from 1955-1964).

HOW: Notorious screens tonight on a 35mm Stanford double-bill with North By Northwest. The screening at the Sebastiani is a solo screening, and I've been unable to learn whether it will be a 35mm one, though I know the theatre still has the capability to run such prints.

UPDATE 4/4/2013: I have just received confirmation that the Sebastiani Theatre screening will indeed be in 35mm!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980)

WHO: Les Blank directed this. Word is the legendary documentarian is not doing so well.

WHAT: A year and a half ago I had the honor of interviewing Blank at his studio in El Cerrito, for an article published in the "Radical Foods" issue of First Person Magazine. There are still a few copies of this gorgeously-designed publication (which also includes interviews with individuals at the nexus of food and art such as Sandor Ellix Katz, Jon Rubin, Marije Vogelzang, Ben Kinmont, and more) at Park Life in the Richmond District. I excerpted a segment from my interview prior to the launch party which included a screening of Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, but here's another brief excerpt from Blank's remarks to me, about the time when he showed a work-in-progress version of the film to a Museum of Modern Art audience in New York that folkorist Alan Lomax attended. 
I was waiting to hear from him, since I respected his opinion so much. He said, 'Your film makes me so mad I want to punch you in the nose.' I was taken aback and wanted to know why. He said, 'Because it shows all these yuppies out in California playing in their food and thinking their garlic is so lovely and wonderful. Garlic is really the food of the people who live close to the earth-peasants, poor people, the starving. Garlic is what ties it all together for them. You trivialized it. I'm ashamed of you.' When I got over being mad at him, defensively, I decided that he had a point. I then went out and looked for people from other cultures who would demonstrate using garlic.
A "who's who" of some of the individuals seen in Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers has since been compiled by John Harris, who appeared in the film as seen in the above image.

WHERE/WHEN: Plays at 7:00 tonight at the Roxie.

WHY: Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers screens as part of the inaugural Food and Farm Film Festival, which pairs each foodie-centric screening with delicacies prepared by local chefs. Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, who appeared in this film as well as in Blank's Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, will introduce tonight's screening. The festival began last night, but today it will also host a 35mm matinee showing of another locally-made food film, Pixar's Ratatouille and a shorts program, with more screenings to be held at the Roxie tomorrow.

It's time to flip over the Roxie's Spring 2013 calendar if you've got it hanging on your refrigerator. You'll probably notice a photo of Roman Polanski but no film titles listed. Well, just last week titles and (most) showtimes were announced online for next weekend's three-day tribute to the director, during which Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne will Skype with Polanski after the audience takes in an afternoon screening of that 1974 classic.

HOW: Evidently Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers will be a digital screening.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sita Sings The Blues (2008)

WHO: Nina Paley wrote and directed this partially-autobiographical animation.

WHAT: It's unfortunate that, because Sita Sings The Blues became a cause célèbre in the ongoing copyright vs. copyleft battles over corporate control of cultural heritage, discussions of the film often overlook how great an example of virtuoso animation it is. There's more expressiveness of character through movement, more diversity in motion styles, and generally more eye-popping visual material than anything I've seen using Flash. All this is crucial to making a movie that sustains visual as well as narrative interest throughout its 82-minute runtime.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens at the New Parkway Theatre at 4:00 PM this afternoon, and at 12:30 PM tomorrow afternoon.

WHY: I haven't yet made a return visit to the New Parkway since my first trip (which I wrote a bit about here) but have noticed that the venue has really expanded its array of special programs in the past few months.  In addition to Thrillville and the Spectrum Queer Media events every Sunday, there's a Tuesday night doc night (upcoming screenings include The Game Changers Project and A Fierce Green Fire), a monthly Grindhouse series that has presented digital screenings of titles like Fulci's Zombie and Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (tonight it plays the original Evil Dead movie), and a music-themed screening series co-hosted by the Spinning Platters blog (coming Saturday April 13th: a Trapped In The Closet sing-along). Sita Sings the Blues screens as part of a Family Classics series, though the feature has appeal to animation fans of all ages. If you haven't seen it yet, the New Parkway is a perfect place to do it, with comfortable couches to sit upon, a variety of food and drink at your beck and call, etc. And if you haven't visited the New Parkway yet, this seems like a perfect screening to sample; it's a natively-digital work so it's a natural fit for an all-digital cinema like this one.

Meanwhile, Nina Paley is working on making her (possibly?) feature-length follow-up to Sita Sings The Blues, and it's called Seder-Masochism. Late last year she posted a segment of it entitled This Land Is Mine online. On April 27th this mini-movie will screen as part of a not-for-the-kiddies Other Cinema program called Animation in Action, which also features works by frame-by-frame experimenters like Dave Fleischer, Lewis Klahr, Martha Colburn, and Janie Geiser.

HOW: Digital presentation of a digital production.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Le Combat Dans L’ile (1962)

WHO: Alain Cavalier directed this.

WHAT: Though most books on French film history don't include his name in their indexes, Cavalier is a director of the same generation as the French New Wave filmmakers who has quietly built a career that continues still. This film, his first feature, is also known as Fire And Ice, and stars Romy Schneider and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a couple whose marriage is threatened by a secret. I'd say more but that would mean having to read more about the film, and I already feel I've read a little too much considering I hope to see it myself for the first time tonight.

WHERE/WHEN: 9:00 tonight only at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

WHY: Perhaps you, like I, missed this film when it screened as part of a PFA retrospective devoted to Cavalier a few years back. Thankfully, retrospectives devoted to directors are not the only kind mounted by the Berkeley venue even if they're the most numerous. Over the next few weeks a tribute to actor Jean-Louis Trintignant continues to alternate with ongoing explorations of directors Alfred HitchcockWerner SchroeterJean Rouch, and, starting tomorrow, Spain's classic comedy maestro Luis García Berlanga. I've already written about how the Trintignant series provides opportunities to see great work made by great directors, but tonight's program reminds me how an actor-centric retrospective can be a way to catch up with films shown in director retros I may have missed, as well as providing chances to sample films made by directors who haven't received a retrospective there yet, like Dino Risi (whose Il Sorpasso also screens tonight) or Claude Lelouch (whose A Man and a Woman appears this Saturday).

HOW: 35mm print.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pianomania (2009)

WHO: Stefan Knüpfer is the piano tuner profiled in this documentary.

WHAT: I haven't seen this so let me quote from Frako Loden's review from when it screened at the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival in 2010:
For those who love piano and the mysteries of sound, this documentary will be a treat. It's also a 90-minute-long commercial for Steinway & Sons, being a profile of its master tuner Stefan Knüpfer and a career that matches the exacting artistry and high professional standards of the pianists he serves—big names like Lang Lang, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Alfred Brendel. Knüpfer is remarkably patient and diplomatic with the extremely minute, sometimes incomprehensible demands of the artist preparing for a big performance at a major concert hall.
WHERE/WHEN: Screens for free tonight only at 7:30 PM at a South of Market venue called Parisoma, hosted by Salon97, a local organization that brings the pleasures of classical music to audiences disinclined to seek it out using the traditional paths of academia and the concert hall.

WHY: Pianomania won the Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival three years ago; if you missed it then or during its brief theatrical run in 2011, tonight's another chance to see it projected with an audience. I'm reminded that earlier this month the SF Film Society which runs the SFIFF, announced the competition slates for the New Directors Prize and the Documentary Feature Golden Gate Awards for 2013 (nominees for short-form categories will be announced with the full festival slate on April 2nd - though even sooner for members). 

As Pianomania was an Austrian/German co-production, and last year's Documentary Feature GGA winner It's The Earth Not The Moon came from Portugal, it's no surprise that the twelve features in competition for that prize this year come from around the world as well; among the competitors are a finnish film about Chinese artists (Chimeras), one about evangelical Christianity in East Africa (God Loves Uganda), one made in Japan by the Mexican director of the wonderful Alamar, Pedro González-Rubio (Inori), a Frisco Bay filmmaker's portrait of Cambodian farmers and fishers (the River Changes Course), a Spanish filmmaker's pilgrimage to find the locations for an avant-garde Man Ray film (The Search for Emak Bakia) and seven others.

HOW: DVD projection of a digitally-produced documentary.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No (2012)

WHO: Directed by Pablo Larraín, completing a sort of trilogy of films made about Pinochet-era Chile.

WHAT: The Wikipedia article on Cinema of Chile suggests that filmmaking within the country's borders from 1973 through 1989 was negligible. If true, it's understandable, as dictatorships can produce a "brain drain" of artists with distinctive voices; the two best-known names of the "New Chilean Cinema" movement, Raúl Ruiz and Patricio Guzmán, fled their homeland and made their names internationally known while working in exile. Tony Manero, the first in Larraín's trilogy, involves a Chilean obsessed with a cinematic icon not from his own country but from one of the Hollywood imports that dominated Chile's cinema screens in the seventies (Saturday Night Fever). I have not seen Post-Mortem yet, but based on Tony Manero and No Larraín's trilogy is clearly interested in exploring dialogues between moving images and citizens living under dictatorship. In both cases television becomes the arena for local image production.

I don't want to recount a plot summary of No other than to say its drama concerns the political use of television advertisingThere are a lot of recent reviews of it out there, and probably the most thoughtful and thorough one I've come across is by Roderick Heath. I just want to comment on Larraín's aesthetic strategy of shooting the entire feature on the very outmoded analog video format of 3/4-inch videotape. Though there are examples of movies shot using this medium (also known as U-Matic) such as Rob Nilsson's 1986 feature Signal Seven and some of George Kuchar's video diaries, its domain was really the world of television. It seems safe to call No the first feature film made in this format since the advent of digital video in the 1990s.

This use of analog video cameras certainly makes Larraín's film stand out visually. Artifacting makes forms appear to have softer edges, often with unnatural color interference. Color is muted and made pastel throughout the film (making bright yellow subtitles stand out all the more), and when Larraín lands his camera on a light source, whether a lamp or a reflection or even the sun, color can be blown out almost completely, a screen-whitening effect very different from that of filmic looks cinemagoers have grown accustomed to. But this aesthetic choice is not a mere gimmick, as it reduces distinctions between the film-world diegesis and the frequent television imagery incorporated into the film, much of it real archival video that was shot on 3/4-inch tape and broadcast into Chilean homes in the late 1980s. On a few occasions Larraín's editing rhythms give viewers the disorienting sensation of not being sure if the image we're seeing is part of a broadcast being watched by characters, or part of the world they're existing in at that moment. This boundary blurring, impossible to achieve had Larraín used more conventional technology, plays right into No's themes of political image vs. political reality, of observing vs. taking action, etc. There are few films that can have characters use a word like "semiology" and get away with it without coming across as hopelessly academic. In fact, No may be the only one I'm aware of. 

WHERE/WHEN: Screens at many venues around Frisco Bay through April 4th, from the Camera 3 in San Jose to the Summerfield in Santa Rosa, including the Rafael in Marin, and at Landmark cinemas in four cities: the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the Shattuck in Berkeley, the Piedmont in Oakland, and the Aquarius in Palo Alto.

WHY: Though I haven't heard much new on the topic in several months, last year there was a lot of discussion about the impending transition away from 35mm distribution towards digital. For habitues of multiplexes, the change wasn't impending, as a great many of them had already made the change by 2011. But last year was when traditional "art houses" began tearing out their 35mm projectors to make room for digital systems. Last fall, the Landmark Theatre chain turned several of its most frequented local theatres into digital-only ones, and ceased operation on two others, the Lumiere and the Bridge, leaving the company with only (by my count) the Opera Plaza and the Clay in San Francisco, the Guild in Menlo Park and the Aquarius as venues for 35mm presentation.

I've begun to hear rumors that another wave of transition is coming to Landmark theatres in the next few weeks or months. You know rumors, they can be awfully unspecific. But anyway I wouldn't be surprised if the Opera Plaza isn't the last remaining Landmark venue running a 35mm projection system before summer. According to the Film On Film Foundation the Clay is expected to screen Rocky Horror Picture Show in 35mm at least twice more: this Saturday and April 27th. But The Guild and the Aquarius could make the changeover at any time. Right now the Guild is screening Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, while the Aquarius has No and the Walter Salles adaptation of On The Road; the latter will be switched out for Australian crowd-pleaser The Sapphires, but No remains.

HOW: Via the afore-linked Bay Area Film Calendar, No screens in 35mm right now at the Aquarius and the Camera 3, and presumably digitally elsewhere. I saw it via DCP at the Embarcadero but I'd be curious to catch it in 35mm to compare how its analog video look translates to an analog (non video) format rather than a (non analog) video one.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Master (2012)

WHO: Joaquin Phoenix deserved every accolade he got for his performance as Freddie in this film, in my opinion.

WHAT: The Master is a film that, in the words of my friend Ryland Walker Knightis "practically all interiors, mimicking the space of the characters, and mapping it yet closer by living in the close up." This visual scheme makes it all the more audacious that its director Paul Thomas Anderson decided to film it in the large-format Panavision System 65 and to release it in 70mm to certain theatres, a treatment traditionally reserved for outdoor-oriented epics like Lawrence of Arabia or Cheyenne Autumn, and not tried since Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version of Hamlet. Anderson's camera goes about as far as physically possible to penetrate his characters' expressions in the highest practical resolution, as if to demonstrate the sensory limits to detecting the real motivations and computations of a complex human being. Apropos for a film about minds and their meetings, for all of these close-ups we never really get more than hints at what's really going on inside Freddie's or Lancaster's or Peggy's heads. 

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 at the Castro Theatre, with additional showings tomorrow at 2:00 and 5:00.

WHY: When I placed The Master at #4 on my list of top 10 films of 2012, published at Fandor, it was really a provisional ranking based on having seen the film only once. I missed the Castro's advance benefit screening of the film in August, and was only able to make it over to the gorgeous Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland to see it projected in 70mm once. I had little interest in seeing it projected digitally or even in 35mm knowing that a 70mm print was surely destined to show at the Castro at some point relatively soon. Now soon is now. I'm psyched to finally see The Master again and on a screen even bigger than the Grand Lake's.

HOW: In 70mm.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Memories To Light (2013)

WHO: Mark Decena (director of Dopamine among other films) has edited together home movies for the closing night presentation for this final evening of CAAMFest.

WHAT: I must admit I'm a bit unclear on some of the specifics here. I know that Decena has edited a film from his own family's home movie footage which is entitled The War Inside, as he talked about it on KALW radio earlier this week; the seven-minute interview can be heard here

But the Center for Asian American Media is also using tonight's event to launch a project they're calling Memories To Light, which intends to collect home movies from all over the United States for digitization and potential presentation. The rationale for this is best described on the still-under-construction website
Since the mainstream media has given us so few authentic images of the Asian American experience, home videos become the most real way to see how our grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles lived their lives.
A more worthwhile and interesting initiative is hard to imagine; home movies can tell us so much that they weren't necessarily intending to communicate across time when they were filmed; not just about culture but about geography, ecology, fashion, and even the evolving relationship ordinary people have had with the camera over the decades. Although this project is Asian-American specific and I'm about as Anglo as they come, I'm tempted to dig back into my parents' reels of home movie footage to see if there are images of me playing with the many Asian-American friends I made growing up in the diverse Richmond District of San Francisco, that might be of use to CAAM.

I'm under the impression that CAAM already has collected quite a bit of home movie footage aside from Decena's, and that he may have been responsible for the editing of this other footage together for tonight's presentation as well as his own. Perhaps this compilation should be thought of as a film entitled Memories To Light, like the CAAM initiative. Those with tickets to tonight's event will soon be able to untangle all of this and report back; unfortunately I won't be able to attend myself.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens at New People tonight only at 5:00 PM. Advance tickets are all sold but there may be "Rush" tickets available for attendees willing to wait in line at the venue about an hour beforehand.

WHY: The festival program gives special thanks to archivists Rick Prelinger and Antonella Bonfanti, both of whom I've become friends with over the past year or two, but that shouldn't make me, them, or you feel awkward when I decide to highlight their excellent work here on this blog. Bonfanti is interviewed about her role in digitizing home movies used in tonight's presentation in the organization's brief promotional video, which also features CAAM executive director Stephen Gong speaking about the project. 

Prelinger is Frisco Bay's, and perhaps even the country's, leading advocate for increased prominence of home movies in cinemas and in our conversations about moving images. He annually puts together the extraordinarily popular Lost Landscapes of San Francisco events at the Castro Theatre, and his passion for home movies is perhaps most succinctly and eloquently expressed in words in this Open Space blog post from last year. I'm very excited that on May 5th the San Francisco International Film Festival will host the hometown premiere of his brand-new film No More Road Trips? also at the Castro. This film (which I've seen a brief but powerful excerpt from) is compiled from home movie footage and intended to spark a dialogue about the connections between the car culture of the past century and that of today, whether it's sustainable into the future, and if not, what that means.  Preferably this conversation will be carried out during the screening itself among the audience, as like his Lost Landscapes shows, he has designed the presentation to be an interactive one for an audience encouraged to provide a kind of crowd-sourced benshi soundtrack of comments, questions, and other verbal expressions.

HOW: Memories To Light will be a digital presentation with live "performance controlled" music by Davin Agatep. I'm not sure if the audience will be encouraged to interject during this screening like they are at Prelinger's, but I'm sure they'll be told one way or another beforehand.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Urine Man (2000)

WHO: The Urine Man himself is in some sense the auteur of this film, as he demanded control over when the camera could be turned on or off before he'd allow himself to be interviewed- although 'interviewed' may not be the correct verb as he also demanded no questions be asked of him during the filming. But as he proved to be anonymous and untraceable, it makes sense that local filmmaker Greta Snider get the credit as director; she certainly deserves credit for instigating the filming of the Urine Man and presenting him to the world.

WHAT: "You are what you eat. You can't be yourself unless you eat yourself." If one takes the initial aphorism literally, the Urine Man's conclusion bears an impeccable (and in the context of the rest of his rant, hilariously disgusting) logic.  However.

Filmed in 1999, this piece was released after the ringing in of the new millennium, an act that in itself discredits its subject, as he makes Y2K predictions that obviously had not come to pass by the time any wider public heard them. His error ensures that the rest of what he says cannot be taken as a mystical tapping into secret wisdom, but rather a particular, (and perhaps particularly "entertaining") expression of irrationality. Perhaps it could even do some good as a kind of reverse-psychology public service message: don't do what the Urine Man recommends, unless you want to be like him.

A compassionate viewer may resist laughing at or being entertained by the Urine Man's monologue. Pity or anger or more complex feelings may arise instead of, or along with, such reactions. This is how Snider's film works as not just reportage but art. Sara Herbet probably says it best when she identifies it as a film that "straddles voyeurism, taking advantage of a crazy person, and giving voices to the underrepresented." Urine Man's formal simplicity is as deceptive as the structures its subject imagines are cloaking the kind of "wisdom" he has to share with us.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight only at Artists' Television Access, as part of a full program of films that begins at 8:30.

WHY: Tonight's ATA screening is part of Craig Baldwin's weekly screening series entitled Other Cinema, one of the Bay Area's most convivial and unpretentious showcases of mindblowing experimental film and video work, as well as one of its longest-running. Other goodies on offer this evening include Kathryn Ramsey's West: What I Know About Her, Marcy Saude’s Sangre de Cristo, Vanessa Renwick's Portland Meadows, Brigid McCaffrey's AM/PM, and Bill Daniel's Texas City. Future Other Cinema attractions in the coming weeks include an April 13th magic lantern presentation by Ben Wood channelling Eadweard Muybridge, a 4/20 premiere of Baldwin's own double-projection Nth Dimension, a May 4th space-age slide show from Megan Prelinger, the annual blowout "New Experimental Works" on May 25th, and much much much much much more.

HOW: I believe Urine Man is planned to screen digitally, if only because usually the Other Cinema calendar page explicitly mentions when a 16mm or Super-8 film is expected to be shown. Among tonight's program selections only West: What I Know About Her is called out as a 16mm showing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Strange Days (1995)

WHO: Kathryn Bigelow directed this after Near Dark, Blue Steel, and Point Break, and before The Weight of Water, K-19: the Widowmaker, The Hurt Locker and the controversial Zero Dark Thirty (which is still showing in a few local theatres).

WHAT: I've never seen Strange Days but I remember when it came out well; I was a college radio DJ at the time and gave at least a spin or two to the title track to the soundtrack, a cover of the Doors classic performed by New York City "industrial" metal band Prong, with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek playing along. In fact another band's version of the Doors song was originally supposed to be used in the film and appear on the CD. But in the cutthroat world of placing songs on mid-nineties soundtracks to would-be blockbuster films, it was decided that a Sony-signed artist should be given the pride of place on the Sony-released soundtrack, so the Wax Trax-affiliated Sister Machine Gun's version was nixed in favor of Prong. (Their version can be heard on the CD Burn -- if you have a CD player that can rewind from the beginning of track 1, that is). Of course, the movie flopped financially, doing little to help Sony, Prong, or Manzarek. It's only been in recent years that I've begun to hear cinephiles recommend it as a neglected example of pre-millennial science fiction that prefigures The Matrix and other cyberpunk-inflected films.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight only at the Castro Theatre as an almost-midnight movie. Listed star time: 11:30 PM

WHY: We've lived through the Y2K switchover, we've lived through the year 2012, and we've even lived through The Matrix Reloaded (not necessarily in that order). So perhaps it's just the right time to revisit this on a big screen with a charged-up audience. Seeing a movie at the witching hour at the Castro Theatre is always a treat, and certainly not an everyday occurrence. The next movie to play this late time slot at the venue will be on April 19th when Brian De Palma's Carrie makes an appearance, in plenty of time for the Senior Prom. Much of the Castro's April calendar has in fact been revealed on the theatre website, or (in the case of April 25th and a couple of May dates) on the San Francisco Film Society's. Take a look and see what strikes your fancy.

HOW: Strange Days is the culmination of a MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS triple-bill entitled "Mentors Matter"; the other two films in the trio include Rocky III and Léon: The Professional, neither one of them a film I have particularly fond memories of, but perhaps that's all the more reason to re-evaluate them now. All three screen in 35mm prints.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dyketactics (1974)

WHO: Barbara Hammer
WHAT: Let me step aside and quote Ariella Ben-Dov's piece on the film from the Radical Light book: 
In 1974 Barbara Hammer came out to viewers not only as a dyke but also as a fearless experimental filmmaker who is credited by some as creating the first-ever film by a lesbian about lesbian lovemaking for lesbian viewers. In a mere four minutes, and a poetic and titillating montage of 110 images, Dyketactics, which Hammer calls a "lesbian commercial," reveals the pleasures of looking at the female nude from a female perspective.
Ben-Dov's piece is brief, but I've cut off the above excerpt before she gets into her best analysis, so I urge you to read the entire piece on page 195 of the book. I'd also add, as if it didn't go without saying, really, that one doesn't need to be a lesbian viewer to recognize the formal acuity of Hammer's film. I haven't seen much else of Hammer's work, but this is just great.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight at 7PM at SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater.
WHY: Although SFMOMA's impending closure removes a key screening space from the Frisco Bay fabric of venues that periodically present 16mm films by "underground" makers like Hammer, the local film community can be glad about other institutions that will continue to show such work after tonight's Phyllis Wattis Theater sign-off for the format.
For instance, on April 2nd the San Francisco Art Institute lecture hall will play host to a free screening of 16mm, Super-8 and video work by SFAI alum Scott Stark, who will be present for the event. Titles to be screened include two of my favorites of his, the brilliant Noema and Shape Shift. I haven't yet seen his Under A Blanket of Blue or More Than Meets The Eye: Remaking Jane Fonda or Speechless but my girlfriend who (full disclosure) is organizing this show assures me they're brilliant as well. More information on this event is to be found here.
The following weekend, eyes turn to the Victoria Theatre, where SF Cinematheque's biggest annual screening event, the Crossroads festival takes up residence with eight full programs held over three days (April 5-7).  Scott Stark will once again be featured, this time with more recent work such as Longhorn Tremelo, Traces and the world premiere of his long-anticipated The Realist. The weekend's seven other programs include films by talents such as Luther Price, Paul Clipson, Kelly Sears, Laida Lertxundi, Ben Rivers, and Michael Robinson among many others. 
SF Cinematheque is currently running a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help pay for the Crossroads festival, confidently timing the last day of the fundraising period to be Thursday April 4th, just a day before the screenings begin. As of this writing the campaign is just over halfway to its goal, so if you have interest in supporting this vital organization and making sure the festival is as good as it needs to be, please do see if you can open your wallet to donate. As usual with these things, donations at certain levels are reciprocated not only with good "underground film" karma but with gifts, which range from DVDs and books (such as the aforementioned and indispensable Radical Light as well as Barbara Hammer-signed copies of Hammer: Making Movies out of Sex and Life) to passes to Crossroads and Cinematheque screenings, to tote bags featuring artwork by the late great George Kuchar. A full list of these gift/benefits for donors is found here; click now because some of these items are in limited supply. I've really enjoyed each of the three previous Crossroads festivals, and at the first one I was able to meet several visiting filmmakers including Barbara Hammer, who was one of the featured guests at the festival. At that time I had not yet seen any of her films, but she was most gracious to me anyway. Crossroads is an unpretentious place for both experienced experimental film viewers and relative newcomers to rub elbows and discuss the works on display.
HOW: Dyketactics screens in 16mm, as does the feature (also by Hammer) that it accompanies at this showing, her 1992 feature Nitrate Kisses.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

15 (2003)

WHO: Royston Tan wrote & directed this, his first feature film.

WHAT: Well known to Singapore moviegoers but practically unknown elsewhere is the fact that the city-state has one of the most restrictive motion picture rating systems around. As one of the producers of 15, Eric Khoo, puts it in an interview with Tilman-Baumgärtel (published in his book Southeast Asian Independent Cinema):
I only wish they would bring down the age for R-rated pictures. I don't think anywhere else in the world, you have to be twenty-one to see a film. You can have sex when you are sixteen, but you cannot watch Borat!
Under such conditions, it should be unsurprising that 15 had to endure a record 27 cuts by Singapore censors before it could be released theatrically in the country it was made, And even then, only those over 21 were allowed to watch it. Combined with a ban on local home video release, it meant that teenagers of the age depicted in the film (the title derives from the age of the adolescents we see on the screen- most of them non-actors recruited from real youth gangs) would have to wait six years to be old enough to legally view the film. 

It's perhaps even less surprising that filmmakers like Tan and Khoo (whose first feature as a director was the punk-rock-inflected Mee Pok Man) would begin their feature filmmaking careers with films that pushed censorship boundaries- the most passionate independent artists are often inclined to press against whatever boundary they feel constraining them, and if, as in Singapore, that boundary is the censor's razor they gravitate to material that gives it resistance. 15 features drugs, violence, and full-frontal male nudity, among other screen taboos. No wonder it became one of the most notorious - and internationally popular - films ever produced on the island nation.

WHERE/WHEN: A CAAMFest presentation at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, tonight only at 7:00.

WHY: CAAMFest is one of the Bay Area's great examples of a film festival loyal to the filmmakers it helps local audiences discover, and to the audiences who appreciate discovering them. Royston Tan's relationship with the festival is a great example. Though the festival hasn't shown every one of his films made over the years, in 2002 (back when it was called the SF International Asian American Film Festival) it screened his short Sons (which is now viewable legally and for free via Youtube), followed up by programming a 35-minute version of 15 the following year. By this time the feature version was in the pipeline and it was screened at the 2004 SFIAAFF; that's where I saw it. I barely remember it so it's clearly time to view it again and the CAAM programmers know it, bringing Tan himself to discuss it and the rest of his career tonight in conversation with Valerie Soe. It's the culmination of a mini-retrospective of Tan's work that also included a festival reprise of his biggest hometown commercial success 881 and the U.S. premiere of his latest film Old Romances. It's great to have the festival bring back its tradition of hosting career surveys of Asian auteurs after a couple-year hiatus.

15 is not the only case of CAAMFest/SFIAAFF screening a short film and later an feature-length remake or sequel version. I'm sure there have been many over the festival history but what comes to mind right now is the 2002 screening of SF Art Institute graduate Michael Shaowanasai's To Be...Or Not To Be?: The Adventures of Iron Pussy III, which foretold a 2004 showing of Shaowanasai's The Adventure of Iron Pussy, co-directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. I suppose I think of this example because the short video work that preceded Apichatpong's Mekong Hotel at CAAMFest screenings this past weekend, Jennifer Phang's Advantageous, is getting expanded into a feature-length film later this year. It's good news, because although the short is thought-provoking and emotionally powerful on its own, its science-fiction concept feels at times constrained by its 25-minute frame and deserves a larger canvas. Perhaps we'll see it screened at a future CAAMFest...

HOW: 15 shows via a 35mm print.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

WHO: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

WHAT: A little over two years ago, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives played a brief run in Frisco Bay cinemas, and I was interviewed by Sara Vizcarrando for an episode of her much-missed show "Look Of The Week". You can hear what I had to say by viewing this (my segment begins shortly after the five minute mark), but here's a brief transcribed excerpt:
[Apichatpong is] really exploring veils. There's the veil between life and death, of course. All these ghosts coming back. And then there's the veil, which he's always been interested in in his films, the veil between cinema and reality...  
WHERE/WHEN: Screens at Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive tonight only at 7:00 PM.

WHY: As pleased as I was that CAAMFest chose to bring Apichatpong's Mekong Hotel to the festival this year, I realize this pleasure comes as a loyal fan of the Thai director, interested in following him on any artistic journeys he decides to take. But Mekong Hotel is not a particularly good introduction to Apichatpong's oeuvre, or even as satisfying an experience for a confirmed fan; it's formally stripped-down and not nearly as aesthetically luxurious as a film like Uncle Boonmee. Watching it at the PFA Saturday was a treat, but left me wanting to see one of his more eye-popping films. Thankfully the opportunity has arrived just a few days later; it's unclear whether this is really a CAAMFest screening or not, however; the PFA site indicates it is, but it's nowhere to be found on the festival website or in its printed materials.

Both Mekong Hotel and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives deal with "hauntings"- a theme and a word that has characterized Apichatpong's filmmaking for much of his career, but find more explicit expression lately. The reason the filmmaker was unable to be present at this weekend's screenings is because he was in the United Arab Emirates, presenting films picked by himself and a number of other curators (including at least a couple familiar to San Francisco cinephiles: Tilda Swinton and Steve Anker) to screen at the eleventh Sharjah Biennial (yes, this year's iteration of the event that had a vexed interaction with Caveh Zahedi two years ago). For this event, Apichatpong asked curators to pick works that have "haunted them" and his own curatorial selections include "haunted" films by Georges Méliès and Osamu Tezuka among others I haven't myself seen; the full list is found here.

HOW: 35mm print.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Cheer Ambassadors (2012)

WHO: Linguist and photographer Luke Cassady-Doiron makes his documentary directing debut with this. As a US citizen living in Bangkok since 2005, he could qualify as an "American Asian" filmmaker included at a festival that specializes in films made by Asian American filmmakers. Close enough, right?

WHAT: The Cheer Ambassadors is a documentary as peppy, poppy, and eager to inspire audiences as is its subject: the Bangkok University coed cheerleading squad, which made a splash at the 2009 Universal Cheerleaders Association international competition in Orlando, Florida. 
Like a stereotypical cheerleader, it's an attractive film full of enthusiasm, but is not intellectually deep. Heady topics relevant to the story are touched upon but not really explored. Is cheerleading a real sport or a form of performance? Is there a difference? What is it like for male and female athletes to compete on one team together, especially in a country that considers itself conservative with regard to relations between unmarried men and women? What does it say about globalization that such an American activity has caught hold so firmly among young people half a world away? These questions may be raised but not much progress is made toward helping the audience come closer to answers to them. That's okay. Cassady-Doiron does a good job of making an engaging entertainment out of his material, taking a more emotional than intellectual route to resonance and depth by spending time interviewing the Bangkok cheerleaders about their own dreams, life histories and personal struggles trying to stay focused on their training and development as athletes and teammates.
What most interests me about The Cheer Ambassadors is how it was constructed. The various aspect ratios, levels of resolution, and styles of camera movement suggest that many different cameras and cinematographers were used to capture footage in the film. Clearly some shots come directly from television broadcasts, while others appear to be handheld, consumer-grade (perhaps even cellphone) cameras. Yet the interviews and much of the training footage appears to be shot in HD by Cassady-Doiron himself. Though all the footage is edited together deftly to create a clear narrative, with the addition of some handsome animated sequences to fill certain gaps (the latter technique used by Caveh Zahedi among other seasoned documentarians), an attentive viewer may wonder if the director and his camera were even on hand for certain critical moments, including the Florida culmination. All documentaries are chronicles of history once they hit the screen of course, but might this one be, like Budrus or Grizzly Man, a film in which the director got involved in its making after the story was already over, and more a feat of collecting and editing pre-existing footage (while adding supplemental contextual material like the interviews), than a feat of embedded documenting, like in Restrepo or The White Diamond? If so, perhaps it also explains why my friend Adam Hartzell in his otherwise-positive review noticed that demonstration of the specific innovations the Thai team brought to international cheerleading felt missing from the film. And it makes the all-but-seamless construction of the film seem all the more impressive an achievement on the part of Cassady-Doiron and his editor Duangporn Pakavirojkul.
WHERE/WHEN: One last CAAMFest screening 8:30 tonight at the Kabuki.
WHY: If you've been watching too many slow-paced movies on grim subjects (as there are certainly some in the program, though not unworthwhile) at this weekend's CAAMFest, The Cheer Ambassadors might be just the right pick-me-up. Not that there aren't moments of darkness in the film, but it certainly maintains an appropriately cheery outlook for most of its running time. 
It's an extremely tenuous connection, but yesterday the latest issue of the Australian film journal Senses Of Cinema dropped, including my new article on a completely different film featuring an American-style performance/athletic activity imported to an Asian country: Carmen Comes Home, starring Hideko Takamine as a striptease dancer visiting her traditional Japanese village for the first time since her career change.
HOW: Digital screening of a digital production.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

When Night Falls (2012)

WHO: Ying Liang directed this, following-up on his previous films Taking Father Home, The Other HalfGood Cats and the short Condolences.

WHAT: Sometimes the most austere movies can become political fireballs. This video-film about the repercussions of a young man's violent acts upon representatives of the Chinese state upon the man's mother Wang Jingmei, has created its own state repercussions on its filmmaker, documented up through October on this website. Now it finally has its first screenings inside the United States, and I was able to view it. Nothing I could say, however, would be as cogent as what Michael Sicinski wrote on the film last summer. A sample:
Part of what makes When Night Falls excel as a work of cinema, as well as a political intervention, comes from Ying’s harnessing of isolation and pathos for the express purpose of displaying, through spatial articulation and physical bombardment, what it feels like when the entire apparatus of the Chinese government bears down on a lone individual. A great deal of this results from Nai’s performance as Wang, whose slow, hunched movements through Ying’s deep, recessed compositions return a specific social valence to Antonioni/Tsai architectural imprisonment. One particularly fine shot finds Wang walking alone through a street towards the camera as an unseen loudspeaker trumpets the “splendid” Olympic Games. A woman bikes past her quizzically. The scene would be Kafkaesque except there is no paranoia, only bone-aching sorrow.
WHERE/WHEN: Has one final CAAMFest screening today at 3:00 at the Kabuki.

WHY: If you haven't yet had a chance to sample the wave of micro-budgeted video features coming out of China, this is a good opportunity to start. Though some of Ying's prior films have screened at local festivals before, most of the examples of this wave seen by Frisco Bay cinema audiences have been documentaries like those presented at showcases at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and New People. Though I got a sense of Taking Father Home as less evidently excited about the possibilities of oppositional filmmaking than some of the best of these documentaries I've sampled (notably Ghost Town and Disorder), it helps round out a more complete picture of the kind of image-making being performed well outside the sanction of the Beijing government, and would give a newcomer to the movement a strong sample of the political and aesthetic strategies being utilized in the world's most populated country.

HOW: Digital presentation of a digital production.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mekong Hotel (2012)

WHO: Apichatpong Weerasetkaul wrote and directed this.

WHAT: Mekong Hotel feels more like a conceptual piece, than an aesthetic work like Apichatpong's best-known films distributed on 35mm prints and commercial DVDs. Very static shots and simple blocking foreground thematic concerns over visual ones. Shot entirely in a hotel beside the titular river marking the border between Thailand and Laos, actors appear to play themselves, discussing current and past events calmly until, just as matter-of-factly, some of their bodies become inhabited by carnivorous "Phi Pob" ghosts. A plaintive guitar soundtrack may seem incongruous for a quasi-horror story, but its agreeability indicates just how normal spiritual visitations are considered in the region. The final shot of jet-skiers on the Mekong is reminiscent of James Benning.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens via CAAMFest twice this weekend: today at 4:00 PM at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, and tomorrow at 2:10 at New People.

WHY: It's a pretty good time to be a Frisco Bay fan of so-called "Thai New Wave" filmmakers. Not only are we getting two screenings of Mekong Hotel followed by one of Apichatpong's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives this Tuesday, in conjunction with access to his Emerald installation in Berkeley through next month, but Yerba Buena Center For the Arts has recently announced a sizable retrospective devoted to perhaps the second-best-known Thai filmmaker currently on the international festival circuit. Pen-ek Ratanaruang will be on hand for screenings of his two most recent features, Headshot and Nymph, and four more of his features will screen in 35mm prints (two of which, Ploy and Invisible Waves, will be making their local cinema premieres along with Headshot). Those of us who are fans of 6ixtynin9 and/or Last Life in the Universe will also be pleased to have opportunities to see them on the big screen again.

HOW: Digital screenings of a digital production, paired with local filmmaker Jennifer Phang's latest digital short Advantageous.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker On A Voyage (2012)

WHO: Marilou Diaz-Abaya, the subject of this documentary, directed Reef Hunters, Jose Rizal and more than a dozen other films before her death of breast cancer at age 57 last October.
WHAT: Constructed mostly of talking-head interviews with figures in the Phillipine film industry, including generous clips of Diaz-Abaya speaking about her career, this television-friendly profile doesn't break cinematic ground in its own right, but does a good job of chronicling how a Filipina director broke ground in a male-dominated industry for more than thirty years. We learn how Diaz-Abaya began making films as an acolyte of the famed Lino Brocka, how she maintained her career through the 1980s and 1990s, how she innovated in broadcast media, producing television satire such as Sic O' Clock News, how she became an advocate for social and environmental issues through her filmmaking as well as outside of it, how she devoted herself to teaching a new generation of filmmakers through her film school outside of Manila, and how she persevered as a director in the 2000s despite her battle with cancer. 
This is not an impartial piece of journalism but a loving tribute made by Diaz-Abaya's brother-in-law's ex-wife Mona Lisa Yuchengco, a Filipina making her film directing debut at age 62. But it still serves as an excellent introduction to the inspiring life and work of a neglected artist; numerous clips from her filmography tantalize the viewer who hasn't seen many (or any) of her completed works. I've only seen two myself years ago; I loved Reef Hunters, a gripping morality tale investigating the authority adults wield over children, especially in an isolated environment like that of an ocean vessel, and was less enthralled by New Moon, a well-intentioned plea for empathy for the plight of innocent Muslims trapped by violent cycles in Mindanao. But after watching Filmmaker On A Voyage I want to dive into the rest of her films as soon as I can.
WHERE/WHEN: Screens via CAAM Fest at the Kabuki twice: a free screening this afternoon at 2:30 PM and a reprise showing at normal festival prices at 12:40 PM on Sunday, March 17th.
WHY: CAAM Fest is the longest-running film festival devoted to screening the work of Asian-American and Asian filmmakers, and though it began last night with a screening of the sports doc Linsanity, the deluge of viewing options begins tonight. Cheryl EddyKimberly Chun, and Michael Hawley have each provided previews of selected films in this year's line-up, but none of them mention Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker On A Voyage. Yet a film about an independent-minded filmmaker seems the ideal way to start a weekend of screenings, especially since its first showing is a freebie!
HOW: Digital projection of a digital production.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Wrong Man (1956)

WHO: Alfred Hitchcock directed this, and also appeared on screen to introduce it in lieu of his usual cameo appearance. That's him in the image above.

WHAT: Although Hitchcock famously said he preferred to make "slice of cake" films rather than "slice of life" films, in fact a number of his features, including some of his aesthetic milestones (The Lodger, Foreign Correspondent and Rope) were rooted in true stories. But none of those took as many pains to present themselves as true to their real-life inspirations as The Wrong Man does, most explicitly in Hitchcock's introductory sequence, where he says:
"This is a true story, every word of it, and yet it contains elements that are stranger than all of the fiction that has gone into many of the thrillers I've made before."
Clearly by this point in his career the director had seen examples of Italian neorealist film, and was interested in trying his hand at something new, as The Wrong Man takes on a far bleaker tone than any of his previous films, while retaining many of Hitchcock's thematic considerations and stylistic flourishes. I wonder if, had the prologue been removed and his name left off the credits, this film would be considered a noir masterpiece on its own terms rather than an oddity amidst Hitchcock's more enduring and entertaining films.

WHERE/WHEN: At the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto tonight through Sunday at 5:35 and 9:40 each evening. Also screens at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley on April 5th.

WHY: Somehow Vertigo and The Wrong Man feel connected to each other; they're clearly two of Hitchcock's greatest achievements, one coming right after the other to launch the hottest artistic streak in his filmography. If Vertigo can be read as a wrestling with the futility of recreation through filmmaking (the more Scottie tries to remold Judy into Madeline, the less of her essence he has in his grasp) then might it be spurred by Hitchcock's frustrations while making The Wrong Man, his most complete attempt at lifelike verisimilitude in his career? Regardless, it seems instructive for anyone who took my advice and saw Vertigo yesterday, or who plans to tonight or next week, to fit in a big screen viewing of The Wrong Man sometime in the next few days as well.

HOW: The Stanford screens this on a 35mm Hitchcock double-bill with the other film he debuted in 1956, the Hollywood remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The PFA will also use a 35mm print.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vertigo (1958)

WHO: Alfred Hitchcock.

WHAT: In the moment from Vertigo frame-frozen above (though better discerned when in motion), Kim Novak casts two separate shadows on the bed in her Empire Hotel apartment. As B. Kite writes in the script of his video collaboration with Alexander Points-Zollo entitled The Vertigo Variations, Novak "steps out of the bathroom into a lime-green sea spray of light; a little intimation of eternity inducted through a neon sign." This scene that plays a crucial role in practically every analysis of Vertigo from Chris Marker's to Roger Ebert's to Kite's. But I've yet to come across a reading or review that mentions the twin shadows, despite their resonance with the themes of the film, the character, the scene.... These shadows are not simply Novak's of course; they are also Judy's and Madeline's and perhaps even Carlotta's. 

There's so much to say about Vertigo, so much to see in it. I know not everyone thinks of it as Hitchcock's greatest masterpiece, but I do. I always try to take advantage of opportunities to revisit it in a cinema setting.

WHERE/WHEN: Vertigo screens this afternoon at 3:10 PM at the Pacific Film Archive as part of a lecture & screening series; tickets for all screenings in this series are sold out, but to quote the PFA ebsite, "A limited number of rush tickets may be available at the door." It also screens there tomorrow evening at 7:00 PM, and also at the Stanford Theatre six times between March 21 & 24.

WHY: So far I've been using the PFA's Hitchcock series to see films I'd never gotten around to seeing before, like Saboteur and The Paradine Case. But, to quote B. Kite once again, "we only begin to see Vertigo when we already know it; when its plot holds no surprises. When every moment is already locked into a cycle of repetitions it assumes a living-dead weight comparable, for once perhaps genuinely comparable, to Greek tragedy." So although thanks in part to its Frisco Bay setting, it's probably the most frequently-shown Hitchcock film in these parts, it's also one I'm most eager to see again on the big screen, especially at the PFA. Read on...

HOW: Vertigo is screening at the PFA in a now-unusual format: an IB Technicolor print struck prior to the controversial 1996 restoration prepared by Robert Harris and Jim Katz. According to a Moving Image article by Leo Enticknap, Harris and Katz embarked on their project with the aims to create "preservation elements to take the film well into the next millennium" as well as "an entertainment which would work well with modern audiences." In their quest for the latter objective, the pair decided to make substantial changes to Vertigo's soundtrack, turning a mono mix into a stereo one and even re-recording sound effects. For many Vertigo enthusiasts, this tampering harmed (I've even heard one purist use the word "destroyed") the experience of watching the film. Yet the Harris/Katz restoration (should I put scare quotes around that word?) provides the basis for most versions of Vertigo that people see today, whether the 70mm prints that periodically come to the Castro Theatre, the 35mm prints that have played other venues in the past fifteen years or so, and even most DVD copies (a mono -soundtracked Vertigo disc is only available commercially to purchasers of a box set). 

So the PFA screenings of Vertigo this week are rare anomalies. Will they provide noticeably better viewing experiences for those who attend? I suppose that's a matter of opinion, but they'll surely be more authentic to the experiences audiences prior to 1996 had watching the film. If you don't believe it, take a test; attend the PFA this week and the Stanford (which is sticking with a print struck from the 1996 restoration) next week and see what you think.