Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

WHO: Terry Gilliam directed this.

WHAT: This psychedelic adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's scalding portrait of American decline at the end of the 1960s is the last Terry Gilliam film that I really enjoyed, and it seems hard to believe it was released into multiplexes fifteen years ago. (I saw it at the Kabuki.) Gilliam's back-cover blurb for Bob McCabe's book Dark Knights and Holy Fools seems all the more poignant to a (former) fan in hindsight:
When Bob approached me about this book I was in the middle of making Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. As I continued with that movie, it started to become clear to me that it was a culmination of many things for me, maybe even a natural end to one stage of my work. So now seemed like a good time to look back at what we've been doing all these years.
WHERE/WHEN: Today only at the Castro Theatre at 4:35 and 9:35.

WHY: This is precisely the kind of film that made for a perfect revival at the Red Vic Movie House, which shut its doors and removed its 35mm projector a little under two years ago. So it seems a good time to mention that the Haight Street space is in the midst of preparing for it's second act, literally: it'll be turned into a performance space called Second Act that is expected to include screenings (on video, presumably) as part of its repertoire. Check its Facebook page for details and updates.

It also seems like a good time to mention a few screenings and series that may appeal to the, shall I say, "impaired" moviegoer. Former Market Street movie palace the Warfield is having a rare screening in the midst of its usual fare of live concerts and comedy performances. This Saturday it shows Jay And Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, featuring characters created by Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, who will be on hand (live in person, I think, though promotional materials don't 100% clear that it won't be a live-by-digital hookup situation) for a Q&A. I'm not a Kevin Smith, but I'm a little tempted to attend just so I can say I've seen a movie in the venue that played the likes of Gone With the Wind and Spellbound in the classic Hollywood era, more cultish hits like The Hobbit and Dawn of the Dead during the 1970s, and where I've seen concerts from musicians from Tears For Fears to George Clinton to Einstürzende Neubauten.

The Landmark Clay Theatre continues to run midnight movies all summer long (this weekend is Jaws) and while their recently-installed digital projection system has precluded the use of 35mm projectors or prints, several of the shows attempt to make up for that with live elements, including an appearance by author JT Leroy at a June 28 showing of Asia Argento's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Other bookings include the Frisco premiere of horror anthology V/H/S/2 and monthly showings of Tommy Wiseau's The Room. In case scotchka is your favorite method of impairment. The Camera 3 in San Jose has its own midnight/cult movie series, and is the last Frisco Bay venue that still regularly shows The Room and The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 35mm.

I definitely get a sense from the programming of this summer's sets of outdoor movie screenings (those in Marin and San Francisco are tracked at this website) that they've opted to pick movies less likely to bring audiences who like to flout open-container laws and send wafts of funny smoke into the atmosphere, than in some previous years. But these (all-digital) projections seem worth mentioning as well as the season gets underway.

But the Castro itself has more "cult movies" to show after tonight as well. Tomorrow it's Repo Man, on a 35mm double-bill with one of director Alex Cox's inspirations, Kiss Me Deadly. The 37th Frameline festival starts there the next day, and includes among its lineup the long-awaited return of Peaches Christ to midnight-movie hosting duties as she presents the (I've been told) surprisingly queer A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddie's Revenge starring "scream queen" Mark Patton. Of what we know of the Castro line-up after Frameline ends June 30th, the most relevant selections to this theme appear to be the horror movies screening in early July: Jaws on the 3rd of the month, and Suspiria and The Exorcist paired on the 12th.

HOW: On a 35mm double-bill with Oliver Stone's The Doors.


  1. Are you aware the Landmark Embarcadero Cinema is closing for four months of renovation at the end of June?

  2. Brian: The Warfield is where I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey on its first release
    My senses were assaulted by the bombastic music and my mind was numbed by the overall pretension.

  3. Dan, I was aware. of the closure, but not of its duration. Thanks for the tip.

    Larry, have you warmed to the Kubrick film in the meantime?

  4. There are some late 60s white elephant movies I just don't feel like revisiting, others such as
    Fellini Satyricon I was forced to suffer again through as a projectionist

  5. What films of that era were you excited about at the time?

  6. Brian: Remind me to send you my top films lists from the late 60s, I'm out of town right now (actually dealing with the flooding in Calgary) and don't have my old notebooks at hand.

  7. I'd love to see that some time.