Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Slightly Pregnant Man (1973)

WHO: Jacques Demy directed this

WHAT: I haven't seen this film before, so let me quote from Dan Callahan's review:
This seems to be a very personal movie for Demy, a gay man who married another talented filmmaker, Agnes Varda. Not much is known about their marriage and what it entailed, but A Slightly Pregnant Man clearly expresses the yearning of an artist who wanted to have family and who also wanted to be with men. Male pregnancy is the most romantic solution to Demy's dilemma (gay adoption is today's prosaic alternative). The concept of the film isn't a commercial gimmick played for easy laughs, as in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Junior—it's a metaphor for change, both social and otherwise.
WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Pacific Film Archive at 7:00.

WHY: We have now arrived at the part of the PFA's Jacques Demy retrospective where the venue is showcasing real rarities among the director's feature films. This film, A Room In Town, The Pied Piper and Three Seats For the 26th have all been absent from Frisco Bay screens in my memory, and represent blank spots in my experience with Demy's films. None of them screened at the 2006 mini-retro of the director's films, and may not re-appear in local cinemas any time in the foreseeable (or even conceivable) future.

The PFA is one of the few venues in the area that can be counted on to provide us the "deep cuts" of a director's filmography like these ones, at least some of the time. The recent Raoul Walsh series included a nice mixture of films that one might expect to see at the Castro or another venue sometime, and those (such as Wild Girl) we might not ever get a chance to see otherwise. The next series beginning at the PFA is a selection of Alfred Hitchcock silent films that did appear at the Castro recently, but might not make their way around again very soon, at least not in a group portrait like the one we're getting a second shot at taking starting tomorrow.

Further on the horizon, I've been given the go-ahead to mention, although at the time you read this the information might not yet be found on the PFA website, are two more retrospectives of European directors who, like Demy, died young and are thought of as great filmmakers at least as frequently as they are as gay or bisexual filmmakers. From September 20th until the end of October the venue will host a comprehensive set of screenings of the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini. In addition to repeat showings of the six 35mm prints screening the weekend before at the Castro and Roxie (that I mentioned yesterday) another thirteen of his features and shorts will play in 35mm, filled out by a few shorts on digital formats. Meanwhile, a large series devoted to West Germany's Rainer Werner Fassbinder begins October 4th with a double-bill of Love is Colder Than Death and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and continues until December 15th.

There's much more in September and October at the Berkeley archive, of course. I've already talked about the Chinese classic films being brought this Fall in conjunction with the Yang Fudong exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum; these titles are on the PFA site so I'll move on. Curator Kathy Geritz's regular Alternative Visions program of experimental film and video resumes Wednesdays after a summer break on September 4th. In-person appearances by filmmakers Nancy Andrews, Lawrence Jordan, Kerry Laitala, James Sansing, Stacey Steers, John Gianvito, Phi Solomon, Abigail Child and Paul Chan, as well as screenings of work by Jodie Mack, Marielle Nitoslawska, Leos Carax (Holy Motors September 18) and more should make for a lively season of exploration.

And that's not all when it comes to in-person filmmaker guests. Six features apiece by little-known Morrocan filmmaker Moumen Smihi and by famous 1970s (and beyond)-era auteur William Friedkin help round out the September-October calendar with more chances to pick director brains than it's probably possible to squeeze into a two-month span. Finally, the horizons of creative programming continue to be pressed with what I wouldn't be surprised to learn is the PFA's first-ever series devoted to a supporting actor. Ten films featuring 1940s & 1950's Hollywood's generally-unheralded Wendell Corey is at the very least a great excuse to show films by Anthony Mann (The Furies September 7th), William Wellman (My Man & I September 13th), Robert Aldrich (The Big Knife September 15th), Budd Boetticher (The Killer Is Loose September 27th) and more, including an early Elvis Presley vehicle, Loving You from 1957 (October 5th).

HOW: A Slightly Pregnant Man screens via DCP. I haven't yet sampled the PFA's 4K digital projection capabilities, and thus remain skeptical of this technological shift. The good news from my pro-35mm perspective is that there's a smaller proportion of DCP on the September-October PFA calendar than there was on the June-July-August one.

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