Wednesday, January 28, 2015

IOHTE: Margarita Landazuri

"IOHTE" stands for "I Only Have Two Eyes"; it's my annual survey of selected San Francisco Bay Area cinephiles' favorite in-the-cinema screenings of classic films and archival oddities from the past year. An index of participants can be found here.

Contributor Margarita Landazuri writes for Turner Classic Movies, International Documentary, and other outlets.

screen capture from Le Video rental DVD
I loved the Roxie's French Noir festival, and unfortunately was not able to see as many films as I would have liked, because most of the programs sold out quickly. I did make it to the streeetwalkers double bill of Dede d'Anvers and Love is My Profession, and enjoyed the contrast between Simone Signoret's womanly poule, and Brigitte Bardot's sex kitten. After seeing Signoret, world-weary and wounded in the foggy waterfront shadows in the former, Bardot seemed boringly pouty and petulant in the latter. However, the always-watchable Jean Gabin as the middle-aged lawyer ensnared by Bardot made that film worthwhile.

As usual, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's four-day summer program offered an embarrassment of riches. My favorite was also the most surprising: Yasujiro Ozu's Dragnet Girl, a 1933 gangster film with deliriously kinetic camera moves from the master of static camera and quiet family dramas and comedies. Another discovery for me was French comedian/auteur Max Linder, whom I'd heard of but never seen. Seven Years of Bad Luck showed why Linder's genius for physical comedy influenced comics as diverse as Chaplin (who called himself Linder's "disciple") to possibly Lucille Ball -- Ball's "I Love Lucy" mirror routine with Harpo Marx is uncannily similar to Linder's in the film.

At the Silent Film Festival's one-day Autumn event, the standout for me was the restored Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with Donald Sosin's superb synthesizer accompaniment. The clarity and the detail of the images, and the expressionist-style intertitles are impressive. As Michael Atkinson wrote in his program notes, it's almost like seeing a brand-new film.  

screen capture from fox DVD
I really enjoyed the Don Murray retrospective at the the Roxie last summer. The two double bills I saw demonstrated the range of this vastly underrated and overlooked actor. He played a drug-addicted veteran in A Hatful of Rain, a restless, married office worker in The Bachelor Party, a tortured gay senator and blackmail victim in Advise and Consent, and a boisterous cowboy opposite Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop. Now in his 80s, Murray attended the screenings and spoke thoughtfully and insightfully about his career.

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