Sunday, February 1, 2015

IOHTE: Maureen Russell

"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 Maureen Russell is a cinephile and Noir City film festival volunteer.

There is a lot of noir on my list for 2014.
Screen capture from Strand DVD of Victims Of Sin
1) Noir City 12– The Castro Theatre, Jan. 24 – Feb. 2
The theme of international noir brought rarities and classics from around the globe. Seeing French alongside American, British, rare Argentinian and European selections provided great context, as filmmakers adapted what others were doing and made their own mark. Highlights include the Kurosawa directing Toshiro Mifune double feature Stray Dog (1949) with Drunken Angel (1948) and the wildly fun Mexican musical noir Victims of Sin / Victimas del Pecado (1951) with great music and dance numbers.

2) SF Silent Film Fest
Highlights: the creative Russian film The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks, USSR (1924). Musical Accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble

Underground, UK (1928). Directed by Anthony Asquith, Musical Accompaniment by multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne. This love triad turns dark, set in working class London with beautiful cinematography.   

Also Dragnet Girl, Japan (1933). Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, Musical Accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald
3) The French Had a Name for It / French Film Noir 1946-64 San Francisco's Roxie Theatre from November 14-17
Great festival with many sold-out screenings. My favorite was Witness in the City (Un Temoin Dans La Ville) (1959) for its story, characters, tension, location shooting and chase scenes through the streets of Paris, and beautiful cinematography.

4) A Hard Day’s Night (1964) New 4K restoration for the 50th Anniversary – The Castro Theatre
A double bill with Richard Lester’s next film, The Knack…and how to get it (’65). Seeing the beautiful restoration, I wasn’t sure if I’d even seen this on the big screen. The audience seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the Fab 4 as much as I was. The Knack is a farce set in Swinging London.

5) Marketa Lazarova (1967) – the Roxie 7/14 – new 35mm print Czechoslovakia I hadn’t heard of this classic Czech film before. Medieval setting shot using inventive technique.

6) Double feature at I Wake Up Dreaming noir festival, 5/25 – The Roxie
Brainstorm. Directed by William Conrad. (1965)
The Couch. Directed by Owen Crump. (1962)
Screen capture from Warner DVD
7) The Unknown (Director Tod Browning, 1927, USA, with Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford)
SFIFF – The Castro 5/6/14 – Silent film with live accompaniment by Stephin Merritt 
Shown with Guy Maddin's short Sissy Boy Slap Party (1995) 
I’d seen this film before: great characters, visuals and acting, with darkness and humor that Chaney and Browning can give. 

8) Inland Empire (2006) 
The Roxie 7/22 
David Lynch’s own 35mm print screened. I had never seen this and was waiting to watch it on the big screen. 
Screen capture from Celestial DVD
9) King Boxer (Five Fingers of Death) – Hong Kong, 1972
CAAM Fest – Great Star Theater 3/14/14 – Run Run Shaw Tribute
Released in the USA by Warner Bros. in March 1973, the film was responsible for beginning the North American kung fu film craze of the 1970s.

10) Burroughs at 100: The Films of William S Burroughs
February 3, 2014. City Lights Bookstore, with commentary by Mindaugis Bagdon.
A screening of the William S Burrough's films Towers Open Fire, The Cut-Ups, and Bill and Tony. (early 60s). It was great to be able to see entire short films using the cut-up technique, even if at least one film tested your patience.

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