Saturday, February 6, 2016

Maureen Russell: IOHTE

The San Francisco Bay Area is still home to a rich cinephilic culture nurtured in large part by a diverse array of cinemas, programmers and moviegoers. I'm honored to present a selection of favorite screenings experienced by local cinephiles in 2015. An index of participants can be found here

IOHTE contributor Maureen Russell is a cinephile and a volunteer for Noir City.

Screen capture from Warner DVD
1) NOIR CITY 13: 'Til Death Do Us Part - A festival of unholy matrimony
The Castro Theatre, January 16 - 25, 2015
The marriage theme of this year's festival made for a fun take on noir. There were many strong, interesting women's roles. I liked the variety from the tense thriller Cry Terror! to the steamy Ossessione, but I particularly loved the Thin Man comedy double feature. Nothing like watching it in a full house at the Castro appreciating William Powell and Myrna Loy's wise-cracking, martini-downing and sleuthing, with my favorite film dog, Asta.
The Thin Man (1934)  
After the Thin Man (1936) - the couple returns to San Francisco

2) San Francisco Silent Film Festival 
Castro Theatre, May 28 - June 1, 2015 
I enjoy the variety of films and live musical accompaniment at this festival every year. Highlights included: 
Directed by Ted Wilde, USA, 1928 Cast Harold Lloyd, Babe Ruth 
I loved the New York City locations, the scene with Babe Ruth, and the visit to Coney Island. Live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
The Amazing Charley Bowers 
Live musical accompaniment by Serge Bromberg 
Four short films from 1926 - 1928 
I hadn't seen any Charley Bowers' films before - inventive surreal shorts that included puppet animation and stop-motion techniques 
Also The Swallow and the Titmouse was a beautifully shot story, mainly taking place on a barge - documentary like at times with a dark story emerging.

Screen capture from Edgehill DVD of Rock Milestones: David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust 
3) Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars
Part of Cracked Actor: David Bowie on Screen
Director: D.A. Pennebaker  
David Bowie as his gender-bending alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, in his final performance given at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. (1973/82, 90 min, 35mm) 
This stood out when I considered my top ten list last year, before we lost David Bowie. I'd seen the film before but was enthralled seeing it again. D.A. Pennebaker's multiple cameras and planning during the previous night's show make it as close to being there as you can get. 

4) Mel Novikoff Award: Lenny Borger: Monte-Cristo  
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas   
San Francisco International Film Festival
Rediscovered silent masterpiece, France, 1929
Director: Henri Fescourt
Two-part epic adapting Alexandre Dumas' novel. The 218 minutes went by quickly. There were some stunning sets and shots and an engaging story.  

5) Wanda  
Director, writer, star: Barbara Loden (USA, 1970) - shot in 16mm - restored 35mm print screened SF International Film Festival, Castro Theatre

6) Roar! 
1981 Dir. Noel Marshall 
The Castro Theatre 6/11/15, DCP Scope
The story of how the film was made is as incredible as the film is. The audience was awestruck at 100 large wild cats interacting with actors. It had some indelible shots, like the giraffe racing a motorcycle..

Screen capture from New Line DVD
7) Grey Gardens 
New Restoration - DCP 
A film by David and Albert Maysles (1976) 
Pink Flamingos (1972, 108 min, 35mm) John Waters, director 
This is the 25th anniversary edition with bonus footage added post-film. April Fool's Day double feature at the Castro A great way to re-watch two films that became cult classics.

8) Army of Shadows 
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, DCP, 145min, 1969, France / Italy 
The Roxie 10/21/15 new color restoration 
145 minutes of intrigue with a great cast and film team. There is an incredible rescue scene.

9) Brandy in the Wilderness  
SF International Film Festival 
Director: Stanton Kaye, USA, 1969 
35mm restored print The Roxie, 5/2/15 
Rediscovered film "diary" about the aspiring filmmaker and his girlfriend. 

Screen capture from Universal DVD
10) The Big Lebowski
(35 mm) The Castro - 4/16/15 
Jeff Bridges double feature with Cutter's Way 1998, USA Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen 
My first time seeing the Big Lebowski! I'd been wanting to see it, but wary of audiences shouting out lines at party screenings. This was a great way to see it, on 35mm, and paired with the interesting Cutter's Way. I was not the only one getting a White Russian at Twin Peaks Tavern after the screening.

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