Monday, February 1, 2016

Max Goldberg: 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 Max Goldberg lives in Oakland and collects his writings on film at

Yugoslav Avant-Garde Cinema, 1950s-1980s: Ex-Film from an Ex-Land (Series at Pacific Film Archive, March)
I had no idea.

Visages d’enfants, dir. Jacques Feyder (San Francisco Silent Film Festival at the Castro Theatre, May 30)
 I was completely unprepared for this exacting portrayal of a child’s grief and subsequent coming of age.

Out of the Blue, dir. Dennis Hopper (Castro Theatre, June 3)
A one-of-a-kind, end-of-the-line film with Neil Young’s voice shakier than usual echoing in the Castro. Hopper’s update of Rebel Without a Cause offers a final flameout ahead of the Reagan years.

Only Yesterday, dir. John Stahl (Pacific Film Archive, June 20)
All the evidence you would ever need to dispel the simplistic opposition of “melodrama” and “realism.” A deep bow to Margaret Sullavan’s performance—her debut, amazingly.

Screen capture from Music Box Films DVD: The Story of Film
Mirror, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky (Pacific Film Archive, July 11)
When I last saw this film projected, it was in an empty theatre. The PFA, by contrast, was turning people away all throughout its Tarkovsky retro. I continue to find the Russian auteur's cult a little baffling but must admit that it was quite moving to watch such a personal film in a sold-out house.

Nightfall, dir. Jacques Tourneur (Castro Theatre, September 3)
Cinephiles often glorify the theatrical experience for the quality of the image, but Nightfall was a case where seeing it on the big screen really brought home the insidious logic of the cutting. This film has a marvelous way of stitching disparate spaces together into its cracked vision of Fifties America.

Amy Halpern Canyon Cinema Salon (New Nothing Cinema, October 5)
It's always refreshing to see an experimental filmmaker creating work with extraordinary technical chops, and that is certainly the case with Halpern’s films.

The Boys from Fengkuei, dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien (SFFS Taiwan Film Days at the Embarcadero, October 13)
How considerate for SFFS to have programmed this for a chaser to The Assassin. I only wish some of those people turned away from the Tarkovsky films might have filled more of the seats at the Embarcadero.

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