Monday, February 13, 2017

10HTE: Maureen Russell

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 2016. An index of participants can be found here.

Eight-time IOHTE contributor Maureen Russell is a cinephile, a Noir City volunteer, and member of various screening organizations (SFIFF, The Roxie, SF Silent Film Fest, SFMOMA).

In preparing this list, I noticed almost all my screenings were at my favorite theater, the Castro. My favorite film festivals are also held there.

Blood Simple screen capture from MGM DVD
1. Blood Simple (1984) - SFIFF, The Castro - The Coen Bros in person with Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell
Mel Novikoff Award - Janus Films and the Criterion Collection

This the first time I saw Blood Simple – the tense plot doesn’t let up. The stories in the onstage interviews were funny and fascinating.

2. The Station Agent (2003) SFIFF - BAMPFA
Kanbar Award with writer / director Tom McCarthy for onstage interview

3. Noir City 14 – The Art of Darkness - The Castro
This is one of my favorite festivals and I catch most of the screenings.
The Red Shoes (1948, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – screenplay, directors) I hadn’t seen this since I was a child. The creative scenes vivid Technicolor and the use of actors who are also dancers (Moira Shearer) make this film magical.
The Bitter Stems (1956, Argentina, Director: Fernando Ayala) Beautifully shot with a tense plot and even a great nightclub scene, the end shocks.
Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)

4. San Francisco Silent Film Festival – The Castro I’m choosing the whole festival since I like the variety of films. Highlights:
The Italian Straw Hat (Rene Clair, 1928)
Behind the Door (1919) - Live accompaniment by Stephen Horne – restoration
One of the most shocking endings out there.
A Woman of the World (1925) – restoration. Live accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Pola Negri is spot on in this comedy dealing with American values and scandal.

Barry Lyndon screen capture from Warner DVD
5. Barry Lyndon - (1975) Stanley Kubrick - The Castro - 35 mm screening
The use of candle light and natural light is an achievement in itself.

Notable film event for 2016: Kubrick exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
Film clips included, but props, memorabilia and how the films were shot were fascinating.

6. Cast a Dark Shadow (1955, UK, Lewis Gilbert, The Castro) - SFIFF - starring Dirk Bogarde

7. Bruce Conner- films as part of the Bruce Conner: It’s All True retrospective exhibit at SFMoMA

8. San Francisco Silent Film Festival – A Day of Silents – The Castro (December)
Sadie Thompson (1928) Gloria Swanson stars in and made this film happen
The Last Command (1928)

Multiple Maniacs screen capture from Strand DVD of The Cockettes 
9. Multiple Maniacs – John Waters (1970)
New DCP restoration – The Castro – Halloween, 2016
It’s been a while since I had the shock of the first time viewing of a John Waters’ film. Unavailable for decades, his second feature looked beautiful in this restoration. The black and white images were funny, gross and perverse.

10. Wild at Heart (1990) – The Castro 35mm, scope – X-rated version (David Lynch) I didn’t know there was an X-rated version of this, but 35mm scope is the way to see this one.

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