Sunday, February 10, 2019

Carl Martin's 2018 Eyes

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 2018. An index of participants can be found here

Ten-time IOHTE contributor Carl Martin is keeper of the Bay Area and Los Angeles Film Calendars for the Film on Film Foundation, where he also occasionally blogs.

I didn't think I could do it.  Did I even see 10 films total in the Bay Area?  Yes, enough to produce this:

Overlord screen capture from Criterion DVD
March 28, Roxie: Overlord

This d-day account combines insane archival WW2 footage with beautiful new (mid-70's) scenes to present a poetic, personal picture of war's tragedy, confusion, and meaninglessness.

April 4, New Mission: Taxi Zum Klo

Many years ago I encountered this on VHS and thought, "Ha ha, taxi to the bathroom... what the heck is this?"  (paraphrased.)  And i saw some crazy shit i had never seen before.  It was interesting enough that it stuck in my brain though.  Seeing it again decades later confirmed my hunch that Frank Ripploh's autobiographical, self-referential, elliptical, very explicit film is indeed a very important work of "experimental" cinema as well as classic gay smut!

April 16, New Mission: To Live and Die in L.A.

A single tracking shot during a car chase is better than most entire movies.

June 2, Castro: Mare Nostrum

A haunting, dreamy tale of maritime intrigue (mostly not at sea if I remember rightly).  Guillermo Del Toro stole the ending for one of his crap movies.

The Godfather Part III screen capture from Paramount DVD
July 8, Castro: The Godfather, Part III

Most folks dismiss this movie for some reason and it is rarely shown.  I'd been waiting to see it for some time.  It's really good!  Andy Garcia's performance is dynamite, and Sofia Coppola's is unfairly maligned.  Themes of power, loyalty, and betrayal over generations carry the film through to its operatic denouement.  As for the print, it had succumbed to vinegar syndrome and wouldn't hold focus worth a damn.

July 18, Roxie: Sleaze Apocalypse

I like outrageous trailers so of course I was going to watch this compilation show.  They came from Joel Shepard's collection so this is also an excuse to bemoan the loss of his curatorial hand at YBCA.

August 22, Roxie: Velvet Goldmine

I didn't much care for this one on its initial release.  Maybe the trailer led me astray.  Or maybe the weird Oscar Wilde interlude at the beginning threw me.  Indeed the film can hardly keep up with its own ideas.  I'm not going to say it's Haynes's masterpiece but it's solid and is full of killer songs i'm largely unfamiliar with.

October 30, Castro: The Hollywood Knights

My old boss was fond of quoting this one and i finally got to slake my curiosity.  Floyd Mutrux, whose debut was the ultra-bleak Dusty and Sweets McGee, delivers a raunchy ensemble comedy.  American Graffiti as if directed by Robert Altman.  It does have a wang to it!

Sanshiro Sugata screen capture from Eclipse DVD
December 16, PFA: Sanshiro Sugata

Kurosawa's first film surprised me doubly: I was sure I'd seen it before but hadn't, and it's a good, sure-handed effort.  The various devices used to show the passage of time impressed me particularly.  I believe I detected a thematic anticipation of Yojimbo and other later films.

Unknown date, private screening: Mosori Monika

Chick Strand's film starts with a McGraw-Hill logo.  Is it possible that this "ethnographic" film was shown to schoolchildren?  Would they have caught on to its subtle subversions?  A voiceover with a "benign" colonialist perspective is challenged by other voices and images to present a complex portrait of colliding cultures.

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