Thursday, February 14, 2019

Jonathan Marlow'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

First-time IOHTE contributer Jonathan Marlow [PARACME  |  CALIFORNIA FILM INSTITUTE  |  ARBELOS] didn't exactly color within the lines in compiling this list, but I'm pleased he's placing local showings into a wider context. He also includes a screening from 2017, which he hopes will reprise in 2019.

2001: A Space Odyssey screen capture from Music Box DVD of The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Rarely one to let guidelines apply, a handful of non-Bay Area-centric selections are represented below. I would be entirely remiss if I did not bend otherwise agreeable rules to include these absolute highlights, accordingly (with everything thereafter listed alphabetically).

In keeping the whole assortment to ten, I removed such mainstays as 2001 at the Castro Theatre and everything from Noir City (as I was out-of-town for the duration, unfortunately). I will briefly mention here one from December which I sadly missed, much as I adore it: Exit Smiling (at the Day of Silents).

Honourable mention: anything whatsoever screened by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. Dishonourable mention: the continued absence of Joel Shepard from YBCA. 



Elégia [Elegy] (1965) dir. Zoltán Huszárik
Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Oberhausen, Germany 
digital restoration

** Oberhausen has an extensive archive of its past award-winners and last year they opted to screen recent restorations. I knew little about the film (nor its filmmaker) in advance but I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Absolutely stunning in every way!
Uprising in Jazak screen capture from excerpt at

Ustanak u Jasku [aka Uprising in Jazak] (1973) dir. Želimir Žilnik
Flaherty Film Seminar, Hamilton, New York

** Although Žilnik's work is relatively well-known in some circles, this shorter film is not. It truly should be seen by everyone--and fortunately can be found online as well albeit in somewhat inferior quality--as a masterpiece of resistance and human ingenuity.

The Parallax View (1974) dir. Alan Pakula
Local Sightings [NWFF], Seattle, WA
Paramount digital preservation copy

** Nothing spectacular in the particular visual presentation (except that a digital master needed to be created at my own expense). The draw was the musical pre-show (and thereafter) with Amanda Salazar, John Massoni, Dale Lloyd and myself, a "super group" of players from different cities playing together for the first (and perhaps last) time ever.

The Infernal Cauldron screen capture from Flicker Alley DVD Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913)

Le chaudron infernal [aka The Infernal Caldron and the Phantasmal Vapors] (1903) dir. Georges Méliès
35mm duo-print projected as DCP

** What happens when you take two negatives shot by two cameras side-by-side (for sensible purposes difficult to explain with any brevity) and print them together?  Unintentional 3D (with master showperson Serge Bromberg)!


The Last Movie (1971) dir. Dennis Hopper
Arbelos 4K digital restoration

** Hopper's unfairly maligned and too-little-seen follow-up to Easy Rider, lovingly restored by Craig Rogers at Arbelos! A great year for restorations, admittedly, with Barbara Loden's extraordinary Wanda returning to screens last year as well.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Sen noci svatojánské [aka A Midsummer Night’s Dream] (1959) dir. Jiří Trnka

** Irena Kovarova curated this exhaustive touring Trnka program and the PFA brought a fair portion of the series to our neighbourhood. [My only disappointment was that no other institution stepped-in to present the handful of films missing from the complete set (despite our repeated encouragements to participate).]


Sphinx on the Seine (2009) dir. Paul Clipson
16mm wild-sync

** Undoubtedly an emotional peak of the recent Camera Obscura arrived early with a screening of Paul Clipson's Sphinx... with Seth Mitter projecting and I wild-syncing Jefre Cantu Ledesma's score. Between this and a brief tribute to Robert Todd (with Lori Felker) the following day, it was a woeful weekend of quiet reminiscence and reflection.

That Woman image from Canyon Cinema website
That Woman (2018) dir. Sandra Davis

** Although Sandra Davis only recently completed this hybrid non-fiction/dramatic re-enactment (and, therein, not a revival whatsoever), That Woman presents an ideal opportunity (among its other ample merits) to see the painfully missed George Kuchar (as Barbara Walters, no less)!


36.15 code Père Noël  [aka Game Over] (1989) dir. René Manzor
Alamo Drafthouse [“Terror Tuesday”]
c0-hosted by Kier-La Janisse

AGFA 2K digital restoration

** A proto-Home Alone in French? Indeed! Whatever you might imagine this to be, it is everything you'd suspect and ever-so-much more.

Invention for Destruction scree capture from digital restoration trailer
Vynález zkázy [aka Invention for Destruction] (1958)
Muzeum Karla Zemana 4K digital restoration
** I travelled to Prague to fetch the DCP of this (and another) outstanding Zeman film for a pair of screenings at the Smith Rafael Film Center. Well worth the expedition to see the audience reactions to his outstanding work!

foreshadow ahead: 2019
Filibus (1915) dir. Mario Roncoroni
** I first had the opportunity to see this extraordinary film at the 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The wonderful folks at Milestone Films have been working on a restoration which (ideally) should screen locally in the months ahead.

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