Saturday, September 13, 2008

So Many Films, So Little Time and Robert Blake in Three Violent Films

I've been so busy at work that I can't find to post although I have scoped out a few movies.

As I previously mentioned, the 4 Star Theater on Clement St. is showing Red Heroine (1929) on Friday, September 19. This silent film will be accompanied by the Devil Music Ensemble.


The Mechanics' Institute has resumed its CinemaLit Film Series. The series runs every Friday night. The September theme is Peter Sellers. I've missed the two films that I wanted to see (September 5 & 12) - The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) and I'm All Right, Jack (1959). The next two films are A Shot in the Dark (1964) directed by Blake Edwards and Being There (1979). A Shot in the Dark was the second Pink Panther film and was directed by Blake Edwards. I'm not a fan of those films. Being There has an infamous scene where Shirley MacLaine misinterprets Chancey Gardiner's mantra of "I like to watch" and masturbates. I recall this scene vividly and it's been 20 years since I've seen the film. Actually, MacLaine looks absolutely radiant in the film despite despite being in her 40s at the time. Melvyn Douglas won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as MacLaine's father.

Jerzy Kosiński, the author of Being There wrote a book called The Painted Bird. I read that book in 1986 and wish it would be adapted for the silver screen. It is a disturbing book from which I recall two scenes - a man being devoured by rats as he attached by a rope or wire to a boy and a woman (named Ludmilla?) being gang sodomized with a bottle, someone kicks her and the bottle breaks.

The October CinemaLit series is more appealing to me. It is titled "Timeless Japan: From Edo to Eternity." The series is co-sponsored by the Asia Society and the Japan Society. The lineup is:

October 3 - Tampopo; (1986)
October 10 - The Eel directed by Shohei Imamura; (1997)
October 17 - After Life; (1998)
October 24 - Dr. Akagi directed by Shohei Imamura; (1998)
October 31 - Seance; (2000)

Shohei Imamura (now deceased) is a well-known Japanese director. He was Takashi Miike's mentor. PFA had a film series about him last year. The Eel is a modern classic which I've heard much about and hope to catch next month.


On September 19, the Stanford Theater kicks off a series called Rare Treasures of British Cinema. I'm not familiar with any of the films in the series. (Maybe that's why it is called "Rare Treasures?") I have only been to the Stanford a few times. It's a 30 minute drive for me if traffic is cooperating. I need to get down there more often.


The Stanford Theater series reminds me that PFA is having a David Lean series which focuses on films from the same location and time (1940's and 50's). Brief Encounter (1945), In Which We Serve (1942) and Madeleine (1950) are among the films that catch my attention.

While the PFA screens Lean's non-epic films (primarily on Saturdays), the Castro Theater is having Lean Sundays in October and November. All the Lean epics are there - The Bridge on the River Kwai (1950), Doctor Zhivago (1965), A Passage to India (1984) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970); the latter I am not familiar with.

Jumping back to PFA, they are currently in the middle of a Jean-Luc Godard series. His New Wave films from the 60's are getting a screening (in many instances with a new print). This is the Godard I am familiar with - Contempt (1964) and Breathless (1959) are two that I've previously seen and greatly enjoyed. I caught Band of Outsiders (1964)last week an greatly enjoyed it as well. I'm going to try to catch four more films in the series - Vivre sa vie (1962), A Woman Is a Woman (1961), Masculine Feminine (1966) and Alphaville (1965).


Now I'm back at the Castro. Tomorrow, they are showing two films that I have never viewed. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart (1948) and There Will Be Blood directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis (2007).

On September 23, the Castro screens one of my all-time favorites - The Professionals (1966) with Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Jack Palance, Ralph Bellamy and Claudia Cardinale (I knew all those actors were in the films without looking it up before hand). With that line-up, how can you miss? I can recite the final line (maybe a slight mistake). Bellamy yells to Marvin "You bastard." Marvin pauses and says calmly "It's a matter of accident of birth for me but you sir, are a self-made man." If that's not enough, The Professionals is being paired with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as a double feature.

The Castro is also having a James Dean weekend. Another inexcusable hole in my cinema curricula is Rebel Without a Cause. James Dean and Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island as his father.

I've already mentioned the Bette Davis Centennial and Kurosawa's Kagemusha so I'll mention some odds and ends playing at the Castro between now and November.

Sweeney Todd directed by Tim Burton & starring Johnny Depp; (2007) - I still haven't seen it but I saw an nice stage adaptation at ACT last year.

Electra Glide In Blue with Robert Blake; (1973) - I'm vaguely aware of this film mostly because of the title but Blake always had an edge to him which ultimately proved to be more than screen presence.

Nights of Cabiria directed by Federico Fellini; (1957) - another classic I'm ashamed to admit I have not seen.

Starship Troopers (1997) - It looked kind of stupid when it first came out. It was, afterall, directed by the same guy that made Showgirls. This film is part of Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' Midnite for Maniacs so there must something entertaining.

In Cold Blood (1967) - Robert Blake again in a violent film. It's been a long time since I've seen this film. I want to compare Blake's performance to Daniel Craig's portrayal of the same person in Infamous (2006).

The Dark Knight (2008) - when I saw this film was being paired with Iron Man (2008), I decided to wait to see it on the Castro screen.

Less Than Zero (1987) - I saw this film when it came out and I don't think I've seen it since. My memories of it are hazy (like a shade of winter). I've read it is a horrible film but I don't recall it being so bad. Did you like the way I worked in The Bangles song title which was on the soundtrack of this film? I had a huge crush on Susanna Hoffs back then.


Dead Channels extended their festival from October 2-5 to October 2-10. Dead Channels will screen at the Roxie for most of their run. I'm not sure where the opening and closing night films will be screened.

Shock It To Me still hasn't updated their website but from the Castro program, it appears they will show films on October 17 & 18. It looks like a lot of British films in their gothic style. George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. I haven't seen that film on the big screen.

Finally, the Mill Valley Film Festival runs from October 2 to 12. They have released their film schedule. I didn't peruse it much. I rarely get up there and that is probably the case again this year.


By the way, the third Blake film is Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The 15 year old Blake, sells Bogie a lottery ticket (or so I read).

I may have to take inventory soon. I was hoping to write up a few films but I may have to settle with reciting their particularly and providing a few thumbnails. That's the name of that tune...

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