Friday, May 1, 2009

17th Century Murder Conspiracy, Horses with Cancer, Moe, Larry and Curly

Despite my best efforts to avoid the festival, I did go to a screening of the San Francisco International Film Festival at the PFA. I saw Rembrandt's J'Accuse, which is an "essayistic documentary" on Rembrandt's famous painting The Night Watch. Directed by Peter Greenaway, Rembrandt's J'Accuse contends that the painting leaves visual clues (31 or 32 in total) of a murder by the men depicted in the painting. Among the more "subtle" clues is a ceremonial spear that is shaped like a man's genitalia and the casting of a man's hand shadow onto another man's crotch.

I'm not sure if I'm convinced of the murder conspiracy but the film was tremendously entertaining. I wasn't expecting a big crowd due to the esoteric subject matter but the PFA was near sold out.

2009 San Francisco International Film Festival
Rembrandt's J'Accuse; documentary with re-enactments; directed by Peter Greenaway; (2008)


I saw Lost in the Fog at the Roxie as part of their $5 Monday ticket special. Director John Corey took questions from the audience after the 7 PM screening. I don't follow horse racing but even I knew about Lost in the Fog, the phenomonally successfully racehorse from the Bay Area. The story lent itself well to a documentary. Corey mentioned that the original intent of the story was to focus on three men - the owner, the trainer and the jockey of Lost in the Fog. As he was getting ready to wrap up the film, the horse came down with cancer and died.

He retooled the film to include the horse's final months and had to cut the jockey's screen time. The owner, the late Harry Aleo, was a San Francisco fixture with his Noe Valley office featuring photos of Ronald Reagan and other Republican memorabilia. The scene I recall is toward the end of the film when Aleo is at the Tennessee Grill in the Inner Sunset district. I've eaten at that diner many times. I wonder if I saw Aleo there. His face looked familiar but maybe I saw him from news reports on Lost in the Fog.

Also, Corey was a former staffer on KPIX's Evening Magazine. That was a show that featured Mike Rowe and Malou Nubla as correspondents that would go around the Bay Area cover "human interest" stories. Rowe has said that some of the segments evolved into Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel. Anyway, Rowe was the narrator of Lost in the Fog. Although Corey did not mention it during the Q&A, I'm sure he met Rowe during his time on Evening Magazine.

Lost in the Fog; documentary; (2008) - Official Website


I also took advantage of the Castro Theater $5 Tuesday admission promotion by seeing a program of Three Stooges short films. At the beginning of one film (An Ache in Every Stake), there was a Stanford Theater moment where the film burned or disintegrated in the projector. Having read that nitrate films can produce toxic fumes when they burn, I reached for my coat and was ready to bid a hasty exit. Fortunately, no noxious gases were created and the projectionist re-spooled the film within a few minutes.

Three Stooges Shorts: Curly's Greatest Hits
Micro-Phonies (1945)
Hoi Polloi (1935)
We Want Our Mummy (1939)
Calling All Curs (1939)
Disorder in the Court (1936)
Violent is the Word For Curly (1938)
An Ache in Every Stake (1941)


Speaking of the Discovery Channel, I notice there is a large Bay Area contingent on that network. In addition to Rowe, The Mythbusters (one of my favorite shows) is filmed locally.

On Sunday, I was flipping channels and saw the stars of Dogs of Chinatown on Time Warp which is a Discovery Channel program. I saw Dogs of Chinatown at the 4-Star a few weeks ago. Eric Jacobus and Ray Carbonel (who did Q&A after the screening), were performing some stunts on the show using high-speed photography. Jacobus (co-founder) and Carbonel are members of the Stunt People, a growing group of martial artists, acrobats, stuntmen, and stuntwomen who make their own films out of San Francisco, CA in the USA. They sport multiple ethnicities, body types, and martial arts backgrounds.

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