Monday, May 4, 2009

Return of the Beast Stalker and Not in Vogue

A few weeks ago, I went to the Vogue Theater to see I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale, a documentary directed by Richard Shepard.

Looking at the schedule, I knew it was going to be trouble. I believe the film started at 7 PM. It was less than an hour long but was followed up by a Q&A by Shepard. The second half of the double feature was Dog Day Afternoon. That was less than 3 hours of movies but my concern was that the Q&A would drag on and on.

Why do people feel compelled to ask inane questions at the Q&A? One woman asked if Shephard was going to make the late-night TV talk show circuit with his film. Leno & Letterman always have independent film makers promoting their non-feature length films as guests.

I will say that Shephard was an energetic & entertaining speaker. SF Chronicle movie critic Ruthe Stein, who functioned as the interviewer and facilitator, moved things along well enough. There was probably 30 minutes of Q&A; quite reasonable in my opinion.

Stein or someone on the Vogue staff announced a 15 to 20 minute intermission before the next film. The Vogue only has one toilet for the men's room so an intermission was quite reasonable. Having spent a lot of time in movie theaters between screenings, I know that the projectionist will frequently project the aspect ratio grid onto the screen to match the film print. For the DVDs, they will project a portion of the movie to size it properly on the screen, test the colors & the sound.

The staff at the Vogue did neither of these for what turned out to be closer to an hour intermission. The length of the intermission left me stewing but what made me really frustrated was that Dog Day Afternoon was being screened from a DVD and even worse, the sound didn't work. It took several minutes to get the sound working. Some people walked out of the "film" at that point; apparently their patience has been exhausted by the endless intermission and technical difficulties.

My clarion call to the Vogue is

1) keep the length of the intermission reasonable
2) test the film/DVD during the intermission
3) show film over DVD whenever possible


I notice the 4-Star Theater is now listing The Beast Stalker as opening on May 15.

May is going to be an insanely busy month for me if I see all the films I want to see - I Wake Up Dreaming at the Roxie, Women on the Verge at the Castro, a few programs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, three films (Gomorrah, Serbis and A Wink And A Smile) at the Red Vic, The Beast Stalker at the 4-Star, the beginning of the Oshima retrospective at the PFA, the early Kubrick/Altman double bill by Film on Film Foundation and The Lost World with live accompaniment by Dengue Fever as part of the 2009 SF International Film Festival.

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