Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From Rome to Manila

I never caught a Midnight Mass screening with Peaches Christ. "She" hosted a midnight series at the Bridge for many years. Famous for their elaborate stage shows which preceded the films, the Midnight Mass series was well-attended and highly praised. Between the raucous crowds and late nights, I never got around to a Midnight Mass. I would have liked to have seen the Elvira and Tura Satana appearances. (I've never seen Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).

Last year, Peaches announced she would semi-retire from the Midnight circuit. Since then, Joshua Grannell (Peaches' alter-ego) has written and directed a horror film which premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The film, All About Evil, packed the Castro Theater. The film was shot in San Francisco and set at the Victoria Theater. I read somewhere that All About Evil will screen at the Victoria later this year.

In addition, Peaches returns to the Bridge for a Midnight Mass on July 2 and 3 with a screening of Prince's Purple Rain (1984). That film brings back memories from high school - I knew a girl named Nikki; I guess you could say she was a sex fiend; I met her in a hotel lobby...

Anyway, that is a long lead up to say that the Bridge is continuing its midnight series but not with Peaches Chist (July 2 & 3 notwithstanding). On May 28 & 29, the Bridge is screening Gone With the Pope which caught my attention.

Gone With the Pope is a never-before-seen exploitation film starring writer/director Duke Mitchell (Massacre Mafia Style) as Paul, a gangster with an unholy scheme: to kidnap the pope and charge "a dollar from every Catholic in the world" as the ransom. Shot in 1975 as Kiss the Ring, Gone With the Pope was unfinished at the time of Duke Mitchell's death in 1981. Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing rediscovered Gone With the Pope in 1995 and vowed to save it from obscurity. Academy Award-nominated film editor Murawski (The Hurt Locker) spent 15 years completing Gone With the Pope from the surviving film elements.


The YBCA will screening noted Filipino director Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay (2009) on June 12 and 13. I have seen Mendoza's Serbis and Slingshot in the past year or two and am interested enough to view Kinatay. Those two films showed the gritty and seamy side of the Philippines and Mendoza seems to have ratcheted it up for Kinatay.

Brillante Mendoza is the most sophisticated, fearless Filipino filmmaker working today. Kinatay, for which he won the Best Director award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, is a harrowing journey into the heart of darkness (take heed: sensitive viewers should go nowhere near this film). It traces a 24-hour odyssey in the life of a trainee policeman, from his wedding to an endless night out with corrupt colleagues and a junkie prostitute. With a nerve-shredding pace and gritty, verite-style photography, Kinatay is an unforgettable denunciation of societal and political corruption in Manila.

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