Thursday, January 13, 2011

One Fourth of 2011 is Already Booked Up

The film festival season kicks off tomorrow evening with the opening night of German Gems at the Castro Theater. German Gems is the festival which Ingrid Eggers founded after leaving Berlin and Beyond. This is the second annual German Gems. I missed last year's screenings. The festival runs through January 16 at the Castro and presents encore screenings on January 22 at Point Arena.

The films that interest me based on the program guide are The Architect, She Deserved It on January 15 and Mountain Blood on Janaury 16.


Noir City will be at the Castro from January 21 to 30. In total, they'll screen 24 films. The films I'm looking forward to are Don't Bother to Knock (1952) with Marilyn Monroe and Richard Widmark, Jean Renoir's The Woman on the Beach (1947) and Otto Preminger's Angel Face (1952) with Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum.


The Mostly British Film Festival runs February 3 to 10 at the Vogue Theater. The festival is long on old school classics such Get Carter (1971), The Ipcress File (1965), Black Narcissus (1947), Gallipoli (1981) and East is East (1999).

Among the films which caught my attention are West is West (2010) which is the opening night film and sequel to East is East, Beneath Hill 60 (2010) and Down Terrace (2009).


Overlapping Mostly British is the San Francisco Independent Film Festival or SF IndieFest at the Roxie.

The most outrageous titles are Nude Nuns With Big Guns and Machete Maidens Unleashed! which is a documentary about Filipino exploitation films from the director of Not Quite Hollywood (which I saw at 2010's Mostly British Film Festival).


On February 12 at the Castro Theater, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present their Winter Event.

The all-day program consists of trio of Chaplin's early short films, L’Argent (1928), an adaptation of the Émile Zola novel and King Vidor's La Bohème (1926) starring Lilian Gish and John Gilbert.


From March 1 to 13, Cinequest screens in San Jose. From March 10 to 20, the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival runs at various locations. If the past is indicative, the festival will screen in San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley.


On top of all these festivals, the PFA has a series that greatly interests me. It called Suspicion: The Films of Claude Chabrol and Alfred Hitchcock and runs from January 13 to February 25.

A founding member of the French New Wave, Claude Chabrol began, like his contemporaries Truffaut, Godard, and Rohmer, as a critic for Cahiers du Cinema; unlike his more rigorously intellectual colleagues, however, he embraced genre filmmaking, specifically suspense films (“I love murder,” he said). Chabrol’s career as a critic peaked with the 1957 publication (with Rohmer) of a pioneering study of Alfred Hitchcock; he turned to filmmaking a year later, beginning a cinematic career that could arguably be described as a continuing study—and continuation—of Hitchcock.

Like Hitchcock, Chabrol is the consummate craftsman; his films flow with the ease and assurance of someone who understands the power of cinema to manipulate emotion, while simultaneously embracing—and winking at—such power. “I am a farceur,” he once admitted. “You have to avoid taking yourself too seriously.” Unlike Hitchcock, though, Chabrol hits harder, with a steely condemnation of bourgeois values and a weighty moral resonance in his tales of infidelity, suspense, and murder. In a use of genre similar to his other great influence, Fritz Lang, “the stories he chooses become the frameworks for clear-eyed subtle explorations of guilt, innocence, and accountability,” wrote Stephen Holden in the New York Times.

Chabrol passed away in September, aged eighty, having made over sixty films. We present a generous sampling of his work, in conjunction with some of Hitchcock’s finest; two “masters of suspense,” together at last.

The series consists of 20 films. Many of them overlap with Noir City or IndieFest.

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