Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012 is 38 Days Away

The first quarter of the year has long been the busiest for me in terms of film festivals. The 2012 festival schedule has already been lined-up.

German Gems - January 14 at the Castro Theater and January 15 in Point Arenas
Noir City - January 20 to 29 at the Castro Theater
SF IndieFest - February 9 to 23 primarily at the Roxie
Cinequest - February 28 to March 11 primarily at the Camera 12 in San Jose
San Francisco Asian American Film Festival - March 8 to 18 in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose

If the Mostly British Film Festival stays on schedule, it should be held in early February at the Vogue Theater.

German Gems has cut back to one day at the Castro. Festival Founder Ingrid Eggers received a Goldies Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In the profile, the SFBG states "Her current film festival project — the smaller-scale German Gems — is set to screen for a third year in January 2012. After that, Eggers is not so sure. 'It's incredibly expensive to put on even such a small festival,' she admits ruefully..." To paraphrase Churchill, "Now this may not be the end. It may not even be the beginning of the end. But it is, most assuredly, the end of the beginning."

Noir City's December 14 kick-off double feature has been announced: Lady on a Train (1945) and Christmas Holiday (1944). Deanna Durbin is the common thread.

Also, there is a series currently at the PFA called Southern (Dis)comfort.

The South has never shaken its past. It sits like mist on the land, seeping into the drawl of the everyday. Secession, the cotton gin, a God-fearin’ people, slavery, pecans and poke salad, moonshine, hounds and possums, a big Rebel yell—there’s enough cultural ammo here to fight the Civil War all over again. Those munitions will never run dry as long as Southern artists (and a few carpetbaggers) plow the fertile fields of Dixie mythology, milling it into a genre all its own, the Southern Gothic. This genre wallows in the grotesque, prefers the randy to the restrained, knows Jim Crow isn’t the national bird, considers blood for an old debt paid, plunders the plantation, and imagines it all residing inside a delirious melodrama like one big corn mash-up.

I've seen a few of the films in the series at the PFA. Curator Steve Seid said that there were so many films that he and fellow curator Peter Conheim wanted to include in the series that they couldn't fit them all in at the PFA. A dozen of the overflow films will be screened at the Roxie in December. Neither PFA or the Roxie have announced the Roxie titles although Seid said they saved the more sleazy ones for the Roxie's run. I think he mentioned the Southern Fried exploitation classic, Two Thousand Maniacs! would get a screening at the Roxie.


Since I haven't reported it in awhile, I have seen 371 films or film programs year-to-date. The cost is $3,144 but that's a little inaccurate. Some of the money was in the form of charitable donations which are tax deductible. On this date in 2010, I had seen 359 films so I'm running ahead of last year's pace.


Another digression is that I've noticed that AMC has been showing John Wayne films on Saturdays. I've always been a fan of Wayne and having watched so many portions of his films the past few months, I can see why. In the 1950s and 1960s, Wayne didn't so much play an icon as poke fun at the icon he had become.

In particular, his Western films show Wayne blending his heroic persona with a fair amount of humor (occasionally at his own expense). Among the films of the era I enjoy are Rio Bravo, El Dorado, The Cowboys, The War Wagon, The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit. In these films, Wayne toyed with his own film persona which was firmly established by the time. I also note that Wayne certainly wasn't worried about being shadowed by his co-stars who include Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum & Kirk Douglas. There were also two outstanding films from his final decade and a half in which Wayne played his parts without much humor creeping into his performances: John Ford's classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and Wayne's final, elegiac film, The Shootist.

All in all, the Duke made some entertaining films as he was winding down his career. I read that Quentin Tarantino asks his dates what they think of Rio Bravo. If they don't love it, he assumes they are not a good match. If I were a woman, I'd pass Tarantino's test which is appropriate because I have a man-crush on Tarantino based on his films.

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