Monday, February 23, 2015

Metropolis & 2014 CAAMFest San Jose

A few months ago, I received an email from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  I think it was from the Silent Film Festival.  It may have been on their blog.  Anyway, they included an incredible image of Metropolis.

I'm not sure if that is one of original lobby cards or posters.  It looks as though it is a modern image designed to look retro.  Regardless, the image appeals to my preference for geometric patterns and art deco.  I made this jpg my wallpaper on my work computer.

A co-worker asked me if the image represented Superman's Metropolis.  I had never made that connection before.  If you say "Metropolis" to me, the first thing that pops into my mind is the Fritz Lang film.  Apparently, for many people the first thing that pops into their mind is Superman.  It made me wonder if Superman's Metropolis is inspired by Fritz Lang's Metropolis. According to the Wikipedia article on Superman, co-creator Joe Shuster states "Jerry [Siegel] created all the names. We were great movie fans and were inspired a lot by the actors and actresses we saw. As for Clark Kent, he combined the names of Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. And Metropolis, the city in which Superman operated, came from the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, which we both loved."  I had never made that connection until my co-worker asked me about it.  I also have no idea who Kent Taylor was although I recognize a few of his films from the early 1930s.  Superman was first published in 1933.


I've been busy attending film festival.  IndieFest wrapped up on Thursday but for the past week, I've been attending the Mostly British Film Festival.  The Mostly British had a rump session over the weekend.  They screened two Malcolm McDowell films:  If.... on Saturday and Aces High yesterday.  Cinequest begins tomorrow evening and runs through Sunday, March 8.  CAAMFest runs from March 12 to 22.  The Roxie is presenting what promises to be a popular noir series from March 19 to 23.  It's titled A Rare Noir is Good to Find! International Film Noir, 1949-1974.

Cinequest promises to be outstanding as usual and the Roxie (i.e. Elliot Lavine) is becoming Noir Central.  However, CAAMFest is looking a little bare.  0.5MM, Lav Diaz's Storm Children, Book One and Arthur Dong's Forbidden City, U.S.A. are the highlights.  Since Chi-hui Yang left CAAM as the head programmer, I've fallen out of step with the programming at CAAMFest.


Speaking of CAAMFest, I should probably close out last year's films.  In September 2014, I made my way down to San Jose (Camera 3) to see one screening at CAAMFest San Jose.

27°C Loaf Rock starring Li Kuo-yi & Meng Keng-ju; directed by Lin Cheng-sheng; Taiwanese with subtitles; (2013) - Official Facebook

Based on the true story of Wu Pao-chun who won the title of Master Baker at the 2010 Bakery World Cup in Paris, 27°C Loaf Rock tells what is becoming a familiar tale.  I'm old enough to remember when being a chef or a baker was a job akin to plumber or electrician.  It took skill & knowledge but it was definitely something déclassé to the professions.  No parent dreamed of their child becoming a baker or chef.  At best, it was something like a carpenter where mixing skill and artistry were appreciated.  Anyway, television has changed all that in the US.  I'm not sure about other countries.  Perhaps France & China have long traditions of celebrating the master food-preparers.

I can't remember the details now.  Wu (Li Kuo-yi) does an  apprenticeship under a master baker which is grueling in its exactitude and physical demands.  Eventually, he opens his own shop only to be amazed by a new bakery that dares to change the time-honored recipes with Wu has been taught and zealously adheres to.  Seeing the possibilities, Wu attempts to broaden his baking horizons with a trip to Japan and his own experimentation.  The title refers to the temperatures at which is pastry rises.  Eventually, Wu goes to Paris to compete and (in true Chinese cinema tradition), his arch rival is an arrogant Japanese baker.  The subplot involves Wu's romance with Chen Hsin-Mei (Meng Keng-ju), the daughter in a wealthy family who oppose the romance.  Eventually, Wu is convinced to give up the romance but up arrival in Paris, he reunites Chen who is scheduled to be married the next day.  She asks him to bake his stalwart mung bean pastry as a wedding gift.  By the way, she is marrying a white guy!

Anyway, the rest is predictable enough that I don't need to recount it here.  27°C Loaf Rock isn't a horrible film.  It panders to those who like food porn and like all porn, unless you are one of the acolytes, it gets boring.  I don't even like pastry and baked good that much in real life much less endless shots of them in a movie.  Come to think of it, CAAM seems to be trying to find or create the intersection between food, music and film.  Of course, Gary Meyers' Eat Drink Film is aiming at much of the same audience.  Speaking of which, there was a screen advertisement at the Mostly British Film Festival for the first Eat Drink Film Festival in October 2015.

Even if I was a dyed-in-the-wool foodie, 27°C Loaf Rock was an earnest but second rate film which fell flat on plot and execution.

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