The Carl Theodor Dreyer retrospective at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley has been going on since the beginning of the month and runs through December 12. Time to catch up with Kelly Vance's piece for the East Bay Express: "The Danish writer-director (1889-1968) is responsible for some of the boldest, most emotionally powerful visuals in history as well as for moments of vulnerable, unforced tranquility. His is the cinema of painful redemption simultaneously co-existing with hopeful transcendence — and of the irresistible image versus the almighty word.... [S]enior film curator Susan Oxtoby has gathered together all fourteen of the filmmaker's surviving features, beginning with The President (1918) and ending with 1964's Gertrud — plus the 1948 short, They Caught the Ferry. Centerpiece of the series is, naturally, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Dreyer's most notorious creation and one of the most magnificent, and most emotionally wrenching, experiences in screen history."
Also ongoing at the PFA is Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area (through March 31), a series mentioned here often and worth noting again for Reyhan Harmanci's story in the New York Times on how it's come about.
"By rights, Raymond Queneau's Zazie dans le métro ought to rank quite highly among the great unfilmable novels of the 20th century," writes Leo Goldsmith at Not Coming to a Theater Near You. "Rife with a peculiar francophonic mix of slang, wordplay, and toilet humor, and compressed into an all-in-a-day temporality, the sometime surrealist and Oulipo-founder's hugely popular 1959 children's book owes more than a little to James Joyce's Ulysses and, though a fraction of the length, may be just as dense. All the more impressive, then — if not foolhardy — that Louis Malle chose to adapt the novel just a year after its publication. Riding high on the success of 1958's The Lovers – only his second feature, an international sensation, and the film that prompted Justice Potter Stewart to declare that he knew pornography when he saw it – Malle must have felt emboldened to try something completely different. This would not be the last time – he famously made a career of tonal and stylistic 180s – but Zazie dans le métro seems a weird film even for Malle, a giddy foray into farce where nothing remains still (or intact) for long. But perhaps fittingly, it's also a film that captures the director's sense of the mercurial nature of identity with a kind of gleeful, manic relish." Not Coming presents the film tonight at the 92YTribeca.
Also in New York tonight, Cineaste and UnionDocs present Terence Davies's Of Time and the City.
Tomorrow evening in Austin, Andrew Bujalski will introduce a screening of John Huston's Beat the Devil (1953) and lead a post-film discussion at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz. The Chronicle's Marc Savlov asks him why. "'I knew Beat the Devil's reputation as a film that people always seemed to talk about in terms of being a send-up of other John Huston movies,' says Bujalski, 'as if it were Huston poking fun at himself or a parody of The Maltese Falcon and all that. So when I first saw it, I went into it knowing that reputation but I came out thinking: "That wasn't a parody! That was better than watching The Maltese Falcon!" Maybe that's a slightly heretical opinion, but I had such a good time with [Beat the Devil] that that's how I really felt.' He speaks the truth: Beat the Devil could well be the most fun you'll have at the movies all year. And that has everything to do with the cast. A more shifty-eyed alliance of squirreliness you're not likely to find, even in Huston's already overpopulated oeuvre." Role call: Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones and "Peter Lorre, pop-eyed and chain-smoking; Robert Morley, quivering with false solicitude and post-war British chip; cadaverous Italian scarecrow Marco Tulli; and, bringing up the sociopathic, apoplectic rear, tiny Ivor Barnard. It's a glorious orgy of character-actor perfection, simultaneously hilarious and surreal, and seemingly existing within a cinematic alternate reality that could only have been dreamed up — on the fly, no less — by a crazed [Truman] Capote. It tanked at the box office in 1953. Go figure."
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