Thursday, January 21, 2016
The long-awaited annual tribute to cinema chiaroscuro, Noir City, returns to San Francisco's palatial Castro Theatre for its 14th edition, starting with some cool Sir Alfred Hitchcock flicks tomorrow night.
This year's theme is The Art Of Darkness and if one spends this existence on Earth as a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker/animator, photographer or painter/illustrator/sculptor, the concept that the act of creation can lead directly to a dangerous, scary place or two (or three) provokes a "yes, indeedy" response.
Eddie Muller, Noir City producer/co-curator, host and Film Arts Foundation head elaborates: "We're expanding the limits of traditional noir to enhance this year's theme. There's always been a dark side to the way The Arts are represented in film, and I thought it would be intriguing to include some unexpected films, like Love Me or Leave Me, The Red Shoes, and Blow-Up, that have trace elements of noir in the way they explore the more treacherous aspects of creativity."
The 2016 Noir City paints from an expansive palette - and, after all, The Picture Of Dorian Gray is part of the festival's lineup. There are films from Sweden (The Girl With Hyacinths), Great Britain (Corridor Of Mirrors) and Argentina (The Bitter Stems a.k.a. Los tallos amargos).
Such famed corrosive noirs as In a Lonely Place and Scarlet Street will be alongside movies from other genres that are characterized by more than a hint of foreboding and dread (and we don't mean natty dread - that's another topic for another post). The festival includes enduring mega-stars Bogie and Stanwyck in The Two Mrs. Carrolls, as well as the ever-versatile actress and future comedy queen Lucille Ball in The Dark Corner.
The Noir City XIV spotlight is on the innovative producer-director-writer Michael Powell, whose highly creative use of color cinematography on the surface differs from the subterranean black & white world of film noir, but whose story choices and themes frequently can be as dark, violent and obsessive as a gun-wielding femme fatale in a Joseph H. Lewis picture.
The last night of the festival will include what this writer considers arguably the single creepiest film ever made - a gritty psychological thriller that makes Hitchcock's movies look like Mary Poppins by comparison - Powell's brilliant, frightening and highly disturbing Peeping Tom.
Who: Host and curator Eddie Muller, a.k.a. The Czar Of Noir
What: Noir City 14: The Heart Of Darkness
When: January 22-31
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street (at 17th)
Why: Proceeds benefit the splendid film preservation efforts of The Film Noir Foundation - and the fact that Noir City is by far Your Correspondent's favorite film fest (that he doesn't personally provide footage for)
Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets
Info: Noir City website
As with yours truly's KFJC Psychotronix Film Festivals, be there or be oblong - and pass the popcorn, please.
Friday, January 15, 2016
The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will be paying tribute on Saturday and Sunday to one of the first child stars in movies, Diana Serra Cary, a.k.a. Baby Peggy.
The museum's Baby Peggy Movie Weekend includes her 1924 starring vehicle Captain January (made 12 years before the version starring Shirley Temple), the 1925 Universal film The Family Secret and a documentary on her career, The Elephant In The Room. Funds raised from the Saturday and Sunday shows will help Ms. Cary out with her basic living expenses.
Besides her exploits on the silver screen, Diana Serra Cary is a prolific author and historian who has penned the following splendid and informative books about Hollywood:
- What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star
- Jackie Coogan: The World's Boy King: A Biography of Hollywood's Legendary Child Star
- Hollywood's Children: An Inside Account of the Child Star Era
- The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History
With the passings of Barbara Kent, Mickey Rooney and Our Gang's Jean Darling, Ms. Cary, now 97, is also the last person standing who starred in silent films.
The shows hold forth at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theater at 37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536-2949.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
On the heels of the Classic Comedy Festival presented by the Kobe Film Archive last weekend and preceding the Noir City extravaganza later this month comes Saturday's Classic Science Fiction Film Fest at The Rheem Theater on 350 Park Street in Moraga. This year's festival features two of this blogger's favorite films, The Time Machine and When Worlds Collide.
The day of big screen fun will also include classic 1950's time capsules featuring giant bugs and that recurring theme (especially beloved and repeated by Bert I. Gordon) of miniaturization.
The esteemed Lord Blood-Rah will host a program that is sure to be a blast, as well as an opportunity for science fiction and classic movie buffs to hang out. To contact the box office of The Rheem Theater, call (925) 388-0751. Main office: (925) 388-0752.
Sunday, January 03, 2016
At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we are equally enthusiastic about both B-movies starring giant malevolent irradiated insects and serious music (a.k.a. "culchuh") - and we begin the new year thinking of classically trained musicians who are also howlingly funny comedians. The list - after Bugs Bunny, of course - is short.
That said, Dudley Moore immediately comes to mind.
In this blogger's view, arguably tops on this very short list - as funny as he was a incredible musician - would be pianist Victor Borge, born on January 3, 1909.
There won't be an essay or lengthy meditation on Borge, a virtuoso pianist who largely much of his own material but also hired some pretty darn good scribes - Alan Jay Lerner, Neil Simon and the ever-cantankerous Henry Morgan among them - to write comedy for that he used in his act, both a heartfelt appreciation and gentle spoof of classical music and its conventions. There will be a bunch of clips and we'll start with a great one with Dean Martin - "Dino".
If one finds jokes based on sound howlingly funny, it will not be possible to hear too many of them.
No such thing as too much Borge - for music and comedy lovers.
Friday, January 01, 2016
Happy New Year from The Usual Gang Of Celluloid And Comedy Crazed Characters at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog!
We hope you had a fun and safe New Year's Eve, even if at some point totally blasted at The Happy Hour Club - and arrived home in one piece!
Are we happy to have lived to see a new year? Yep - you bet we are! As happy as Osgood Fielding?
Well, maybe not quite that happy. . .