Thursday, January 21, 2016

Starting Tomorrow Night At The Castro Theatre: Noir City XIV

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.

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