Festival Report, Part 1: Friday

I’m finally back at my computer and able to tell you about what I saw at the Kabuki and Castro.

The first movie I caught was the first one shown without opening night hoopla, Otar Iosseliani, The Whistling Blackbird; appropriately, a movie about movies. Julie Bertuccelli’s documentary is a pleasant and often funny study of an aging filmmaker preparing his latest work (Gardens in Autumn, also being shown at the festival). Iosseliani comes off as an experienced film director who appears to have almost no concept of the medium’s technical or budgetary requirements, but who still makes wonderful, satirical movies. I’’m not familiar with Iosseliani’s work, but this movie left me wanting to gain that familiarity.

I next journeyed to the Castro to catch the special presentation of The Phantom Carriage, Victor Sjöström’s 1921 horror movie, which the Festival presented with live accompaniment by Jonathan Richman and friends. It was a sold-out crowd (quite a feat at the cavernous Castro), and the enthusiasm ran high. A woman sitting next to me enthused about the appropriateness of having the Dalai Lama and Kevin Brownlow visiting San Francisco simultaneously. (Brownlow was not a part of this particular presentation.)

When the show started, we were all treated to a great, tinted print of a very good fantasy melodrama about death, alcoholism, maturity, and redemption. Richman’s score was effective, moody, and absolutely appropriate, although there were some moments of silence that seemed arbitrary to me.

Just one complaint about the print, a relatively new one by Janus Films. Rather than replacing the original Swedish title cards with English ones, Janus added subtitles. This got annoying, especially in some of the longer intertitles, where the Swedish and English words overlapped.

I’ll post my Saturday report soon.

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One Response

  1. Jonathan Richman’s score for Phantom Carriage was magnificent. The few silent moments were bold and left quiet space for the viewer to sit with the images. I was totally moved and inspired the performance.

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