Hollywood’s Annual Festival of Self-Adoration

It’s Oscar time. This Sunday evening we forget about war and oppression and find out who we really hate. For my money, that’s the advertisers, the choreographers, and anyone who takes the Academy Awards seriously.

Don’t get me wrong. I never miss Hollywood’s annual festival of self-adoration. I find it fascinating; like a car wreck without a hair out of place. And yet, there are times every year when I’m genuinely moved, like when an award actually goes to someone who deserves it.

This year, I’m not sure who I want to win Best Picture. Million Dollar Baby is clearly a masterpiece, and deserves the award. On the other hand, I’ve publicly stated that The Aviator would win, and I want the Academy to prove me a genius–if only at predicting the obvious. Besides, it’s Scorsese’s turn.

But the big Oscar question isn’t who will win but where to watch? The Balboa, the Castro, the Lark, and the Rafael are all hosting Oscar broadcasts. (So is the Parkway, but it’s already sold out.) Me? I’m staying home with the family and the TiVo–which lets us start late and skip the commercials). Some shows belong on the small screen.

In other news, the March/April Pacific Film Archive calendar is out. Among the more promising series are a tribute to B picture director Edgar G. Ulmer and a continuation of Games People Play. The word color gets a workout with both a Women of Color Film Festival and Crying in Color: How Hollywood Coped When Technicolor Died. Not everything in the Women of Color series is actually in color, which makes me wonder if the PFA could do a Women of Color in Black and White Film Festival. The Archive is also the East Bay venue for the Asian-American and San Francisco International Film Festivals.

And now, your weekly dose of recommendations and other noteworthy presentations:

  • Noteworthy: Deep Throat, Roxie, opening Friday. No, this isn’t the current Inside Deep Throat documentary, but the legendary original, gag-inducing in so many ways.

  • Recommendation: Jaws, Act I & II, Friday and Saturday, midnight movie. Steven Spielberg’s first big hit and one of the great suspense flicks of the ’70s.

  • Recommendation: The Palm Beach Story and Horse Feathers, Stanford, Friday through Sunday. Another Preston Sturges/Marx Brothers double-bill–two very different but very funny motion pictures. Just look out for the Weenie King; whatever it is, I’m against it.

  • Recommendation: Ninotchka, Balboa, Saturday and Monday. We don’t normally associate Garbo with comedy, but when a movie is written by Billy Wilder and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, you can’t associate it with anything else. A great, anti-Communist romantic farce. It’s double-billed both nights with Anna Karenina.

  • Recommendation: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Castro, Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps the best science fiction film of the 50’s, and one of the few that saw our paranoia of the other, rather than the other itself, as the problem. It’s a little heavy-handed in the message department, but the Jesus symbolism is reasonably subtle.

  • Noteworthy: Tron, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday. I haven’t seen this movie in more than 20 years, but I remember it as big, silly, mindless fun–and in those days, cutting-edge. It was the first movie to extensively use computer graphics, and one of the last to be shot in 65mm. The Archive will be showing a new 35mm print, but I’d rather see a new 70mm print, and on a bigger screen.