The Pacific Film Archive’s January/February schedule came in yesterday’s mail. As usual, there’s a lot of great stuff.
The PFA may be hoping to actually earn a profit (if I can suggest such a motive) with the series The Kids Are Alright: Post-Fifties Musicals and the Rise of Youth Culture, which does not, in fact, include a screening of The Kids Are Alright, or any other documentary. The series argues that American and British movie musicals got edgier and less escapist after 1960 and have remained so ever since. Most of the selections, such as West Side Story, Hair, and Pink Floyd The Wall, make that argument. But The Music Man, wonderful as it is, seems considerably more old-fashioned. Weirdest of all, the series begins with Paint Your Wagon, a commercial flop that, from what I’ve heard, richly deserved its box office trashing.
On the other hand, this is a chance to see a lot of great musicals on the big screen.
What’s a PFA calender without tributes to particular filmmakers. This time we get a series on Jacques Tati, Frank Capra, and Val Lewton. The Capra series, titled Before “Capraesque,” ends with It Happened One Night, the 1934 hit that gave his name marquee value. The series includes American Madness, which even more than One Night is the Capra style in embryo (it’s also timely again, dealing with a bank disaster), Platinum Blonde, and The Younger Generation, a 1929 part-talkie that appears to rip its plot off from the most famous part-talkie of them all, The Jazz Singer. This series will also give me a chance to finally see The Strong Man—my favorite silent comedy feature without Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd—in the big screen with live accompaniment.
An African Film Festival looks interesting, and contains one movie I’ve seen and can recommend: Sacred Places. Shown this past year at the San Francisco International Film Festival, this documentary examines a cine club in a poor but apparently vibrant neighborhood.
I’ve got a high school senior currently applying to multiple colleges, so the series What’s a Matta U? Considering the College Experience Through Film sounded promising. The good news: It contains the funny and touching Pieces of April, which is about being away from home but otherwise not really about going to college. The bad: That’s the only film in the series. Where are The Freshman, Duck Soup, and Animal House when you need them?