Upcoming in February

I haven’t had much time to work on this blog lately, but here’s a quick note on some coming attractions.

Honoring cinematographers

Two great cinematographers, Haskell Wexler and Vilmos Zsigmond, passed away within three days of each other as 2015 turned into 2016. So it’s appropriate that the Castro will screen four double bills highlighting their work throughout February:

  • Monday, February 15: American Graffiti (Wexler) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (for which Zsigmond won an Oscar)
  • Sunday, February 21: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Zsigmond) and Bound for Glory (Wexler)
  • Tuesday, February 23: in the heat of the night (Wexler), No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmo (a documentary ot Zsigmond and another important lensman, Laszlo Kovacs), and Deliverance (Zsigmond)
  • Sunday, February 28: America, America (Wexler) and Heaven’s Gate (Zsigmond)

I’m especially eager to see McCabe & Mrs. Miller again on the big screen. It’s a masterpiece of cinematography, and it made me a Zsigmond fan when I was still a teenager. I still consider him the master of anamorphic Panavision, which he used brilliantly in Deliverance, Scarecrow, The Sugarland Express, The Deer Hunter, and all four of the films the Castro will screen.

I’m delighted that the Castro is honoring filmmakers who aren’t directors or movie stars. It’s not the first time, of course. They’ve done series based around composers, as well. But I really wish that this theater, or the PFA, would do a series based on a screenwriter. You can make a great series built on films written by Ben Hecht.

Daisy-chained double bills

Meanwhile, the Stanford is daisy-chaining double bills. For instance, last week they screened Notorious and Casablanca–certainly a great double bill. But this week, they’re keeping Notorious and playing it with The Philadelphia Story (the double bill closes today).

But then, starting Thursday (the theater is dark Monday through Wednesday), The Philadelphia Story stays with Laura, and then Laura hangs on for another week with Singin’ in the Rain. That doesn’t really strike me as a great double bill.

However, for the final weekend in February, Singin’ in the Rain plays with Sunset Blvd. Although one is a dark noir and the other a light comedy, they’ve always felt to me like two sides of the same coin. Lena Lemont and Norma Desmond are the same person at different stages of her wasted life.