January and February at the Pacific Film Archive

Documentaries old and new, movies about movies, and films directed by Ida Lupino, Sergei Eisenstein, and Ingmar Bergman. The Pacific Film Archive doesn’t simply screen films, it screens film series. Here are the series it will run over the next two months:

Ida Lupino: Hard, Fast, and Beautiful
(January 13–February 24): To my knowledge, Lupino was the only actress to become a film director before the 1980s. This noir-heavy series includes movies in which she worked in front of the camera, behind it, or both. These include They Drive by Night, High Sierra, The Hitch-Hiker, and On Dangerous Ground.

Ida Lupino, with Humphrey Bogart, in High Sierra

Documentary Voices 2018 (January 17–April 18): This year’s selection of non-fiction cinema, not all of it new, contains seven features and a program of shorts. I haven’t seen any of the films, and have only heard of one of them: In the Year of the Pig. Among the ones that look interesting are Angry Inuk, Ex Libris: The New York Public Library, and The Red Line, which appears to be a sort of sequel to another film in the series, Torre Bela.

Sergei Eisenstein: Films That Shook the World (February 9–April 22): I admit some mixed feelings about Russia’s first cinematic master. Eisenstein’s films brim over with brilliant editing (in his silents) and magnificent images (in his talkies). But his characters and stories are simplistic and weak. This series contains five of his six major works. Oddly, considering the name of the series, the one missing is Ten Days That Shook the World (also known as October). But here’s your chance to revisit Battleship Potemkin, Strike, Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible, Part I and Part II on the big screen.

Battleship Potemkin

In Focus: Eisenstein and His Contemporaries (January 17–April 25): Yes, the PFA is running two Eisenstein series simultaneously, screening the same five films on different days in different series. But this much bigger series also includes October (aka Ten Days That Shook the World), some minor Eisenstein works, along with several Russian and Soviet silent films not made by Eisenstein, including Pudovkin’s The End of St. Petersburg and the very funny Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks. A lecture will precede each film.

Reverse Angle: Cinema Looks at Itself (January 20–May, although the last screening announced is on February 22): The films here are much more serious than Sherlock Jr. or Singin’ in the Rain (although one does star Buster Keaton). The films include the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time (you can read my review), and A Film Unfinished, a propaganda film about the Warsaw Ghetto that the Nazi’s never managed to complete. And then there’s Notfilm, the 128-minute making-of documentary about Film, Samuel Beckett’s 22-minute, surreal short starring Buster Keaton. Oddly, they’re screening Notfilm before Film.

Bergman 100: A Tribute to Liv Ullmann (February 1–24, 2018): Ingmar Bergman was born in 1918, making this the year to celebrate his work. The PFA will run several Bergman-themed series throughout 2018. The first one concentrates on his work with actress (and sometime lover) Liv Ullmann. The films include Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Autumn Sonata, and the great Cries and Whispers, which belongs on my A+ List
(read my Blu-ray review).

Cries and Whispers

Limited Engagements & Special Screenings: Since every film screened at the PFA must be part of a series, there has to be a series for random films, as well. Over the next two months, this ongoing non-series includes Renoir’s The Rules of the Game and The Crime of Monsieur Lange, a new 4K digital restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, and an archival print of Woodstockbut not archival enough to be the original cut.

Movie Matinees for All Ages: Another ongoing series, intended to turn young children into cinephiles (a worthy endeavor in my opinion). In January, they’ll screen The Wizard of Oz. In February, the insect documentary Microcosmos.

4 thoughts on “January and February at the Pacific Film Archive

  1. More female actors who became film directors prior to 1980, off the top of my head:

    Lois Weber
    Mabel Normand
    Lillian Gish
    Leni Riefenstahl
    Yuliya Solntseva
    Kinuyo Tanaka
    Barbara Loden
    Elaine May
    Margarethe von Trotta
    Karen Arthur

    1. Lupine still seems pretty unique, however. I can’t think of another woman to become a Hollywood narrative feature director during the so-called “Golden Age”, which one might mark out as anytime after The Jazz Singer and before Jack Valenti. If there are any others I’m unaware of, they surely failed to achieve Lupino’s prominence.

      Tell me more about the Woodstock original cut. Is this different from the director’s cut?

  2. I should have said that she was the only one during the Studio Era, which I define as roughly the 30s, 40s, and early 50s. I hate the term “Golden Age.”

    The original cut of Woodstock ran just under 3 hours, and was one of the first films that long without an intermission. I saw it many times theatrically, in Technicolor IB prints with magoptical soundtracks (4-track magnetic stereo and mono optical).

    The director’s cut, which is just under 4 hours, came out in the mid-1990s. It’s the only version available theatrically or in any digital format.

    I prefer the original cut. I would love to see one of those old prints. Unfortunately, if the PFA did manage to get one, they’d have to play it in mono. They don’t have magnetic playback.

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