Sunday at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

I’ll tell you one thing about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. While it’s extremely fun, it’s also exhausting. I don’t think I could have survived another day of it.

Here’s what I saw on the last day:

Japanese Girls At the Harbor

In the early 1930s, Japan created realistic, humanistic silent films. This work by Hiroshi Shimizu follows two young women, close friends, as they grow apart and make some very bad life choices. Men, love, and crime make their lives difficult.

I give Japanese Girls At the Harbor a B+.

The 35mm print was fine. English subtitles were projected digitally onto the analog image. Musicians Guenter Buchwald and Sascha Jacobsen carried the movie just right.

The Home Maker

This family comedy starts great. Mom (Alice Joyce) doesn’t like housework, and she can’t control her horror of her youngest child. Dad (Clive Brook) doesn’t do very well in the rat race. An accident leaves him at home while she goes out to make money. Both prove to be better at the other one’s job. It’s quite wonderful in the first half, but the movie goes longer than it should and sort of takes a step back on its revoluntionary theme.

I give The Home Maker a B.

The 35mm print was sourced from various prints of very different qualities.

Stephen Horne’s piano score made the story all the better.

Shiraz: a Romance of India

It’s not really about the making of the Taj Mahal; it’s a love story. The making of the Taj Mahal only comes in at the end. It’s beautiful, spectacular, romantic, and occasionally suspenseful.  But it’s also slow, with some stiff performances.

I give Shiraz  a B+.

The DCP was mouthwateringly beautiful. No tints, but it looked like a brand new black and white film.

Indian musician Utsav Lal accompanied the movie on piano. It was a workable score, but it didn’t sound particularly Indian.

Sir Arne’s Treasure

A deeply-depressing adventure story set in a very cold 16th-century Swedish winter. Scottish mercenaries have been ordered out of the country, but they can’t leave until the ice sea opens up. But three mercenaries do horrible, violent crimes, and a search begins to capture them.

I give Sir Arne’s Treasure a B+.

This DCP outdoes the last one. Crystal clear, where you can study the texture of the walls, and striking tints and tones.

The Matti Bye Ensemble performed their usual monotonous drone.

Our Hospitality


This was the first time I’d seen Buster Keaton’s first feature masterpiece on the big screen in at least 10 years. Wow! It really does make a difference.

Three years before he made The General, Buster Keaton mined the antebellum South for comic gold in this almost gentle comedy about a Hatfield/McCoy–like feud. New York-raised Buster goes south to inherit his estate, but when he arrives at his destination, he finds himself a guest in the home of men sworn to kill him. Luckily, the code of southern hospitality forbids killing a guest…as long as he’s in your house. Read my Blu-ray review.

I still give Our Hospitality an A.

The DCP wasn’t as excellent as Shiraz and Sir Arne’s Treasure, but it was still very, very good.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra gave a wonderful performance.

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