Reel World

Deep Crimson
Reel World's tireless one-man campaign on behalf of overlooked auteur Russ Meyer must wait another year, as the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 22 to May 6) has just announced its plans to salute Mexican director Arturo Ripstein (The Beginning and the End) with the prestigious Kurosawa Award. A longtime favorite of festival Artistic Director Peter Scarlet, Ripstein becomes the first Latin American director to take home the lifetime achievement prize since its inception in 1987.

As previously reported here, Johan van der Keuken is to receive the Persistence of Vision Award; the UC Berkeley Art Museum and PFA get the jump with a show of the Dutch artist's photographs and films beginning March 20. The always quirky "Indelible Images" sidebar, wherein local 'makers each select an influential film from the SFIFF's past programs, comprises an unusually eclectic quartet: indie iconoclast Jon Moritsugu (he chose the stylishly punk Liquid Sky), actor Peter Coyote (Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala), doc filmmaker Emiko Omori (Chris Marker's Sans Soleil), and force of nature Craig Baldwin ("Masters of Montage," a program of shorts featuring two by Bruce Conner and Michael Wallin's sublime Decodings). Also scheduled is a series of films from Kazakhstan, plus Lourdes Portillo's Selena documentary, Corpus. (Reel World regrets getting the title wrong in last week's item on the movie's premiere at the San Diego Latino Film Festival; as my Uncle Ralph used to say, don't trust press releases.)

In a rare coup, the SFIFF scored a world premiere for opening night -- David Mamet's The Winslow Boy, a courtroom drama starring Nigel Hawthorne, Jeremy Northam, and, inevitably and no doubt unfortunately, Rebecca Pidgeon. Based on Terence Rattigan's play (and previously filmed in England by Anthony Asquith in 1950), The Winslow Boy trades on Mamet's infinite fascination with misleading first impressions, hidden motives, verbal gamesmanship, and manipulation.

Kiss of Death
The wicked women of film noir "represent an alluring and dangerous antidote to the prim American female, forever at the beck and call of father, husband and son. Film noir is where Pollyanna went after payback," writes Alameda's Eddie Muller in the March issue of Los Angeles magazine. Accompanied by S.F. Art Institute grad Matthew Ralston's poignant black-and-white photos, Muller updates us on seven septuagenarian actresses -- Claire Trevor, Audrey Totter, Jane Greer, Ann Savage, Evelyn Keyes, Marie Windsor, and Coleen Gray -- who survived stardom and achieved longevity with strength, class, and the occasional highball.

Not coincidentally, the stellar seven will appear on screen and in person at the American Cinematheque's film noir festival, a two-week series of hard-to-find treasures curated by Muller and screening in April at the restored Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Muller's subversive magazine piece not only delivers a welcome (and wholly unexpected) correction to L.A.'s youth obsession, but evens an imbalance in his juicy, Edgar Award-nominated post-mortem Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir. "These seven actresses didn't get their due in the book," Muller concedes, "since I had a predilection for focusing on the women who went haywire" in their personal lives.

King of the Hill
Congrats to the local filmmakers who scored grants to make three 40-second shorts, to screen at the Castro in early June during the Dockers Classically Independent Film Festival. The winners are James T. Hong (Decade Null), Alfonso Alvarez and Ellen H. Ugelstad (Flip-Film), and Dina Ciraulo and Jay Rosenblatt (Focused).

By Michael Fox
foxonfilm@aol.com

 
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