Another Day in Paradise
The Pacific Film Archive can be a schlep for San Franciscans, to put it mildly. So one of the most heartening developments for S.F. residents in 1999 was the "importation" of the PFA's Max Ophuls series by the S.F. Film Society and the Castro. Similarly, the Marcello Mastroianni retrospective brightens both venues this month, and other collaborations presumably will follow. May I propose a Buñuel retrospective, and a week of new African cinema, and a Robert Mitchum series, and -- well, that should carry us until summer. ... Another bright spot: The opening of the Rafael Film Center, which offers a challenging palette of films to Marin County movie buffs along with the occasional star-studded premiere. ... The bad news is that the Regency's lease expires imminently, and it is nearly impossible to imagine a scenario that would make it financially feasible for Blumenfeld Theaters to renew it.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
As the 1990s fade to black, so do the critically overinflated careers of Kubrick, Scorsese, Stone (as in Oliver), De Palma, Eastwood, Nichols, Pollack, Connery, Nicholson, Hoffman, De Niro, Ford (as in Harrison), Costner, Schwarzenegger, and Stallone. One whiff of their combined output of the last decade and the conclusion is inescapable: These testosterone cases belong to distant history now. Oh, they'll continue to make batches of mediocre movies for several more years (except for Kubrick, of course), and a few of the boys are bound to luck into one last hit. The powerful combination of ego, money, and habit will still propel them inexorably toward the camera, even though only humiliation awaits. As artists, they've long since run out of anything remotely interesting or insightful to say. As stars, though, they still exert some small pull among nostalgic moviegoers and out-of-touch Chronicle editors. Brand-name loyalty dies hard, but even high school boys could tell when Willie Mays had lost it, and when Schlitz began going downhill ....
Band of Outsiders
Julia Hill's Dec. 18 descent from Luna (as she named her tree) won't be included in Doug Wolens' forthcoming documentary, Butterfly. "My film's done," he explains. "It's complete. The story's told." While Hill's return to earth was the quintessential mass-media money shot, Wolens' film is a more complex exploration of the north country dispute. Although Sundance turned down Butterfly, it's on the short-list for PBS's "P.O.V." series. "I know there's a huge life for the film," says Wolens. ... A Sign From God, Greg Watkins and Caveh Zahedi's Sundance-bound comedy, features an original soundtrack by Jonathan Richman. ... If you can tear yourself away from your winter vacation in Gstaad for a few days, Craig Baldwin's Spectres of the Spectrum plays the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Hal Hartley's Monster is one of the spotlighted projects at CineMart, Rotterdam's vaunted co-production market. ... Regret to Inform, East Bay filmmaker Barbara Sonneborn's lovely, hauntingly personal Vietnam documentary, receives its national PBS broadcast in January; the local broadcast is Jan. 24 on KQED Channel 9. ... The cable network Lifetime has reportedly given the go-ahead to shoot a pilot about five female SFPD detectives. Production is tentatively scheduled for late January, although no location scouts have checked in with the local film office yet. The S.F. shoot would likely consist of a day or two of exteriors, with most of the filming taking place in Vancouver (naturally).
Michael Fox is co-host ofIndependent View, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.