New media gets it on with old media in Ted Bonnitt's digitally produced documentary about legendary sexploitation pioneers Dan Sonney and David Freidman, Mau Mau Sex Sex. (Notice how I put the technology angle ahead of the content; that's what being part of the New Economy is all about.) The amusing and educational film (OK, I'm just guessing here) premiered in January at No Dance in Park City and, after a sneak preview last week in Bonnitt's home burg of San Jose, gets the big-screen treatment in an American Cinematheque screening at Hollywood's Egyptian Theater on April 5. (Pay a visit to www.maumausexsex.com.)
Alameda's Eddie Muller, who's credited as the film's writer, originally paid homage to Sonney and Friedman in his lovingly produced 1996 book Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema. Muller also has ties to the Cinematheque; he put together a terrific film noir series there last year that proved so successful he was asked to consult on a second edition. "The thing I'm doing that keeps it fresh is I'm not retreading the same ground," Muller says. "There are undiscovered elements to film noir that I keep turning up and it surprises me. The wisecracking detective has been calcified in our culture. But people are looking to these movies as accurate historical documents rather than just as flippant entertainment."
Muller interviews an astonishing array of silver screen legends onstage during the upcoming series. "I'll sit there and shoot the shit with Turhan Bey and Audrey Totter and Ricardo Montalban," he gloats. He'll also parlay his rapport with the forgotten sirens of noir into a book, Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir, due out from HarperCollins in the fall; it's a tip of the fedora to the likes of Coleen Gray and Evelyn Keyes. For the new book, he expanded at great length the "Vixenville" chapter of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, his endlessly enjoyable 1998 tome. And start saving for Christmas, when Muller's luscious coffee-table book of noir poster art hits the streets. Muller's oeuvre is on display at www.noircity.com.
The Roxie has a big film noir series in the works for May, including some chestnuts from the early days of television. Muller heartily endorses the Roxie's initiative. "People say, 'Film noir just died out in the early '50s.' No, it shifted to the small screen."
The Big Clock
After 17 years in its Potrero Avenue offices, the S.F. Cinematheque must find new digs by June 1. The building was sold to new owners who are sinking a bunch o' cash into turning the nondescript edifice into an upscale video production facility. ... Christos Dimas' Amerikanos has been accepted by the Cannes Film Festival, a nifty coup for local DP Kev Robertson and editor Sharon Franklin. ... Check out Errol Morris' new nonfiction series of quirky profiles, "First Person," Wednesday nights on Bravo. ... With the S.F. International Film Festival about to announce this year's recipient of the coveted Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement, I obtained the following odds from the sports book at Caesar's Palace: Ingmar Bergman 8-5, Eric Rohmer 2-1, Theo Angelopoulos 3-1, Jacques Rivette 5-1, Robert Altman 8-1, Andrzej Wajda 20-1, Ridley Scott 50-1, Sydney Pollack 100-1, Russ Meyer 250-1, Leni Riefenstahl 1,000-1.
Michael Fox is host of Independent View, which airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.
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