Reel World

A documentary on the hallucinatory visions of an architect dubbed the "William Blake of San Francisco."

The Belly of an ArchitectBorn in Point Reyes in 1896, Achilles G. Rizzoli labored for 40 years as an architectural draftsman on mundane San Francisco buildings. At night in his Bernal Heights Victorian, S.F. filmmaker Pat Ferrero relates, "He recorded voices and visions in complete anonymity and isolation." Rizzoli poured his "auditory hallucinations" into large-scale architectural drawings of the people in his life, strewn with wry text. He sounds a bit touched, but Ferrero disagrees. "He functioned in the world and didn't fall into psychiatric hands, and he found a way to make sense of this extraordinary reality. He is San Francisco's William Blake."

To evoke Rizzoli's creative mind for her marvelously titled one-hour documentary, Yield to Total Elation: The Life and Art of Achilles Rizzoli, Ferrero called on Bay Area opera tenor John Duykers and Seattle composer Janice Giteck. "The film transports you to Rizzoli's mystical experiences," she muses. "I was interested in giving the experience of an inner life." Ferrero clearly fell under Rizzoli's spell; she re-created his studio on a sound stage, complete with his original work -- which was salvaged from a dumpster a decade after his 1981 death. Yield to Total Elation has its world premiere at the Exploratorium's McBean Theater at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 20.

The Asphalt JungleEddie Muller's gift as a writer (Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir) is to bring film history vibrantly to life. The Alameda ace's latest tome, Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir (ReganBooks/ HarperCollins), is an affectionate then-and-now portrait of Jane Greer, Audrey Totter, Marie Windsor, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Savage, and Coleen Gray. "The entire point of the book is to show these icons as people," Muller explains. "They were so identified as femmes fatales, but at a certain point -- after their allure faded at 30, in the studio bosses' eyes -- they were no longer accepted in those roles. But they still had 50 years left, and counting."

Once Muller met the actresses he'd admired since boyhood, he gravitated from fan to friend. In fact, he was one of the speakers at Windsor's memorial service in December. Muller reunites with the other five stars onstage May 26 in L.A. during the Cinematheque's annual film noir festival, which he co-programs. He captures the magic in one pithy sentence: "Ann Savage shot Detour in three days, and she has a permanent spot in film history."

Design for LivingAppropriately enough, East Bay filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman screened their New Economy exposé, Secrets of Silicon Valley, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts during the student sit-in demanding a minimum wage for all Harvard workers. The doc returns to the Fine Arts Cinema in August. ... Look for SFMOMA to revive its long-dormant film series in September with works tied to modern and contemporary art. Meanwhile, the museum has shelved plans to build a separate, dedicated entrance to the theater, proposed as a way to accommodate filmgoers and the private parties held in the foyer. ... The garment-rending was premature: The Coronet Theater, currently leased from the Goldman Institute on Aging to the UA chain on a month-to-month basis, will likely remain open for another year. So the last booking at George Lucas' favorite movie house may be the next Star Wars (yawn) flick. ... S.F. State's cinema department presents the 41st annual Film Finals show of student stunners at 7 p.m. this Friday, May 18, in the McKenna Theater on campus. Call 338-2467 for tix.

 
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