The Man Who Fell to Earth

S.F. State film grad Bill Rose has built a solid career over the last 20 years producing and directing corporate videos, striving to make "mundane stuff seem stylistically sexy." But he took the opposite approach with his first feature-length documentary, The Loss of Nameless Things. "I didn't want to seem edgy; I didn't want to seem hip; I didn't want it to be ironic," Rose says from his Palo Alto office. With a story like that of Oakley Hall III, Rose explains, embellishment is unnecessary.

The son of vaunted San Francisco novelist Oakley Hall (Warlock), Hall III was a 28-year-old playwright poised for success in 1978. The likes of William Hurt participated in staged readings of his work under the auspices of the legendary theater director Joseph Papp. Then Hall took a mysterious dive off a bridge in upstate New York, suffering major head injuries that wiped out his career. "Oakley fell out of the roller coaster," Rose muses. A modern Icarus, to be sure, but Rose also sees Hall as an emblem of the '70s. "In many ways this is a film about our generation," he says, "which, in my view, fell off a bridge and spent 30 years crawling back to find out who we are, if we can't be who we set out to be."

Rose gave Hollywood a go after graduating from State. "I lived there on and off, but I never felt that the kind of films you have to pitch down there I'd feel sincere about," he says. "I was still young enough at the time to believe that I'd be able to make the films I wanted to make. It just wouldn't be in L.A." The Loss of Nameless Things, with music by locals Barney Jones and Joan Jeanrenaud, screens Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as part of Film Arts' "True Stories" series.

The Endless SummerStep Into Liquid, I dare say, will eventually join Maverick's, Heart of the World, and other recent surf opuses in steady rotation on the Red Vic Movie House calendar. Why is there a consistent audience for surfing movies, yet no interest in flicks about, say, bicycling or sky diving? "Surfing attracts a lot more hangers-on than some things might," Liquid director Dana Brown concedes. "You're probably not getting on a plane to fake your sky diving, and you don't just hang out in the parking lot with your Tour de France outfit on. But surfing, definitely; in the summer, in California -- boy, you go to the beach, there's a lot of losers hanging out there. And losers are usually noisy and want to be heard. People visit the beach, and [think] that's what a surfer is. Well, the surfers are actually the people you don't see, 'cause they're way out in the water riding the waves." Step Into Liquid opens Friday at the Embarcadero and the Shattuck.

The Running ManThe California Film Commission's measly $12 million annual allotment (equal to Arnold's acting fee circa '93) was chopped by 90 percent in the new state budget. So how will Conan the Governor balance the books if he gets the part? Step 1: Replace state legislators with unpaid production assistants. Step 2: In every gubernatorial appearance, feature two product placements. Step 3: Require donation of Schwarzenegger's salary and points from Twins and Kindergarten Cop sequels to the state treasury.

Legends of the FallDimension will open Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That's what you call a booming vote of confidence. ... Clint Eastwood's Mystic River steamrolls into theaters Oct. 8. ... The other major Bay Area feature in the can, Phil Kaufman's The Blackout Murders -- which will be getting a new name, we hear -- was bumped by Paramount from mid-September to next spring, a full year and a half after production wrapped. Is the studio having a crisis of confidence? Producer Peter Kaufman says no.

 
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