Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The 2019 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

After a year hiatus, Peter returns to the Castro Theatre alongside Victor Morton to check back in with the good folks at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, now in their 24th iteration. It's more proof that this cinephile culture is alive and well and always expanding toward new avenues despite its century longevity. This year includes discoveries from both the studio era of filmmaking as well as unique corners of the globe, featuring narratives of fallen women, activist women, and women willing to push their vanity to death itself (also the occasional man). The surprise of the festival in part is seeing this period of history both in its innovations as well as its regressions, which sometimes work to turn seemingly simple works into complex objects. Within this, great artists appear: some known and others now reclaimed. Join Peter and Victor as they work their way through this excellent set of films.

0:00–2:41 Opening
2:42–15:00 The Signal Tower (Clarence Brown, 1924)
16:36–30:56 Tonka of the Gallows (Karel Anton, 1931)
32:11–49:33 Color Extravaganza!
50:30–53:30 Sponsorship Section
54:16–1:05:08 Goona Goona (André Roosevelt and Armand Denis, 1932)
1:06:03–1:24:03 Romance, Comedy and Otherwise
1:24:52–1:37:38 The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim, 1928)
1:37:42–1:26:52 Close

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Episode #114 - Katherine Groo (Archives de la Planète)

"I've been thinking about archives as sites of mediation, as sites that are doing things to artifacts and objects, and what we do to them as well."

In the search for reclaiming masterpieces, creating streaming services that put every film at our fingertips, and investigating narratives that simply continue variations of the canon, what have we missed? What happens when we put our foot on the breaks and reconsider not just the what's of cinema and media history but the hows? In her extraordinary body of research, Professor Katherine Groo has been looking toward the objects that film history often ignores, simply because it seems there is nothing to do with them. The result in her new book, Bad Film Histories, considers some methods and ideas of how to approach a particular set of objects: early ethnographic film. From there, Peter and Katherine look into her much discussed op-ed for the Washington Post on the role of streaming services like FilmStruck and end by examining not a film but an archive: a set of films and glass plates collected to create an archive of the world by Albert Kahn. Needless to say, it is the odds and ends there that remain more fascinating than considering the body of work itself.

0:00–4:37 Opening
5:23–58:48 Deep Focus — Katherine Groo
1:00:09–1:04:36 Sponsorship Section
1:05:46–1:25:08 Double Exposure — Archives de la Planète
1:25:13–1:26:52 Close

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Episode #113 - Jane Gaines (The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg)

"So many of those social history accounts said there were no women in the what do you do with this overwhelming evidence?"

Unless you've had your head in the sand, the awareness of the women dominated Hollywood of the 1910s has moved out of academic circles and into popular discourse. Instead of asking what happened to these women, film scholar Jane Gaines has another: why has this only now become part of our history? A pioneering scholar in mixed-race films, copyright, and documentary, Gaines's latest, long gestating book Pink Slipped mines film studies's own history to look at the reasons and problems of telling history through this one paradigm. In this winding conversation, Jane explores her own history and what led her to explore this problem and where history goes from here. They end their conversation looking at one particularly fascinating woman—Gene Gauntier—who beat out Pearl White and Helen Holmes as the first serial star by playing a cross-dressing confederate spy. A not to be missed discussion! Plus, Peter delivers some thoughts on a rediscovered and restored British drama exploring the Jamaican diaspora. 

0:00–4:22 Opening
5:14–10:30 Establishing Shots — Franco Rosso's Babylon
11:16–51:53 Deep Focus — Jane Gaines
52:53–56:54 Sponsorship Section
57:19–1:06:52 Double Exposure — The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg (Gene Gauntier)
1:06:57–1:09:58 Close / Outtake

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Episode #112 — Maya Montañez Smukler (Old Boyfriends)

"This is a book about a specific moment where second wave feminism
and 1970s Hollywood intersect and how that unique historical
intersection impacted women directors."

In a time of Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, the opportunities for directors of New Hollywood to make ambitious, artistic, and socially conscious movies blossomed in a way the industry had never allowed—but those outside the categories of white and male had a different story. But despite the gender disparity, sixteen daring women broke through. Some of their names are known; others in need of rediscovery. Either way, UCLA's Maya Montañez Smukler saw her goal to tell their narratives, showing how the rise of second wave feminism started the fight against the industry's sexism that continues today. In this wide ranging interview, Maya discusses her early history working for women-focused cinema organizations and how that eventually led to her book Liberating Hollywood. Peter and Maya explore the legal and cultural bookends that make up her project, and contextualize these directors in both their moment and ours. Finally, the two dive into Old Boyfriends, a truly oddball debut feature from Nashville screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury with a screenplay by Taxi Driver's Paul Schrader and an all-star cast.

0:00–3:36 Opening
4:21–1:05:42 Deep Focus — Maya Montañez Smukler
1:06:34–1:2:05 Sponsorship Section
1:12:45–1:27:34 Double Exposure — Old Boyfriends (Joan Tewkesbury)
1:27:39–1:29:29 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

2018 Countdown With Keith Uhlich (Part 2)

It's easy to claim art serves a purpose, but what exactly is that purpose? How do artists and critics reckon with the images, ideas, and worlds they've created—for better and worse? If art only builds a monument to itself, what value does that hold? In the second part of Peter and Keith Uhlich's look back at the year 2018 in movies, these questions come to the forefront. It's not just what art is but how it strikes us, how it is purposed (or repurposed), and how it becomes part of a dialogue. Though covering just one year of cinema, a list that expands back over a century. The big surprise: who topped their list with film and who topped it with television? Surprises abound in this invigorating discussion.

0:00–2:41 Opening
2:41–26:34 Picks for #5
26:34–41:40 Picks for #4
41:40–1:00:41 Picks for #3
1:01:20–1:03:59 Sponsorship Section
1:04:47–1:27:08 Picks for #2
1:27:08–1:30:02 Guest Picks
1:30:02–1:59:56 Picks for #1
1:59:56–2:04:39 Wrap Up 
2:05:36–2:08:35 Close / Outtake

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

2018 Countdown With Keith Uhlich (Part 1)

Witches, Worship, and White People: Oh my! Keith Uhlich returns for another year of counting down films, television, and other media of 2018 in this Part 1 of 2. The choices remain as eclectic as always, but the spirit of debate shifts toward not just what constitutes not just what cinema is but when it is (2017? 1972? Who Knows!)—part of the larger flux in our ever expanding digital world. Each challenges the other for a statement of principals to understand not just what films get made and who gets to make them, throwing wrenches into questions surrounding the systems that hold the keys and the role of representation on screen. Strap on (!) in for another series of conversations on what might not be the best films of the year, but the ones that engaged us most into a winding conversation.

0:00-2:52 Opening
2:52-27:04 Picks for #10
27:04-50:21 Picks for #9
51:08-55:07 Sponsorship Section
55:29-1:21:01 Picks for #8
1:21:01-1:43:53 Picks for #7
1:43:53-2:05:26 Picks for #6
2:06:02-2:06:35 Wrap Up 
2:06:44 -2:08:52 Close / Outtake

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Episode #111 - Michael Sicinski (Sink or Swim)

"What is this thing in front of us?...Why would somebody paint on film?...How successful is this 45 minute zoom?"

Given the ever growing plethora of criticism, it makes it more and more difficult to find critics whose every word feels inspired, and more than that, fewer critics who are even given spaces to write on films that create impassioned, reflective, and incisive prose and arguments. Houston-based writer Michael Sicinski is one of the rarities left today. His criticism makes experimental films that might alienate audiences feel accessible and who takes the liberal Hollywood schmaltz and demonstrates how alienating it can be. In this broad ranging interview, Michael takes Peter through his move from art history to cinema, the academic sphere to the internet, and from writing to teaching. The two then dive into Su Friedrich's haunting memory film Sink or Swim, and look at how a work that demonstrates formal rigor at every moment is also imbued with emotion that any audience can feel as well. Plus, Peter checks back in with former guest Eric Allen Hatch and his new non-profit video store in Baltimore, looking at how a seemingly "outdated" model of cinephilia might just save its future.

0:00-3:33  Opening
4:25-15:42 Establishing Shots — Beyond Video with Eric Allen Hatch
16:28-1:24:12 Deep Focus — Michael Sicinski
1:25:25-1:29:50  Sponsorship Section
1:31:05-1:52:43 Double Exposure — Sink or Swim (Su Friedrich)
1:52:48-2:00:37 Close / Outtake

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