Former San Franciscan Jack Stevenson returns from Denmark to promote the U.S. publication of Scandinavian Blue: The Erotic Cinema of Sweden and Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s.
The moving arrow anoints a new hot spot of contemporary cinema every few years, and then moves on. Yet Germany never makes the cool list.
The PFA is offering a rare overview of Bergman's European films in the series, A Woman's Face: Ingrid Bergman in Europe.
Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is being revived as part of San Francisco Film Society’s second annual French Cinema Now festival, which runs the week of October 29 through November 4 at the city’s Clay Theatre.
A study in contrasts, Everyman and intellectual, Roy Andersson speaks about his career and new film, You, the Living.
Katyn is a sizable period saga about a tragic, still-controversial chapter in Poland's 20th-century history, one with particular resonance for Andrzej Wadja.
Berkeley hosts Karel Vachek: Poet Provocateur, the first-ever full U.S. retrospective for this unclassifiable Czech filmmaker.
The Romanian film takes place over 24 hours in a provincial town in 1987 before Ceaucescu was deposed.
The Goethe-Institut's festival offers a pointed reminder that Germany, Austria and Switzerland aren't just in the center of Europe, but in the middle of international cinema.
in Claude Chabrol's latest film, Isabelle Huppert plays a judge plunging headlong into a dangerous investigation of french corruption and gender dynamics.
Verhoeven's career can be divided between the character-driven movies he made in Holland and the slick genre films he directed in Hollywood after 1985.
“I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone” puts its melodrama and comedy within a Malaysian mattress. 1962’s “Mafioso” may be the mob-chronicle genre’s ground zero.
A Western occupying power faces opposition from the locals and responds with brutal military suppression, spurring a countrywide resistance movement reaching down to the grassroots.
James Longley's Fragments stands out amongst the crowded field of Iraqumentaries, while Others pulls back the Iron Curtain to powerful effect.
Von Donnersmarck talks about his Lola-winning and Oscar-nominated debut during a visit to San Francisco.
It doesn't seem like a stretch to group Janus with those American institutions which have represented a vision of what art is and can be.
The relationship between intellectualism and passion, a distinctly Italian concern, propels the 2006 edition of New Italian Cinema.
Many stars are forgotten for a while, then “rediscovered” and newly appreciated by a later generation. But the case of Louise Brooks is somewhat unique — she was, really, only a “star” in retrospect. Her Hollywood profile was headed that-a-way when she foolishly (according to the industry) abandoned it to make a couple European movies. When she returned, her moment had passed.
A paltry if promising career and early dead-end-at the time, it constituted barely a blip on the radar. Yet those European films grew in stature over ensuing years, and with that the gradual realization that Brooks had been one of the great screen presences, however briefly. Her striking look — porcelain skin, alert features, sleek jet-black flapper bob — and naturalistic acting haven’t dated at all.
As a result, it seems there’s more interest in her with each passing year. The latest evidence is critic and historian Peter Cowie’s new book “Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever,“ published in time to commemorate the centenary of her birth. He’ll be signing copies and presenting a special commemorative film program at the Balboa this Sunday. The evening promises a rarely screened feature, a short and trailers showcasing Brooks, as well as “special guests, door prizes and more.” (Cowie will also appear the prior night at the Smith Rafael Film Center to screen a new 35mm print of her best-known vehicle “Pandora’s Box.”)
Why the fuss? Why, indeed, is there such a thing as The Louise Brooks Society (which is co-presenting this event with The Booksmith)? The explanation is all on-screen, in any role where she wasn’t entirely wasted.
Kansas-born Brooks started out as a dancer, first in touring troupes and then in Broadway revues. This led to Hollywood in 1925, where bit parts led steadily to larger ones, finally female leads in two good 1928 Paramount releases: Howard Hawks’ rollicking “A Girl in Every Port” and William Wellman’s more delicate “Beggars of Life.”
She hadn’t set the world on fire yet, but was certainly expected to graduate from starlet to star. Paramount was not pleased, however, when she chose — just as “talking pictures” were becoming the rage — to end her contract and accept a silent-film offer in Germany. This was G.W. Pabst’s “Pandora’s Box,” drawn from Franz Wedekind’s play “Lulu,” and with beguiling lack of affectation she played that titular seducer/destroyer of both men and women, herself finally destroyed by Jack the Ripper. Perhaps even better (if less shocking) than that famous classic was a second Pabst movie, “Diary of a Lost Girl,” in which her victimized innocent is indelibly touching. She also starred as an exploited beauty-contest winner in a French film, 1930’s “Prix de Beaute.” These are all wonderful movies in which she was superb. But for a long time they were little seen outside their home countries — particularly in the U.S., where silent cinema was already stone-cold-dead.
Returning to Hollywood, Brooks was now — at age 24 — a has-been. She unwisely turned a couple good offers and accepted a handful of humiliatingly poor ones, including bit parts. Those few who remembered her considered her “difficult” and past expiration date. Her last movie role was a nondescript heroine in a nondescript 1938 “Z” western, “Overland Stage Raiders” — one of a zillion such that John Wayne starred in before becoming an “A”-list star.
Found living in seclusion in the mid-‘50s, Brooks was surprised and delighted that latterday film buffs not only remembered but worshipped her. She returned the favor by writing very intelligently about her own movies and the art form in general (mostly famously in the essay collection “Lulu in Hollywood,” which is still in print). She admitted sabotaging her own career as readily as she enjoyed her new iconic status in retirement, dying at a no doubt satisfied age 80 in 1985 — secure in the knowledge that her legend would continue to grow.
[“Pandora’s Box” plays Sat., Nov. 11, at 7 pm, Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 4th St., San Rafael. $6.25-9.50. (415) 454-1222. “Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films,” issues Sun., Nov. 12, at 7:30 pm, Balboa Theatre, 2630 Balboa, SF. $6-8.50. (415) 221-8184.]
The expat archivist and writer makes his near-annual pilgrimage to San Francisco with a flurry of shows teeming with goodies from his personal collection.
The author's cult gets another buck-up from the release of Norwegian director Bent Hamer;s first English-language feature, Factotum.
Ozon's Time to Leave demonstrates how central he's become to European cinema, and reminds us that he's among gay world cinema's most accomplished writer/directors.
Jean-Pierre Melville's remarkable 1969 nail biter is on a different plane than contemporary spy thrillers.
The third annual Icelandic Film Festival offers just two features and one short, but it's all very, very good.