Thursday, September 30, 2010

Light, Shadow and Synergy - von Sternberg and Dietrich, Part I

Josef von Sternberg is recalled first and foremost as the filmmaker who, 80 years ago, introduced the cinematic persona adopted by Marlene Dietrich as her own, on screen and off, for most of the rest of her life. It is less well known that before their fabled association von Sternberg had already earned a name for himself as an accomplished, if temperamental, director. His artistic reputation peaked during the years 1930 - 1935, when he directed seven films starring Dietrich.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2011 TCM Classic Film Festival Dates Set

Tonight at 8pm, on Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne announced the dates for TCM's 2011 Classic Film Festival in Hollywood: April 28 - May 1.

Passes will go on sale in November, but early birds can get started by making reservations now at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel which will once again serve as the official hotel and headquarters for the festival.

Screenings and events will also take place at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Mann's Chinese 6 and the Egyptian Theatre.

Last year more than 20,000 attended TCM's inaugural festival - people from 44 states, Washington DC, two US territories and six foreign countries...I have a feeling it will be even bigger this year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Rafael, My Local Theater

The Rafael Theater in San Rafael, California, began life as the Orpheus Theater in 1918, long before the Golden Gate Bridge connected Marin County to the city of San Francisco. A first-run movie house, the Orpheus was razed by fire and resurrected as the art moderne Rafael in 1938.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused significant damage to the building and the Rafael closed for ten years. In 1998 reconstruction began. The theater was gutted and renovated and reopened in 1999. Today it is a three-screen art/indie/revival house operated as a non-profit by the California Film Institute and has been renamed the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Theater.

The Mill Valley Film Festival, which runs from October 7 - 17 this year (2010) and will honor such luminaries as Annette Bening, Edward Norton, Sam Rockwell, Ryan Gosling and Julian Schnabel, screens many of the festival films at the Rafael.

In the last few years I've seen quite a variety of films at the theater - La Vie en Rose (Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance and attended the Rafael premiere), Starting Out in the Evening (featuring a remarkable performance by Frank Langella), Francis Coppola's Tetro (a film that brought Luchino Visconti to mind) and the Swedish sensation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Most recently I attended a screening of the silent version of Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1930) with accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra (click here for my post  about it) and a free-to-the-public presentation of Hitchcock's North by Northwest (click here for the post).

A few years ago the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night was screened on the exterior of the Rafael. The street was closed to traffic and filled with people sitting and standing and singing along with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Some of the Rafael's illustrious guests...

Barbara Hale

Ray Harryhausen


Helen Mirren

Francis Ford Coppola