Friday, June 08, 2012

PFA Screens Two Greenaway Films;
SF Film Society & 'The Wages of Fear'

The film choices around the Bay Area in the next week include two films by British director and provocateur Peter Greenaway at the Pacific Film Archive on the UC Berkeley campus. From the program notes:

In 2006, he undertook to extend his dialogue between the language of cinema and that of painting through an ambitious project of video installations entitled [...] Greenaway first turned his attention to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (1642), and, in addition to a video installation, created two films exploring the Dutch master’s most famous painting. You’ll want to take note of Greenaway’s speculative art history lessons. He elucidates the puzzles and mysteries embedded in the painting and its enigmatic iconography with wit and intelligence.

The PFA is showing "Rembrandt's J'Accuse" tonight at 7 p.m. and "Nightwatching" on Saturday at 6 p.m. Having seen a number of his other films and enjoyed them immensely for their visual lushness, and assorted provocations, I'm looking forward to catching these works that are new to me. Regardless of their narratives, they won't be boring and will contain many incredibly composed scenes pleasing to the eye.

When the PFA showed Greenaway's most popular and accessible film "The Draughtsman's Contract" about two-years ago, the screening almost sold-out, so expect a full house at both screenings this weekend. Click here for more info, including how to buy tickets.

Here in the city, the San Francisco Film Society Cinema begins a one-week engagement of the restored print of the 1953 French classic "The Wages of Fear", written and directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot that is a fantastic thriller in glorious black and white.

Four male ex-pat adventurers in South American sign on for a well-paying suicide mission, to drive a cargo of nitroglycerine across treacherous roads to douse an oil well explosion. Distrust, greed and lust rear their ugly heads in the course of the adventure and Clouzot keeps the action moving smoothly forward toward a satisfying climax.

I've seen it only once, back in the day at New York's old Thalia Theatre, and the print was decent enough, and the two things I remember the most are the expert editing and the performance by the director's wife Vera Clouzot, playing a local waitress. The restored print showings should not be missed, especially if you've never seen "The Wages of Fear".

You can see it starting today through June 14. Click here for screening times and ticket info.

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