September 1st – 3rd: Vertigo (Castro Theatre)
I’ve seen quite a bit of Alfred Hitchcock films and this one doesn’t even crack my top 5. I’m not saying that this is in any way a bad film, just that there are 5 of his which are better. But ever since Sight & Sound magazine named this the new greatest movie of all time, overthrowing Citizen Kane, I’ve been meaning to give this classic another chance. Maybe seeing it on a large screen will change my mind as to where it ranks in my top 5 Hitchcock films, but I doubt it. As good as Vertigo may be, I can’t see it overthrowing my current favorite Hitchcock films; Psycho, Rope, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, or The Lady Vanishes. But who knows, after the Castro screening I could change my mind.
September 7th: Reservoir Dogs/Hard 8 AKA Sydney (Castro Theatre)
This month my beloved Castro Theatre is rolling out the red carpet for two of today’s most original filmmakers working within the Hollywood system, Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. These two talents stand out above most other contemporarily popular filmmakers in that both of them have written all of their scripts as well as shot all their films on actual film, if you discount the Tarantino digital short he did for Four Rooms, that is.
In Quentin Tarantino‘s debut Reservoir Dogs, most of the action takes place between a colorful bunch, in name and character, who find themselves holed up in a warehouse after a jewelry heist gone bad where they are faced with the decision of which one amongst them is a rat. And you thought Tarantino’s follow-up Pulp Fiction was the epitome of cool? When it comes to exuding cool, I’ll take Res Dogs over the Pulp any day. Exhibit A: The execution of Tim Roth‘s well rehearsed speech. I can list at least 10 other exhibits, but I’m trying to keep these brief.
Of all the movies that have followed in the wake of Pulp Fiction, PTA’s debut feature Hard Eight AKA Sydney, is perhaps the only one to hold any cinematic worthwhile weight to it. John C. Reilly plays a naive gambler who gets taken under the wing of the more experienced father figure type of Phillip Baker Hall, who unquestionably gives his best performance to date. To say anymore would surely ruin the fun of seeing this for the first time, as I’m sure that this is PTA’s least seen film, especially amongst mainstream audiences. However, I will add that elements such as violence, guilt, redemption, dark humor, and blackmail exist in an impressively smart script. Little funny side note, the last element, blackmail, gets introduced by a character in the film played by Samuel L. Jackson, who, as it turns out, happens to be, you guessed it – a black male. Read More…