The San Francisco International Film Festival kicks off tonight with a screening of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs. Though your blogger's catching a Duras flick instead (figuring Micmacs'll be back around shortly during its run in the US), here's a list of stuff that at least one of us on the Jaman staff are gonna see in the next two weeks. Sketchy notes at best, I'm afraid - there's so much to see!
Nymph - It's been too long since Thailand New Wave filmmaker Pen-Ek Ratanaruang had something screening over here. Really looking forward to this erotically-charged fantasy.
Transcending Lynch - a debut doc from Marcos Andrade captures the meditative side of filmmaker David Lynch. Having read Lynch's remarkable tome Catching the Big Fish, I'm excited to see more of his insight into Transcendental Meditation, which has informed his process and his life since Eraserhead.
Vengeance - Johnnie To's gotten the gang back together for another gangland saga (Lam Suet! Simon Yam! Ka Tum Lang! ANTHONY WONG, for crine out loud!), but we're particularly eager to see what French crooner Johnny Hallyday (below) brings to To's opus in the leading role of a Frenchman in Macau, seeking revenge for the gangland attack on his daughter's family.
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno - Several months ago I squealed over this movie in the forums. That this evocative reconstruction of a thwarted masterpiece by a visionary filmmaker on overdrive should appear on screen less than a year later (on my birthday, no less), is concrete proof that wishes really do come true.
White Material - Because 35 Shots of Rum simply wasn't/weren't enough, we're really happy to see a fresh Claire Denis film making the rounds. Denis' reflective touch is sure to make this tale of a family on the frontlines of a brewing civil war absolutely unforgettable.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea - The traditional silent-film-with-new-score is always an event (which resonates spectacularly in the Castro Theatre), and Stephin Merritt's score for this imaginative film is sure to be a delight. That Merritt has drafted the Castro's ace organist David Hegarty for the performance is icing on the cake.
The State of Cinema Address - It's always healthy to round out one's festival experience with a live event, and SFIFF's State of Cinema Address has consistently offered food for thought. Editor/sound designer Walter Murch is a ridiculously great choice to deliver the address, and what he's chosen to discuss - his speculations on what cinema would look and feel like had it been invented in the 18th century - is sure to be nothing short of mind-blowing.
And there's a whole bunch of stuff that an entry here can't possibly cover (the Roger Ebert tribute and the screening of Ang Lee's cut of Ride With The Devil look particularly sweet). The selection is the strongest it's been in years, and we hope to see some of you there. If you wind up at any of the screenings, pop on by the Forums and let us know what you saw and what you thought!