Magical moments at SFIFF 2016

by Pam Grady

2016_SFIFF posterThe Coen family has taken over the Bay Area in the first half of 2016. First, Frances McDormand, wife of Joel Coen, played to sold out houses with her turn as Lady Macbeth in Berkeley Rep’s production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Now, her husband and his brother Ethan are a star attraction alongside Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus/Criterion when the San Francisco International Film Festival awards its Mel Novikoff Award to Janus Films and The Criterion Collection on Saturday, April 30, at the Castro Theatre. The siblings’ first feature Blood Simple, the tense, bewitching neo-noir in which McDormand made her debut as barkeep Dan Hedaya’s cheating spouse, screens as well in what is sure to be a magical afternoon. Continue reading

Asian Cinema Comes to San Francisco

Some of the most exciting  cinema today is created by Asian and Asian American filmmakers. They represent an incredible array of cultures and each year CAAMFest is a perfect opportunity for the San Francisco Bay Area to explore new worlds through the moving image.

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents its annual celebration along with plenty of parties and special events to accompany the films at CAAMFest 2016 playing through March 20 in San Francisco and Oakland.

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Women flout social norms in Hollywood Before the Code

by Pam Grady

“Every train carries its cargo of sin,” says the Rev. Mr. Carmichael (Lawrence Grant) as the journey gets underway in Shanghai Express (1932), the fourth of seven collaborations between star Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg. The cargo in this case is two ladies whose reputation precedes them — Chinese courtesan Hui Fei (Anna May Wong) and the notorious white “coaster” — a local euphemism for prostitute — known as Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich). They are but two of the fallen women to be found in Elliot Lavine and I WAKE UP DREAMING’s latest festival of classics, Hollywood Before the Code, screening at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre for six consecutive Wednesdays beginning Feb. 24. Continue reading