“Pandora’s Box” – A Stunning Film on the Big Screen at the Spectacular Paramount

By Nancy Friedman

(April 25, 2023)

Maligned, misunderstood, and mercilessly censored when it was released in 1929 – and virtually forgotten for the next three decades – Pandora’s Box (Die Büchse der Pandora) is today acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. That honor is attributable in part to the artistry of director Georg Wilhelm Pabst and cinematographer Günther Krampf, two giants of German film. But the film’s real magic resides in the indelible performance of its American star, Louise Brooks, whom the film historian David Thomson has called “one of the most mysterious and potent figures in the history of the cinema.” The British film critic Pamela Hutchinson has said that Brooks – with her impish smile, dancer’s lithe body, and gleaming black helmet of bobbed hair – “both defines the Roaring Twenties and stands outside it. She is timeless.” 

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By Meredith Brody

(November 5, 2022)

San Francisco is lucky to have Donald Malcolm’s French Noir Series, The French Had a Name for It at the Roxie.

The upcoming festival programs 15 films over four days at the Little Roxie, and once again I will be there for all of it.  It unspools on Sunday November 6 and Monday November 7, and the following on Saturday November 12  and Sunday November 13.    

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More Loudly Anticipating the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Part Two- What I Will Be Seeing

By Meredith Brody

May 4, 2022

I learned my lesson early with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival: GO TO EVERYTHING.

The first year I attended, I cherry-picked only the movies I hadn’t seen before.  The ones I went to were such a revelation – both in the presentation and the group experience – that my heart hurt as I walked away.  What a MAROON I was. Even a movie I thought I knew well would be a fresh experience, featuring as it did not only live music, but one of the world’s great audiences. There’s a kind of euphoria that sets in when you commit to seeing everything on offer. Continue reading

This Ocean Film Festival Does More Than See the Sea

By Nancy Friedman

April 1, 2022

Here’s what you can expect at any film festival: new films, fun swag, revealing Q&A sessions with filmmakers, stimulating conversations in the lobby or in the line for the restrooms. At the International Ocean Film Festival—North America’s oldest and largest ocean film festival–you can expect all that and something more: a call to action.

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By C.J. Hirschfield

March 14, 2022

Cinema junkies forgive iconic documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman for the length of some of his works that venture deep into American institutions; his most recent City Hall covering the government of Boston clocked in at four and a half hours. We absolve him because he is so good at taking us inside worlds that we don’t know, as his camera disappears and we learn so much by listening and observing, happy to have made the journey.

Comparisons to Wiseman’s work are inevitable as we describe the numerous joys of Maria Speth’s new documentary, Mr. Bachmann and his Class, the closing night film at Berlin & Beyond 2022, at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. It is now streaming on MUBI. Continue reading