Pacific Film Archive: Back Tonight!

Categories: Film

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By Meredith Brody

During the Pacific Film Archive’s 2 ½ week closure, local repertory-cinema addicts were crying in their beer, jonesing for the Bay Area’s best-programmed and best-projected mix of current and past trends in world cinema. Cry no more, film fans: The Archive is roaring back into action tonight, with a calendar for the rest of May and June that is an artful mix of nostalgia and futurism, action and reflection, commercial films and experimental video. In its wide, hectic, eclectic range, it offers something for everyone (and everything for some of us, who will be staking out a seat in the PFA’s screening room several nights a week).

The excitement begins with a nine-film hommage to Hong Kong action director Johnie To, running from tonight, May 29, through June 27. For fans of such directors as John Woo and Tsui Hark, who famously influenced Quentin Taratino, To, who stayed true to his Hong Kong roots, makes kinetic, action-packed genre thrillers featuring charismatic men with guns. His bravura, over-the-top action sequences put the ballet back in balletic violence.

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder made Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on Alfred Doblin’s 1929 novel, in 14 episodes for German television in 1980. American audiences originally saw it serially in movie theaters in the early 80s. The PFA is showing the recently restored 15 ½ hour series [http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries/berlin_alexanderplatz2008], in approximately four-hour chunks, over four evenings: Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31, and Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7. (If you’d rather see Berlin Alexanderplatz in SF, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is screening the series June 5 through the 28.

Other intriguing PFA programs in the May-June calendar include a day devoted to local SF artist Lynn Herman Leeson’s video works, in an eight-hour marathon screening on June 1; an exciting series of punk music in performance films; screenings of Austrian filmmaker Axel Corti’s holocaust trilogy, Where To and Back; a seven-film series devoted to the dark films of contemporary Turkish auteur Zeki Demirkubuz [http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries/demirkubuz2008]; and, for the cherry on the sundae, eleven movies starring Warner Brothers contract player Joan Blondell, ranging from Pre-Code sass through Forties noir up to Seventies Cassavetes improv.

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