Friday, July 19, 2013

Jason goes to SilentFest--Opening Night

The most intense cinephile long weekend of the year in San Francisco started, and I was at the Castro for it. The 18th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicked off in high style with my favorite--Louise Brooks.

PRIXE DE BEAUTÉ (1930): Louise Brooks' final starring role in a feature, right on the cusp of the sound era. There was a sound and silent version released, as was common for features in that transitional period. It would be wrong for me to declare a favorite, since I haven't seen the sound version, but the silent version is undoubtedly better. Lulu plays Lucienne, a typist in a French newspaper. On a lark--and over the objections of her boyfriend--she enters a beauty contest. And, of course, she wins (Incidentally, the contest is judged by the audience's applause, and in a moment that encapsulates everything I love about SFSFF audiences, when the on-screen audience was clapping for her, the Castro audience clapped as well.) That puts her in the running for Miss France, which she wins, and subsequently becomes Miss Europe (which is an alternate title the movie was released under.) Fame, glamour, rich (or at least faux-rich) suitors...but this is a Louise Brooks film, so it can't end happily. Like so many of her movies--and her life--there's a dark side to the adoration her beauty brings her. On the one side she has glamour but tons of leering, kinda slimy suitors. On the other side is her boyfriend who just wants her to come home, marry him, and lead the simple life they had planned before. Not to give too much away, but one choice leads to misery, the other to tragedy. Gorgeous star, excellent cinematography, and a sad, sad ending. That's a Louise Brooks movie all right.

The amazing Stephen Horne accompanied on the piano, flute, accordion,...and I think he might have invented a few new musical instruments in the meantime.

Then a good walk to the after party at McCroskey Mattress Company. A good bit of free alcohol and generous portions of free food (which was good, since I had skipped dinner in my rush to the theater.) Catching up with the friends whom I only see at these events (my one-weekend-a-year best friends.) Then back home, get a little sleep, and back to work. I'm working during the day today (Friday) so I'll miss the matinee shows, but I'll be back at the Castro for THE PATSY at 7:00.

Total Running Time: 113 minutes
My Total Minutes: 333,649
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