Giving Eliot Lavine An SF Film Lover Sendoff

Bay Area film lovers, particularly those fond of film noir, owe a humongous debt of gratitude to film programmer Eliot Lavine. Now the revered programmer is upping stakes to relocate north to Portland. Before he goes, though, take in this week’s prime special screening. In honor of the genre Eliot Lavine loves, the Roxie hosts a quartet of films noir ranging from Lavine favorites to a modern neo-noir. So come on by and join friends and colleagues in enjoying great crime films and publicly roasting Lavine.

A Canterbury Tale

The famed British directing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger helm this WW II-era idyll. Three heartbroken people (an American GI, a young land girl, and a British soldier) travelling through the Kent countryside accidentally retrace the ancient pilgrim’s route to Canterbury Cathedral. The trio encounter locals affected by the war. More importantly, they find the inspiration to transcend wartime hardship. The film contains footage of the Cathedral’s ruins, courtesy of the Blitz.

(Screens December 7 at the Pacific Film Archive. The film is screening as part of the series “Arrows of Desire: The Films of Powell and Pressburger.”)

Lavine On The Lam!

Help send off legendary SF Bay Area film programmer Eliot Lavine before he leaves for Portland, Oregon! The Roxie Theatre hosts a quartet of film noirs to celebrate the occasion. The program consists of two personal Lavine favorites (Detour and The Big Combo), a noir “B” rarity (I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes, from the mind of noir master and December 4 birthday boy Cornell Woolrich), and an acclaimed example of modern-day neo-noir (The Woman Chaser). Along the way, Eliot Lavine will get publicly roasted by friends and fans. So come say goodbye to a Bay Area cinephile treasure.

(Screens December 4 at the Roxie Theatre. Program passes are sold out, but tickets to individual screenings may still be available at the Box Office.)

Lost Landscapes Of San Francisco 11

Rick Prelinger’s popular annual program of vintage footage of lost San Francisco returns to the Castro Theatre. See on the Castro screen the San Francisco celebrations, architecture, and people who no longer exist in person but live on in your memories. Share your knowledge with fellow local history devotees.

(Screens December 6 and 7 at the Castro Theatre.)

Night Of The Comet

This film is the love child of Valley Girl and Dawn of the Dead. After a majestic comet passes through Earth’s night sky, practically all of humanity has been reduced to red calcium dust. Two girls who have escaped this fate are high school sisters Reggie and Samantha. Every other survivor is a flesh-eating zombie, a Santa-suited jerk, or a scientist seeking test subjects. The two teenage girls struggle to machine-gun their way past these monstrous survivors to reach the mall. Now that the end of the world has happened, the teens realize the newest fashions are now free!

(Screens December 6 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.)

Perpetual Motion, Program Seven: Cinema of Confrontation/The End

S.F. Cinematheque closes out its Performance Cinema series with two pieces by Bruce McClure and Greg Pope & Sult. Performance Cinema, for the uninitiated, is an avant-garde moving image art spectacle. Its practitioners treat the projected image and its accompanying technology as something to be burned, mutilated, or otherwise destroyed in hopes of provoking the audience to challenge the norms of visual culture.

This final show features Skeleton (Greg Pope & Sult), a dance macabre which uses slide projectors, Scandinavian acoustic noise, and flicker devices to evoke both ancient campfires and supernatural presences seemingly living in the flames. Performance cinema powerhouse Bruce McClure bookends Pope and Sult’s piece with two sets of his Rotorattlers. Taking flickering film loops and 3000 watt atomic strobes, among other equipment, McClure strips cinema down to its basic components of light, sound, and darkness.

(Screens December 7 at Grey Area/Grand Theatre.)

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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