Saturday, January 14, 2017

Movie Nights

Joshua Kosman has an excellent article in the Chron about symphony orchestras that are scheduling movie screenings enhanced by live performances of the film scores. He chats with orchestra administrators, conductor / composer David Newman, and some fans about these programs.

Joshua mentions the appeal of seeing these films with better sound than you will get anywhere else. I think there's the additional appeal of seeing a classic film on a really big screen. The disappearance of repertory movie theaters means it's almost impossible to see these movies other than on DVD. Yes, there are occasional special showings such as the Paramount classic film series or the unbelievably great showing of Abel Gance's Napoleon, which was also at the Paramount, under the aegis of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Alas, these are sadly rare.

The article says that SFS started its series in 2013. I have no doubt that the date is correct, but there were occasional showings of films-with-live-orchestra before that. I attended a summertime showing of great cartoons with live original scores a good long time ago, and they've done a couple of those since. There was also a showing of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times with what I recall was Chaplin's own scoring.*

Joshua has a very nice ca-CHUNG at the end of a craftily ordered sentence: "....and his cousin Randy." Read it for yourself.

Lastly, you have to wonder why on earth SFS hasn't yet done any of the films scored by Korngold:
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
  • Captain Blood (1935)
  • Anthony Adverse (1936)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  • Juarez (1939)
  • The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
  • The Sea Hawk (1940)
  • The Sea Wolf (1941)
Perhaps they could even have Olivia de Havilland, still living at age 100, as a special guest. She is in a couple of the above films.

* My experience of Modern Times was not ideal; an usher refused to admit me because the lights had gone down two minutes before I got to the door to the theater. My seat was on the aisle in the last row of Davies and the film hadn't started yet. I was seated elsewhere but spent the first half-hour of the film in a pissed-off state of mind, because seating me would have disturbed no one.


Russell said...

I think De Haviland lives in Paris, so it might be difficult for her to travel fro there to the bay at her age.

mountmccabe said...

I liked seeing 2001 on the big screen, but the downsides were not minor. It was like seeing the film in a theater with 3000 people. They got up in the middle, talked throughout, and treated the event like it was over as soon as the credits started rolling even though the SFS played the waltz again (all the way through).

It was great to hear all that Ligeti live, though I'd much prefer to attend a regular concert that featured his work.

JSC said...

I've been to two of these - Psycho and E.T. - and really enjoyed them. I don't think they did it with Psycho but they put an intermission in the middle of E.T. after the iconic flying bicycle scene and totally messed up the flow of the movie and music for me. Then of course there was a more casual audience than usual and they cheered and clapped all through the movie and such. In all though I do like the film series and will taking a few friends to see them show & play Raiders of the Ark in April and am eager to see what others they will offer. (I'd love to see Jurassic Park done and have suggested it in one of those SFS surveys that come around every so often. It has another one of my most favorite JW scores.)