Escape from New York: San Jose

by robbiefreeling
April 11, 2011 10:40 AM
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Many of Reverse Shot's staff writers and contributors come from and reside in locations all over the U.S. and beyond. Escape from New York is a new column devoted to reminding us Manhattan-and-Brooklyn-centric moviegoers that we are not the world when it comes to cinephila. In the following weeks and months, look for dispatches by a handful of our best writers from such far-flung locations as Taipei, Tel Aviv, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and more.

Mo’ Silicon Valley Blues
By Fernando F. Croce

I chose cinema early on in life. (Or did it choose me?) Some three decades ago in my native São Paulo, I befuddled my parents by turning down a trip to the Brazilian equivalent of Disneyland in favor of a matinee screening of Robert Altman’s Popeye. The ensuing years would bring countless cinematic findings, yet it wasn’t until I moved to San Jose, California, that I first became aware of the idea of a community of fellow film-lovers. Up to then, movie-watching even in the most packed theaters had struck me as an essentially solitary act; these were secluded moments of thrilling discovery savored but seldom shared. It was during my junior year at San Jose State, following a visit to the university’s unofficial film club—a gaggle of stoners watching Yasujiro Ozu’s Equinox Flower on a TV, basically—that my exploration of the area’s extracurricular cinematic possibilities took off.

However, as I read about the evolved film communities of other cities in the country and abroad, the enthusiasm became laced with envy: where the hell was San Jose’s Film Forum, its Cinematheque française, its Angelika? For a while, adventurous screenings seemed to take place only in the distance, beneath the Gaston Leroux–worthy chandeliers of San Francisco’s Castro Theatre or in the august, classroom-like arrangements of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). Indeed, it was during a two-part screening of Out 1 at the PFA in the early 2000s, surrounded by true believers who had come prepared with blankets and lunchboxes to take on Jacques Rivette’s legendary 13-hour behemoth, that I first felt the buzz of communal cinephilia. There was something about strangers making their way through that marathon riddle together, suffering through it and delighting in it and peppering each other with queries and interpretations and recommendations during the intervals, that was both comforting and revelatory. Continue reading.

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