Archive for san francisco

“White Light, Black Rain” (2007) Film Review

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , on December 1, 2008 by foggyfirstframes

Boy carrying baby after hiroshima attack.

Taken from the film 'White Light, Black Rain'

White Light, Black Rain (2007)

It appears that yet again, an independent film that I’ve never heard of has struck me straight down to the heart. Through to my bones, all the way down and even enveloping my emotions, I was sucked into this film. It was heart wrenching, but yet hopeful at the same time. It is hopeful in that this won’t ever happen again; should not happen ever again. The destruction that occurred in both Nagasaki and Hiroshima has gone untold until now. I never learned about this in grade school. I never knew the magnitude in this all but too famous bomb. Its effects are far reaching, and are still being felt today by the many survivors.

The surface of this film is largely the pure, raw emotion that is delivered by these survivors and their testimonies. The use of their own art was very effective at giving us the horrible imagery that they have witnessed. Then add onto that the archival footage and you get an-all-too-clear picture at what occurred on those days. It wasn’t even in one specific section of the movie, it kept happening throughout; almost like it was reminding you over and over at what this bomb did. When I learned about this whole fiasco in school, it was taught that the bomb just vaporized people instantly. But this movie reflected clearly that the majority of people suffered in the most inhumane way possible. So many stories stand out to me; the man who killed two people by giving them water; a boy who woke up to a skew of dead bodies all around him; a girl who had to turn away from a women with a headless baby in her arms. It sounded like an obscene horror film. I will not shy away and say that this movie didn’t make me emotional. I can’t say that I cried, but I certainly felt like it. Although the movie was quite sensationalist, I really thought that it was crucial for the film.

Drawing from a survivor who witnessed the nuclear bomb.

Drawing from a survivor who witnessed the nuclear bomb.

Another part of the film that went a bit deeper was the whole argument of whether or not the bomb should have been dropped. The director Okazaki in an interview with The Japan Times said, “(I’m tired of the political debate surrounding the dropping of the atomic bombs.) It was just this one day with no connection to the rest of the war. And the Americans tell it another way, a very defensive way, and they cite their statistics about why it was necessary. But this discussion doesn’t get anywhere; neither side meets the other in any way (The Japan Times). He left this whole argument out, and just told the story. It’s quite interesting because I found myself agreeing with the Japan side of the argument naturally, even though there really was no ‘debate.’ I especially remember thinking cynical thoughts when an American man said (roughly), “I’ve never had a bad dream about this particular event; in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had a nightmare.” First off, that’s completely untrue. Every single person has bad dreams and the fact that he doesn’t feel any emotional connection to it is atrocious. I especially was offended when one of them was smiling as he was discussing his experience as if it was a cheery subject. I’m glad that I walked away from the film feeling this animosity towards the Americans who were involved with the atomic bombs. The film was obviously completely neutral, but the fact that they showed the show about the pilot and Hiroshima victim making amends. Although touching, I didn’t see that same emotion from the other Americans involved with the bomb.

There were a couple of interesting techniques used through the film that I felt were used extremely well. One that stands out immensely was the memorial performance being put on by some artists. Along with a painter who was painting a portrayal of what the bomb looked like, there was a trumpeter playing. It was described in a quote,”sad waning of trumpets [that] enlighten the souls that have passed on and memorializes what they stood for” (IMDB). Another theme that kept coming up was what Japan urban areas looked and felt like. It was a great start to the documentary to show how most young people don’t really know about the two bombs. The shots of the survivors standing in the middle of crowded areas were outstanding to me. It almost portrayed the dichotomy of their lives versus the average lives of the people their today. An amazing thing that I didn’t know until I witnessed this film was how the survivors got treated horribly. Almost like a plague victim, they were shunned away and avoided. Not only did they have to live with their grotesque scars, but they had to live with the shame of not being a part of society ever again. As mentioned before, I very much enjoyed how the use of the survivor’s art was used. It truly represented what it was like in its own way, rather than an artist’s interpretation.

I’m glad that I got to see this movie because of how powerful an impact it has made on me. The whole Japan side of the story has been lost in terms of formal education, and this movie makes up for it. If I wanted to teach anyone about this event, this is the movie that I would have them watch. Not only does it explain everything in a factual neutral way, but the over lying message is: Don’t let this happen again! These survivors have gone through so much pain and turmoil already, let them be the last ones of our time.


Fazio, Giovanni . “Last words on hell from the skies.” The Japan Times. 02 Aug 2007. The Japan Times Ltd. 12 Nov 2008 <;.

Jamrite, “Powerful and heart wrenching documentary,.” Internet Movie Database. 08 Aug 2007., Inc.. 12 Nov 2008 <;.


“The Cockettes”

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , on October 28, 2008 by foggyfirstframes

 “The Cockettes”

Long hair, bright sequins, and drag queens; not what I expected when I popped in the DVD “The Cockettes”(2002).  Before the film even started there were men dressed as women and women with beards running around the screen and I wondered for a second if I had gotten the right film.  After last weeks adventure through the 1960s pornography I was prepared for anything, but drag queens? I didn’t see that one coming.  Well, even though the documentary was filled with unexpected nudity the film interested me and taught me more about San Francisco culture. 

I had never thought about where drag queens came from, or how they originated and became so popular in San Francisco, where gay pride is an important part of the city.  “The Cockettes” told the history of the dance troupe The Cockettes, and also an insight into the gay community of the 1960s and early ‘70s.  The film brought back to life a time in this city’s history that has been gone for quite some time now.  Directors Bill Weber, and David Weissman did a great job of compiling both recent footage of The Cockettes and old footage.  In a review for the Los Angeles Times, writer Kenneth Turan said, “[The directors] have used excellent interviews and remarkable vintage footage to illuminate a corner of half-forgotten countercultural history”(Turan).  I was shocked to find out that the footage they used was real vintage footage from the 1960s and ‘70s, giving the audience a chance to step back into the past to see a culture they are unfamiliar with.  And although some of the footage is very raw, it is still intriguing and has a history behind it.  The unrehearsed dialog is what came to define The Cockettes.  The long lashes and the nudity is what they did, along with many drugs that ended up killing many of the members along with the terrible AIDS epidemic.  Furthermore, it was a very nice change of pace at the end of the film when the former members took a moment to mention those that had lost their lives to either drugs or AIDS.

Also, a strong move by Weber and Weissman was getting former Cockettes to come back and tell their story.  Turan said, “[The filmmakers] have done a heroic job of getting the surviving Cockettes on film”(Turan).  By having the former Cockettes narrate the film, the documentary did not feel like a documentary, rather a few old friends getting together after ten years to tell their psychedelic story to their children.  The film became very personal because of this and a connection between audience and narrator was formed.  Also, it was very interesting to compare the older version to the younger and freer version of each of the narrators.  Reporter, A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times, “It is touching to see them now-grayer, stouter, in sportcoats and sensible blouses-alongside their young, flamboyantly dressed (and undressed) selves.  But it was so gratifying to see them preserved in their brief, glorious prime and to experience, even at second hand, the chaotic, inspired freedom they embodied”(Scott).  Seeing the drag queen right next to the perfectly normal average American was very weird, yet insightful.  It shows the audience who they used to be and who they have become without having to use any words.  This visual said more about the time period than all of the words in the film.

In addition to strong narration and use of photos Weber and Weissman did a good job of representing time in the film.  In a lot of documentaries the audience has no idea what time it is and is forced to guess throughout the film.  However, “The Cockettes” was different and represented time through a vintage slideshow.  This added character to the already unique film and also gave it a more professional appeal rather than just all fun and games.  Through these slides, the audience was able to keep track of significant events and keep everything in chronological order, which really helps the audience. 

Over all this film was very good and unique.  I would have never seen it on my own if I did not need to get a movie on reserve in the library, but I am very glad I chose that film.  It kept me interested for almost the entire feature and I did not even fall asleep, which is saying a lot considering how a lot of documentaries make me feel.  Whether it was the flowered head peaces or the extraordinary tassels, this film kept me dialed in for the entirety. 


Scott, A.O. “The Cockettes(2002) Film Review: Where the Drag Queens Wore Beards.” The New York Times. 28 June 2002. 14 Oct. 2008 <;.

Turan, Kenneth. “‘The Cockettes'” Los Angeles Times. 26 July 2002. 14 Oct. 2008 <,0,1788962.story&gt;.

Meet Rose

Posted in Individual Intros with tags , , on October 16, 2008 by foggyfirstframes
Windy day in the bay

Windy day in the bay

Hello, my name is Rose and I am a freshman at USF! I am originally from Placerville, California(a small city on the way to tahoe) and am so happy to be in San Francisco! I don’t think I’m ever going to leave!  For right now I am a media studies major, and up until this year I had planned on becoming a sports reporter, however plans change and mine has, next semester I will be switching to Exercise and Sports Science.  But, that does not mean that I am not interested in film, because I love watching movies!  Up until this year I didn’t know there was a difference between an independent film and a Hollywood film, so this class has been teaching me a lot about the diversity of film in San Francisco, which I am loving!  So, for the next couple of months you will be learning along with me about the different film venues in San Francisco; places I would not have known about had it not been for this independent cinema class.  So, I’ll see where this blog takes me and who knows maybe I’ll want to be a film critic when it is all done!

The First Foggy Post

Posted in Introduction with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by foggyfirstframes
Foggy Frisco

Foggy Frisco

At a loss for words, we are contemplating what we will bring to this blog. The opportunities are endless, and we are all thinking of what this next year will bring. Many of us are unfortunately absent, so all our voices are not being heard as of now, but this will hopefully change in due time.

The point of this space is for us to express our experiences that are happening throughout every day of our daily lives as Freshmen students here in San Francisco. Some are moving towards the more narrative side of film, that will surely feature landscapes throughout the bay area. Others are moving towards the documentary side, featuring the people and places of San Fran.

Many are trying to also focus on the Independent Film scene here in San Francisco. This includes interviewing filmmakers, and watching Independent Films throughout the many Independent venues that are scattered throughout the area.

Stay tuned…..