The great thing about the second annual West Coast Film Festival is it gives people of a certain age a chance to see classic films on the big screen that they have probably only taken in before on small screens.
Running Sunday through Thursday, this year's run flashes 22 films in San Juan Capistrano's Regency theater as well as three new fest venues: the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano Regional Library and St. Margaret's Episcopal School's new performing arts center, also in SJC.
There is something for everyone, from Dolphin Tale and Space Jam, to Viva Las Vegas and the 2011 documentary Shakespeare High.
Special events include Sunday afternoon's reception with Warner Bros./John Wells Productions film and music executive Ann Karlin Klein, to be followed by a screening of Chariots of Fire, and Monday morning's rolling of For the Soul of Rafael, a 1920 silent that was shot in San Juan Capistrano and will be accompanied by a talk with Hugh Neely of the Mary Pickford Society. Visit westcoastfilmfest.com for times, tickets and other information.
Meanwhile, here are five West Coast Film Festival flicks I'm itching to see on the big screen:
If John Ford's 1956 western was not the first to establish the anti-hero character type who would come roaring into theaters and stay there a decade later, his lead John Wayne certainly set the bar high for others who followed. It's 1868, and conflicted veteran of the Confederacy Ethan Edwards (The Duke) is part of a posse led by Ward Bond to find Comanches who killed members of Edwards' family and abducted his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood). How Edwards wants to deal with what the posse finds is shocking. It's a big, sweeping story with larger-than-life performances shot to be projected large. San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, La Sala 31495 El Camino Real. 8 p.m. Mon. $10.
The one Akira Kurosawa picture I have not seen (and what can now be only the second to Ran I have seen on the big screen) is based on the ever-imaginative master filmmaker's actual dreams throughout his life. There are seven dreams covered in this 1990 film that chooses visuals over dialogue, including one (subtitled “Crows”) that stars Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van Gogh. I'm guessing it was a dream with Van Gogh in it, not of Marty playing the painter. But having George Lucas light “Crows” was surely in the dream, too. Regency Theatres, 26762 Verdugo St., San Juan Capistrano. 4 p.m. Tues. $10.
Steve McQueen's car chases in the streets of San Francisco were engagingly terrifying enough on the boob tube when I first caught Peter Yates' 1968 thriller that I can only imagine how glorious those scenes would be on the big screen. McQueen plays Lt. Frank McQueen, “some other kind of cop,” who clashes with authority figures as a mob snitch his department is protecting turns up shot. San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, La Sala 31495 El Camino Real. 11 a.m. Wed. $10.
Everyone has a picture or seven that, every time it's on, and no matter where it is in the story, you stop and watch. A cable channel recently played the hell out of Arthur Penn's very loose account of bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, played by a smoldering Faye Dunaway and tortured Warren Beatty respectively. I could not press the remote to switch channels whenever it came on screen. I was much too young in 1967 to want to see this on the big screen, let alone do so. Can't wait now. Just typing this I'm hearing Dunaway's twangy, “We. Rob. Banks.” San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, La Sala 31495 El Camino Real. Noon Thurs. $10.
OK, to be honest, this was the first title that really got me excited about a big-screen showing. The Wild Bunch and Reservoir Dogs are on my short list–and would there even be a Reservoir Dogs without The Wild Bunch? Sam Peckinpah took ultra-violence to shocking levels in this 1969 western about aging outlaws (including William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Warren Oates) struggling on the Tex-Mex border with the “modern” times of 1913. This would inspire countless filmmakers along the way. “BITCH!” Just that final shootout alone . . . Regency Theatres, 26762 Verdugo St., San Juan Capistrano. 7 p.m. Thurs. $15.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.