film

Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Meryl Cohen, David Fear, Dina Gachman, Susan Gerhard, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Patrick Macias, and Chuck Stephens. See Rep Clock and Movie Clock, for theater information.

San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival


The 27th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival takes place June 12-29. Venues are the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, S.F., and the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets may be purchased at the Castro Theatre (Mon-Fri, 2-7 p.m.; Sat-Sun, noon-7 p.m.) or at www.frameline.org/festival or (925) 866-9559. All times p.m. unless otherwise noted. For commentary, see last week's Bay Guardian; for schedule, check festival Web site.

Opening

Alex and Emma In Rob Reiner's latest romantic comedy, a novelist in trouble with loan sharks (Luke Wilson) hires a stenographer (Kate Hudson) to help speed the completion of his latest book. (1:40) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Oaks.

From Justin to Kelly From American Idol to the big screen. (1:22) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake.

The Hulk See "Hulk by Bulk," page 40. (2:18) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake, Jack London, Presidio.

Love the Hard Way See Movie Clock. (1:44) Opera Plaza.

*Whale Rider Director Niki Caro's adaptation of New Zealand author Witi Ihimaera's 1986 novel combines familiar coming-of-age elements with Maori mysticism to exceptionally engaging effect. Pubescent Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) has been raised by her strict but loving grandfather Koro (Rawiri Paratene) and more easygoing grandma (Vicky Haughton) since her artist dad left to travel the world. The latter (Cliff Curtis) was and is too grief-stricken to stay in the community – his wife died giving birth to Pai, and tribal chief Koro still pressures him to deliver a male grandchild who might one day "lead our people out of the darkness" that modern, Westernized life has imposed. But that ain't happening, so granddad opens a "sacred school" to educate local boys in "the old ways – the qualities of a chief." These involve everything from religious ritual to martial arts instruction. Koro is so rigidly tradition-minded that he insists girls are "worthless" in these capacities – though it's increasingly clear to everyone else that Pai possesses talent and discipline far beyond any male peers. The resulting, painful rift between child and grandparent reaches a climactic point of catastrophe and supernatural redemption that would be ludicrous in any less psychologically level-headed, stylistically astute context. A rare movie that should play just as well for eight-year-olds as it does for art-house grownups. (1:55) California, Bridge, Empire, Piedmont. (Harvey)

Ongoing

L'auberge espagnole (1:56) Act I and II, Embarcadero.

*Bend It like Beckham (1:42) Lumiere, Piedmont, Shattuck.

*Bowling for Columbine (1:59) Balboa.

Bruce Almighty (1:41) Balboa, California, Century Plaza, Century 20, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*Capturing the Friedmans (1:47) Act I and II, Embarcadero.

*City of God (2:10) Four Star.

Daddy Day Care (1:30) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*A Decade under the Influence (1:48) Four Star.

Down with Love (1:42) Balboa, Kabuki, Oaks, 1000 Van Ness.

*Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (1:15) Smith Rafael.

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson play the roles originated by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in this high school-era presequel to the 1994 movie that put the Farrelly brothers on the map ... the same map they've since kinda fallen off. The admitted half-Frito of a "plot" involves the boys' enrollment in a bogus Special Needs department devised solely so the principal (Eugene Levy) can embezzle extra school funds. The good news here is that as directed by Troy Miller, who cowrote with Robert Brenner, this film is looser than old pants on that Subway dieting poster boy. It digresses hither and yon, from childhood flashback to sexual fantasy to anatomical computer graphics to poo jokes. Of course, the results are scattershot, but you know you've done far worse in pursuit of lowbrow laughs. (1:25) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Harvey)

The Eye (1:38) Opera Plaza, Shattuck.

*Finding Nemo (1:41) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Orinda, Shattuck.

Hollywood Homicide A veteran LAPD detective (Harrison Ford) and his rookie partner (Josh Hartnett) investigate the murder of a rap group and dodge an internal affairs officer with a grudge. But even more pressing issues threaten the duo, namely, whether the elder cop can sell his real estate property or if the hunky younger police officer can get his nascent acting career off the ground. You'd swear writer-director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) had forgotten James Ellroy and James Thurber were two different people, sun-baking a hard-boiled cop thriller into a giddy Hell-Ay satire in which no one is who they really want to be. Shelton's trademark "regular guy" repartee seems at odds with the sitcom-level humor, however, and he seems less interested in parodying buddy-cop flicks than in finding a skeleton to hang his locker-room camaraderie dialogue and virility musings on. Even the fun of watching Ford send-up his flinty persona can't distract from the feeling that Shelton's forced genre marriage just can't find a solid footing. (1:51) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck. (Fear)

The Italian Job (1:43) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Orinda.

*Man on the Train (1:30) Lumiere, Shattuck.

*The Man Without a Past (1:37) Four Star.

Manito (1:15) Roxie.

*Marooned in Iraq (1:37) Oaks.

The Matrix Reloaded (2:18) Century 20, Grand Lake, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*A Mighty Wind (1:27) California, Lumiere.

The Nazi Officer's Wife (1:36) Balboa.

Nowhere in Africa (2:18) Four Star, Opera Plaza, Orinda, Shattuck.

'Oscar Nominated Shorts 2003' Galaxy.

*Raising Victor Vargas (1:40) Balboa, Opera Plaza, Shattuck.

Respiro (1:35) Embarcadero, Shattuck.

Rugrats Go Wild With a score featuring the stylings of Mark Mothersbaugh; the voices of Flea, L.L. Cool J, and Nancy Cartwright (better known as Bart Simpson); and a freaky attempt to bring back Smell-O-Vision, Rugrats is a cartoon circus on steroids. On an ill-fated family vacation, the shipwrecked Rugrats meet up with their Nickelodeon neighbors, the Wild Thornberries. Sir Nigel (Tim Curry) leads the way on this adventure on which bossy Angelica meets her match in teenybopper Debbie and Spike the dog (brought to life humorously by Bruce Willis) takes on a wild cat and saves the day. But in its desperate attempts to capture kids' fickle attention with sickly sweet scratch 'n' sniff cards (that all smell the same) and keep sure-to-be-bored parents from falling asleep with knowing nods to films like Titanic, the Perfect Storm, and From Here to Eternity, Rugrats is likely to make kids of all ages squirm in their seats. (1:21) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck. (Sabrina Crawford)

Spellbound (1:36) Embarcadero, Shattuck, Smith Rafael.

Together (1:46) Albany, Embarcadero, Empire.

*2 Fast 2 Furious (2:08) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck.

*Winged Migration (1:29) Albany, Clay, Empire, Piedmont, Smith Rafael.

Wrong Turn (1:21) Metreon.

*X2: X-Men United (2:15) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

Rep picks

'Hip Hop Film Festival' See 8 Days a Week, page 54. Roxie.

The Kids are United The Kids Are United is a crude but important memento recording the 1978 Reading Rock Festival, an annual U.K. event surprised that year by the introduction of punk bands – who are the sole focus here. Its audience of some 35,000 is far from punked-out as yet; most of them look like they'd be just as happy hearing Jethro Tull. Still, they take in stride performances by Pauline Murray's Penetration, an early-edition Ultravox, and others. The concert documentary's chosen headliners rep U.K. punk's already-divided soul: the Jam are all about songwriting and artistry, whereas Sham 69 (once gloriously described as "the archetypal working-class ramalama dole-queue band, deliverers of socio-political bromides over blazing guitars") fly the flag for "art"-free youth solidarity and rebellion. Interviews with their respective leaders, pretentious Paul Weller and charismatically not-so Jimmy Pursey, underline that separation. Well, the Jam's recordings endure as music, while Sham's are now just historically significant, like yesteryear's agitprop placards. But as this 45-minute souvenir makes clear, that pecking order was once vividly reversed. The sound is bad; the accents are nearly impenetrable. Still, Kids is a precious time-capsule for sure. Four Star. (Harvey)

*'Kung Fu Movie Madness' See "Punch-Drunk Love," page 42. Four Star.

*'Science in Action! A Craig Baldwin Retrospective' See Critic's Choice. San Francisco Cinematheque.

*Simon, King of the Witches "Hi, I'm Simon. I live in a storm drain." We're thus acquainted via direct camera address to our protagonist (Andrew Prine), a confessed Barry Gibb-looking "true magician" who's hauled to jail for vagrancy. There he befriends baby male hustler Turk (George Paulsin), who introduces Simon to the town's rich socialites and jaded thrill seekers. They treat him as a humorous party favor, but soon discover Simon's powers are no laughing matter. This unique 1971 obscurity takes him seriously, too. As played by Prine, Simon is no conventional Satanic ghoul but a pragmatic, smart, droll businessperson who only gets riled when somebody gets between him and his goal of becoming a god. Directed by Bruce Kessler, a TV veteran associated with every classic series from I Dream of Jeannie and The Monkees to The A-Team and Baywatch Nights, this isn't a horror movie so much as a genuine occult drama. It actually could use a little more horror content – the midsection, overconcerned with Simon's by-the-unholy-book rituals, slows things down. Nonetheless, with its boutique-hippie stylization and unpredictable turns, this is an exceptionally cool Werepad-presented find, shown tonight in a rare 35mm print. It's double-billed with Werepad warlock king Jacques Boyreau's delicious and delirious recent Barbarella-style featurette, Candy von Dewd. Four Star. (Harvey)

*Style Wars One of the greatest hip-hop films of all time was a PBS documentary that wasn't even about rap music. First shown on public television in 1983, Style Wars set out to document the graffiti writers who had all but sprayed over public spaces throughout New York, especially the subways, which became mural space for innovative artistry. The movie profiles the personalities behind the paint, as well as the political controversy sparked by what city officials saw as a desecration of public property. Despite the intervening 20 years, it's a testament to the film's influence that in practically any city, anywhere, you'll find youth seeking to leave their mark on society by marking up society. This screening celebrates the first-ever release of Style Wars on DVD and is hosted by director Tony Silver and producer-partner Henry Chalfant, with a question-and-answer session to follow. Soluna Lounge. (Oliver Wang)


June 25, 2003