Calling all boozehounds! Tomorrow night, Comedy Central's popular Drunk History series takes on the great, liquid courage-infused city of San Francisco.
Host Derek Waters — a veteran guest of the San Francisco International Film Festival, with this past year's "Inside the Drunken Mind of Derek Waters" and 2010's "A Drunken Evening with Derek Waters" (sense the theme?) — guides this weekly stumble through history, which features sloshed, slurring storytellers narrating re-enactments of great (or not-so-great) moments in time. Read more »
Remember that brief, exciting period last year when Woody Allen sightings were being breathlessly reportedon 'round town, particularly in the Mission? Here's your chance to see Allen's take on San Francisco (it ain't exactly glossy) in Blue Jasmine, which boasts a stellar performance by likely Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett as someone you would not want to have as a houseguest. Dennis Harvey's take on the film here.
Also opening today: a doc about Napster, a so-so biopic of political theorist Hannah "Banality of Evil" Arendt, an action flick for Denzel Washington completists, and likely Oscar nominee (um...) Smurfs 2. What can I say...if you're not a Woody Allen fan, it's kind of a slower week. Read on for short reviews.
FILMBefore Nancy Grace and 24-hour news channels turned every vaguely salacious story into a screaming headline — and before TMZ.com and Twitter captured and exploded every dark urge in the American heart — there was a more innocently lurid time. Proudly sordid news shows like Hard Copy and A Current Affair zeroed in on names like "Menendez" and "Bobbitt." Sally Jessy Raphael investigated "Satanic baby breeders." A white supremacist threw a chair into Geraldo Rivera's face. Read more »
This week: the 33rd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival takes off with screenings all over the Bay Area; check out my take on some of the documentary selections here. Also, the harrowing documentary Blackfish opens, a film that will make you never want to visit SeaWorld again (with good reason). My interview with the film's director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, here.
Elsewhere, Hollywood hopes you're ready for yet more claw-bearing Hugh Jackman (in The Wolverine), Danish actor Mads Mikklesen shines as a falsely-accused man in The Hunt; indie darling Andrew Bujalski delivers what may be his finest film to date with Computer Chess; a majorly great/bad/quotable/mind-blowing cult film plays the Clay's midnight series; and more. Read on for our short takes.
FILM The 911 call placed from SeaWorld Orlando on February 24, 2010 imparted a uniquely horrific emergency: "A whale has eaten one of the trainers." That revelation opens Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Blackfish, a powerful doc that puts forth a compelling argument against keeping orcas in captivity, much less making them do choreographed tricks in front of tourists at Shamu Stadium.Read more »
Those long, well-dressed lines wrapping around the Castro Theatre signal the advent of the annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, now in its 18th year and popular as ever. Though the fest opened last night, programming continues through the weekend; check out my take on some of the films (including one of tonight's selections, 1928 rom-com The Patsy) here.
Elsewhere, in first-run and rep theaters, it's a robust week for openings. There's something for nearly every age and appetite (plus a few recommendations on what to avoid) in the short reviews below.
It was, people said, Connecticut's version of the In Cold Blood murders. In July 2007, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, were murdered by a pair of strangers — Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, who'd picked the family at random — while patriarch William Petit lay bound and beaten in the basement of their suburban home. He survived; the women perished either at the hands of their attackers or in the fire the men set to cover their tracks.
Clearly, the bare facts of the case — which took place in Cheshire, Conn., a bedroom community near New York City — are horrific enough, without considering any of its other elements. But The Cheshire Murders, created for HBO's Summer Documentary Series by married filmmaking team Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (2010's Stonewall Uprising), reveals that the deaths may have been preventable if only police had intervened; a frantic bank teller dialed 911 after observing a frightened Jennifer Petit withdrawing a large sum of money for the waiting Hayes. Or, perhaps the family would have been spared if Komisarjevsky and Hayes, men with long rap sheets, had been more closely monitored by their parole officers and drug counselors — or had received better mental-health care during their respective troubled childhoods.
But all the "what if" scenarios in the world can't restore three lives — or fill the void felt by those they left behind. Using revealing interviews that explore the many facets of the case, deft editing, and a sensitive yet questioning tone, The Cheshire Murders is a both thought-provoking and disturbing viewing experience. I spoke with Davis and Heilbroner ahead of the film's Mon/22 HBO debut. Read more »
FILM The 18th San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens with Augusto Genino's 1930 Prix de Beauté, literally translated as "beauty prize" but more often referred to in English as Miss Europe. Memo to all wannabe pageant queens: you might as well shuffle off the stage when Louise Brooks — flawless features, perfect hair, sparkling smile, star quality oozing from every pore — shows up to compete.Read more »