Cheryl Eddy

The cult of Fanaka

AFRO-SURREAL: A filmmaker reflects on his groundbreaking career
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cheryl@sfbg.com

AFRO-SURREAL Visitors to filmmaker Jamaa Fanaka's MySpace page are greeted with a clip of Snoop Dogg clutching a pile of Fanaka DVDs — 1975's Welcome Home Brother Charles, a.k.a. Soul Vengeance; 1976's Emma Mae, a.k.a. Black Sister's Revenge; 1979's Penitentiary; and 1982's Penitentiary II. He quotes some choice lines and enthusiastically sings the director's praises: "These movies right here — this is black history."

When I mention Snoop Dogg to Fanaka, he's delighted. Read more »

Reels and (two) wheels

Hold on to your seats: Two great bicycle-oriented film fests breeze through
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What's a "bike movie?" If you immediately thought of Breaking Away (1979), two upcoming events suggest that your definition is li'l old-fashioned. First up: the Disposable Film Festival is hosting a "Bike-In" outdoor screening. Read more »

"The Beast Stalker"

Anger issues, petty politics, and other charming attributes
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REVIEW Missed The Beast Stalker at the just-completed 2009 San Francisco International Film Festival? Make sure you catch its theatrical run at the Four Star, a longtime hotspot for new Hong Kong genre films. (Owner Frank Lee was dishing 'em out long before 2006's The Departed, a H.K. cops 'n' gangstas remake, raked in box office megabucks and Oscar gold.) Where else would I have seen 1998's Beast Cops, starring the inimitable Anthony Wong and the irritating Michael Wong (no relation)? Read more »

Sorry, "Wolverine" -- "Star Trek" is the first summer movie worth seeing

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Star Trek? Campiness (Shatner! Montalban!) aside, I was always more of a Star Wars person. That said, I've pretty much hated the last four Star Wars movies (yep, Skyguy, that's me admitting I saw 2008's pitiful cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars, on the big screen no less) -- but I thoroughly enjoyed JJ Abrams' Star Trek (out now). Read more »

SFIFF 52: Opening night

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The scene: the Castro Theatre. The event: opening night of the 52nd annual San Francisco International Film Festival. The crowd: mob-sized.

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Benjamin Bratt prefers it slow and low.

Before I say anything else, I know what you're really wondering: what was in the gift bag? Read more »

SFIFF: Shots in the dark

Short takes on SFIFF
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THURS/23

La Mission (Peter Bratt, USA, 2009) A veteran S.F. vato turned responsible — if still muy macho — widower, father, and Muni driver, 46-year-old Che (Benjamin Bratt) isn't the type for mushy displays of sentiment. But it's clear his pride and joy is son Jess (Jeremy Ray Valdez), a straight-A high school grad bound for UCLA. Read more »

SFIFF: 52 pick-up

SFIFF rides again -- and features a quietly terrifying North Korea doc
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cheryl@sfbg.com

In early April, a long-range rocket blasted off from deepest, darkest North Korea; according to a Reuters.com news report, the communist country claimed that its satellite was "launched into orbit and [is now] circling the Earth transmitting revolutionary songs." Um, yeah. Most folks say the rocket failed — and that its real purpose was to test North Korea's dropping-warheads-on-our-enemies capabilities. Read more »

Carolina blues

Goodbye Solo, hello filmmaking triumph. Director Ramin Bahrani outdoes himself
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Ramin Bahrani is a young filmmaker who's beloved by critics and whatever arthouse-type audiences have been lucky enough to catch his work, thus far 2005's Man Push Cart and 2007's Chop Shop. Born in America to Iranian parents, Bahrani was educated at Columbia University and set both of those films — minimalist marvels that racked up kudos galore at global fests — in New York City. His latest, Goodbye Solo, shifts from gritty NY to depressed Winston-Salem, N.C., where Bahrani was raised. Read more »

RIP, Parkway Speakeasy Theater

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Say it ain't so! Oakland's Parkway Theater announced this week that its doors will close Sunday, March 22. Read more »

Home suite home

SFIAAFF: Tokyo Sonata and the stark, striking cinema of Kiyoshi Kurosawa
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cheryl@sfbg.com

How's this for lowest common denominator? The first sentence of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Wikipedia entry explains that he is a "Japanese filmmaker best known for his many contributions to the J-horror genre." With his latest film, family drama Tokyo Sonata, particularly fresh in my mind, I'd nearly forgotten he was even part of that late-1990s trend. Read more »