TOOTHY TV Stop fronting like you don't love Shark Week. You live for its exciting footage of the world's most potent predators, its programming that veers between sensational and scientific, and its narration that comes overstuffed with metaphors: "She is a missile, armed with teeth ... ready to fire!" The Discovery Channel knows it has you by the chum bucket, so it's devoting an entire week of programming to Shark Week's 20th anniversary. Read more »
If the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy teaches us anything (other than that the ironic love of pirate kitsch runs deep), it’s that childhood nostalgia is ripe for the coming-soon-to-a-multiplex-near-you rampage. And when it gets there, it’s not just bigger and louder and more special-effects laden (ahem, Transformers), it’s got edge. Take, for instance, upcoming yuletide turd Alvin and the Chipmunks. Read more »
Last week at 12 Galaxies, John Doe busted out X's most patriotically-titled tune. I missed Exene on the chorus, but whatever. Independence Day traditions in my world include watching at least a few minutes of Independence Day -- which I just tried to find on TV, and it ain't on, so this tradition is in danger of not happening except in my photographic-movie-memory -- and eating the biggest hamburger I can get my mitts around.
Oh, and FREEDOM ROCK. FREEDOM ROCK has it all! Read more »
Midnight Mass, held at the Bridge Theatre, may be the sparkling, dressed-to-the-nines jewel in Landmark Theatres' cult-movie crown. But with a newly invigorated programming focus, the Clay's Late Night Picture Show (and its aimed-more-at-college-kids Berkeley equivalent, the Shattuck's Midnight Special) is also holding it down for folks who're willing to sacrifice their sleep in the name of offbeat cinema. Read more »
"Nine p.m. is the new midnight," declares Will "the Thrill" Viharo, programmer and host of Thrillville, the East Bay's giant cocktail shaker of B-movie bliss. Turns out Thrillville's earliest incarnation was as the Midnight Lounge, which Viharo first oversaw in April 1997, just a few months after Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theater opened. After a particularly scorching Elvis tribute event, Viharo decided his gig, eventually dubbed Thrillville, was ready for prime time. Read more »
Ask Jesse Hawthorne Ficks what his favorite movie is, and he won't hesitate: it's Ski School. Ficks, who programs and hosts the Castro Theatre's monthly Midnites for Maniacs triple feature, interprets "favorite" literally: the 1991 raunch-com might not surface on any highbrow top-10 lists, but it's likely no scholar loves Citizen Kane (1941) as much as Ficks loves Ski School.
"I've always been upset with people who talk about guilty pleasures," Ficks explained when I paid him a visit at the Ninth Street Film Center. Read more »
Michael Moore is a divisive character, but he's not the most controversial man in the United States. The first image in Sicko, the director's first doc since 2004's Fahrenheit 9/11, is of George W. Bush. But the liar in chief is only one of Moore's targets this time around. In Sicko he goes after America's entire health care system, examining how even folks who have health insurance are routinely screwed over by corporations that care more about profits than lives. Read more »
I had a revelation while watching Muppets Music Moments: Statler and Waldorf are the reasons I became a film critic. As a li'l Muppet-freaked kid in the late '70s and early '80s, I lived for their curmudgeonly peanut-gallery zingers. Read more »
FILM Always be suspicious of any documentary that starts off with this snippet of dialogue: "Is it real, is it not real?" In fact, for the first 10 minutes of American Cannibal, directed by Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro, I suspected I might be watching a mock doc. But nope, it's real more authentic than reality TV, anyway, which is the subject it chronicles via both insider insights (from showbiz types like Fox Reality Channel honcho David Lyle) and the tension-fraught journey of Gil S. Read more »
FILM Recently, my eyeballs were among the first to be skewered by the finished print of Hostel 2. As torture and black humor unspooled on the big screen, director Eli Roth last seen working on Grindhouse, both as an actor and behind the camera for the Thanksgiving trailer prowled about, gauging audience reactions to his third feature film. The next day I met Roth to discuss all things horror. He talks fast. Read more »