Dennis Harvey

Small-screen hero

Honoring the versatile John Korty's 50-year career

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM While he's always kept a fairly low profile doing it, probably no director who calls the Bay Area home has balanced our penchant for documentary work and independence with a successful commercial (meaning Hollywood) career as gracefully, or as long, as John Korty. Now 75, the Marin resident is in the midst of a major retrospective — incredibly, his first — at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, which runs through December 4.Read more »

I don't want to grow up

Punk-poppin' in The Other F Word

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TRASH The 1980s U.S. hardcore punk scene was one refreshing bastion of opposition in the Reagan era of militaristic, monetary, and quasi-"family values" conformism. But it was also increasingly a turn-off for folks who liked the music and the message but not the violence at shows.Read more »

Blue Hawaii

A downbeat George Clooney shines in Alexander Payne's wry, restrained Descendants

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Alexander Payne turned 50 this year, and surely ranks somewhere on the list of American directors (and scenarists) whose efforts are counted on as a reliable plus. Yet he's only been at it for 15 years, making just five features — a decent number, until you realize it's been seven years since the last one. By contrast, since 2004 Woody Allen has made eight features, a couple his best in some time. Still, not one of those is as good as Sideways.Read more »

The way we were weird

Celebrating two plastic-wrapped decades of Twin Peaks

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1990, cable was still a luxury many chose not to afford. The Big Three — it was now grudgingly being admitted that Fox might make it Four — weren't doing anything all that different from what they had a decade or two or three before. Certainly the popular likes of Major Dad, Beverly Hills 90210, and America's Funniest Home Videos weren't exactly rocking the boat as thus far known to viewers and sponsors.Read more »

It's good to be bad

The Bad Seed legacy gets multi-generational with 1995's Mommy 

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TRASH It seems hard enough to be a successful child actor without losing your head eventually, let alone one so identified with a particular role that no one is ever inclined to let you forget it. Yet The Bad Seed's Patty McCormack has survived intact the formative experience of playing arguably the most notorious child role ever — hundreds of times on stage and once in a 1956 film version that refuses to go away.Read more »

A new England

Weekend's gay romance is remarkably unremarkable

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Recent urban unrest in London and elsewhere induced the same shocked response England has rolled out some years now at signs of what's been termed "Broken Britain" — as if it were a complete surprise that the poor won't always be content to suffer in polite near-silence. Propriety and gentility may be shrinking in the U.K., but they still have a powerful grip on the nation's sense of itself.Read more »

New DVDs, old sleaze

Looking back on the greatest hits of cinematic ultra violence

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TRASH When it comes to home viewing, gratuitous violence is always a selling point for genre fans — the censorial gloves that handle most theatrical films are off, "unrated" becomes a plus rather than commercial suicide, "director's cut" usually means more blood and maybe a little flesh previously removed at the MPAA's behest. The flood of obscure old exploitation titles now being released to DVD and Blu-ray are duly advertised as high on mayhem, whether that's actually the case or not. Read more »

Twee of life

Gus Van Sant's Restless delivers cute overload

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM For a while there it looked like Gus Van Sant, one of the most interesting U.S. directorial sensibilities of the last quarter-century, was going to settle for cashing the checks that have lured many an "edgy" artist over to the dull dark side. His mainstreaming began with the mixed rewards of 1995's To Die For, peaking commercially with 1997's Good Will Hunting; Finding Forrester (2000) and Psycho (1998) weren't justifiable choices on any terms.Read more »

Original sin

Skip the inevitable American remake: Alain Corneau's final film offers snappy pulp fun

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Early this year came the announcement that Brian De Palma was hot to do an English remake of Alain Corneau's Love Crime, saying "Not since Dressed to Kill have I had a chance to combine eroticism, suspense, mystery, and murder into one spellbinding cinematic experience." Apparently he thinks his intervening decades' meh-to-awful "erotic thrillers" Body Double (1984), Raising Cain (1992), Femme Fatale (2002), and Black Dahlia (2006) don't compare (a good call, that).Read more »

Roeg, warrior

A new print of The Man Who Fell to Earth tugs the offbeat director back into the spotlight

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