Dennis Harvey

To the extreme

The Roxie offers a megadose of J-horror master Sion Sono

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TRASH In the West we've basically known two kinds of Japanese cinema. One is that of Ozu, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, and their inheritors — somber, formal, detailed. The other is the cinema of crazy shit: gangster and "pink" movies from the 1960s onward, cracked visionaries from Seijun Suzuki to Takashi Miike, the exercises in tongue-in-cheek fanboy excess like Tokyo Gore Police (2008) and Big Man Japan (2007).Read more »

Chicago hope

An innovative anti-violence program takes flight in The Interrupters

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Fortress of meh

Griff the Invisible's less-than-super heroics

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FILM Unless you're between the ages of approximately 8 and 16 (mental as well as actual years applicable), it's been difficult to avoid a serious case of superhero fatigue at the movies lately. If a particular weekend doesn't bring yet another comic book to life at several thousand multiplex screens near you, it's providing the same favor to a toy, video game, or some pre-existing movie franchise that might as well have originated from one of the above.

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Stark raving mod

Talking to video purveyor Modcinema about bringing rareties -- hippie boondoggles and all -- back to the screen

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TRASH One of the longer-running Holy Grail pursuits among a certain type of movie fan finally ended last month with the official DVD release of Otto Preminger's Skidoo, a legendary 1968 boondoggle that was the veteran Hollywood prestige director's attempt to tap the new "youth market." Someone deemed those crazy kids might be magnetized, in the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rosemary's Baby, and Yellow Submarine, by a gangster farce starring the fossilizing likes of Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Mickey Rooney, and 78-year-old Groucho Mar Read more »

A gutsy legacy

Filmmakers don't get more violently influential than Herschell Gordon Lewis

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Movies today might be a gutless affair if not for the industry of Herschell Gordon Lewis a half-century ago. Literally gutless — you have Lewis to thank for every splattersome moment of exposed entrails and explicit gougings since.Read more »

Complete interview: "Between Two Worlds" directors Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow

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In 1981 Deborah Kaufman founded the nation's first Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco. Thirteen years later, with similar festivals burgeoning in the wake of SFJFF's success — there are now over a hundred around the globe — she left the festival to make documentaries of her own with life partner and veteran local TV producer Alan Snitow.

Their latest, Between Two Worlds, which opens at the Roxie Fri/5 while playing festival dates, could hardly be a more personal project for the duo. Both longtime activists in various Jewish, political, and media spheres, Snitow and Kaufman were struck — as were plenty of others — by the rancor that erupted over the SFJFF's 2009 screening of Simone Bitton's Rachel. That doc was about Rachel Corrie, a young American International Solidarity Movement member killed in 2003 by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer while standing between it and a Palestinian home on the Gaza Strip.

As different sides argued whether Corrie's death was accidental or deliberate, she became a lightning rod for ever-escalating tensions between positions within and without the U.S. Jewish populace on Israeli policy, settlements, Palestinian rights, and more — with not a few commentators amplifying the conservative notion that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, even (or especially) when it comes from Jews themselves.

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Whose voice?

Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow explore how American Jews view Israel in Between Two Worlds

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1981 Deborah Kaufman founded the nation's first Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco. Thirteen years later, with similar festivals burgeoning in the wake of SFJFF's success — there are now over a hundred around the globe — she left the festival to make documentaries of her own with life partner and veteran local TV producer Alan Snitow.Read more »

Time served

Crime After Crime takes a sobering look at the justice system

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1983, Deborah Peagler was sentenced to 25 years to life for first-degree murder in the death of her former boyfriend Oliver Wilson, whom two local L.A. gang members had strangled — supposedly at her behest, to access Wilson's life insurance money.Read more »

To Hellman and back

The cult director comes to town with his latest, plus some of his greatest

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM "Legendary" is a term often applied to artists distinguished by either ubiquity or scarcity. Monte Hellman definitely falls in the second camp — nearly 80, he's just made his first feature in 22 years, causing a flurry of interest in the sparse 10 he made during the prior three decades he was, relatively speaking, active — movies hardly anyone saw when they came out since none were more than a blip on the commercial radar.Read more »

Black and white and red all over

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival unearths a USSR classic

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Mikhail Kalatozov's career had a large hole in the middle, one that remains incompletely explained. Why were the two periods of his greatest work separated by roughly three decades? Why did he make almost nothing between? The answer definitely involved Stalin and his fickle cultural watchdogs, even if the full reason for such a long lull (or fall from favor) might never be known.Read more »