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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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.