Dennis Harvey

Heroes and hoedowns

Spotlight on homegrown docs and narratives

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FRAMELINE This year's Bay Area-centric Frameline features run a thematic and identification gamut appropriate to the festival's ever-inclusive programming. Several are celebrations of local LGBT heroines and heroines, some recently deceased and some still-with-us.Read more »

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'

Italian docu-essay Le Quattro Volte out-Malicks Malick
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A fountain of Penn

The Pacific Film Archive's "Arthur Penn: A Liberal Helping" shows the noorious director in full

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When Arthur Penn died at 88 last September, obituaries listing career highlights reinforced the notion that he was one of those directors — others include Mike Nichols and George Roy Hill — who were BFDs in the 1960s and '70s yet rapidly faded from prominence thereafter. In Penn's case the decline was especially steep, particularly given that during arguably the single most roiling period of change in mainstream American filmmaking, he was at the top of the heap in terms of prestige and thematic adventure.Read more »

The importance of being self-important

Terrence Malick returns with The Tree of Life

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Last train to Fuck Town

Rutger Hauer rides again in Hobo With a Shotgun

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The course of an acting career can vividly illustrate the randomness of fate. Rutger Hauer spent some years in Dutch experimental theater of the 1960s — after pulling off that best way to terminate one's military service, faking mental illness — then became a local heartthrob as a medieval knight in a hit TV series at that decade's end.Read more »

Last train to Fuck Town: Rutger Hauer rides again in "Hobo With a Shotgun"

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The course of an acting career can vividly illustrate the randomness of fate. Rutger Hauer spent some years in Dutch experimental theater of the 1960s — after pulling off that best way to terminate one's military service, faking mental illness — then became a local heartthrob as a medieval knight in a hit TV series at that decade's end.

He spent the 1970s primarily starring in Dutch movies, notably the striking early films of Paul Verhoeven — well before Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), or even 1987's RoboCop (the director wanted Hauer for the lead, but was overruled by the studio). In the 1980s, Hauer played the memorable villains of Blade Runner (1982), The Hitcher (1986), and 1981's Nighthawks (inducing tough investigative cop Sylvester Stallone to don drag at the end to catch him), between runs at being an action hero and theoretically loftier assignments around the globe.

Then he settled into a multilingual journeyman's potluck of low-budget genre features, TV projects, small parts in mainstream films (2005's Sin City and Batman Begins), Guinness commercials, and a Kylie Minogue video. Apparently 67-year-old Dutch actors in Los Angeles can't be choosy.

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Bastard samurai

Miike takes on yet another genre with the winning 13 Assassins

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Into the Vortex, part two

The Vortex Room amps up the sleaze-factor at its Thursday night cult calssic retrospectives 

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The second half of the Vortex Room's May retrospective of movies about crazy (or just beleaguered) artists is heavy on 1970s Eurosleaze — a status surely we all aspire to.Read more »

Into the Vortex, part one

The Vortex Room screens rare reels at Thursday film cult nights

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For some the '60s and '70s never stopped swinging — even (or especially) if they were barely out of womb when all that decadence crashed into the anti-counterculture, pro-coke Reagan era.

For many years, one of SF's greatest connoisseurs of retro sexual revolution kitsch and coolness has been Scott Moffett. For all we know, even as you read this he's reclining on a fun fur rug, drinking Martini & Rossi on the rocks, reeking of Hai Karate, sandwiched by Barbarella and Pussy Galore.Read more »

The night has a thousand eyes

Elliot Lavine's "I Wake Up Dreaming" series returns with more rare noir

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Cheap genre films targeted for the drive-in or grindhouse aside, very few truly independent features were made in the U.S. before the 1960s, and those that were made seldom found an audience. As a result, most were soon forgotten — in rare instances rediscovered decades later, like the recently restored docudramas On the Bowery (1957) and The Exiles (1961), about Skid Row denizens in New York City and Los Angeles. Foreign films had a tiny theatrical circuit (albeit usually playing in cut and dubbed form), experimental ones none at all.Read more »