Dennis Harvey

King of the spook house

Jose Mojica Marins' infamous Brazilian cult horror films gain new life

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BRAZILIAN CULT HORROR English-language horror cinema has had its share of actors identified with playing one particular role over and over, from Bela Lugosi's Dracula to Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger. But we've never had anything quite like José Mojica Marins and his infamous Zé do Caixão (José of the Grave). Known to cult movie fans worldwide as Coffin Joe, this top-hatted, cape-flaring, bearded undertaker with extra-long curved fingernails and a mile-wide sadistic streak has been a sort of folk hero in Brazil for nearly 50 years.Read more »

Choose or lose

When We Leave's abused wife is torn between family and self-preservation

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM With its plentitude of female political stars, the Tea Party finds U.S. feminism at an interesting if inevitable developmental stage — wherein people who never would have gotten this far without liberationists' path-clearing reject progressivism altogether. They no longer identify with a historically oppressed viewpoint, but rather from an angry, gender-neutral stance of entitlement allegedly stolen by cunning have-nots and slippery liberals.Read more »

Leather forever

Found Footage Festival screens rare gems -- and giants, like Heavy Metal Parking Lot

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Every year since 1989, 25 movies are added to the National Film Registry, deemed worthy of preservation for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Their current number encompasses Eraserhead (1976) and Enter the Dragon (1973), the Zapruder and Hindenburg footage, The Muppet Movie (1979), "Let's All Go to the Lobby," Stan Brakhage and Kenneth Anger films, and This is Spinal Tap (1984) — as well as, you know, Citizen Kane (1941) and stuff. Which is to say, it is one of those ways in which democracy just kinda works.Read more »

L.A. Confidential

Patrick Warburton on The Woman Chaser — and Dragonard

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Patrick Warburton occupies his own special niche. He is a big (6 feet, 3 inches), hirsute, square-jawed kinda white guy — the kind who saved screaming ingénues from gorillas or Martians in 1950s B flicks — who's flourished parodying macho blowhards. Who doesn't love Warburton? People who don't know who he is, obviously.Read more »

Naughty girls (need love too)

1969's The Sins of Madame Bovary unleashed a wave of exploitation flicks -- and Algerian-born bombshell Edwige Fenech

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SCANDAL! Flaubert's Madame Bovary is one of those pillars of French culture whose dismissal might well get you deported. (Deservedly.) It has inspired innumerable adaptations and co-optations, including a Hindi musical, a VeggieTales episode, and a postmodernist novel posing as a nonfiction memoir-literary homage (Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot). Read more »

L.A. confidential: Patrick Warburton on "The Woman Chaser" — and "Dragonard"

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Patrick Warburton occupies his own special niche. He is a big (6 feet, 3 inches), hirsute, square-jawed kinda white guy — the kind who saved screaming ingénues from gorillas or Martians in 1950s B flicks — who's flourished parodying macho blowhards. Who doesn't love Warburton? People who don't know who he is, obviously.

They probably know him regardless, if not by name. First widely noted as Elaine's emotionally deaf boyfriend on Seinfield, in recent years he's starred in successful network sitcoms Rules of Engagement and Less than Perfect. They followed The Tick, a short-lived Fox superhero parody series everyone loved but the viewing public. He's voiced various characters on Family Guy (a man's gotta work), as well as loftier ’toons including The Venture Bros., Kim Possible, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, playing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story spinoffs, as well as endearing villain Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove (2000).

The Emperor's New Groove reunited him with Eartha Kitt, also a costar in his screen debut: 1987's WTF Mandingo (1975) rip-off Dragonard, in which he played a race traitor Scottish hunk on an 18th century Caribbean slaving isle populated by such punishing extroverts as boozy Oliver Reed, chesty Claudia Uddy, and creaky Pink Panther boss Herbert Lom. This campsterpiece features steamy sex intercut with chicken sacrifice, a character called "Manroot," appalling homosexual caricatures, much library music, and other incitements to drinking-game joy. (Start trolling eBay for used VHS copies now.)

These days, Warburton is promoting a past project he'd rather remember: 1999's The Woman Chaser (opening Fri/25 at the Roxie), billed as both his leading-role debut (hello! Dragonard!!) It was definitely the first feature for Robinson Devor (2005's Police Beat, 2007's Zoo), one of the most stubbornly idiosyncratic and independent American directors to emerge in recent years.

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Gleaming the Cubist

Marcel L'Herbier's 1924 film L'Inhumaine is a remarkable time capsule of avant-garde trends

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RARE SILENT FILM In the 1920s — avant-garde heyday for so many forms of media — ascendant youth culture, "machine age" fetishism, the off-leash romping of bob-haired women, and myriad other factors induced fierce resistance to much now considered of crucial historical and artistic import.Read more »

Bless this mess

Im Sang-soo offers a witty, high-tension take on The Housemaid

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM One of the most famous Korean films of its era — and notorious for its near-horror catalog of shocking behaviors — Kim Ki-young's original 1960 The Housemaid took a caustic view of the new middle class emerging in a nation still crawling out from under the wreckage of war.Read more »

Que tristeza

Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful is a grim, dull dirge

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Whether or not they planned it from the beginning — though there was certainly grandiosity there at the start — Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo Arriaga have been interesting as probably the first major narrative filmmakers to make post-NAFTA globalization their ongoing subject. The three-part Amores Perros (2000), while set entirely in Mexico City, found within it layers of society as remote from one another (if united in a fatalism, brutality, and one "accidental" twist of fate) as if they were continents apart.Read more »

Here, kitty kitty

Lost in temptation: "Love Kittens" offers four slices of vintage cheesecake

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VINTAGE SEXY CINEMA "Ooh-la-la!" For decades this nonsense phrase personified "Continental" knowingness of a nature heavily suggestive to Yanks and yoinks raised under the buzz-kill shadow of a nation founded by Puritans. Just what did it mean? Oral knowledge unbeknownst to Oral Roberts? Sneaky-Pete glimpses of furry minx? Houses of ill repute and burgundy upholstery? Whatever: for long decades, Americans figured Old Europe knew sensual pleasures we were too nouveau to grasp, let alone grapple with.Read more »