Dennis Harvey

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 »

Beyond Berlin and Beyond

German Gems offers a weekend of Teutonic films

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1996 Ingrid Eggers cofounded Berlin and Beyond, that annual Castro Theatre showcase for all things celluloid (or digital) and German-language. Fourteen years later she retired from the San Francisco Goethe-Institut after two decades of service. B and B soldiers on without her, but Eggers now has her own weekend-long independent festival at that same art-deco movie palace.Read more »

Dark end of the street

Roxie's restored re-release showcase of On the Bowery drags its besodden subjects into the light

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DOCUMENTARY CLASSIC This column space is usually devoted to pop culture detritus. But this week we'll bend the Trash definition to encompass human detritus, as in such timeless phrases as "Those people are nothing but trash." The occasion is the Roxie's restored re-release showcase of On the Bowery, a 1956 piece of early U.S. independent cinema that won major prizes. Read more »

Going commando

Much fisting! The multiple muscle-sploitation joys of Jack Abramoff and Dolph Lundgren's Red Scorpion

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CHEESY, SLEAZY CINEMA Last year found Jack Abramoff a peculiarly hot commodity at the movies, especially if you consider he spent most of the year in federal prison and hadn't exercised his own Hollywood ambitions in nearly a quarter-century.Read more »

Woman on the verge

Michelle Williams proves her movie-star mettle in Blue Valentine

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FILM Sometimes a performance stands out and grabs attention for embodying a particular personality type or emotional state that's instantly familiar yet infrequently explored in much depth at the movies. What's most striking about Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine is the primary focus it lends Michelle Williams' role as the more disgruntled half of a marriage that's on its last legs whether the other half knows that or not. Read more »

Rate irate

YEAR IN FILM: Confidential to the Motion Picture Association of America: F-U

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM "Bloody bugger to you, you ... beastly bastard. Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. F-fornication. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck and fuck. Fuck, fuck, and bugger. Bugger, bugger, buggety buggety buggety fuck. Fuck ass. Balls! Balls! Fuckety shit. Shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck, and ... tits."Read more »

Hollywood ho-hum

Indie stalwart Henry Jaglom churns out Queen of the Lot

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FILM Some mainstream filmmakers grow so encumbered by the industry-within an-industry they've become that they profess yearning for those "small, personal" projects they started out with — often vowing they'll get right back there just as soon as they've finished the obligatory Behemoth IV: The Next Generation in 3-D. (Coppola actually did it; Lucas needs to stop saying he will until he actually quits finding new ways to commercially reanimate the charred remains of Star Wars. Meaning never.)Read more »

Highbrow-beaten

The King's Speech tempts Oscar

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More than child's play

What's the matter with the grimly fiendish stage treatment of Coraline?

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