Dennis Harvey

Noe thanks

Enter the Void is polarizing — and pretentious

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FILM Gaspar Noé wants to share. Yet after three features, it's still unclear whether what he's got on his mind is worth sharing, let alone anywhere near as urgent as his need to share it.Read more »

Valley highs

Local docs and more at Mill Valley Film Festival 2010

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FILM This year's Mill Valley Film Festival, the 33rd — we'll refrain from crucifying it — brings the usual assortment of visiting celebrities starting their Oscar thumpage early at an event with a rep for anticipating next February's Academy winners. Some have local roots (Annette Bening, Sam Rockwell, James Franco), some don't (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Edward Norton, Julian Schnabel).Read more »

Winner takes it all

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary brings garish joy to the new International Children's Film Festival

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DOCUMENTARY Before American Idol and all subsequent parasitical imitators, there was nothing on American TV quite like the annual Eurovision Song Contest. In fact, there still isn't — that event's multinational scope and emphasis on original (or at least regional) material is eons from AI's hits regurgitated by wailing wannabes.Read more »

Peruvian twist

Undertow takes a modern, moving look at bisexuality
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FILM At first glance Undertow doesn't really seem a bona fide "great"
movie — time will tell. But it manages so many qualities seldom found together, or pulled off at all, that respect is due. It's sensuous and erotic without becoming puerile fantasy; renders remote, beach-y locations alluring without pandering postcard exoticism or turning the people who live there peasant-quaint. More impressive still, it seamlessly folds magic realism — that very literary quality — into an already well-in-progress narrative Read more »

The break-up artist

French import Heartbreaker is a not-so-guilty pleasure
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FILM Most countries crank out commercial features just as pandering as (if less expensively produced than) the majority of mainstream Hollywood product. Even sacrosanct art house supplier France manufactures plentiful dumb-and-dumber hits that attract little interest (unless it's remake interest) beyond nations where Frog is spoken. Read more »

Mellow noir

Mademoiselle Chambon offers a measured sense of scandal

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FILM Every nation's cinema has its share of memorable contributions to the narrative category of amour fou. But since the French came up with that term in the first place, we might as well grant them a certain supremacy. They definitely tend to arrive at the madness of a self-destructive love with less high melodrama (let alone misogyny) than is the U.S. norm. Read more »

Notes on a scandal

The Tillman Story traces a family's urgent search for the truth

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FILM To what extent is our government prepared to lie to us? Not just on a policy level, but a personal level, perverting actual instances of heroic self-sacrifice into propagandistic pablum? The answer during our prior White House administration was clearly: as far as possible, until caught.Read more »

Bunny business

Bustin' out and bustin' boundaries in Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel

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FILM The overlapping causes of liberating women and liberating sexuality have long been frenemies. There is no reconciling how the sexual revolution forwarded both women's independence and their exploitation as sexual objects by industries overwhelmingly focused on male desire and purchasing power. Read more »

The man, the myth, the legend

Looking beyond the Castro's tribute to the late Dennis Hopper

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FILM When Dennis Hopper died May 29 from prostate cancer, many obituaries — usually a place for polite, laundry-listed achievements — included unusually unflattering observations calling Hopper "difficult," "unpredictable," even "a pain in the ass." It takes a lot to merit such treatment precisely when people are customarily at their most hypocritically respectful. But Hopper had about 55 years to drive directors, fellow actors, wives, friends, and sundry crazy.Read more »

Trust no one

The Vortex Conspiracy: Dear humans: You lose. Love, Insects
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CULT CINEMA The '70s were prime time for conspiracy theories, particularly at the movies — thanks to Watergate as well as queasy unresolved 1960s conflicts between the counterculture and the establishment. Read more »