Dennis Harvey

Tough stuff

SFJFF: Jewish gangsters on the big screen
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SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL Jews are not thugz, an assumption only affirmed when they commit crimes of financial-sector greed (Bernie Madoff). Jews involved in violent Godfather-style mayhem? That flies so against cultural-cliché winds as to seem inherently ridiculous.Read more »

Close-up

Great Directors: a vanity project worth admiring

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Everybody's a curator, providing one or more terrain maps of their personality. What's more telling, or potentially damning, than looking over someone's iPod playlist or CD collection? My Detroit best-friend freshman roommates were first encountered pawing through my LP crate, diagnosing just what sort of hick they'd been stuck with. (Between the Sex Pistols and Dan Fogelberg, they were highly confused.) Read more »

The woman remembered

Norma Talmadge shines at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

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The changeover from silent to sound cinema revolutionized the world's most popular entertainment form. As in most revolutions, some heads got lopped off. The industry saw this upheaval as a chance to clean house, getting rid of pricey or difficult talent by claiming they couldn't make the transition. The public went along, suddenly hungry for all things talking, singing, dancing, and new, eager to dismiss yesterday's favorites as old-fashioned.Read more »

666-ZOMB

Spanish import [Rec] 2 resuscitates a genre that won't die

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Yes, vampires and werewolves are getting pretty dang tired lately.

Yet even they haven't risked getting so overexposed as our shuffling undead friends.Read more »

Pulp vicious

The Killer Inside Me sparks controversy — with good reason

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM An entirely fake controversy brewed at the Sundance Film Festival three years ago in anticipation of the "Dakota Fanning rape movie," otherwise known as Hounddog. Fanning was then a cloyingly cute, frequently tearful actor known for family-friendly films — ergo, her appearance as a victim of child abuse in a 1950s rural drama got fanned by hysterical pundits and popular media into terrible child actor abuse. Before anyone actually saw the film, of course. Read more »

Imported cheese

El Futuro Está Aqui: Sci-Fi Classics From Mexico brings fabulous space women, Mylar pants, flying hubcaps

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CINE DE CULTO It's impossible to undersell the extent to which everyone was space travel crazy from the 1950s through the early '70s. Even nations not actively involved in the Cold War race for space "supremacy" shared the giddy thrill as U.S.S.R., then U.S. efforts successfully launched projectiles toward the cosmos. Those technological leaps and Cold War-fueled fears that the bomb could end life as we know it turned science fiction from an infrequent cinematic genre into a popular, prolific one.Read more »

Get thee to the gym

FRAMELINE FILM FEST: Body image issues stud Frameline docs and narratives

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arts@sfbg.com

FRAMELINE It's a little-noted fact that the gay community is absolutely thick with twins. Not biological, but the kind that grow more identical when they take their shirts off.Read more »

Worst worst movie?

Kinatay -- however graphically violent and hard to watch -- is not so very bad

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INTERNATIONAL CINEMA It wouldn't be a Cannes Film Festival without scandals onscreen and off. The recent 63rd edition found international media struggling to come up with some — Jean-Luc Godard's no-show, the generally feh quality of competition films. Pretty weak. Little incited righteous outrage over artistic license as before: think of prior provocations by Gaspar Noé, Carlos Reygadas, and Vincent Gallo. Read more »

Mama Drama

A San Francisco weekend goes epically awry in The Full Picture
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FILM The unusually high proportion of non-native San Franciscans not only underlines our living in a "destination" city, but also suggests that many of us were eager to leave something behind. Certainly it's no accident The Full Picture's fraternal protagonists both chose to live here. Yes, it's a lovely place. It also happens to be 3,000 insulating miles from where they were raised, and where the dragon still dwells.Read more »

Cute is what he aims for

King of twee Jean-Pierre Jeunet returns with Micmacs
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FILM Cutie pie. Kissy face. Snuggle bunny. Aren't you just the sweetest thing ever?

The above pull quote will likely not be showing up in Sony Classics' Read more »