Dennis Harvey

Peruvian twist

Undertow takes a modern, moving look at bisexuality
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

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
|
()

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 »

Tough stuff

SFJFF: Jewish gangsters on the big screen
|
()

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

|
()

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

|
()

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 »