Dennis Harvey

Bad company

Stage hit 'August: Osage County' loses potency on the big screen
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All that glitters

David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' delivers a giddy caper elevated by memorable performances

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM If longer were better, this would be the platinum era of movies. Never before have so many mainstream releases staggered toward or beyond the two-and-a-half-hour mark once reserved for the truly epic — in storytelling breadth, not just in fight scenes, expensive CGI effects, or simple directorial inability to say "when."Read more »

3-2-1 contact

Journey into Unarius with 'Children of the Stars'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM El Cajon — between balmy coastal San Diego and arid desert mountains to the east — is just the sort of place where the dream of California living came true for a lot of industrious working-class people in the post-World War II boom years. It's also where their boomer children and generation-next grandkids are currently seeing that dream slowly expire.Read more »

La ho-hum vita

'The Great Beauty' has style, but doesn't live up to the hype

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Paolo Sorrentino has only been directing features for 12 years, so perhaps it's premature to expect a masterpiece from him — although he probably doesn't think so. Amid generally tepid post-millennium Italian cinema, he's been consistently ambitious and bold, from 2001's One Man Up onward. That facility has won a lot of acclaim (most notably for 2008's Il Divo), but also attracted a certain amount of skepticism: Is he more style than substance? What does he have to say?Read more »

Life's work

Desperation breeds determination in 'Dallas Buyers Club'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Beware Canadians — they may walk softly, but they carry a big hockey stick. The country next door has always had a bigger influence on American life than generally thought, especially at the movies. Mary Pickford, the medium's first superstar, was Canadian; so, a century later, are Ryans Gosling and Reynolds, Jim Carrey, Ellen Page, Rachel McAdams, and Seth Rogen. Canadians have directed a lot of seemingly very American films, from 1982's Porky's to this year's Prisoners.Read more »

Exile on Main St. USA

'Escape From Tomorrow' creeps inside the Mouse House

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Escape From Tomorrow acquired cachet at Sundance this year as a movie you ought to see because it probably wouldn't surface again — not because it was that bad, but because any regular release seemed sure to be legally blocked. The reason was its setting, which composites two of the most photographed (and "happiest") places on Earth. They're also among the most heavily guarded from any commercial usage not of their own choosing.Read more »

The great divide

Robert Reich breaks down the economic breakdown in 'Inequality for All'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Whatever the wisdom of Obama's strategy for Syria, public response has made it clear that most Americans no longer want the US to meddle in foreign affairs — at least not if it costs money and might embroil our troops in another endless, winless imbroglio. This is a little flummoxing, since not so long ago we gave another president a free pass to invade countries for far more dubious reasons, and are still paying the price for those rubber stamps in many, many ways a decade later.Read more »

Highway to hell

'Blue Caprice' explores the murky motives of the Beltway snipers

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Provoc-auteur

A multi-venue series highlights edgy filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini

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FILM It still boggles the mind that perhaps the most important single figure in the socio-religiously conservative Italy's artistic media of the 1960s through the mid-'70s — an extraordinarily fertile period, particularly for cinema — was an openly queer Marxist atheist and relentless church critic. Pier Paolo Pasolini stirred innumerable controversies during his life, ending prematurely in his alleged 1975 murder by a teenage hustler. Read more »

Blah lust

Brian De Palma's tame, lame 'Passion'

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