Dennis Harvey

Breast intentions

Get ready for a "Night of Lust" at the Red Vic

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CULT CINEMA The 2010 Academy Awards ceremony did indeed mark historic
firsts. Oh, not just the fact that a woman finally won Best Director.
I mean somebody (Alec Baldwin? Steve Martin? I forget) saying
"vagina" live to a bazillion people worldwide, some of them no doubt way short of both voting age and bedtime. Of course you can say fuckwad, fuckhole, and fuckety fuckelstein on cable. But this was network, and the Oscars besides. How community standards do change. Read more »

Life after death

Swedish thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo nearly lives up to its juicy back story

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM By the time the first of Stieg Larsson's so-called "Millennium" books had been published anywhere, the series already had an unhappy ending. Its author planned 10 volumes total, but only finished three (plus some work on a fourth) before he died in 2004, none printed during his lifetime. The following year The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo became a Swedish, then eventually international sensation, its sequels following suit (though the English-translated third won't come out here till May).Read more »

My son, my son, what have ye done

In praise of Kimberly Reed's stranger-than-fiction Prodigal Sons

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FILM Some of the best documentaries in recent years have been hijacked by their subject — or even by another subject the filmmaker wasn't planning on. Prodigal Sons was supposed to be Kimberly Reed's story about a high-school quarterback, basketball captain, class president, and valedictorian born to a family of Montana farmers, returning for a reunion 20 years later — albeit as a fully transitioned male-to-female transgender person attending with her female lover. Read more »

Brick by brick

Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers : What more can we ask from the Danes?

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TOY-NAMATION Denmark has given us so much. In the past few decades alone it has gifted the world with live-sex club acts, Brigitte Nielsen, breakfast pastries, and Lars "Antichrist" von Trier. In 1969 it became the first country to legalize pornography, and two decades later did likewise for same-sex marriage. It is also currently designated the least corrupt nation on earth, with the greatest income equality.Read more »

Not such a cani-ball

The Donner Party : one wishes for a little lurid exploitation

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NEW DVD Considering that it's the most notorious case of its kind in North American history (cannibalism for survival as opposed to lunacy's sake), and that movies have been less than shy about portraying flesh-eating in recent decades (at least the zombie kind), it's a little strange that the Donner Party saga has occupied so little celluloid space to date.Read more »

Snow patrol

SUNDANCE REPORT: Head east, freeze feet, see movies

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FILM The snowiest Sundance Film Festival in recent memory was also perhaps the best. Despite continued economic woes (which peaked exactly when most of this year's films were in or entering production), somehow the general caliber of work seemed to be on an uptick.Read more »

Plastique fantastique

Offbeat animation -- and a sprightly horse -- rules A Town Called Panic
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FILM The 2009 Toronto Film Festival encompassed, as usual, much

of what would turn out to be the year's major award bait: Up in the Air, Precious: Based On the Novel Push By Sapphire, A Serious Man, new ones by Herzog, Almodóvar, Haneke, etc. But probably the best, and certainly most enjoyable, movie seen there was well off the official radar of must-sees. Perhaps because it centered on the adventures of plastic toys?Read more »

Year of the yahoo

Cult flick Shanty Tramp clings to its own personal celluloid Dark Ages
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CULT FILM The year of cinematic enlightenment was 1967, with movies as disparate as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, I Am Curious (Yellow), The President's Analyst, and Week End all proclaiming the dawn of a truly adult era. Of course, not everybody was on that page. Some quite possibly couldn't make out the text if they tried.Read more »

Woodyland

YEAR IN FILM: Harrelson marks a banner year in a banner career

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YEAR IN FILM The defining adjective for Woody Harrelson is hard to pin, but I'd nominate ... limber. Not just because he's a deft physical comedian — in The Late Henry Moss, a star-encrusted but not very good Sam Shepard play that premiered in San Francisco in 2000, he stole the show from the likes of Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Cheech Marin with a 20-minute bit as a cabbie stuck in a front door. But also because he undergoes gymnastic changes from one screen role to another without ever seeming to break a sweat, or lose

his essential congeniality.Read more »

Bridges abides

Will Crazy Heart earn the Hollywood vet a long-deserved Oscar?
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FILM "Oh, I love Jeff Bridges!" is the usual response when his name comes up every few years for Best Actor consideration, usually via some underdog movie no one saw, and the realization occurs that he's never won an Oscar. (Unlike, say, Roberto Benigni.) It is often said with a guilty-sigh undertone otherwise reserved for neglected relatives or loyal but inconvenient friends — people you know you shouldn't keep forgetting about.Read more »