Dennis Harvey

What's hate got to do with it?

Yoav Shamir's controversial new doc, Defamation, takes on anti-Semitism
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Like so many recent it's-true-if-we-say-so slogans, "A Republican is a Democrat who's been mugged" is smugly, fundamentally misguided on more levels than can be addressed here, suggesting that only conservatives have the horse sense to grasp that it's a big, scary world out there. Interpreted another way, however, this catchphrase contains a grain of truth: the sense of victimization can be blindsiding. Read more »

Hell yeah!

Hail horror homage House of the Devil, a delicious Satanic panic flick
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Before the Halloween and Friday the 13th series made slasher cinema's top instruments of unstoppable evil, and after Frankenstein, Dracula, and Werewolf pretty much had their day, there was a brief sunny window of opportunity for Satan. Or rather, Satan and his Satanists — sounds like a garage band, yes? — who dominated horror for a few years highlighted by Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), and The Omen (1976). Read more »

Beasts from the east

Patrick Macias brings the shocking history of Japanese horror flicks to ATA
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Into the wilds

Killer-nature flick The Canyon advocates staycations
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One painful component of the ever-escautf8g government service cutbacks, particularly in our own endlessly explorable state, has been the threat to parkland access. Read more »

Once upon a time in England

Bronson's notorious subject inspires a star-making performance
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Some roles wring from an actor something they never had before, or might again. Who now recalls Eric Bana's Aussie sketch comedian startlingly reinvented as bulked-up Chopper (2000), that native continent's most notorious psychotic extortionist-killer-jailbird-celebrity autobiographer? Bana killed — more vividly than in any part serving his subsequent, slightly bland Hollywood leading-hunk status.

Tom Hardy is another handsome bloke at risk of looking competent and versatile without fully impressing. Read more »

Lars loves lars

Behold, Antichrist
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Will history judge Lars von Trier as the genius he's sure he is? Or as a humorless, slightly less cartoonish Ken Russell, whipping images and actors into contrived frenzies for ersatz art's sake? You're probably already on one side of the fence or the other. Read more »

No resolve

A troubled past leads to a haunted present in Five Minutes of Heaven
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It was the last Bush administration's master PR stroke to render terrorism completely abstract while appearing to frame it in layman's terms. There's no real choosing sides when the choices are "evil" and "freedom" — who's going to say slow down there, pardner, when the cause is painted as humanity against the inhuman? That equation bought carte blanche approval for a lot of dumb subsequent moves, with the world arguably no safer as a consequence.

Most Americans have an absolute faith that we're the good guys. Read more »

Northen high (and low) lights

Silly Gallic heavens and hollow Darwinian costume flicks at the Toronto International Film festival
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>>Check out Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' TIFF takes here.

FILM FESTIVAL REPORT There weren't exactly tumbleweeds rolling through Park City, but this January's Sundance Film Festival did have a becalmed feeling reflecting the economic panic — money, corporate sponsors, and industry personnel weren't falling from the sky quite so thickly as usual, which naturally made the experience that much more pleasant for those simply there to see movies. Read more »

Welcome weirdness

An elusive director returns to the unnerving with You, the Living
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DNA science has taught us everyone is unique. Art teaches that everyone — even wildly derivative sons-of-bitches — are kinda sorta likewise (at least technically). Still, there's ordinary "individuality," actual distinctiveness, and then there's whoa. Belonging to this last category is Swedish writer-director Roy Andersson, who's made four features in four decades and surely won't be hurrying up anytime soon.

Does it really take him that long? Read more »

American hardcore

Joe Sarno: idiosyncratic talent, psychotronic legend, sexploitation lifer
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X-RATED CLASSICS A sexploitation lifer who reportedly has directed so many features even he doesn't know how many, Joe Sarno is nonetheless also enough of an idiosyncratic talent to have won a cult following and some high-culture-institution retrospectives. Read more »