Dennis Harvey

In the Loop

A comedy of behind-the-scenes backstabbing and its direct influence on the highest-level diplomatic and military policies
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REVIEW A typically fumbling remark by U.K. Minister of International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) ignites a media firestorm, since it seems to suggest war is imminent even though Brit and U.S. governments are downplaying the likelihood of the Iraq invasion they're simultaneously preparing for. Read more »

Mumblecorenography

What was that, again? Humpday's hot dude-on-dude inaction
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

Nervous or slightly guilty laughter is a typical soundtrack to any fear that dare not say its name. It's not reading too deep to call the recent bromantic comedy explosion one conspicuous way in which Straight Male America is covertly coming to squirmy terms with a brave new gay = OK world.

I Love You Man, Superbad (2007), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), and so on provide sugar-coated therapy, allowing a youngish straight male audience to titter at the faux-mosexuality of Peter Pans with growing pains. Read more »

Poetry in (stop-) motion

$9.99 mixes animated images with serious themes -- and offers up the Meaning of Life
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The bizarre news that the Academy Awards, which previously gave us such Best Picture nominees as Hello, Dolly! (1969) and The Towering Inferno (1974), will be boosting that category's nominations back to a pre-1944 quota of 10 has induced much skepticism. For starters, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is now an actual contender. Boosters claim this will make room for more indies, foreign titles, and documentaries, usually slighted because they don't have major studios' voting blocs and campaign funds behind them. Read more »

San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Minus the speaking voice, but hardly muzzled
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PREVIEW According to (disputed) legend, the 1944 death of 36-year-old Lupe Velez was far from glamorous, yet had classic Hollywood form: face-down in the toilet, choked on the pills she was regurgitating in a suicide attempt that succeeded, albeit not as planned. That sad end — she was despondent over a married lover and their unborn child — provided high contrast with her live-wire persona on and off-screen. The latter included high-drama involvements with legendary hunks Gary Cooper and Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller. Read more »

Daughter of darkness

Jennifer Lynch steps up -- cruelly -- with Surveillance
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Whether by dint of nature, nurture, or nepotism, Jennifer Lynch's small resume to date hasn't fallen far from the paternal tree. Tie-in novel The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer annotated Twin Peaks, doing a good job too, even if one still better left to your own vile imagination. Read more »

"Sex Positive"

Richard Berkowitz found a new outlet for highly vocal activism when AIDS first began taking a significant toll in the hitherto carefree, wide-open New York City gay scene
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REVIEW Richard Berkowitz ought to be lionized as an early crusader in the fight against AIDS. Instead he is not only largely forgotten now, his efforts earned him hostility and a kind of blacklisting within the gay community during the U.S. epidemic's destructive apex in the 1980s. Blessed with a still-living, charismatic subject, Daryl Wein's documentary puzzles out that injustice. Read more »

Intelligent design

Objectified's subjects plot a user-friendly universe
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

The first world is so jammed with manufactured stuff we can't perceive most of it — even the stuff we buy rapidly and take for granted, to be replaced by each next-model thingy. This process is now our economy's bedrock, as was underlined when the government's first order of business after 9/11 was to encourage partying like it's $19.99 via those "America: Open for Business" signs with Old Glory as shopping bag. Yet the economy and consumerism's ever-more-tangible impact on our planet seem to scream, "Shop less!"

Durability vs. Read more »

When we grow up

Frameline 2009: '70s relic Free to Be ... You and Me still resonates
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

In the 1960s and early '70s there was great enthusiasm behind the idea of loosening up the public school system. You know, making things more participatory, sparking kids' imaginations, encouraging those who might have be bored or neglected in traditional classroom models.

Suddenly grade-school veteran Mrs. McGregor was prodded — not that some sterner specimens didn't resist — to read the hidden signs of each child's psychological well-being as well as drill ye olde reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. Read more »

If you're nasty

Hacking a path through the latest slew of British horror flicks
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U.K. HORROR Once outrage settles over the current Parliamentary expense-account scandals, our former colonialist landlords will no doubt return to their concerns about "broken Britain," as the perceived general decline of moral rectitude in the United Kingdom is termed these days. Call 'em hoodies, chavs, yobs, or Neds, U.K. Read more »

O.G. sleaze

The glory of 1978's Inglorious Bastards
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

A full range of involuntary facial-muscle responses have already been triggered by the trailer to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which premieres at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. First 2008's Valkyrie, now this: Brad Pitt's Tennessee-hills-bred Lt. Read more »