Dennis Harvey

"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 »

CounterCorp Anti-Corporate Film Festival

An apt alternative-entertainment prelude to Memorial Day
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PREVIEW Moving in its fourth year from autumn to an early summer slot, San Francisco's CounterCorp Anti-Corporate Film Festival now provides an apt alternative-entertainment prelude to Memorial Day — because what, after all, is more patriotic these days than asking the question, "What are we fighting for?" Fittingly, the opener is about Big Oil. Sandy Cioffi (who'll be present) at one point spent five days in the custody of Nigerian security forces while making Sweet Crude, an investigation of Shell Oil Corp. Read more »

From the shadows

"Ow, ya got me!" "I Wake Up Dreaming" celebrates rare, plutonium-hot noir
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

The cheapest special effect in the world is having one actor fire a cap gun as another cries, "Ow, ya got me!" Ergo crime did pay, in spades, for Hollywood's "Poverty Row" studios in the disillusioned years between World War II and Eisenhower-era prosperity. Subsequently dubbed "film noir," this period's myriad violent melodramas were cranked out fast, exhibited briefly, then forgotten.

Yet recent years have left very few stones unturned in the quest for buried gems. Read more »

On the (closet) case

Kirby Dick's Outrage aims to have an explosive breaking-news impact
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While gay rights have been a hot political button for a solid three decades-plus now, there is at least one arena in American life where the issue remains hush-hush: the corridors of actual political power. Such is the thesis — or rather accusation — of Kirby Dick's new documentary, which wants to light a shaming agitative fire like his last one (2006 MPAA expose This Film Is Not Yet Rated), and with any luck will do so. His subject is the bizarre, undiminished existence of top U.S. Read more »

Sita Sings the Blues

A blatantly autobiographical tale of romantic woe and the mythological travails of Sita, beloved of the noble Rama
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REVIEW A few years ago, independent animator and comic strip artist Nina Paley left San Francisco for India, where her boyfriend had found employment. A while later, during a visit home, she received a surprise, brusque communication from the bf informing her she need not return — the relationship was over. Just what the bf ultimately got out of this episode is unknown. Read more »

Pretzeled logic

Filmmaker Kate Churchill overshadows her subject in Enlighten Up!
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

Ever since Michael Moore first attempted to meld Woody Allen and Ralph Nader, and Morgan Spurlock made himself the genially comic-lite host of an experiment in culinary consumerism, more and more documentarians have been tempted to star in their own movies. This is dangerous terrain, given that whenever one introduces the Element of Me into examination of a larger issue, Me tends to hog the spotlight. Read more »