Dennis Harvey

Fall Arts: Popcorn -- and human pies

Fresh Coppola and eternal winter in a fall new-movie top 10
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1. Across the Universe Stage visionary (The Lion King) turned occasional film director (Titus, Frida) Julie Taymor's latest attracted advance attention of the wrong kind. Revolution Studios found her final cut of this Vietnam War–<\d>era musical drama — whose characters break into Beatles songs — too surreal and abstract, reediting it without her consent. Read more »

Might makes wrong

War Made Easy and No End in Sight
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A couple of years ago, filmmaker Thom Anderson remarked to me that all films about war, even those that aim to show its injustice, are prowar.Read more »

Festival Guide

Funny ladies and ultra-orthodox cinemaniacs at the Jewish Film Festival
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The opening-night selection at the Jewish Film Festival is Israeli writer-director Dror Shaul's worldwide prizewinner, Sweet Mud. It views 1974 kibbutz life from a 12-year-old's perspective, but don't expect rosy childhood nostalgia. Read more »

Silent voice

His People opens the movie screen to Jewish American dreams
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When US moviemaking started out, it was an enterprise disreputable enough to attract the wrong sort of people: get-rich-quick speculators, third-tier theater folk, organized crime, and even — god forbid — Jews. The last rose to pilot most major studios as Hollywood became a gigantic industry. Yet this alleged Jewish mafia (a term still not fully retired in some circles) seldom used wealth and imagistic power to integrate fellow Jews into the cultural mainstream. Read more »

Tune in, turn on, "Psych-Out"

A filmed-in-the-Haight fable about Summer of Love hippies doing, like, hippie stuff, man
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CULT FILM Some movies define a generation. Some distort a generation. Very special ones manage both. Welcome to the genius of Psych-Out, a 1968 American International Pictures epic (produced by none other than squeaky-clean American Bandstand icon Dick Clark) that remains perhaps the all-time high-water mark in cinematic hippiesploitation.

Oh, Psych-Out, Psych-Out, Psych-Out! How many times have I loved your psychedelic excesses since that fateful first viewing in the 1980s at Boston's annual Schlock-around-the-Clock marathon? Read more »

Cemetery gates

The hills are dead, but the music is alive in Colma: The Musical
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Perhaps the only nonzombie movie in recent memory in which the dead outnumber the living, Colma: The Musical did not appear to be a hot prospect when it premiered at last year's San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. A musical suburban-youth angstfest made locally on a shoestring, starring and produced by no one you've heard of? A movie originally intended to be an indie concept album and a stage show? Read more »

For Christ's sake

LGBT folk vs. Christians
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The cultural divide between a supposed gay agenda and faith-based biases is well represented in several features within Frameline's expansive 2007 program. Read more »

There's no business ...

ShowBusiness sets its sights on Broadway-or-bust babies
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One of the most entertaining books ever written about the commercial theater is Ken Mandlebaum's Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops (St. Martin's, 1992). There's something inherently fascinating about the backstories and eventual fates of big stage musicals. Read more »

Czech, please!

A new film series revives old modernist spirits
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A faltering economy is the biggest threat to most national film industries, but Czechoslovakia's had a more distinct misfortune: it was shut down by occupation forces not once but twice. Most famously, the 1960s Czech new wave, in which talents like Jirí Menzel, Ivan Passer, Vera Chytilová, and Milos Forman first flourished, was abruptly dammed by the 1968 Soviet invasion. Read more »

It's a mad, mad about Mads world

Hunky actor helps Adam's Apples
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Mads Mikkelsen has excessively high cheekbones on very long, flat facial planes, making him the kind of handsome actor suited for morally untrustworthy roles. Hence his casting as a charismatic antihero in the violent Pusher series (sort of Denmark's big-screen Sopranos) and as the villain who inflicts improbably impermanent damage to chairbound James Bond's weenus in 2006's Casino Royale. Read more »