Dennis Harvey

False idol

A filmmaker impersonates a guru to distasteful ends in Kumaré

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It's easy to make fun of religion — particularly this election year — but when people aren't trying to kill or control one another over it, it's best to leave the subject alone. Why begrudge anyone whatever makes sense of the world for them, or gives comfort when in need?Read more »

Heavy drinking

Pretentious 'Lawless' takes its moonshinin' way too seriously

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The much-abused Malvolio in Twelfth Night is far from a great man, but he makes the definitive statement about greatness: that some are born with it, some achieve it, etc. Option number three, however, doesn't really work for movies. No film has ever successfully had greatness thrust upon it, at least not by its maker. Yet every year there are a handful that seem to be handing themselves golden statuettes in every self-consciously majestic frame.Read more »

Mid-century modern

Early efforts by Antonioni and Fellini elevate the curio factor of 1953 omnibus Love in the City

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM After World War II, the hitherto miniscule U.S. market for foreign language films slowly opened up, partly due to G.I.s returning home curious about the countries they'd been stationed in. But mostly it was because bold new voices in European cinema were delivering a new realism that could be sold (even when cut by censors) as more "shocking," "frank," and "shameless" than anything Hollywood would hazard for years yet.Read more »

Poppin' off

August is a big month for the Werepad-Vortex Room diaspora -- we're talking classic porn and Pop-art anniversaries

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TRASH The late, beloved Werepad begat the Vortex Room, the former closing when co-founder Jacques Boyreau moved from SF to Portland, Ore. But ties between those concerned with both venues remain tight, and August is a big month for them all. Firstly, it sees the release of Boyreau's latest coffee table tome, Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur (Fantagraphics, 96pp., $29.95). Really, you might ask, does there need to be a book devoted to full color reproductions of posters from the "golden age" (circa 1971-82) of XXX features?Read more »

Fangs, but no fangs

Mary Harron's 'The Moth Diaries' offers a mild take on the vampire drama

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When in Venice

An author struggles with his relationships in André Téchiné's casually intense 'Unforgivable'
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The Friedkin connection

The veteran director re-teams with Tracy Letts for NC-17 howler 'Killer Joe'
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Like many directors who emerged in the 1960s, William Friedkin started out in television before trying his luck on the big screen. Between 1967 and 1970 he directed four films from which it was difficult to perceive anything beyond a rather wild flexibility.Read more »

Love to Lovecraft

Follow the tentacles: spooky films possess Bay Area screens

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TRASH The movies had barely begun when adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories began appearing onscreen. However, that author's closest inheritor, H.P. Lovecraft, sparked no interest from the medium until a good quarter century after he died in 1937 at age 46, a death as premature following a life by all accounts as miserable as his predecessor's. Read more »

Do not disturb

Todd Solondz's latest, the slight 'Dark Horse,' is not his greatest

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Todd Solondz elicits a variety of responses, nearly all of them extreme, and nearly all reasonable enough. You can look at his work and find it brilliant, savage, challenging; or show-offy, contrived, fraudulent. The circles of interpersonal (especially familial) hell he describes are simultaneously brutal, banal, and baroque.Read more »

Delta delight

Believe the hype: Beasts of the Southern Wild is poetic and enchanting

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