Dennis Harvey

Sanitized insanity

Cleanflix doc tells a surprisingly twisty tale of Mormon "scrubbing"

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TRASH The term "Hollywood" has become a many-splendored pejorative, applicable to anything trite, vulgar, politically liberal, morally lax, and so on and so forth. Yet as much as they might like to think they're so-not That, what red-corpuscled Americans with an electrical socket in their dwelling — or simply senses to absorb stray bits of popular culture when they venture outside — aren't influenced by if not downright addicted to some facets of the entertainment industry?Read more »

8 Mile blues

It Came From Detroit follows the Motor City rock scene's early '00s moment in the sun

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There have been a number of documentaries lately reflecting a fascination with Detroit as a ruined giant, our very own (barely) living Pompeii. Local residents have made films lamenting the extreme poverty and the bungled public-corporate policies that largely created it. Non-locals, particularly those state-funded Europeans, have made others whimsically extolling the environ's pockets of reversion to agrarian culture — seeing utopian futurism there rather than a grimly comic last resort. Read more »

Lights, Jolie, action

In the Land of Blood and Honey is a respectable war movie — despite the superstar behind the camera

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The grudging, occasionally outright hostile tone some critics, culture vultures, and fan types have taken toward In the Land of Blood and Honey points toward a fundamental problem most of them have, though few admit it: the belief that Angelina Jolie is just too damn famous, too much a figure of public speculation and private fantasy, to be taken seriously — let alone to make a movie about rape and genocide during the War in the Balkans.Read more »

The unbearable triteness of being

Obnoxious I Melt With You is not destined for any top 10 lists

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM A lamentation frequently heard is that men don't know how to express their feelings. At least not the theoretically less "manly" ones of vulnerability, self-doubt, weepiness, affection, "do these board shorts make me look fat?," etc. Every once in a while, however, there comes an entertainment that makes you think: better to keep those feelings unexpressed, bud. Read more »

Clark shadows

Totally awesome video games! 1970s and 80s schlock director Greydon Clark gets a tribute, Joy Sticks and all

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TRASH If you were around in the waning days of drive-ins and urban grindhouses, the heydays of video stores and 1980s late-night cable, or were a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fan, the name Greydon Clark might ring a faint bell — maybe even a warning bell.Read more »

Rare and juicy

"Loads of Curt McDowell" pays tribute to an underground legend

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FILM Longtime San Francisco resident George Kuchar's death this September was a reminder of how many had been influenced by his loveably eccentric movies, from famous early fans like Andy Warhol and John Waters to the hundreds of students who passed through his San Francisco Art Institute courses over the decades. Read more »

No bombshell

Williams works hard, but My Week With Marilyn is a hollow tribute

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Small-screen hero

Honoring the versatile John Korty's 50-year career

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM While he's always kept a fairly low profile doing it, probably no director who calls the Bay Area home has balanced our penchant for documentary work and independence with a successful commercial (meaning Hollywood) career as gracefully, or as long, as John Korty. Now 75, the Marin resident is in the midst of a major retrospective — incredibly, his first — at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, which runs through December 4.Read more »

I don't want to grow up

Punk-poppin' in The Other F Word

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TRASH The 1980s U.S. hardcore punk scene was one refreshing bastion of opposition in the Reagan era of militaristic, monetary, and quasi-"family values" conformism. But it was also increasingly a turn-off for folks who liked the music and the message but not the violence at shows.Read more »

Blue Hawaii

A downbeat George Clooney shines in Alexander Payne's wry, restrained Descendants

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Alexander Payne turned 50 this year, and surely ranks somewhere on the list of American directors (and scenarists) whose efforts are counted on as a reliable plus. Yet he's only been at it for 15 years, making just five features — a decent number, until you realize it's been seven years since the last one. By contrast, since 2004 Woody Allen has made eight features, a couple his best in some time. Still, not one of those is as good as Sideways.Read more »