Max Goldberg

Raison ritual

YEAR IN FILM: Paying tribute to the films that paid closest attention

|
()

YEAR IN FILM "We could live like this forever." Josephine, the serious young woman in Claire Denis' gorgeous chamber drama 35 Shots of Rum, whispers this line to her father while they're camped out on the beach. It's unclear, however, whether she's referring to this particular sandy spot or the rituals of home and work that structure the film. As with Chris Chong's remarkable short, Block B, 35 Shots of Rum (a ritual in the title itself) is set in a superficially unattractive apartment complex. Read more »

They were expendable

Revisiting Miklós Jancsó's Cinemascope war ballads
|
()

"Camera movement" doesn't even begin to describe the orchestral coordination of tracks, pans, tilts, zooms, and compositional dimensionality comprising Miklós Jancsó's boldly vertiginous 10-minute takes. Read more »

Serene velocity

Blues Control's mobile minimalism and Local Flavor
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Blues Control is an instrumental rock band, but don't hold that against them. The extended compositions and caterwauling guitars and keyboards may suggest post-rock bloat, but unlike many of their voiceless brethren, the duo knows that freedom is found in limits. Their crafty deployment of prerecorded loops and particularized live effects has etched a signature sound that's at once distinct and nostalgic. They're one of those mood ring groups that summons a whole lineage of avant-garde rock without exactly adhering to any one dominant influence. Read more »

Camera lucida

Robert Beavers' decades in the making film cycle surfaces at Pacific Film Archives
|
()

Film is not really a medium for perfection — too many moving parts, too much equipment. But then, Robert Beavers isn't your typical filmmaker. For 40 years, he's done everything by hand, off in the hinterlands of the avant-garde. Read more »

Higher ground

Solnit's latest explores the utopic possibilities glimpsed in disaster
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

LIT What Susan Sontag wrote about illness in 1978's Illness as Metaphor and 1989's AIDS and Its Metaphors holds for disaster as well: all too often, widespread devastation is made to serve moralistic meanings. Read more »

My country, my country

Heddy Honigmann Returns To Lima with Oblivion
|
()

FILM We go to documentaries to learn about the lives of others, but rarely are we put in touch with the patience, sensitivity, and grit required of listening. Heddy Honigmann's films privilege the social aspect of these encounters and are the emotionally richer for it — I'd bet her hard-earned humanism would appeal to a wide cross-section of audiences if given the chance, but her documentaries remain woefully under-distributed. Oblivion is her first set in Lima since 1992's Metal and Melancholy, still my favorite film of hers. Read more »

Come of age

Pacific Film Archive celebrates 50 years of Ermanno Olmi
|
()

a&eletters@sfbg.com

FILM A bittersweet tone in movies is an easy thing to flub. The most common culprits are asinine sentimentalism and mock-solemnity, neither of which figures into the graceful cinema of Ermanno Olmi. Read more »

Liverpool

A withdrawn narration that moves with the stealth purpose of a folk tale
|
()

REVIEW Liverpool may belong to the slow club of cinema — long takes, downcast eyes, and monumental landscapes — but the friction between its patient formalism and wild terrain is anything but staid. As with Werner Herzog, Lisandro Alonso sites the existential condition in plainly inhospitable ecologies. But whereas Herzog paradoxically employs grandiloquence to remonstrate the folly of human pomposity, Liverpool's withdrawn narration moves with the stealth purpose of a folk tale. Read more »

Rialto's Best of British Noir

Film noir is getting a good workout during otherwise sunny September
|
()

PREVIEW That undisputed champ of repertory programming, film noir, is getting a good workout during otherwise sunny September. Read more »

Saved!

Take Me to the Water searches the strange depths of full immersion baptism in song and image
|
()

a&eletters@sfbg.com

PHOTO ISSUE Take Me to the Water (Dust-to-Digital, 96 pages, $32.50) is an eccentric archive, under the same bewildering sign as Harry Smith's epochal Anthology of American Folk Music (1952). It comprises both a book (75 sepia plates of full immersion baptism scenes performed in nature) and accompanying CD in the same vein as Dust-to-Digital's earlier ark of covenants, Goodbye, Babylon (2003). Read more »