Max Goldberg

Variety lights

PFA mines treasure from UCLA's Festival of Preservation
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

If Jean-Luc Godard is right that film history is the history of the 20th century, the film preservationist surely occupies a privileged seat of knowledge. Steve Erickson implied as much in 2007's Zeroville, his surrealist novel centering on a "cineautistic" film editor who gives new meaning to Freud's concept of "screen memories." But by and large the preservationist's labor is beyond public view. UCLA's prestigious moving image archive is trying to change that with a touring program of highlights from its biannual Festival of Preservation. Read more »

The deep end

Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel visits YBCA
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Lucrecia Martel's three mischievous films scramble normal narrative hierarchies, privileging sensation to exposition, desire to explanation, and intuition to realism. Thunder-clapped fairy tales of unknowing, they have an adolescent's sensitivity to the strangeness of the adult world. Outside of Tsai Ming-liang, it's difficult to think of another working director with such a productive obsession with water. Read more »

Domestic disturbance

Reflecting on Marco Ferreri's minimalist satire, Dillinger is Dead
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Equal parts Antonio Gramsci and Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Dillinger is Dead (1969) is cultural critique masquerading as a one-man show. Michel Piccoli plays Glauco, with his forehead mostly: the fleeting pleasures of food and gadgetry are registered in satisfied wrinkles, though the slack glaze of boredom is never far off. The film opens with Glauco touring a factory using a gas mask of his design. Read more »

The Lemonheads

The melodies that snag your adolescence are destined to boggle any attempt at objectivity
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REVIEW For a brief time in the early 1990s, Evan Dando was an It boy. He wore great jeans and hid behind his hair — the shaggy pop songs didn't hurt either. His band, the Lemonheads, coasted to success with an easy cover of "Mrs. Robinson," and then Atlantic took a bath on Come On Feel the Lemonheads (Atlantic, 1993), an album that's likely still haunting remainder bins. Read more »

Shadowboxing

Throwing light on underrated action master Phil Karlson at Pacific Film Archive
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

"Explosive action" may be the stuff of soppy pullquotes, but the term takes on fresh life watching the 1950s noirs of Phil Karlson. All action movies give us men and violence, but Karlson's pictures, to a rare degree, are about men living with violence. Punches aren't redemptive, they just hurt — the one throwing them too. Take the clenched former prizefighter in 99 River Street (1953), Ernie Driscoll (played by Karlson's preferred actor, the aggressively nondescript John Payne). Read more »

It takes two

Windy & Carl's ambient, celestial-waxing pairing isn't as blissful as it seems
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Whether one thinks of them as a dreamy drone duo who happen to be married or a married couple who happens to make dreamy drone music, Windy & Carl endure. Their first release, the Instrumentals EP (Burnt Hair), dates back to 1994; while most American guitars were tuned down for grunge's payday, Windy & Carl waxed celestial.

Spacey drones are now in fashion, but Windy & Carl's influence remains relatively unsung, in spite of their being one of the Kranky label's flagship acts. Read more »

Natural light

Oliver Assayas puts on an antique roadshow with "Summer Hours"
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REVIEW The abundant drama of natural light is reason enough to see Summer Hours, a family drama by Olivier Assayas aspiring to Proustian profundity and Chekhovian chambering. I prefer Les Destinées Sentimentales (2000) for Assayas' novelistic mode, but the new film still has plenty to like. This will be especially true for Antiques Roadshow fans, who will have a field day with all the Musée D'Orsay-approved furnishings, even if the characters themselves don't seem quite so sturdy. Read more »

SFIFF: In the realms of the real

Sacred Places and Z32 -- SFIFF's unconventional docs
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

Michael Moore may have paved the way for documentary gold, but the most structurally adventurous, ethically demanding nonfictions still reside on the festival block, where they frequently outshine their fictional counterparts for formal rigor and breadth of imagination. Read more »

The passion of Agnes

Agnes Varda's autobiographical doc spryly dissolves all boundaries
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Director commentaries are de rigueur in the DVD age, but few filmmakers possess the élan to warrant a feature length auto-exegesis. Agnès Varda is one, and her most recent memory piece — she claims it's her last — cheerfully dissolves the boundaries between memoir, retrospective, and installation. The film caps the Pacific Film Archive's month-long series, "Agnès Varda: Cinécriture," and faithful attendees will be rewarded by its recollections of earlier works from La Pointe Courte (1954) to The Gleaners and I (2000). Read more »

Made in U.S.A.

The fullest demonstration of Godard's aim to create a cinema that could take part in the jagged incongruities of modern life
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REVIEW Rialto Pictures founder Bruce Goldstein will scoop up the Mel Novikoff award at this year's San Francisco Film Festival, but local audiences have a chance to sample his good work before then during the Castro Theatre's run of Rialto's freshly struck 35–mm print of Jean-Luc Godard's widescreen, red-white-and-blue firecracker Made in U.S.A. (1967). Read more »