16. Oldboy (Spike Lee, US) and DrugWar (Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong) Two films from two of the hardest-working filmmakers in the biz. Though close to an hour and 20 minutes were butchered from Lee's reimagining of Park Chan-wook's 2003 film, it still offered an audacious look at entitlement in America. And To delivered yet another taut gangsters vs. cops drama that ranks up there with TheMission (1999) and PTU (2003).Read more »
Chris Marker did not seem to see a hard distinction between cities and their people. The cat-loving leftist documentarian, whose distinctly poetic outlook we sadly lost last year, is probably best known for his experimental sci-fi short La Jetée (1962) and his ethnography-cum fictionalized-travel-memoir Sans Soleil (1983), film-school favorites both available through the Criterion Collection.Read more »
YEAR IN FILM Two of 2012's finest, most philosophical, and most frustrating movies share a setting of sorts. Although one film takes place in New York, the other in Paris, both films' protagonists spend a lot of time in their white stretch limousines. The limo: an ostentatious symbol of status and wealth, a home away from home.Read more »
Sam Green’s The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, which he performed twice on Tuesday, May 1, with live accompaniment from Yo La Tengo, is technically a documentary. But it’s a sort of gonzo documentary, a piece of performance art that emphasizes Green’s enthusiasm for his subject, the bespectacled architect-prophet Bucky Fuller.
On Tue/1, Green stood at the bottom left of the screen with a microphone; the three-piece band was opposite him. This format, which Green developed for his previous “live documentary” Utopia in Four Movements, allows for him to interact in the moment with his audience as well as his footage. In one particularly fun moment, while introducing a filmed interview segment, Green timed his commentary so that the onscreen figure’s face seemed to respond to his words, drawing big laughs.
Guardian film critic Sam Stander was among the crowds this past weekend as the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival kicked off its programming. The festival continues through May 3 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk.; SF Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post, SF; and Sundance Kabuki Cinema, 1881 Post, SF. Check out additional Guardian coverage here, here, here, and here.Remaining festival playdates (and additional screening info) are noted after each review below.
The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2011) Perhaps the seed was planted by the festival programmer who introduced the screening with a mention of Woody Allen, but this latest black & white film from the South Korean auteur feels akin to Stardust Memories (1980) and 8 1/2 (1963), a cleverly convoluted exploration of an artist’s anxieties. When lapsed filmmaker Sungjoon returns to Seoul to visit a friend, his encounters with compatriots and lovers old and new spiral into repetition and absurdity; the truth of any given situation is essentially inaccessible, leading to often uproarious contradictions, especially with a sympathetic audience like that at the Kabuki Fri/20. This is what one might call a movie-movie, a trip through deception of self and others through the medium of cinematic expression. Mon/23, 9:30pm, Kabuki; April 25, 9pm, PFA. Also plays SF Film Society Cinema May 4-10.
SFIFF R. Buckminster Fuller was born before the turn of the last century, and died before the start of this one. But place his philosophical and practical output next to any contemporary thinker, and something seems a bit off.
"He was totally out of sync with his time," says SF-based documentarian Sam Green (2004's The Weather Underground). "He was talking about green building in the 1930s or '40s."Read more »
LIT It started with a tweet. On May 17, 2011, Renae De Liz, following up on a suggestion by fellow comic book artist Jessica Hickman, pitched "an anthology made by all females" to her Twitter followers. The immediate response was unprecedented, as was the support that funneled in through the Kickstarter that was launched in July.Read more »
FILM Jafar Panahi is no longer allowed to make films in Iran. So, with the help of documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, he made This Is Not a Film.
After arrests in 2009 and 2010, Panahi was sentenced to a 20-year ban from filmmaking and a six-year prison term for "assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country's national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic," as reported by the Green Voice of Freedom, a human rights website. He is also barred from leaving the country or giving interviews.Read more »
Comic cons serve a variety of functions. They can be press junkets, costume parties, swap meets, social retreats, even museums. Comics writer Warren Ellis has a habit of referring to San Diego’s huge Comic Con as “nerd prom,” which perfectly captures the glow of excitement for mass socialization in funny costumes. By contrast, this year’s Image Comic Expo was more like a nerd Sadie Hawkins dance – a deliberate reversal of the standard hierarchy, where creator-owned books are championed over the widely beloved DC and Marvel franchises that sometimes seem to oversaturate the comics market. It was also a little less garish and hectic than some larger cons, but the sense of community and pride was still richly evident. Read more »
YEAR IN FILM How did the tiger get its stripes? Or, more pertinently, how did the superman get his tights? This has been the thrust of most big-budget superhero movies since the genre's big boom a decade ago — a strict adherence to monomythic convention, with modern action movie trappings to make the material accessible to newcomers.Read more »