Film

'Iron Man 3' and everything else: new movies!

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This week: the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival continues (our second week picks here); hippie cult doc The Source Family opens at the Roxie (my interview with the filmmakers, who were able to access vast amounts of archival footage shot by the group itself, here); and Iron Man 3 follows the exploits of Tony Stark, Lord of Winterfell. My review of that low-budget indie that you probably haven't heard of below, plus more! Read more »

Tribeca Film Festival wrap-up: the best of the rest!

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It was the best of sequesters: oh, Tribeca, how to wrap up the many, many days spent hidden away in the dark, watching flickering images dart across a screen? I can only try, as I speed through the best of the rest — and the notable not-so-muchs.

Kids these days: Poets and the young girls that love them are at the very funny heart of indie comedy Adult World, which is sure to make a star of Emma Roberts. She’s the shrill, just-graduated, wannabe-verse-slinger Amy, who’s moonlighting in an adult video store alongside hollow-eyed cutie Alex (American Horror Story’s Evan Peters) and hoping scuzzball genius will rub off if she “interns” (read: cleans house) for her favorite poet, Rat Billings (writ world-weary and hilariously cynical by John Cusack). First-time feature director Scott Coffrey (also, weirdly, a graduate of the same Honolulu high school where I did my own Amy impression) lets a few rough edges (i.e., edits) show, but it’s all good when the filmmaker winds up Roberts, playing the cringe-worthy Tracy Flick for the chapbook set, and lets her go.

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Aquarius rising

Free your mind and surrender to 'The Source Family'

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FILM Under the guidance of charismatic, luxuriously-bearded leader Father Yod (once named Jim Baker, later known as YaHoWha), the Source Family operated one of the country's first health food restaurants. They lived in a Hollywood Hills mansion, wore flowing robes, assumed dreamy new names, meditated, and studied Father Yod's custom blend of Eastern and Western philosophy and mysticism.Read more »

Short takes: SFIFF week two

Prince Avalanche, Computer Chess, The Strange Little Cat, Waxworks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and more picks from the huge fest

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Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green, US, 2012) It has been somewhat hard to connect the dots between David Gordon Green the abstract-narrative indie poet (2000's George Washington, 2003's All the Real Girls) and DGG the mainstream Hollywood comedy director (2008's Pineapple Express, yay; 2011's Your Highness and The Sitter, nay nay nay). But here he brings those seemingly irreconcilable personas together, and they make very sweet music indeed. Read more »

Noodles, street dancers, and more from the Tribeca Film Fesival

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The only-in-Noo Yawk perks of the Tribeca Film Festival? The proximity of theaters like AMC Loews Village 7 to repositories of ramen deliciousity like Momofuku Noodle Bar, a scant two blocks away. You can keep the free ketchup-flavored popcorn distributed by sponsors in front of other theaters. I’ll take Momofuku’s house ramen, which overwhelms with porky goodness (a.k.a. pork belly, pork shoulder) and comes with a soft poached egg and gotta-have-it fish cake, cabbage, and nori.

Momofuku’s mini mason jar of flavorful kimchi also makes an ideal spicy side to such Tribeca talkies as The Broken Circle Breakdown, Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, and Flex Is Kings. Read more »

SFIFF + Hollywood = your weekend movie plans

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The San Francisco International Film Festival kicked off its 56th year last night; it continues through May 9 at venues around San Francisco and Berkeley. Read my take on standout docs here; Dennis Harvey's appreciation of Finnish cinema here; and short takes by both of us (plus Kimberly Chun) here.

Meanwhile, down in Hollywood, Michael Bay's musclebound latest opens today, along with a wedding comedy starring Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and always-the-bride Amanda Seyfried. Reviews of both below, along with François Ozon's new film, a martial-arts slo-mo-stravaganza, and, yes, even more. Read more »

Nordic track

SFIFF offers an all-too-rare opportunity to appreciate Finnish cinema

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arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF "The greatest Finnish movie ever made" — drop that phrase on someone (at least a non-Finn) and they will most likely make some crack suggesting there can't possibly be enough of them for the distinction to matter. But Finland has had a rich and idiosyncratic filmmaking history stretching back to 1907. It hardly begins and ends with Aki Kaurismäki, the droll minimalist who was the first (and still only) Finnish director to regularly win international distribution.Read more »

Screening is believing

Five must-see documentaries at the huge San Francisco International Film Festival. Plus: Rare Finnish movies and a ton of SFIFF previews.

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Short takes: SFIFF week one

You're Next, Rosie, The Kill Team, The Patience Stone, and more reviews of film fest features

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SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

April 25-May 9, most shows $10-15

Various venues

festival.sffs.orgRead more »

Help fund Goldie winner Jamie Meltzer's latest doc!

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When I last spoke with filmmaker and Stanford assistant professor Jamie Meltzer, it was at the 2012 Guardian Local Outstanding Discovery (a.k.a. Goldie) awards ceremony. I selected him for that honor — the Goldies are meant to recognize up-and-coming artists who are making impressive work but haven't yet gotten widespread recognition — based on the two documentaries of his I'd seen: 2003's cult favorite Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story, and 2012's Informant, about a prickly activist-turned-FBI-informant-turned-Tea-Partier, which premiered at the 2012 San Francisco International Film Festival.

Well, chances are, that widespread recognition is soon to come Meltzer's way. Informant was picked up by Music Box Films for distribution (look for it late summer or early fall in the Bay Area), and his latest project, Freedom Fighters, sounds highly promising: "The film follows three exonerated men from Dallas, with 57 years in prison served between them, as they start their own detective agency to look for innocent people who are still behind bars," Meltzer wrote in an email late last week. "It's a documentary detective film — a documentary noir, if you will." (NPR broadcast a story about the men on April 16; listen here.)

I called him up to learn more, including details on the Kickstarter he just launched to help fund the next phase of shooting.

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