Film

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

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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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Cruisin', obsessin', and drinkin': new movies!

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Hollywood is clearly bowing down to the power of Tom Cruise this week, opening no other contenders (sorry, Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem doesn't count) to compete with what's sure to be an Oblivion-ated weekend box office. (And to be honest, the movie's big and dumb, but actually pretty entertaining. My review after the jump.)

Elsewhere, the must-see movie-obsessive doc Room 237 opens at the Roxie (check out my interview with director Rodney Ascher here; he'll be at the Roxie in person this weekend), and Dennis Harvey takes on a pair of imports that actually do fairy-tale adaptations proud: Blancanieves and Let My People Go! Also worth checking out is the latest from Ken Loach, a comedy about crime and whiskey ... what's not to love? My review follows.

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Things that make you go hmmm: new movies!

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Better order your popcorn with a side of open-mindedness this week, what with To the Wonder (meh) and Upstream Color (woo!) launching themselves at audiences. Less experimental types can settle for ensemble drama Disconnect or Scary Movie 5, the latest in the pop-culture parody series.

Read on for the rest of this week's new films, including the latest from Danny Boyle and Robert Redford, plus a perfectly-timed-to-maximize-on-the-start-of-baseball-season Jackie Robinson biopic.

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Stop making sense

'Upstream Color' is a head-scratcher — but it's worth it

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A woman, a man, a pig, a worm, Walden — what? If you enter into Shane Carruth's Upstream Color expecting things like a linear plot, exposition, and character development, you will exit baffled and distressed. Best to understand in advance that these elements are not part of Carruth's master plan. In fact, based on my own experiences watching the film twice, I'm fairly certain that not really understanding what's going on in Upstream Color is part of its loopy allure.Read more »

All killer, no filler: new movies!

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Deadites, dino-junkies, indie supporters, doc watchers, foreign-film fans, "Hey Girl" lovers ... there's a little something for all y'all this week. (If you'd prefer to avoid the multiplex, check out the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Pen-ek Ratanaruang series and/or the San Francisco Cinematheque's Crossroads fest.)

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The Performant: The sacred and the profane

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Putting the "good" back into Good Friday at “Sing-Along Jesus Christ Superstar” and Zombie Christ Haunted House

They might seem merely irreverent, or downright blasphemous, to conservative churchgoers, but I’m pretty sure the original JC Superstar would have dug the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence -- you know, the water-into-wine Jesus who supported sex workers and preached tolerance and respect for the marginalized.

The Sisters, who have been preaching the same since 1979, really get a chance to shine (and glitter) come Easter Weekend. One of SF’s most singular events, Easter Sunday in Dolores Park grabs the lion’s share of the attention, what with its iconic Easter Bonnet contest, the sainting of local community heroes, and the ever-popular Hunky Jesus competition, being rescheduled as we speak due to spring showers. But for those of us who find it difficult to get up early on a Sunday morning, hardbody of Christ or no hardbody of Christ, the Sisters have expanded their influence across the weekend, creating plenty of opportunity for the nocturnal among us to grab a little of the resurrection gusto for themselves.

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Local filmmaker's '50 Children' doc debuts on HBO

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San Franciscan Steven Pressman makes his filmmaking debut with 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, an informative documentary about Philadelphia residents Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus — grandparents to Pressman's wife, Liz Perle — who hatched a daring plan in 1939 to rescue 50 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria. The hour-long film airs Mon/8 on HBO.

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RIP Roger Ebert

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A sad day for cinema fans everywhere today; veteran film critic, author, advocate, and (lately) blogger/Twitter master Roger Ebert has died after a long battle with cancer.

Below, some clips paying tribute to the man, the myth, the guy who co-wrote Russ Meyer's 1970 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

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