Film

Gatsby who? Check out these cool rep flicks instead! Plus: more new movies.

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This week: two, count 'em two, series dedicated to oft-overlooked films produced outside the mainstream, dedicated to the seamier things in life: "I Wake Up Dreaming 2013" at the Roxie (Dennis Harvey's take here), and "Girls! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Films of Shintoho" at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (I drool here.)

Short takes on wider releases below, including The Great Gatsby, a film adaptation that finally realizes F. Scott Fitzgerald's deathbed wish: that one day, his most beloved work would be shot in garish 3D. Clearly, only suckers read books anymore. Read more »

Crazy sexy cruel

"Girls! Guns! Ghosts!" spotlights Japanese cult studio Shintoho

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FILM Long before VHS demon Sadako glared one eye through a tent of tangled black hair in 1998's Ring (American viewers may switch that to "Samara" and "2002"), another angry, swampy-coiffed dame was doing her best to scare the bejesus out of ticket buyers. The year was 1825, and the kabuki play was called Yotsuya Kaidan. Ghost Story of Yotsuya, the 1959 version of that oft-filmed tale — which contains visual motifs made famous by J-horror — kicks off the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' titillatingly-titled "Girls! Guns! Ghosts! Read more »

Man up

Tough guys rule at "I Wake Up Dreaming 2013" noir film fest

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'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 »