Film

West Memphis blues

'West of Memphis' asks some long-overdue questions of a notorious case

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM At this point, it's hard to imagine a present-day murder trial more painstakingly documented than that of the so-called West Memphis Three. The subject of four documentaries, with a feature film in the works (starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, no less), and inspiring at least as many books, websites, and countless articles, the story of the three teenagers convicted of the brutal killings of three small boys has never quite dropped from public attention.Read more »

Sundance 2013: Viva Silva!

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Festival veteran Jesse Hawthorne Ficks files his first report from the 2013 Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals.

This year's Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals were both outstanding, so I did my best to pack my schedule as full as humanly possible (sacrificing sleep in the process). With close to 50 programs achieved, I can assure you it's gonna be one helluva year for cinema. Make sure to mark some of these titles down for 2013.

Filmmaker Sebastián Silva brought two new entries to Sundance, and they both happened to be two of my most cherished experiences. Crystal Fairy and Magic Magic were filmed in Chile at the same time, and showcase the almighty Michael Cera — who learned Spanish just for these projects. If you are able to avoid the countless spoiler-heavy reviews (this isn't one of them) and enter these films at your own risk, you will be treated to Silva's masterful, even transcendental, slow burn.

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Stallone, Walken, zombies, Oscar shorts, and more: new movies!

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Yes you can find time to see a movie this otherwise football-y weekend. The ongoing Noir City and Sketchfest still have a lot of great upcoming programming, Sly Stallone is back in evocatively-titled action flick Bullet to the Head, a zombie finds love in Warm Bodies (review below), and all the Academy Award-nominated shorts are now available for big-screen viewing, for anyone who takes winning the office Oscar pool as seriously as ... the Superbowl.

And speaking of the big game, the Roxie will be hosting its annual "Men in Tights" viewing party, a benefit for the theater and the upcoming SF IndieFest. So you can have your pigskin, and eat your popcorn too. GO NINERS!

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'United in Anger' reveals ACT-UP's surprising intricacies

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In the end, it was the women who saved us -- and we, in turn, helped save them.

As a gay man, this was one of the lessons I took from Jim Hubbard and Sarah Schulman's brilliant, sometimes harrowing film, United in Anger: A History of ACT-UP, which I caught yesterday at the GLBT History Museum in the Castro, and which screens again tonight Fri/1 at 6pm at the San Francisco Art Institute. The 93-minute movie, bristling with mindblowing archival footage, swiftly but effectively traces the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power movement from its rambunctious beginnings in 1987 in New York, through its major actions like the die-in inside St. Patrick's Cathedral and the storming of the NIH headquarters in Maryland, to its eventual, sad dissipation under the weight of endless death in the mid-1990s. There is a lot of great retro fashion in this, btw.

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Fairy tales, Noir City, insane drummers, and more! Yep, it's movie time

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An odd week of new releases, this: three disposible genre flicks (ensemble comedy Movie 43; Jason Statham ass-whupper Parker; and Jeremy-Renner-what-is-going-on-with-your-career-dude? puzzler Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) — plus old-folks comedy Quartet (read Dennis Harvey's take here, probably the only Quartet review on the planet to compare it to 1979's Roller Boogie).

Your best bets are the two films reviewed after the jump (music doc Beware of Mr. Baker and South Korean import In Another Country), or buying a sheaf of tickets to the always-quality Noir City (now in its 11th year; runs through Feb.3 at the Castro).

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Old joy -- and pain

San Francisco filmmaker (and Oscar nominee!) Sari Gilman talks 'Kings Point'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Film editor Sari Gilman — her resume includes 2007's Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and 2002's Blue Vinyl — made her directorial debut with the 30-minute documentary Kings Point, a bittersweet exploration of a Florida retirement community. The film first screened locally as part of the 2012 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and will air on HBO in March. In the meantime, it's been nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. I caught up with Gilman to talk about her film — and little gold men.Read more »

Smith happens

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Every year there's at least one: the adorable-old-coot fest, usually British, that proves harmless and reassuring and lightly tear/laughter producing enough to convince a certain demographic that it's safe to go to the movies again, just this once. The last months have seen two, both starring Maggie Smith (who's also queen of that audience's home viewing via Downton Abbey), and in this case more is probably less.Read more »

Arnold's baaaack! Plus more new movies

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Get to the theatah! California's (thankfully, former) Governor returns to the multiplex to do what he does best: speak in one-liners and carry a big gun. My review of The Last Stand below the jump, along with short takes on the Mark Wahlberg-Russell Crowe crime drama Broken City, and more.

Also this week: Hellbound?, a doc about damnation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (Dennis Harvey's take here); the Mostly British Film Festival (my round-up here); and the Guillermo del Toro-endorsed horror flick Mama, starring Jessica "Zero Dark Oscar" Chastain. Plus, tonight, the original Django (1966) screens at the Castro! More here.

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Damnation investigation

A new doc goes to hell and back

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It's a peculiarity of our moment that the worse things get, the more people seem inclined to think everyone else is going to hell. Their interpretation of the Bible (or Quran, or whatever) is seemingly absolute, yet God seems to stay on their side no matter which way the worldly wind might blow. Righteous judgment of others has practically become the American way, not that we were ever less than an opinionated bunch.Read more »

Hardly strictly British

Classics, premieres, and a 2013 Oscar nominee at the Mostly British Film Festival

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM "In Somalia there are no such things as kid actors and stage moms," explains the trailer for Asad, an 18-minute film about a Somali boy forced to choose between fishing and piracy. "There are just survivors telling a story."Read more »