Dateline: San Francisco. Distressing news, via Facebook, on the "all the cool shit is in danger" front, with a post late Fri/20 by Valencia Street stalwart Lost Weekend Video:
"Times are tough at Lost Weekend Video! We’ve seen business suddenly drop by 30 percent just in the last few months, on top of the 60 percent hit we’ve already taken over the last few years. This has thrown us into pretty immediate crisis. We’d been working with an architect and the City to open a larger version of the Cinecave [Lost Weekend's basement screening room/performance venue] in the back half of the main space upstairs, but have found that it’s impossible due to a combination of the layout of the building and Valencia Street business restrictions. That has left us pretty much out of options."
Frameline 38, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, kicked off last night and runs through June 29; check out our big list o' blurbs right here. Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood directs a musical, Guy Pearce prowls the outback, a very good suburban noir emerges from the Netherlands, a documentary takes on the cost of higher education, and more! Read on for the goods (and bads).
The backstage musical that turned the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons — known for 1960s doo-wop ditties like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and a zillion more; you will recognize all of them — into Broadway gold ascends to the big screen Fri/20 thanks to director Clint Eastwood, a seemingly odd choice until you consider Eastwood's own well-documented love of music.
Jersey Boys weaves a predictable tale of show biz dreams realized and then nearly dashed, with a gangster element that allows for some Goodfellas-lite action (a pre-fame Joe Pesci is a character here; he was actually from the same 'hood, and was instrumental in the group's formation). With songs recorded live on-set, à la 2012's Les Misérables, there's some spark to the musical numbers, but Eastwood's direction is more solid than spontaneous, with zero surprises (even the big finale, clearly an attempt at a fizzy, feel-good farewell, seems familiar).
Still, the cast — including 2006 Tony winner John Lloyd Young as Valli, and Christopher Walken as a sympathetic mobster — is likable, with Young in particular turning in a textured performance that speaks to his years of experience with the role. I spoke with Young, Michael Lomenda (who plays original Four Season Nick Massi), and Erich Bergen (as Bob Gaudio, the member who wrote most of the group's hits) when the trio made a recent visit to San Francisco to promote the movie.
The Case Against 8 (Ben Cotner and Ryan White, US) This documentary follows the successful fight to have Proposition 8 overturned as unconstitutional and restore legality to gay marriage in California. There's way too much time spent on the couples chosen as plaintiffs, a Berkeley lesbian pair and two Los Angeles male partners — we get it, they're nice people — and the decisions to disallow broadcast of the eventual court proceedings means we get laborious recitations of what people have already said on record. Read more »
FILM Sometimes a movie can only be called a gift — a gift intended for somebody other than the viewer. Clearly a film is a vanity project if its primary intent seems to flatter its maker. But what about when it's a love letter from one rich, entitled celebrity to another? Then the vanity grows complicated, not least by the fact that we're expected to pay for the privilege of watching one ass kiss another.Read more »
FILM Poland had not been a major hub of film production in the early decades of the medium, and its industry stabilized without getting very interesting in the years after World War II, when a Soviet-backed Stalinist regime founded state-controlled Film Polski. This shotgun wedding of art and bureaucracy wasn't ideally conducive to creative expression, however. By the mid-1950s younger filmmakers, many graduates from the recently founded National Film School in Lodz, agitated for more independence — which, surprisingly, they won.Read more »
FILM We're neck-deep in local film festival season right now — which, yeah, is kind of 12 months out of the year around here, but the SF Silent Film and Green Film festivals just ended, DocFest is underway, and Frameline starts June 19 — but there are plenty of reasons to carve out time for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' outstanding New Filipino Cinema mini-fest this weekend.Read more »
Dudes! The (lucky) 13th San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, aka DocFest to those in the know, is underway now, running through June 19 with all kinds of weird and wonderful docs. Check out Dennis Harvey's recommendations here.
From the spangly tentacles of Hollywood, we've got Shailene "I Am Not the Poor Man's Jennifer Lawrence" Woodley in a certified tearjerker, and Tom "Still a Big Enough Star to Avoid Being Cast in an Expendables Flick Just Yet" Cruise fighting aliens (and, surprisingly, his own ego). Plus: indie picks, including the latest from Kelly Reichardt and Lukas Moodysson. Read on for more.