Film

Support the Roxie's Kickstarter campaign!

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Yeah, I know — at this point, you have your email set up to funnel any messages with the word "Kickstarter" in them to go directly to spam. But for every CD you never receive or artist who seems to misappropriate her crowd-sourced dollars, there's an honest cause that's well worth whatever support ($5 minumum) you can toss its way.

For example: the new campaign for San Francisco's beloved Roxie Theater, the second-oldest theater in the world and the oldest continuously running theater in the US — though I'd venture a guess programming in 1909 looked a little different than it does today. (Speaking of which, check out Dennis Harvey's review of the mind-blowing Miami Connection, luring Roxie audiences into its cult starting this Friday.) The Roxie's eclectic schedule always features a mix of first-run films, one-off special events, local-filmmaker showcases, and film festivals (DocFest starts next week!)

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'Cloud Atlas' and more new movies, plus one new-old movie ('Wake in Fright')

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A couple of potential Oscar contenders open this week: The Sessions, which could earn a nomination for John Hawkes' portrayal of a paralyzed man seeking to (finally) lose his virginity; and Cloud Atlas, an sprawling, interesting-yet-flawed epic from Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski that might win some technical notices, though probably won't earn any acting nods (however, the Many Faces of Tom Hanks could sneak in there). Short reviews of both films below.

In this week's Guardian, read up on unsettling 1971 Australian film Wake in Fright, finally hitting US theaters this week, and the San Francisco Film Society's "French Cinema Now" series, including a film starring Jane Fonda as an American expat in France (speaking flawless French, and looking pretty flawless, too).

Other new movies this week: Gerard Butler battles big (Bay Area!) waves in Chasing Mavericks; a teen (Nickolodean starlet Victoria Justice) chases her rascally little brother from one end of Halloween night to the other in Fun Size; a king (Korean dreamboat Byung-hun Lee) hires a lookalike actor to body-double him in Korean hit Masquerade; and people ... uh, run shrieking from spooky stuff in video-game sequel Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.

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Drunks, drugs, kung fu, and rock 'n' roll: just another week at the movies

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This week, get thee to the Roxie for "Not Necessarily Noir III" (Dennis Harvey's preview here), or the wind-whipped moors for Andrea Arnold's brutal new Wuthering Heights (my chat with Arnold here). Other new stuff we haven't reviewed yet: the not-screened-for-critics-because-let's-face-it-these-movies-are-critic-proof Paranormal Activity 4, and Tyler Perry's first Madea-free enterprise in some time, Alex Cross.

Read on for more new reviews!

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Gimme Moors

Andrea Arnold offers a raw take on 'Wuthering Heights'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights has inspired multiple films, as varied in quality as the 1939 Best Picture nominee starring Sir Laurence Olivier — and the 2003 made-for-MTV adaptation, in which "Heath" is a pouty, motorcycle-riding himbo. The source material may seem an odd choice for acclaimed British director Andrea Arnold, best-known for 2006's Red Road and 2009's Fish Tank, both gritty films about working-class people, unfussily shot using hand-held cameras.Read more »

Darker than dark

'Not Necessarily Noir III' film fest roars into the Roxie

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It is one of those hard truths one must learn to live with: Quentin Tarantino will always have seen more obscure exploitation movies than you. His new Django Unchained will arrive just in time for Christmas like a gift wrapped severed limb, leaving dedicated fanboy/fangirl types just weeks yet to immerse themselves in the world of spaghetti westerns to which it pays homage.Read more »

The rescuer

'Gigli' is forgiven: 70s thriller 'Argo' is Ben Affleck's best yet

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A decade or so ago, Ben Affleck was drowning in Bennifer mania and starring in schlock like Daredevil (2003) and Gigli (2003). Rumors percolated that Affleck and Matt Damon hadn't really written that Oscar-winning script for 1997's Good Will Hunting — though Damon's career was bearing more fruit at the time (see: 2002's The Bourne Identity), the "Jenny From the Block" video was nauseating enough to make anyone question the authenticity of anything Affleck-associated up to that point.Read more »

The big show

Pioneering producer Irwin Yablans talks baseball, disco, and his favorite holiday
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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM/LIT Any horror fan can tell you that John Carpenter directed and co-wrote 1978's Halloween. But it would require a slightly more credits-obsessed moviegoer to recognize the name of behind-the-scenes maestro Irwin Yablans.Read more »

Zombie dogs! Neeson! Southern-fried jail tales! And more, in this week's new movies

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It's finally Halloweentime! (Though Walgreens would have you believe that season started in August.) Hollywood prepares appropriately with a few spookier picks (for kids, Frankenweenie, reviewed below; for older crowds, found-footage anthology V/H/S, discussed in my interview with some of the filmmakers here.) For good measure, you can check out my interview with Dee Wallace, star of some horror classics but making the press rounds for the 30th anniversary Blu-ray release of E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

Of local interest, the Mill Valley Film Festival is up and running, with some stellar picks noted here (HOLY MOTORS!) and an interview with indie pioneer Allison Anders, who debuts her new Strutter at the fest, here.

And, as always, there's more. Read on for takes on films like The Paperboy and Taken 2, which each define "trashy entertainment" in their own special ways.

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Gruesome discovery

'V/H/S' filmmakers discuss the bros and cons of found-footage horror
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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM In the summer of 1999, horror fans hungered for something, anything, that wasn't a Scream-inspired self-aware slasher.

Though it had no stars, a microscopic budget, and was filmed in nausea-inducing shaky-cam, The Blair Witch Project burst into cinemas with a novel set-up — filmmakers lost in the woods record supernatural goings-on before falling victim to evil themselves — and scares galore. Towering box-office receipts, a Time magazine cover, and legions of rip-offs ensued.Read more »

Northern promises

MILL VALLEY FILM FEST: Our picks of the litter

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On the Road (Walter Salles, US/France/UK/Brazil, 2012) Walter Salles (2004's The Motorcycle Diaries) engages Diaries screenwriter Jose Rivera to adapt Jack Kerouac's Beat classic; it's translated to the screen in a streamlined version, albeit one rife with parties, drugs, jazz, danger, reckless driving, sex, philosophical conversations, soul-searching, and "kicks" galore. Brit Sam Riley (2007's Control) plays Kerouac stand-in Sal Paradise, observing (and scribbling down) his gritty adventures as they unfold. Read more »