Film

Presidents, secret agents, and true stories galore: new movies!

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The election is over and, thank Zeus, good defeated evil. So you can stop making snarky Romney gifs and turn your attentions to more important matters — like seeing Lincoln (yeah, he was a Republican, but as Spielberg's movie makes abundantly clear, Democrats were actually the bigger assholes back in the day). Or, you could see what ol' James Bond is up to in his 4785th film, Skyfall (just kidding — it's his 23rd, so Godzilla still has him beat). Reviews for both below the jump.

Elsewhere, DocFest opens tonight and runs through Nov. 21; check out my take on this year's programming (spoiler alert: lots o' good stuff) here; and read Dennis Harvey's review of a very strange movie starring a very strangely coiffed Sean Penn, This Must Be the Place.

And ... as if that would be everything going on in San Francisco's film scene this week? Are you new in town? There's also the San Francisco Film Society's local showcase Cinema By the Bay (my overview here) and New Italian Cinema programs; the always-popular (and now 10th annual!) San Francisco Transgender Film Festival; and Marc Huestis' multi-film tribute to the late, great Natalie Wood at the Castro.

PLUS more short takes, including the good word on Ursula Meier's acclaimed Sister, below. Read more »

Goth-hmm city

Sean Penn takes a bizarre road trip in 'This Must Be the Place'

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This much is true

Pirates, politicians, ogres, and cults: DocFest highlights

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The San Francisco Documentary Film Festival returns for its 11th year with a typically strong program — whether you like your docs quirky, political, musical, experimental, or just plain strange, DocFest has you covered. Plus, there's an "80s New Wave Sing-a-Long," because who doesn't love screaming Spandau Ballet with a few hundred pals? Read on for more recommendations.Read more »

Locally grown

Fresh picks from 'Cinema By the Bay'
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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM First and foremost, make it your business to see Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, which is playing the San Francisco Film Society's "Cinema By the Bay" series and the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, both of which open this week. (See DocFest article elsewhere in this issue.)Read more »

True facts: there are at least 15 movies opening this week

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Pack up the leftover Halloween candy and head to the movies this weekend — what better way to escape election-related craziness and/or rest your liver after all that LET'S GO GIANTS damage you just did?

Your options are pretty spectacular, as well: intriguing Israeli doc The Flat, in which a Jewish filmmaker learns his grandparents counted a Nazi couple among their social circle (my interview with director Arnon Goldfinger here); bonkers 1987 rock 'n' roll taekwondo spectacular Miami Connection (Dennis Harvey's take on this newly discovered instant cult classic here)

Plus, RZA's The Man With The Iron Fists, an homage to chopsocky classics (with, I'm assuming, a much better soundtrack); Denzel Washington playing an airline pilot whose secret drinking problem comes to light only after he prevents a plane from crash landing in Flight; and Deep Dark Canyon, a NorCal-set thriller by former locals Silver Tree and Abe Levy starring Ted Levine.

And that's not even the end of it! Read on for video game characters run amok, two found-footage horror flicks, a musically-inclined Pacific Film Archive program, tributes to Tony Bennett (speaking of the Giants) and Monty Python's Graham Chapman, and, I kid you not ... even more.

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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!)

Read more »

'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 »