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 »
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 somehorrorclassics 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 onfilms like The Paperboy and Taken 2, which each define "trashy entertainment" in their own special ways.