Film

Single ladies, fake gurus, ponderous authors, and more: new flicks!

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Bachelorette A movie called Bachelorette is inevitably going to be accused of riding Bridesmaids' coattails, even if — as it happens — Bachelorette's source-material play was written years before the 2011 comedy hit theaters. (That said, there are inevitable similarities, what with the shared wedding themes and all.) Playwright turned scriptwriter-director Leslye Headland does a good job of portraying women who are repulsive in realistic ways: a decade ago, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan), Katie (Isla Fisher) were the popular "B-Faces" at their high school and haven't matured much since. Competitive Regan is a Type A blonde; Gena's the queen of one-night stands; and Katie's a self-destructive party girl.

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Toasting the titan

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Special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen had to invent unconventional techniques to bring his movie magic to the big screen when he revolutionized the world of fantasy film making in the 1950s and 1960s. His work on Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), among many others, has influenced several generations of filmmakers that grew up watching his stop-motion creatures.

Harryhausen's life and incredible career are celebrated in a new documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, an expansive look not only at the man and his work, but also the huge influence he continues to have in modern movie magic. Featuring interviews with Harryhausen (now 92), alongside Hollywood heavyweights like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, the film is having its United States premiere Sat/8 at San Leandro's Historic Bal Theatre thanks to Bay Area Film Events.

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Goodbye to romance

Raunchy 'Bachelorette' is a funny but flawed wedding comedy

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A movie called Bachelorette is inevitably going to be accused of riding Bridesmaids' coattails, even if — as it happens — Bachelorette's source-material play was written years before the 2011 comedy hit theaters.Read more »

False idol

A filmmaker impersonates a guru to distasteful ends in Kumaré

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It's easy to make fun of religion — particularly this election year — but when people aren't trying to kill or control one another over it, it's best to leave the subject alone. Why begrudge anyone whatever makes sense of the world for them, or gives comfort when in need?Read more »

"My shoe is bigger than this car!" New (and new-ish) movies

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Of the several films I looked at this week, two must be mentioned up top: The Master and The Expendables 2. These films are notable not just because I spent my own hard-earned dollahs for entry (usually I see stuff for free, being a critic and whatnot), but also because I loved them both, despite one being a bound-for-Oscars effort by one of America's most exciting filmmakers, and the other being a silly showcase for America's most beloved aging action heroes. Only one, however, contained a scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger riding in a teeny Smart Car. Your guess which.

Mark your calendar using my guide to fall film happenings in the Bay Area and beyond in this week's Guardian; and don't miss Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' interview with Compliance director Craig Zobel. Jesse's Compliance review is below the jump, along with more short takes on other films opening (and rep events happening) this week. This week also heralds a pair of horror movies (and, well, Halloween candy has started making appearances in Walgreens aisles...): The Apparition (review below) and Sinister (not screened for critics).

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Talking with 'Compliance' director Craig Zobel: a spoiler-free interview!

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No film at this year's Sundance Film Festival festival encountered as much controversy as Craig Zobel's Compliance. At the first public screening, an all-out shouting match erupted, with an audience member yelling "Sundance can do better!" You can't buy that kind of publicity. Every screening that followed was jam-packed with people hoping to experience the most shocking film at Sundance, and the film does not disappoint. (Beware: every review I have happened upon has unnecessarily spoiled major plots in the film, which is based on true events.)

Compliance aims to confront a society filled with people who are trained to follow rules without questioning them. Magnolia Pictures, which previously collaborated with Zobel on his debut film Great World of Sound (which premiered at Sundance in 2007), picked up the film for theatrical release (it comes out Fri/24 in Bay Area theaters); if you dare to check it out, prepare to be traumatized as well as intellectualized. You'll be screaming all the way home about one of the most audacious movies of 2012 — and that's exactly why the film is so brilliant.

San Francisco Bay Guardian I have attended Sundance since I was 11 years old, and there have been a handful of particularly volatile screenings in which audience members passed out, threw up, stormed out of the theater, or berated the filmmakers during the Q&A: Bryan Singer's Public Access and Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel's Man Bites Dog in 1993; Mary Harron's American Psycho and Kim Ki-Duk's The Isle in 2000; Gaspar Noe's Irreversible in 2002; and Johan Renck's Downloading Nancy in 2008. Now, you've joined the ranks of the infamous Sundance elite. Were you prepared for how vulnerable your film Compliance was going to make audience members?

Craig Zobel Absolutely not. It really caught me off guard.

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Highlights in the dark

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Seasonal tips for giving the multiplex a wide berth (with a few exceptions, of course)

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Benefit screening of 'The Master' (in 70mm!) tomorrow at the Castro!

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This is not a drill, film fans: Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated new film, The Master, will be screening at the Castro tomorrow night. In 70mm. Not gonna lie: as soon as word of similar "surprise" screenings in other cities (Chicago, Los Angeles), I was crossing my fingers and toes that we'd get one here. Especially since not everyone can make it to the various film festivals where it's been programmed (Venice, Toronto) ... and The Master's theatrical release isn't until Sept. 21 in the Bay Area.

Get thee to TicketWeb now and spend $10 (plus the expected fees and whatnot) to benefit the Film Foundation. The Castro is a huge theater, but film nerds are gonna be all over this one. Like me, for instance. There will be popcorn!

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Tony Scott: a tribute in trailers

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Director Tony Scott — the man who brought us fast cars and fighter planes piloted by Tom Cruise, runaway trains, vengeance (Denzel-style and Anthony Quinn-style), and magical spirit-guide Elvis in the bathroom mirror — died yesterday in an apparent suicide.

Though he never achieved the critical-darling status of his Oscar-nominated brother Ridley, Tony Scott's contributions to that most entertaining of movie genres, the popcorn blockbuster, cannot be overstated (unsuprisingly, many of his films were produced by the like-minded Jerry Bruckheimer). Herewith, a tribute in trailers. Explosions ahoy!

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Late-summer new movies: whole lotta eh (but T minus one month 'till 'The Master' opens!)

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A pair of new Asian films about demons, real and figural, open today: Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai and Painted Skin: The Resurrection. Dual review here. The San Francisco Film Society screens 1953 Italian omnibus Love in the City; review here.

Hollywood urges you to spend your dollah dollah bills on creaky action heroes (The Expendables 2); mystical, twee garden-children (The Odd Life of Timothy Green); stop-motion kids who see dead people (ParaNorman); and girl-group melodrama (Sparkle; review and trailer below). A few more options, too, after the jump. Read more »