Film

Battles without honor and humanity: this week's new movies

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While all the cool kids are at Cannes, us losers are stuck stateside to contemplate the two big Hollywood movies opening this week: Battleship, which stars Liam Neeson, the guy still smarting from his titular role in the reigning biggest flop of all time, and aliens (and has no chance of being the best movie based on a board game); and The Dictator (review below). Your choice is clear.

You could also feed your Jack Black obsession (already running red-hot with the new Tenacious D album, natch) with Richard Linklater's new comedy, Bernie (review here). You could expand your cinematic horizons at the San Francisco Cinematheque's third annual "Crossroads" festival. Or, while weeping over blogs detailing Cannes flicks you won't get to see until 2013, you could organize your summer movie plan of attack.

And, of course, feed your Sno-Cap habit with The Dictator and other top picks from the rest of this week's opening slate:

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Light meter

Top picks from San Francisco Cinematheque's third 'Crossroads' festival

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art@sfbg.com

FILM San Francisco Cinematheque artistic director Steve Polta balances familiar names with lesser known for the third annual "Crossroads" festival at the Victoria Theater, though Ken Jacobs' Occupy-strength Seeking the Monkey King (2011) promises to unseat the image of a mellowing old master.Read more »

Turn up the dark

SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW: Movie stars, superheroes, and movie stars playing superheroes battle for summer supremacy

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FILM So far, 2012 has been a year of mixed blessings for Hollywood, contrasting mega-hits like The Hunger Games and The Avengers with one of the biggest mega-flops of all time, John Carter. But summer's really when show-biz turns deadly serious. Each week, there's a new wannabe blockbuster — pasteurized, processed, film-like products so huge they have the ability to make or break entire movie studios — hoping for returns big enough to make all involved even richer, and insure sequels and spin-offs for summers to come.Read more »

Hard to be a filmmaker

Aleksei Guerman's five films (from the past 45 years) screen at YBCA

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1987, Soviet critics were polled to create a list of the nation's greatest films. Landing on top was a movie still little-known abroad, whose maker has completed just five features in 45 years — one of which he doesn't even consider truly his own work.Read more »

How dark was my alley

Flick-packed Film Noir fest "I Wake up Dreaming" returns to the Roxie

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The word that comes to mind when thinking of Elliot Lavine's semiannual film noir programs at the Roxie is inexhaustible. With 30 films packed into 14 days, "I Wake up Dreaming" wisely takes a pass on questions of noir's quintessence in favor of open-ended research into the mutations and paroxysms of mid-century malaise.Read more »

This is your brain on Zulawski

YBCA feeds the Possession obsession with a tribute to the Polish director

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Check it out! With John C. Reilly

A brief tour of the bearish actor's magical musical moments before his band hits town

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MUSIC He's an actor so versatile he can handle serious drama (2011's Carnage and We Need to Talk About Kevin) and screamingly hilarious comedy (especially, but not necessarily, when paired with Will Ferrell). But John C. Reilly is also an accomplished musician, a talent he's turned into a flourishing side gig that's now on tour. Read on for Reilly's best (so far!) musical moments to date.

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Jasons Segal and Statham close out April as summer (movie season) looms

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Summer is here! Well, almost. And by "summer" I mean "summer movie season," which kicks off May 4 with the arrival of Marvel's The Avengers. No fools when it comes to making a buck (or hundreds of millions of bucks), Hollywood crams in a few last smaller-ish films before the floodgates open, and they're certainly about to open — Dark Shadows, The Dictator, Battleship, Men in Black 3, and Prometheus all come out before summer actually begins in mid-June. (Side note: fuck yeah, Prometheus!)

All in good time. There's something for almost everyone this weekend: a rom-com, a murder mystery featuring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, and a Statham (Statham (n): a bare-bones action movie in which one grizzled-yet-handsome antihero distributes as many ass-beatings as possible.) Read on, popcornheads.

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For your (even further) consideration: expanded short takes on SFIFF, week two

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Ahoy! Yes, there's still time to gorge on the 55th annual SFIFF; even if you're just getting into movie-watching mode today, there's a full week (plus a day) of festival madness left. Right here on Pixel Vision we'll be posting reports from the fest as it happens (check out Sam Stander's post here!); read on if you want to plan ahead to catch some of the best of what's to come. (Most shows are $13 and venues are the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk.; SF Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post, SF; and Sundance Kabuki Cinema, 1881 Post, SF.)

WED/25
Polisse (Maïwenn, France, 2011) Comparisons to The Wire are not to be tossed around lightly, but when the Hollywood Reporter likened Polisse to an entire season of the masterpiece cop show packed into a single film, it was onto something. Director, co-writer, and star Maïwenn (the object of desire in 2003's High Tension) hung out with real officers serving in Paris' Child Protection Unit, drawing inspiration from their dealings with pedophiles, young rape victims, negligent mothers, pint-sized pickpockets, and the like (another TV show worth mentioning in comparison: Law & Order: SVU). But Polisse (the title is deliberately misspelled, as if by a child) is no simple procedural; it plunges the viewer directly into the day-to-day lives of its boisterous characters, who are juggling not just stressful careers but also plenty of after-hours troubles, particularly relationship issues. Between heartwrenching moments on the job (and off), the unit indulges in massive cut-loose episodes of what amounts to group therapy: charades, dance parties, and room-clearing arguments, most of which involve huge quantities of booze. Watching Polisse is a messy, emotional, rewarding experience; no wonder it picked up the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Wed/25, 6pm; Thu/26, 3pm, FSC. (Cheryl Eddy)

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For your further consideration

Short takes on SFIFF 2012, week two

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More reviews of films playing during the San Francisco Internation Film Festival. For more SFIFF coverage, click here. Read more »