Film

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 »

On the scene: SFIFF, week one!

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Guardian film critic Sam Stander was among the crowds this past weekend as the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival kicked off its programming. The festival continues through May 3 at 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. Check out additional Guardian coverage here, here, here, and here. Remaining festival playdates (and additional screening info) are noted after each review below.

The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2011) Perhaps the seed was planted by the festival programmer who introduced the screening with a mention of Woody Allen, but this latest black & white film from the South Korean auteur feels akin to Stardust Memories (1980) and 8 1/2 (1963), a cleverly convoluted exploration of an artist’s anxieties. When lapsed filmmaker Sungjoon returns to Seoul to visit a friend, his encounters with compatriots and lovers old and new spiral into repetition and absurdity; the truth of any given situation is essentially inaccessible, leading to often uproarious contradictions, especially with a sympathetic audience like that at the Kabuki Fri/20. This is what one might call a movie-movie, a trip through deception of self and others through the medium of cinematic expression. Mon/23, 9:30pm, Kabuki; April 25, 9pm, PFA. Also plays SF Film Society Cinema May 4-10.

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This week's first-runs (to supplement your SFIFF frenzy!)

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Between the San Francisco International Film Festival (kicks off Thu/19! Our coverage starts here) and the Castro Theatre's weekend schedule of more James Bond classics than you can shake a martini at (or a Heinekin ... gaah!), why bother even considering a first-run movie?

Yeah, all right. You make a good point there. But. BUT. Nicholas Sparks fiends aside, there are a few good reasons to hit up the ol' megaplex (or at least the ol' multi-screen arthouse). The first is a documentary perfectly suited for its 4/20 release...

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For your consideration: Short takes from SFIFF, week one

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The gargantuan San Francisco Film Festival opens this week after a particularly fraught year in which the San Francisco Film Society tragically lost two well-respected executive directors. But never fear! SFIFF is still tops, and we're here to guide you through it, from throught-provoking experimental flicks to unheralded-as-of-yet crowd-friendly fare. We've rustled upmore than a dozen previews of appealing flicks after the jump -- and check out our complete coverage, including indepth features and interviews, here.

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Truth or consequences

Solid-gold lifestyles and agents provocateurs: SFIFF's documentary highlights

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arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF It's possible to have an almost perfect Sundance Film Festival viewing experience if you hew to one simple rule: only go to the documentaries. Sure, see some of the dramatic entries too, after the 40th person has told you such-and-such title is great. But you can rarely go far wrong with the documentaries. Sundance has its pick of the annual crème de la crème in that genre (among U.S. if not necessarily international films).Read more »

A hundred visions and revisions

SFIFF: Sam Green explores the geodesic world of R. Buckminster Fuller in new documentary

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arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF R. Buckminster Fuller was born before the turn of the last century, and died before the start of this one. But place his philosophical and practical output next to any contemporary thinker, and something seems a bit off.

"He was totally out of sync with his time," says SF-based documentarian Sam Green (2004's The Weather Underground). "He was talking about green building in the 1930s or '40s."Read more »

Into new territory

SFIFF: Sailing off the map with Patience, Found Memories, It's the Earth Not the Moon, more at San Francisco International Film Festival

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You're gonna need to upsize that popcorn

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Guess how many movies are opening in the Bay Area Fri/13? Sixteen. Sixteen, y'all. That might be an all-time Ultimate Grand Supreme record. So in this saturated situation, what's worth seeing, considering this is your last weekend before the San Francisco International Film Festival sets up shop and dominates all your moviegoing brain cells?

First, check out Dennis Harvey's feature-length review of Applause, imported from Denmark and featuring "a flamboyant, arresting, faultless star turn" from Paprika Steen, a megastar in her home country.

Seeking more? Here are five (out of 16, remember — true fiends can check out our complete film listings if five ain't enough) to get you through the weekend.

A buzzed-about doc on the (unfortunately) hot topic of teen bullying:

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