FILM It's almost impossible to describe Adult Swim hit Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, but "cable access on acid" comes pretty close. It's awkward, gross, repetitive, and quotable; it features unsettling characters portrayed by famous comedians and unknowns who may not actually be actors. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, who are much more low-key than the amplified versions of themselves they play on the show and in the new Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, discussed the spoils of cult fame the morning after a recent screening in San Francisco.Read more »
San Francisco is, famously, home to film festivals that wanna make a difference. The Transgender Film Festival, the Anti-Corporate Film Festival, the Bicycle Film Festival -- the list and cameras roll on. There's a reason for all these cinematic communes. The power of a film festival to make people sit down and hang out with open eyes and enough snacks to keep them in one place is formidable. It's prime time to absorb information -- or just catch that activist flame that the whipping winds of a presidential election year can threaten to extinguish.
This week, the second annual Green Film Festival hits the big screen starting today, from Thu/1-Wed/7, taking over the must-see-if-you-haven't-yet SF Film Society Cinema in the basement of Japantown's New People mall. So thrilled were we by its enviro-conscious, better world-making fervor (and its capable, enjoyable program of films) that we will be running brief reviews of its offerings for the next four -- business, c'mon now -- days. Here's the first of these, a Sun/4 screening that explains the connection between conflict and Africa and your cell phone. Read more »
FILM What with the internet, the paparazzi, Rupert Murdoch's CIA-level spy techniques, and the general displacement of actual news by "celebrity news," it's pretty hard these days for a star of any sort to keep their debauchery private. Not like the good old days, when Hollywood carefully stage-managed publicity and only those who'd become a real liability risked having their peccadilloes exposed.Read more »
It's inevitable — whenever a seemingly preventable tragedy occurs, there's public outcry to the tune of "How could this happen?" (Exhibit A: recent events in Ohio.) But after the school shooting in We Need to Talk About Kevin, the more apt question is "How could this not happen?"
Lynne Ramsay (2002's Morvern Callar) — directing from the script she co-adapted from Lionel Shriver's novel — uses near-subliminal techniques to stir up atmospheric unease from the very start, with layered sound design and a significant, symbolic use of the color red. While other Columbine-inspired films, including Elephant and Zero Day (both 2003), have focused on their adolescent characters, Kevin revolves almost entirely around Eva Khatchadourian (a potent Tilda Swinton) — grief-stricken, guilt-riddled mother of a very bad seed (played as a teen by Ezra Miller, at age seven-ish by Jasper Newell, and as a baby by Rocky Duer).
As I sat in a hallway at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, waiting for director Lynne Ramsay to finish a photo shoot with We Need to Talk About Kevinstar Tilda Swinton, I realized that Kirsten Dunst was stepping over me. I quickly stood up, apologetically, just in time to let a sunglasses-wearing Kiefer Sutherland pass by. They were both doing interviews for Lars Von Trier's Melancholia.
But there was no time for stargazing: I was about to chat with one of cinema's most important filmmakers, the creator of Ratcatcher (1999) and Morvern Callar (2002). As Swinton, Ramsay, and I headed down the hallway, passing paparazzi, I reached out for Ramsay's coat and said, "Don't lose me!" Ramsay grabbed my arm, pulled me into the crowd and said, "We're sticking together."
FILM Agnieszka Holland is that kind of filmmaker who can become a well known, respectable veteran without anyone being quite sure what those decades have added up to. Her mentor was Andrzej Wadja, the last half-century's leading Polish director (among those who never left). He helped shape a penchant for heavy historical drama and a sometimes clunky style not far from his own.Read more »
FILM "It's highly probable that no one but Kevin Epps could have made a film like Straight Outta Hunters Point," begins Erik K. Arnold's 2001 Guardian article. Epps, then a 33-year-old first-time filmmaker, had just released his bold documentary; it investigated a neighborhood that most San Francisco residents never actually visited, but knew about thanks to news coverage of its prodigious gang violence.Read more »
FILMBay Area filmmakers Steve and Ann Dunsky (2005's The Greatest Good) have a pair of documentaries making waves right now: Green Fire, about conservationist Aldo Leopold, which plays at the upcoming San Francisco Green Film Festival; and Butterfliesand Bulldozers, an exploration of the decades-long fight to save San Bruno Mountain. Bulldozers screened at the 2011 Green Film Festival, and has a coveted slot amid the 20th anniversary programming at Washington, D.C.'s Environmental Film Festival later this spring. Read more »
FILM The demise of Ken Russell late last year at age 84 blew a few cobwebs off appreciation of his career, which had ever been beloved by cult-minded buffs but forgotten by most everyone else for some years. He hadn't had a theatrical feature for two decades, and in his last years had been reduced to glorified home movies with titles like Revenge of the Elephant Man (2004) and The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002). Read more »
Best Picture (and Best Director) Black-and-white silent charmer The Artist has emerged as the clear front-runner, with copious wins at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Director's Guild of America, and the Producer's Guild of America, plus a Golden Collar Award for the film's charismatic canine co-star. I honestly can't think of another movie that could step up at this point; dwindling threats The Help and The Descendants will have to find glory in other categories. Look for The Artist's Michel Hazanavicius to pick up Best Director, too, unless Martin Scorsese scores an upset for Hugo. (He won't.)
Best Actor Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Gary Oldman is my pick, but I also wanted L.A. Confidential to beat Titanic in 1998. Wasn't gonna happen then, won't happen now. It's a suave-off between The Artist's Jean Dujardin, who's been raking in kudos for his performance since Cannes 2011, and The Descendants' George Clooney, a previous winner in the Supporting Actor category (for 2006's Syriana). Clooney is also nominated for his adapted screenplay for The Ides of March, which he directed. Close call, but look for The Artist tsunami to carry Dujardin to the podium. Consolation for Clooney: he'll be nominated again. And again. And again.