Movies

Once upon a time in Oakland

Director Ryan Coogler talks about Fruitvale Station, his acclaimed new film about Oscar Grant

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM By now you've heard of Fruitvale Station, the debut feature from Oakland-born filmmaker Ryan Coogler. With a cast that includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and rising star Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights), the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, winning both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize en route to being scooped up for distribition by the Weinstein Company. A few months later, Coogler, a USC film school grad who just turned 27, won Best First Film at Cannes.Read more »

Hi-yo, stinker

The Lone Ranger: WTF happened to Johnny Depp's career?

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FILM Pop-culture historians who study 2005's top movies will remember Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the so-so action flick that birthed Brangelina; Batman Begins, which ushered in a moodier flavor of superhero; and Tim Burton's shrill Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Read more »

Live to tell

A new doc unearths long-lost Detroit band Death

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Still beating

Laura Albert and the ballad of JT LeRoy
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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM/LIT A few weeks before our scheduled interview, Laura Albert mails me copies of 2000's Sarah and 2001's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Inscribed on Heart's title page is a note: "Thanks for being available to revelation." The volumes are signed "Yours, LA and JT" — the latter, of course, referring to JT LeRoy, the identity under which Albert penned both books.Read more »

Flagging

Action fluff 'White House Down' is red, white, and redundant

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Ah, the mid-1990s: a time when two big-budget movies on the same subject were regularly released within months of each other (1997's Volcano and Dante's Peak; 1998's Armageddon and Deep Impact). When a director named Roland Emmerich ascended into the blockbuster pantheon with Independence Day (1996), a film that's best-remembered for transforming Will Smith into an action star — and for that iconic shot of the White House exploding under alien death rays.Read more »

Elm Street state of mind

FRAMELINE 2013: Gay horror icon Mark Patton revisits 'Nightmare 2'

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FRAMELINE FILM FEST In 1985, a new family moved into Nancy Thompson's house on Elm Street. Though the stairs no longer had the consistency of sloppy oatmeal, the window bars remained — and a certain razor-fingered fellow still lurked in the shadows. Teen hunk Jesse soon encountered Freddy Krueger in, where else, a nightmare — though this time, the murderous Freddy had a high-concept scheme: "You've got the body, and I've got the brains!"Read more »

More to grow on

FRAMELINE 2013: Short takes and highlights from Frameline37

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Pit Stop (Yen Tan, US) One of the very best narrative features at Sundance this year, Yen Tan's drama nonetheless completely flew under the radar of media attention. It's a beautifully low-key tale of two 40-ish gay men in a Texas small town. Neither are closeted, but they aren't exactly fulfilled, either, both being in awkward domestic situations. Gabe (Bill Heck) is still living with angry ex-wife Shannon (Amy Seimetz) for the sake of their six year-old daughter. Read more »

Lives less ordinary

FRAMELINE 2013: Five docs about five great gay men -- plus more at the massive LGBT Film Fest, opening this week

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arts@sfbg.com

FRAMELINE Each year Frameline's program vividly reflects issues that of late have seemed most urgent in the LGBT community — for many years, for instance, there was an understandably overwhelming amount of films about AIDS. Most recently, the fights for gay marriage and trans rights have dominated many a dramatic and documentary selection.Read more »

The young master

'The Hitchcock 9' spotlights newly restored versions of the director's silents

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM After a banner 2012 and early 2013 — in which his 1958 Vertigo was named the best film of all time by Sight and Sound magazine; a critically-panned but still entertaining-enough biopic hit theaters; and a months-long career retrospective, "The Shape of Suspense," played the Pacific Film Archive — Alfred Hitchcock's revival continues. Next up is "The Hitchcock 9," a San Francisco Silent Film Festival showcase of nine silent films — nearly his entire 1920s output, all made before he turned 30.Read more »

Hell boys

Seth Rogen talks to us about Segways, Catholics, Kirk Cameron -- and his raunchy doomsday comedy 'This Is the End'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM It's a typical day in Los Angeles for Seth Rogen as This Is the End begins. Playing a version of himself, the comedian picks up longtime pal and frequent co-star Jay Baruchel at the airport. Since Jay hates LA, Seth welcomes him with weed and candy, but all good vibes fizzle when Rogen suggests hitting up a party at James Franco's new mansion. Wait, ugh, Franco? And Jonah Hill will be there? Nooo!Read more »