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 »
FILM "The male stereotype makes masculinity not just a fact of biology but something that must be proved and re-proved, a continual quest for an ever-receding Holy Grail," wrote Marc Feigen Fasteau in The Male Machine, a 1975 Gloria Steinem-approved polemic (she wrote the introduction) that attempted to catalyze American men into joining their sisters in the women's movement in reexamining and casting off traditional gender roles.Read more »
“City of Lost Souls” at ATA, and “Awkward Dinner Party” at the EXIT Theatre, subverted the Valentine spirit.
Talk about a hot mess. The florid, fluid, City of Lost Souls (1983), Rosa von Praunheim’s seldom-screened, "transgendered ex-pat food-fight sex-circus musical extravaganza" begins with a motley cast of unapologetic misfits sweeping up a trashed-out Berlin burger joint, the “Hamburger Königin” (Burger Queen). Shimmying on the counter, falling out of her lingerie, punk rock’s first transwoman cult darling, Jayne County, belts out “The Burger Queen Blues” while her fellow wage slaves, Loretta (Lorraine Muthke), Gary (Gary Miller), and Joaquin (Joaquin La Habana) gyrate suggestively across the linoleum until the boss-lady, Angie Stardust (as herself), a regal, “old school” transsexual wrapped in an enormous fur coat, curtails their goofy antics with a whistle and megaphone.
In stern German she orders them back to work—preparing for the next round of abusive food fights, which characterize the “service” at her uniquely unappetizing restaurant. A Theatre of the Ridiculous-style foray into the secret lives of gender outlaw ex-pats in flirty, dirty Berlin, “Lost Souls” isn’t your typical romance—but it’s a love story all the same.
FILM It is close to impossible not to love Carol Channing; those who would protest otherwise are simply heartless. The only adequate response to her is unconditional surrender, as if standing before an oncoming cyclone filled with puppies.Read more »
Showcasing the boldly imaginative and innovative talents of the artisans at the Jim Henson Company, the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal broke new ground when it came to visual special effects and believable creature creations.Read more »
FILM Today, seeing high-profile evangelical Christians reveal themselves to be charlatans or hypocrites is old news. Even the spectacle of homophobic mega church prig Ted Haggard, outed as a fan of male hustlers and crystal meth, resurfacing on Celebrity Wife Swap induced a few shudders but no real surprise. The plunge from public sanctimoniousness to scandal and newly angled self-promotion is by now too familiar to shock.
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TRASH It takes a certain kind of sicko to fall in love with Italian horror, what with all the oozing maggots, spurting jugulars, WTF plot twists, weird zooms, jarring musical cues, and supporting characters who do completely bizarre things that are never explained.Read more »