Movies

Short takes: SFIFF week two

Prince Avalanche, Computer Chess, The Strange Little Cat, Waxworks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and more picks from the huge fest

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Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green, US, 2012) It has been somewhat hard to connect the dots between David Gordon Green the abstract-narrative indie poet (2000's George Washington, 2003's All the Real Girls) and DGG the mainstream Hollywood comedy director (2008's Pineapple Express, yay; 2011's Your Highness and The Sitter, nay nay nay). But here he brings those seemingly irreconcilable personas together, and they make very sweet music indeed. Read more »

Nordic track

SFIFF offers an all-too-rare opportunity to appreciate Finnish cinema

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arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF "The greatest Finnish movie ever made" — drop that phrase on someone (at least a non-Finn) and they will most likely make some crack suggesting there can't possibly be enough of them for the distinction to matter. But Finland has had a rich and idiosyncratic filmmaking history stretching back to 1907. It hardly begins and ends with Aki Kaurismäki, the droll minimalist who was the first (and still only) Finnish director to regularly win international distribution.Read more »

Screening is believing

Five must-see documentaries at the huge San Francisco International Film Festival. Plus: Rare Finnish movies and a ton of SFIFF previews.

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Short takes: SFIFF week one

You're Next, Rosie, The Kill Team, The Patience Stone, and more reviews of film fest features

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SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

April 25-May 9, most shows $10-15

Various venues

festival.sffs.orgRead more »

Stop making sense

'Upstream Color' is a head-scratcher — but it's worth it

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A woman, a man, a pig, a worm, Walden — what? If you enter into Shane Carruth's Upstream Color expecting things like a linear plot, exposition, and character development, you will exit baffled and distressed. Best to understand in advance that these elements are not part of Carruth's master plan. In fact, based on my own experiences watching the film twice, I'm fairly certain that not really understanding what's going on in Upstream Color is part of its loopy allure.Read more »

The Performant: The sacred and the profane

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Putting the "good" back into Good Friday at “Sing-Along Jesus Christ Superstar” and Zombie Christ Haunted House

They might seem merely irreverent, or downright blasphemous, to conservative churchgoers, but I’m pretty sure the original JC Superstar would have dug the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence -- you know, the water-into-wine Jesus who supported sex workers and preached tolerance and respect for the marginalized.

The Sisters, who have been preaching the same since 1979, really get a chance to shine (and glitter) come Easter Weekend. One of SF’s most singular events, Easter Sunday in Dolores Park grabs the lion’s share of the attention, what with its iconic Easter Bonnet contest, the sainting of local community heroes, and the ever-popular Hunky Jesus competition, being rescheduled as we speak due to spring showers. But for those of us who find it difficult to get up early on a Sunday morning, hardbody of Christ or no hardbody of Christ, the Sisters have expanded their influence across the weekend, creating plenty of opportunity for the nocturnal among us to grab a little of the resurrection gusto for themselves.

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Ennui and I

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's 'Thai Dreams' screen at YBCA

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FILM Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang's international breakthrough, Last Life in the Universe, came out 10 years ago, but its themes of isolation and loneliness still feel very much of the moment. Eternally cool Japanese star Tadanobu Asano plays librarian Kenji, whose Better Off Dead-style existential turmoil leads him to attempt suicide, or at least think long and hard about it, multiple times. Read more »

Are you experimental?

SF Cinematheque unleashes Crossroads 2013

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM At 52, the San Francisco Cinematheque is nearly the same age as the San Francisco International Film Festival, which kicks off its 56th incarnation later this month. And though there's bound to be some filmmaker overlap between SFIFF and SF Cinematheque's fourth annual Crossroads festival,

fans of avant-garde, experimental, and non-commercial films won't want to miss the latter, a weekend packed with works by 48 artists across eight esoterically-titled programs.Read more »

The Nonconformist

'And God Created Jean-Louis Trintignant' celebrates a legendary career

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Techulation

'The Singularity' explores the ever-shrinking differences between computers and humans

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Anytime you start taking about a robot uprising, people are going to listen — even if you mean it in a theoretical sense, not in a Cyberdyne Systems sense. Local filmmaker Doug Wolens (he made 2000's Butterfly, about activist Julia Hill) tackles artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, conscious machines, and, yes, science fiction in his new doc The Singularity. I spoke with him recently about all of the above.

San Francisco Bay Guardian What is the singularity?Read more »