Movies

Smith happens

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Every year there's at least one: the adorable-old-coot fest, usually British, that proves harmless and reassuring and lightly tear/laughter producing enough to convince a certain demographic that it's safe to go to the movies again, just this once. The last months have seen two, both starring Maggie Smith (who's also queen of that audience's home viewing via Downton Abbey), and in this case more is probably less.Read more »

Damnation investigation

A new doc goes to hell and back

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It's a peculiarity of our moment that the worse things get, the more people seem inclined to think everyone else is going to hell. Their interpretation of the Bible (or Quran, or whatever) is seemingly absolute, yet God seems to stay on their side no matter which way the worldly wind might blow. Righteous judgment of others has practically become the American way, not that we were ever less than an opinionated bunch.Read more »

Hardly strictly British

Classics, premieres, and a 2013 Oscar nominee at the Mostly British Film Festival

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM "In Somalia there are no such things as kid actors and stage moms," explains the trailer for Asad, an 18-minute film about a Somali boy forced to choose between fishing and piracy. "There are just survivors telling a story."Read more »

Nero worship

The original 'Django' rides again at the Castro

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Though it's much more a Southern than a Western — closer to Mandingo (1975) than Red River (1948), that's for sure — Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained nonetheless pays specific homage to spaghetti westerns in its title and some stylistic fillips.Read more »

High midnight

'The Hills Run Red' fest showcases lesser-known spaghetti westerns

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM With Django Unchained-related posts currently filling up your Facebook feed (and box-office receipts stuffing Quentin Tarantino's pockets), now seems the perfect time to amble over to Berkeley for the Pacific Film Archive's spaghetti western series.Read more »

The damage done

The versatile Robert Carlyle hits a melancholy note in 'California Solo'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Robert Carlyle is the kind of actor who usually elicits a slow-dawning response in realm of "Oh, right ... that guy. What was he in again?" Well, a lot, but if you're not British (let alone Scottish), his visibility has probably been erratic and infrequent — plus he does that exasperating English thing of taking TV assignments like they're perfectly OK, as opposed to the US approach of doing series work only when your big-screen career is in the toilet.Read more »

Golden doodles

Oscar predictions (and wishful thinking) for 2013

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Still the fairest

Heigh-ho to 'Snow White' on her 75th birthday

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM One of the few upbeat by-products of the increasing infantilization of popular movies is that the same impulse to dumb down live action for permanently adolescent tastes also raises the bar for animation, which no longer has to target grade schoolers as its primary audience. Even not-so-special 2012 had more sophisticated and interesting animated features than you'd find in any given year a couple decades or more ago. Wreck-It Ralph won't win the Best Picture Oscar. But it will almost certainly be better than whatever movie does.Read more »

Bigger than Bigelow

Bin Laden thriller 'Zero Dark Thirty' courts controversy — and acclaim

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM There was hella hoopla over Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director, for 2010's The Hurt Locker. It's a good possibility she'll soon be the first woman to win two directing Oscars, if Zero Dark Thirty's remarkable haul of critical kudos continues into statuette season.Read more »

No headbutting?

A Lee Child fan follows Jack Reacher to the big screen

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tredmond@sfbg.com

LIT/FILM The folding travel toothbrush is a central element in every Jack Reacher novel. It's his only possession, the only thing the wandering ex-military cop takes with him when he throws away his old clothes and buys new ones, the only thing that ties him directly to his old life in the U.S. Army. It's part of the Reacher formula, one that consistently works through 17 books by Lee Child.

It's not in the Jack Reacher movie.Read more »