Documentaries that “tell” the Holocaust tend to employ archival footage generically as a kind of historical flavoring. It’s rare that we are asked to contemplate either the provenance of the images or the individual lives depicted. Yael Hersonski’s A Film Unfinished simultaneously confronts both of these gaps with a taut historiography of several reels of Nazi propaganda footage. Even in the German film’s inchoate form, we easily apprehend the propagandistic moves to further manipulate an already constructed reality (the Warsaw Ghetto) for objective “proof” of the necessity of Hitler’s Final Solution. And yet here before us, flowing at the speed of life, are the faces and places that would be destroyed within months of the filming.
Hersonski attempts to extricate the documentary value of this footage using frame-speed manipulations and edits which call attention to telling movements. She also films elderly survivors watching the footage alone in a darkened theater. In their capacity for recognition and incredulousness, they unravel the German point-of-view. By weaving these live responses with diary entries of those consigned to the ghetto along with the deposition of a German cameraman, Hersonski draws a fragmentary, highly specific account of the Holocaust’s crisis of representation. We discussed the film in a recent email exchange.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: The question of how to use archival footage responsibly is one that haunts the great Holocaust-themed films — Night and Fog (1955), Shoah (1985), and the films of Péter Forgács all find very different solutions. Can you describe the way your own attitudes regarding the appropriation of this archive developed during the time you worked on A Film Unfinished? Read more »
James Keys, a former legislative intern in Sup. Chris Daly’s office now running for supervisor in D6, is making economic and social justice the centerpiece of his campaign. He talks, for example, about using city resources to make sure that SRO residents have a chance to move on to more traditional apartments. “We have a lot of housing in the pipeline,” he told us. “But I’m not sure if people are really moving in.”Read more »
It is not everyday that a San Francisco Bay Guardian culture writer finds herself going for an interview in the Financial District. Something about the fumes of avarice making poor atmosphere for the creative process. But high above the Starbucks and town cars is the banjo-packed office of a rich man who puts on the best free bluegrass festival of the year. And so, for Warren Hellman and his Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (Fri/1-Sun/3), I braved the world of name tags and extravagant corner offices.
Today Johnny and Tim talk about the bill that the Democrats are using to fight back against Republican nonsense -- and why the GOP is all about scaring white people. You can listen after the break. Read more »
Gavin Newsom's campaign for lieutenant governor might have a tough time beating moderate Latino Republican Abel Maldonado – indeed, even many of his local allies privately tell us they fear he's going to lose – but it is still using some of its significant resources and energy to promote the candidacy of Theresa Sparks, whom Newsom endorsed to replace Chris Daly on the Board of Supervisors. Read more »
Bruce Brugmann always says that the way to tell where a big-city daily newspaper stands is to look at its endorsements for mayor and United States Senate. And on Sept, 26, the Chronicle endorsed for United States Senate and said:
When Let Me In — the film which dares an Americanized do-over of 2008 Swedish import Let the Right One In — was first announced, fans of the original film let rip synchronized screeches of "Whyyyyy?", shortly followed by angry, ten-point arguments as to why Hollywood is really sucking balls lately. Consensus was that Let the Right One In, which picked up armloads of festival and critical awards (including the San Francisco Film Critics' Circle's Best Foreign Language Film honors), was not a film that deserved to be put through the remake machine. Sure, it only made a couple of million bucks stateside, but maybe it wasn't the kind of film (unlike 2008's similarly vampire-themed Twilight) that the masses were supposed to gobble up. After all, it had subtitles. Such a drag.
Matt Reeves, he of Cloverfield (2008) and Felicity fame, is aware of the fanboy-hater contingent that awaits his latest release. His Let Me In is a largely faithful retread, with some recognizable kid actors — Kodi Smit-McPhee (stronger here than he was in last year's The Road) and tween It Girl Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick Ass) — and the lure of legendary British horror house Hammer (back in the producing biz after decades) helping him attract audiences. I suspect many people who'll go see Let Me In may not have seen Let the Right One In — either because the original's release wasn't wide or lengthy enough, or because of that whole foreign-film bias. (Also, diehard fans of the first film may boycott the new version, just on principle. Hey, I did it with the recent A Nightmare on Elm Street, which in my mind NEVER HAPPENED).
Gotta say, though, Let Me In could have been worse than "faithful," which is way better than "redundant" or "totally offensive." Reeves, who penned the script from John Ajvide Lingqvist's novel (Lindqvist himself wrote the script for the 2008 film) stays true to the material, shifting the action to the snowy New Mexico mountains and injecting some Cold War and new wave flair into the 80s setting. I spoke with him recently, just after the film's screening at Austin, TX's Fantastic Fest — coincidentally the very festival where Let the Right One In won the Jury Prize for Best Horror Feature in 2008. He kindly put up with my many remake-themed queries.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: How was Fantastic Fest? Read more »
District 2 supervisorial candidate Janet Reilly is running to represent San Francisco's most conservative political district, and even though she has the support of many progressive groups and the local Democratic Party, she's running on a platform of mostly conservative positions. She opposes all the revenue measures on the November ballot and argues that closing the big budget deficits the city faces in coming years should involve “more fiscal discipline” and making cuts to wasteful city programs and the city money going to nonprofit groups.
But when asked how she'd be an improvement on incumbent Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier, an uncompromising conservative who consistently votes against the board's progressive majority, Reilly says that she has good relationships with local leaders off all political stripes and will therefore be able to play a key role in facilitating good policy discussions and compromises.
By this time it's old news that Lynette Sweet, current BART Board Budget Committee chair and District 10 supervisorial candidate, has some issues with the Internal Revenue Service. She owed the IRS taxes going back to the year 2000, and the consequent lien on her property exceeded $20,000 in 2007.
Every time a new Woody Allen film arrives (a near-annual event since 1969) the same old, lazy complaints (“It’s not one of his best”) arrive faster than you can say “pontificate.” Yet 10 or 20 years later it seems that somehow many of those uncelebrated films seem to become “one of his best.” See Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Husbands and Wives (1992), or Sweet and Lowdown (1999).
With his latest entry, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (opening locally Fri/1), Allen delivers another pitch-perfect mini-guide to the hilarious horrors of growing old … something Allen (according to the director himself, speaking at his Toronto International Film Festival press conference) wouldn’t wish on anyone. What looks and feels like a whimsical rom-com about aging is, in fact, a sobering and even paralyzing blueprint of what exists in most relationships or marriages. Don’t let the fun and breezy vibe of quirky narration deter you. Not only is there more of a bittersweet edge to Allen’s familiar archetypes, but the UK-produced film works as a perfect counterpart to Mike Leigh’s latest monument Another Year (2010). I wouldn't be surprised if Stranger's Gemma Jones earns an Oscar nomination for her performance in what will surely be one of the year's most truthful films.
In 2008, San Francisco voters elected Chris Jackson to the Community College Board, where he serves as Budget Chair. And from 2007 until spring 2010, Jackson worked as a policy analyst for the San Francisco Labor Council. Those experiences helped convince Jackson, whose grandfather came from Mississippi to work at Hunters Point Shipyard, of the pressing need for the next D10 supervisor to promote progressive policies that help working class families remain in San Francisco. Read more »
Ah! The sun! Would that I weren't typing this in a cafe with an excessive amount of windows. Or that I was in one of San Francisco's last stalwart salons to eschew the wired world. That's right, there are still cafes out there that don't have wireless Internet. Spots where you can sit your sweet self down and feel absolutely no urge to chain-check your Facebook newsfeed.
These are places where you're still keeping up with your double soy latte joneses, but are forced to devote your attention to finishing (continuing, starting, rueing) your multi-dimensional wade through Gravity's Rainbow. Or to eavesdropping on your neighbors' conversation about the recent spate of cats on leashes sightings. Or even – gasp! – have a conversation of your own. And should all the actual reality get to be to much don't fret, I don't believe these places are confiscating iPhones. Yet.