Pixel Vision

VOTE NOW! BEST OF THE BAY 2014 READERS POLL IS HERE

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Our 40th annual Best of the Bay issue is coming Oct. 15! This year's theme is Dia de los Muertos, in celebration of true Bay Area spirit.

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TIFF 2014: Foreign favorites, part two (Asia and beyond)

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports from the recent 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Previous installment here!

Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou (1990) was an unofficial remake of the American film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) — and it was also a showcase for the 25-year-old Gong Li. I've grown up with each of his films over the past decades, including classics To Live (1994) and The Road Home (1999). His latest, Coming Home (China), is his most gut-wrenching film yet. 

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TIFF 2014: Foreign favorites, part one

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports from the recent 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Previous installment here!

** Working steadily for over 40 years, achieving more than 20 features, Mike Leigh has stayed true to his "kitchen sink realism" aesthetic. Contemporary audiences could all too easily take him for granted. His latest, Mr. Turner (UK), is a rigorous and immensely rewarding journey that explores the life of British artist J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851). 

Spall won the award for Best Actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival, not just for emulating Turner's cartoonish and almost frightening physique, but also inhabiting and truly expressing the ghastly terror one struggles with after the death of a loved one. Recalling Jane Campion's dazzling An Angel at My Table (1990), Leigh's film places emphasis on the immense difficulties that an artists put themselves — and the others around them — through, and cinematographer Dick Pope (who has shot ten of Leigh's films since 1990, and won a special jury award at Cannes for his work on Mr. Turner) gives every frame an almost spiritual look. 

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Questions of the week: Who is the walrus? And who is Liam Neeson gonna take down next? New movies!

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If Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' ongoing Pixel Vision posts about the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival have you longing for your own festival experience, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's one-day "Silent Autumn" series at the Castro Theatre, as well as Cine+Mas' San Francisco Latino Film Festival, which opens tonight at the Brava Theater and runs through Sept. 27 at various venues.

First-run picks o' the week include Liam Neeson's latest lone-wolf action movie, an ensemble movie starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, and Kevin Smith's new joint, in which Justin Long turns into a walrus. Yep, you read that right. Read on for reviews and trailers!

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Dave Chappelle kept me up until 5am this morning and I'm still trying to process what just happened

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The first time I saw Dave Chappelle perform live was 10 years and three months ago, in a large, echo-y gymnasium at UC San Diego. It was my 20th birthday and I was so excited

This was June of 2004, and the comedian was at the absolute peak of his Chappelle's Show fame, which meant he suddenly found himself performing for sports arenas full of college kids who had neither the patience nor the decorum (nor the sobriety) to actually sit and listen to a standup comic performing material, choosing instead to holler "I'M RICK JAMES, BITCH!" or "WHAT!" and "YEAH!" in Lil Jon voices at random — in reference, of course, to their favorite Chappelle's Show impressions. Read more »

TIFF 2014: Joshua Oppenheimer's 'The Look of Silence'

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports from the recent 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Previous installment here!

News broke earlier this week that Joshua Oppenheimer — the Texas-born, Copenhagen-based filmmaker who scored an Oscar nomination for 2012's harrowing The Act of Killing — received a MacArthur "Genius Grant." Not a bad follow-up to the Toronto screening of his latest Indonesia-set doc, The Look of Silence (Denmark/Indonesia/Norway/Finland/UK), which is both a direct sequel to Killing and a complete stand-alone work. Either way, it's one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever experienced. (It's due in theaters in summer 2015.)

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Hockey! Drums! Pianos! And TRASHY MOVIES! Passions ruled TIFF 2014

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports from an epic Toronto International Film Festival. Read his first installment here.

Despite notable entries like George Roy Hill's defining Slap Shot (1977) and Michael Dowse's remarkable Goon (2011), hockey films have always been a little more overlooked in the US than they should be. Gabe Polsky's blood-pumping Red Army (US/Russia) is begging to be adapted into a rip-roaring narrative, à la Catherine Hardwick's Lords of Dogtown (2005) take on Stacy Peralta's skateboarding doc Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001).

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Toronto International Film Festival report: in defense of the long, long movie

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The unstoppable Jesse Hawthorne Ficks keeps his eyes open 24/7 through another Toronto International Film Festival, and lives to tell the tale (but shares no spoilers!) Read on for the first in several reports back from the 39th TIFF.

Starting on a high note: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep (Turkey/France/Germany) won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, so it arrived in Toronto with its share of hype. I can report Sleep is the director's funniest and most satisfying film to date. That said, it does run 196 minutes, and more than a few critics walked out early, which poses an ever-important question about the current trend toward slow-moving, observational, and meditative narratives: Who's actually watching 'em? 

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UPDATED Drag queens plan to protest Facebook over name-change policy

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UPDATE: Sister Roma just posted this to her Facebook page:  

"BREAKING: FACEBOOK AGREES TO FACE-TO-FACE MEETING. DEMONSTRATION CANCELED (for now)

Just got off the phone with Supervisor David Campos and representatives from Facebook. They have agreed to meet with us and members of the community for an open dialogue regarding their legal name policy. After the conversation I am more hopeful than ever that we can reach a solution. We're working together to make change and I thank all of you for your support!"

ORIGINAL POST: Drag queens throughout San Francisco and the cyberverse are planning to protest at Facebook HQ on Tuesday at 9:30am, if a meeting between Facebook representatives and Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence tomorrow yields no favorable results.

At issue: a controversial new Facebook policy that is forcing performers to use their legal names (rather than drag or other professional names) on their personal profiles on the social media site.

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Tenderloin upstart Book & Job aims to level the art-gallery playing field

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Carson Lancaster is tired of the bullshit. He’s tired of watching the same handful of mainstream galleries hang the same artists and shun a majority of San Francisco’s young, talented artists. “It’s like that scene in Scanners. You know, the one where the guy’s head explodes? That’s what it feels like every time I walk into one of those places,” he said.

Lancaster is the owner of Book & Job, an art gallery that seeks to do exactly the opposite: make San Francisco’s art market accessible to both artists and consumers. Located on Geary and Hyde Streets, Book & Job blends into the grit of the Tenderloin and in no way resembles the blue-chip megaliths huddled toward Union Square. The space is tiny. There’s no team of attractive sales people standing at the entrance, no bubbly event photographers milling around, no tuxedos, and no free champagne.

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