I grew up at the Sundance Film Festival — beginning in 1990, when my father took my 14-year-old self to an archival screening of Melvin Van Peebles' X-rated Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), and my best friend Grayson Jenson's parents introduced us to Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (1963).
These two films have polar-opposite subject matter, but they do share some odd similarities; they both make aggressive statements about counterculture, and both are cut together with hyperkinetic, French New Wave-esque editing. But back then, all I knew was that my life was maniacally changed ... forever.
This transformative experience was enhanced by accidentally sitting next to only movie critic I had ever heard of: Mr. Roger Ebert. As it happens, a documentary about the late writer's career, Steve James' Life Itself, was one of the 2014 festival's biggest hits. Friendly and engaging, Ebert explained to me (at 14) that he personally enjoyed watching the Beatles' "best film" on 16mm as opposed to 35mm. The conversation we shared ("What are your favorite films?" Me: "Hellraiser II, Aliens, Evil Dead 2, and Phantasm II") left a long and deep impression on me.
That was my first memorable Sundance moment. But this year's Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals — celebrating their 30th and 20th anniversaries, respectively — were (on the occasion of my own 24th Sundance anniversary) maybe the best I've ever experienced, overall.
Forgive the late (mid-season) arrival, some copy got lost in translation. And if you buy that, Juan Pablo's public image has a shot.
So last week, amid all the real news (Chris Christie things, GOP things, Obama-NSA things, Sochi things) and amid all the Bieber news (eggs, DUI's, Jeremy Bieber's existence, shiny shorts, smiling mugshots) there was a bad piece of Bachelor news.
"I didn't know I was a Chicano until I met Jose." -- actor and activist Edward James Olmos at the Jose Montoya Memorial Celebration at Sacramento's Crest Theater, Jan. 23, 2014. Photo by Fernando Andrés Torres.
Read Fernando Andrés Torres' story on NorCal's poesia en espanol revival in this week's paper.
About 15 minutes into taking a seat at center stage of the Castro Theatre last night before an enthusiastic and fairly inebriated crowd, Jack Black turned to the audience and sheepishly confessed, “I’m getting sleepy.” To which, his cohort Kyle Gass added, “Is any of this even interesting?’
It was an honest, and funny, way to acknowledge a slow-out-of-the-gate interview moment for Tenacious D — comedic duo Black and Gass as the greatest acoustic heavy metal band in the world — who would probably have felt more in their element battling Satan in an epic guitar showdown than awkwardly sitting in tall chairs answering questions with a moderator.
And after all, expectations in the room were considerable. For the high-profile opening night of SF SketchFest on Jan. 23, the devoted audience in attendance had waited outside nearly two hours — in a quarter mile line that rambled throughout the neighbor — in an effort to see the duo take the Castro stage to be honored for their hyper brand of rock-stardom absurdity and Spinal Tap genius. But after a big-screen montage of the duo’s funniest clips got the event rolling, the D sitting down to chat with moderator and fellow comedian Paul F. Tompkins took a moment to get momentum.
UPDATE: This just in from Ron Turner: "Hello Friends. There will be a memorial for Gary this coming Tuesday at 11 AM at 225 Berry St. off 4th, very near the Giants ballpark and the Cal Train station. Hope to see you there. It is a modern Senior Center where Gary made his home. Bring stories and memories to share."
Hello, listeners. Brilliant breakout podcast "Welcome to Night Vale" has gained a rabid (yet adorably introspective) fanbase since it launched in June 2012. The twice-monthly, 20-minute-long show, created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, takes the form of a surreal newscast, coming to us from "somewhere in the Southwestern United States" by way of Twin Peaks.
Describing a community of indelible characters, it's a twisted take on Lake Wobegone that vacillates cunningly from whimsical to chilling, often veering into outright poetry. "Night Vale" also recalls the golden age of radio plays: even though it lacks sound effects and depends mostly on the deep, hypnotic voice of narrator Cecil, it summons the entrancing atmosphere of such classics as "The Shadow."
Imagine a place where all the gay men are masculine, well-built, physically unselfconscious, and fashionably tousled; where young male artists and young male people of color mingle with young white male techies (yet are still happily banished to Oakland or work the door at Esta Noche); where having a "lazy eye" or being "slightly portly" renders you disqualified for relationships; where HIV, addiction, and politics barely exist; and where everyone is drenched in soft-spoken sophistication, vague existential ennui, and puppy-eyed cuteness.
This isn't quite San Francisco (yet), but it is the San Francisco of gorgeously produced, play-it-safe-so-far gay-themed HBO series Looking (it begins airing Jan. 19) -- at least the first two episodes, which previewed tonight at the Castro Theater. It's too early of course to pass any kind of judgment on the entire series, which in many ways may be an accurate reflection of current gay culture, and I maintain very high hopes, especially with such good actors, writers, and attention to detail involved.
But let me tell you: I have never wished more for a stereotypically sassy drag queen to stomp onscreen and break some shit in my life.
This week: August: Osage County(bumped from its previously-scheduled opening last week) unleashes 2014's first bolt of LOOK AT ME I'M ACTING! Other choices you have while you count down to the Golden Globes (Sunday night) and the Oscar nominations (next Thursday) include Ralph Fiennes' latest actor-director turn in Charles Dickens tale The Invisible Woman; Mark Wahlberg's Navy SEALs drama Lone Survivor; and Renny Harlin's CG'd-up action-tacular The Legend of Hercules.
A pit under the floor becomes a wellspring for 100 performances over six hours at SOMArts this Saturday night
There’s a hole under the gallery floor at SOMArts. And art abhors a vacuum.
This century-old sand casting pit rests under a trap door, a leftover of the 17,000-square-foot venue’s industrial past. But this weekend the hatch is lifted and the hole becomes a generative site of time-based art making. Six hours will see more than 150 local artists delivering two-minute performances “for the hole” in a mini-marathon like no other.
Oscar-winning actor (for 1995's Leaving Las Vegas), cultural curiosity (for his Superman and Elvis obsessions, tax troubles, hair, etc.), Coppola family member (Francis Ford is his uncle), meme generator, and cult icon Nicolas Cage is about to become a half-century man. And what better way to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the most predictably unpredictable movie stars of all time than by checking out a pair of his movies?
Tomorrow (NC's actual bday: Jan. 7), Midnites for Maniacs unspools a pair of Cage classics, starting with his breakout role as a totally tripandicular Hollywood punk mooning after the title character in 1983's Valley Girl. This movie has it all: a killer soundtrack, terrible-amazing hair and fashions, the immortal EG Daily, and maybe the best prom scene in the 1980s teen-movie canon. We melt with you, Nic.