Pixel Vision

The Performant: For Those Who Have Rocked, We Salute You

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Theater artists reflect on life on the road in this final dispatch from the 2013 fringe festival circuit.

One of the most interesting aspects of the North American fringe festival circuit is the way it makes touring with a piece of theater an accessible proposition to even typically penniless performers. It hearkens back to an era when dozens of theater companies sent themselves on cross-country tours in much the same manner as punk bands or circuses (the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Independent Eye among them), a rite of literal passage that seems quite out of reach for most theater-makers today. This means that despite its traditional, lottery-based programming, a penchant for kingmaking still pervades the Fringe, and certain prolific artists can become as rock stars, circumventing the lottery odds by booking themselves into unofficial venues as in Edinburgh, capturing oddience attention from year to year. Read more »

Put up your dukes: 40 years of SF's Grand Ducal Council

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The global gay charitable network (which started in SF) known as the Imperial Council has been in the news of late: Empress I, Jose Sarria, the Widow Norton, passed away earlier this month and was given a grand funeral at Grace Cathedral that was covered throughout the world.

Now the other major Court Council, the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, founded to have a bit more fun, is also getting some attention. On Sat/28 the SF Grand Ducal Council SF Grand Ducal Council will crown the newly elected monarchs for the 40th Reign. at an elaborate and festive coronation event, open to all. (Elections were held last Saturday, and we won't know who won until the ceremony.)

The theme, chosen by outgoing monarchs Paloma Volare and Moses "Moe Jo" Garcia is "Dancing With the Czars at the Ice Castle." I exchanged emails with Moe Jo about the theme, the Council, and the Grand Ducal mission:

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TIFF diary #3: Claire Denis, Jia Zhangke, and Wang Bing

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks watched 33 films at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and we'll be sharing his impressions chunk by chunk. Stay tuned for more!

A Touch of Sin (China/Japan) is the latest thoughtful triumph for Jia Zhangke, the king of China's sixth-generation filmmaking. This time around, his suffering, disaffected characters are entangled in an even more violent environment than in previous outings Unknown Pleasures (2002), The World (2004), and Still Life (2006).

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Grown up stuff: themes of rejection and reclamation at Portland's TBA Festival

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Now in its 11th year, Portland, Ore.'s Time-Based Art Festival is fall's major performance festival to the north (almost simultaneous with REDCAT's Radar LA, the major festival to the south). Mounted annually by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), TBA has become something of a pilgrimage site for Bay Area artists and audiences, judging by the number of familiar faces onstage and off both this year and last.

PICA's artistic director, Angela Mattox, has something to do with this. As the former performing arts programmer at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Mattox (now in her second year at PICA) retains strong ties to Bay Area artists. Other likely factors include the relative proximity and general cultural appeal of Portland (an increasing refuge to artists and others pushed out of San Francisco by gentrification), not to mention the scandalous lack of any Bay Area performance festival of comparable scope.

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Bad dads, hella docs, and more new movies!

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One theme this week is "father figures" — some terrible (see Dennis Harvey's review of Blue Caprice here, and review of You Will Be My Son below), some frantic (Prisoners), some ass-kicking (Ip Man: The Final Fight).

Elsewhere, check out Jem Cohen's moving narrative (but also kinda doc-like) Museum Hours (my chat with Cohen here). More short reviews below! Read more »

TIFF diary #2: dead cheerleaders + Tsai, Hong, and Breillat

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Check out the first entry in Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' Toronto International Film Festival diary here, and stay tuned for more tomorrow!

All Cheerleaders Die (USA) is the follow up to Lucky McKee's attention-grabbing The Woman (2011), which stunned Sundance audiences with both its subversive take on gender issues and its violent brutality.

Taking a much lighter tone with co-director Chris Sivertson, Cheerleaders (an expanded remake of his 2001 short by the same name) nicely echoes the ironic horror-comedy vibe of Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods (2012) while still managing to deliver a genre entry for text-crazed teenyboppers. Goths, jocks, some faux feminism, and a bevy of ass and crotch shots should make fans of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers quite satisfied.

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TIFF diary: standouts from France, Nepal, and Japan

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After 33 feature films at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, I can safely say that I am ecstatic about where cinema is heading this decade.

While many of the following films might not receive major releases, I have compiled a spoiler-free overview of films — presented here as a series of blog posts — to keep your eyes and ears out for in the coming months (and perhaps years) at your local theaters and online resources.  

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The Performant: Vancouver Fringe-mania

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Well, it’s been another fringe-ferrific whirlwind here at the Vancouver Fringe, but like all good things, it too has come to an end. The Boulder Fringe is still poised to begin this afternoon despite the flooding, but the East to West Coast circuit is now complete, and many career-fringe artists headed home, wherever that may be, to count their successes and tally their losses (often both).

For Naked Empire Bouffon Company the rewards of its five-week tour appear to be both tangible (a Critic’s Choice nomination and a “Talk of the Fringe” award in Vancouver, quotable reviews, and some modest profit), and ephemeral (connecting with other Fringe artists, experiencing new frontiers of audience reaction, generating excitement and controversy). But it’s been a lot of work to get that: months of rehearsal time, many long days of flyering in costume, hustling for audience and some small portion of recognition. But it’s the shows themselves that Fringe artists and audiences come together to experience, and it’s the shows that will hopefully stay with us long after the bone-wearying nature of the hustle fades from memory. Here’s a shortlist of some of the stand-outs from my second week at the Vancouver Fringe. Catch them elsewhere if you can.

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San Francisco Homebrewers Guild Q&A: A mashing good time

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For this week’s cover story, I profiled one particular homebrewer -- my husband -- on his quest to DIY kegerator glory. But there’s more to this story -- hundreds more, in fact. And the homebrewers of San Francisco congregate in the virtual San Francisco Homebrewers Guild (cute motto: “A mashing good time!). Read more »

Ki-ki-ki-ah-ah-ah: new movies for Friday the 13th

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Naturally, there's at least one horror movie, Insidious: Chapter 2,  opening in honor of Friday the 13th — two if you count Our Nixon — as well as a new series paying tribute to the singular Pier Paolo Pasolini (check out Dennis Harvey's round-up here). Read on for more new reviews and one special holiday recommendation.

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