Pixel Vision

Action franchise junkie Vin Diesel returns ... and more new movies!

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Who dares to challenge the box-office supremacy of Vin Diesel, who returns yet again to play the titular night vision-gifted (but really socially awkward) escaped con in sci-fi actioner Riddick?

For masochists, there's Brian De Palma's latest, Passion, which checks in for a brief Castro run (Dennis Harvey gets bored talking about it here); there are also a couple of docs, a MILF drama, and a South Korean disaster-by-numbers flick about a disease that, shockingly, doesn't spawn zombies, just bloody coughs and rapid death. Read on for our short takes (and take note of your best-bet new flick: "charming seriocomedy" Afternoon Delight). Read more »

Hormone replacement therapy and video games: Anna Anthropy talks Dy5phoria

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Video games go to alien worlds all the time, but rarely have they explored a transgender person's identity until Dys4ia. The 2012 Adobe Flash game traced designer Anna Anthropy's hormone replacement therapy journey, guiding the player through trying on women's clothing for the first time, dealing with the agony of shaving, and correcting all the people who call you "sir" instead of "ma'am."Read more »

The Performant: Fringe 101, an essential lexicon revisited.

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With the frenzy of the Edmonton Fringe Festival finally subsided, and Vancouver’s about to begin, myself and the Naked Empire Bouffons are ready for action. We have posters to plaster, our venue to scope out, and fellow artists to schmooze before the festival opens on the fifth, but in the interim I have time to let my attentions wander back momentarily to San Francisco, whose Fringe Festival also opens this week.

Did you know that we boast the second oldest Fringe Festival in the United States (the first being Orlando’s)? And that, along with Vancouver, we represent the final leg of the CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) circuit for touring Fringe artists, despite the small complication of not actually being Canadian? Admittedly our festival is smaller than the Vancouver event (36 shows, as compared to 91 and counting), but it’s still a veritable bacchanal of drama, dance, and comedic derring-do packed into 14 days.

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Fall films to look forward too ... and new movies to see tonight!

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Click this way for my Fall Film Preview, presented as part of this weeks Fall Arts spectacular. With bonus photo of Bradley Cooper's Brady perm!

Read on for this week's openings, including one of the best indie films of the year, the latest from Wong Kar-Wai, and, uh...the One Direction movie.

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The Performant: Fringe Dwellers

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It’s hard to believe, but the 32nd annual Edmonton Fringe is already over and touring companies like Naked Empire Bouffon are packing their bags to move on to the next festival, while artists who have finished their runs head for home — whether that’s Australia, the UK, or just North of the High Level Bridge. As at every Fringe, my goal has been to see just as many shows as I can, and in between stage-managing Naked Empire’s run and feverishly making deadlines, I saw 35, which ranged in content and execution from the merely mundane to the inarguably sublime. Here’s a roundup of my personal favorites and companies I recommend watching out for should they make over to San Francisco.

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The robot apocalypse, Mr. Darcy, outlaws, and revolutionaries: new movies!

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Let's Boo-Boo! Edgar Wright's latest bromance-in-genre-clothing, The World's End, opens today, and it's a riot. Elsewhere, there's a rom-com about Jane Austen obsessives, Hollywood's latest supernatural-teen fantasy, and an indie horror flick critic Dennis Harvey calls "a very bloody good ride." (Check out those reviews below).

Longer features this week include my interview with director David Lowery about his neo-Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints, and Harvey's take on artist-couple doc Cutie and the Boxer. Read more »

Sublime nonsense: extended interview with Wet the Hippo's John Gilkey

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Note: this is an extended version of an interview that appears in this week's paper.
 
The sets are gone, and the costumes, and that giant blue-and-yellow tent. Master clown and performance maker John Gilkey has ended his fourth stint with Cirque du Soleil since 1996. But if the wiry, often wild-haired Gilkey and his Muppet-like mug are no strangers to the big time, they move just as ferociously through a bare stage in a small venue wearing not much more than, these days, a bushy beard.
 
It’s been three years since Gilkey last performed in San Francisco — flanked by comedians Alec Jones-Trujillo and Donny Divanian, the deadpan naïfs of his avant-comedy trio, We Are Nudes. Just as the very funny yet vaguely unnerving, off-center style of Nudes occupied some indeterminate territory between sketch comedy and Dadaist destruction, Gilkey’s latest venture — the Los Angeles–based eight-member improvisational ensemble known as Wet the Hippo — takes its audience beyond the usual endpoints of improv.

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The Performant: Surrender to Dorothy

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San Francisco’s invasion of Canada has begun

On my first day in Alberta, Canada I am greeted by gracious Edmontonians bearing platters of smoked meats, a local tradition perhaps, and upon joining my reconnaissance troop, the small but mighty Naked Empire Bouffon Company, who I’m stage-managing for their one-month Fringe Festival tour, we head down to the 32nd Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival headquarters to discover what we can about the territory. The Edmonton Fringe is the second largest in the world after Edinburgh (the original), attracting over a half-million people to the festival site, and hosting over 200 performing companies over the course of 11 days. Mixed in with the vast throng of performers from around the world, a small regiment of infiltrators from the Bay Area have scattered themselves throughout the festival grounds and venues, a quiet invasion of quirky monologists and seasoned storytellers.

And Naked Empire of course, whose confrontational buffooning offers an entirely different definition of Fringe theatre. Read more »

Celebrating food (and the food biz) at La Cocina's Food and Entrepreneurship Conference

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La Cocina — known for its ability to break down cultural barriers through food and for aiding low-income food entrepreneurs in their journey to sustainability — drew many fresh faces to its fourth annual Food and Entrepreneurship Conference Sun/18. The conference wrapped up a busy weekend for the organization, which also hosted the fifth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival Sat/17.

The all-day conference, held at SOMArts Cultural Center, was a mixing bowl of talented women cooks, curious food-business pioneers, new volunteers, and delicious food. Needless to say, the atmosphere was buzzing.

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Never enough hours in the weekend to see all these NEW MOVIES

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Quite a few openings this week, although it seems like 10-plus new movies is becoming the norm these days. (At least there's no big film festival to distract you from the regular ol' cinema at the moment.) In the spirit of efficiency I did a combo-platter review of sci-fi chiller Europa Report; Johnnie To's latest, Drug War; Tenebre, a 1982 Dario Argento giallo that's screening at the Roxie tonight; and doc Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector, which plays the Balboa. Also at length, Dennis Harvey takes a look at Shirley Clarke's freshly restored 1967 doc Portrait of Jason, also screening at the Roxie.

Ain't enough for you? Read on for Kick-Ass 2, Jobs, and more on the week's fresh crop of flicks.

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