Film Features

Sanitized insanity

Cleanflix doc tells a surprisingly twisty tale of Mormon "scrubbing"

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TRASH The term "Hollywood" has become a many-splendored pejorative, applicable to anything trite, vulgar, politically liberal, morally lax, and so on and so forth. Yet as much as they might like to think they're so-not That, what red-corpuscled Americans with an electrical socket in their dwelling — or simply senses to absorb stray bits of popular culture when they venture outside — aren't influenced by if not downright addicted to some facets of the entertainment industry?Read more »

8 Mile blues

It Came From Detroit follows the Motor City rock scene's early '00s moment in the sun

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There have been a number of documentaries lately reflecting a fascination with Detroit as a ruined giant, our very own (barely) living Pompeii. Local residents have made films lamenting the extreme poverty and the bungled public-corporate policies that largely created it. Non-locals, particularly those state-funded Europeans, have made others whimsically extolling the environ's pockets of reversion to agrarian culture — seeing utopian futurism there rather than a grimly comic last resort. Read more »

Crazy, sexy (?), movies

YEAR IN FILM: Parsing the po-mo rom-com

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM We ask depressingly little of our romantic comedies, particularly considering that they're meant, one guesses, to cheer us up. While genres like the action thriller and the disaster film engage in an arms race of catastrophe that, while riddled with clichés, requires some amount of ingenuity to orchestrate, when it comes to the rom-com, the studios display fierce loyalty to a formula of marquee names, charming emotional baggage, foolish misunderstandings, and final-boarding-call epiphanies.Read more »

On nostalgia

YEAR IN FILM: You've finally made a Muppet out of me

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM I haven't laughed so hard or so deeply in a movie theater as I did watching The Muppets after a languorous Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps it was as much due to the tryptophan, sugar, and booze coursing through my system as to the welcomely familiar zaniness transpiring onscreen, but more and more my chuckling was subtended by the throaty chokes that presage a good, deep cry. And when I caught the pointedly placed photo of Jim Henson in the background of an interior shot, it finally hit me: that warm lump in my chest was nostalgia.Read more »

The brawn identity

YEAR IN FILM: Captain America: The First Avenger wins 2011's battle of the superhero movies

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM How did the tiger get its stripes? Or, more pertinently, how did the superman get his tights? This has been the thrust of most big-budget superhero movies since the genre's big boom a decade ago — a strict adherence to monomythic convention, with modern action movie trappings to make the material accessible to newcomers.Read more »

Zero for conduct

YEAR IN FILM: Contemplating the filmmaker as teacher

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM American cinema lost several of its troubadours this past year: genuine independents like Robert Breer, Owen Land, Adolfas Mekas, Richard Leacock, Jordan Belson, and George Kuchar. Critical appraisal of these sui generis filmmakers tends to rest upon masterpieces and technique, but several were also influential as teachers.Read more »

Hey girl

YEAR IN FILM: In praise of the actors who redefined "sex symbol" in 2011

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Reel, reel good

YEAR IN FILM: Guardian movie critics unveil their favorite flicks from the year that was

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DENNIS HARVEY'S FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES OF 2011:

American Teacher (Vanessa Roth and Brian McGinn, U.S.)

The Arbor (Clio Barnard, U.K.)

Buck (Cindy Meehl, U.S.)

The Last Lions (Dereck Joubert, U.S./Botswana)

My Perestroika (Robin Hessman, U.S./U.K./Russia)

Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzmán, France/Germany/Chile)

Pianomania (Robert Cibis and Lilian Franck, Austria/Germany)Read more »

Doom lens

YEAR IN FILM: Cheryl Eddy assesses 2011's cinematic contributions and wonders if the apocalypse isn't already upon us

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cheryl@sfbg.com

YEAR IN FILM As everyone and John Cusack knows, 2012 is it. And not in a "billboard-buying Alameda radio preacher Harold Camping's bungled Rapture predictions" kind of way. This is an all-in situation. The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, a complicated and ancient system most enthusiastically explained by conspiracy theorists, winds up its 13th 144,000 day cycle on December 21, 2012. TL; DR: we're toast.Read more »

Clark shadows

Totally awesome video games! 1970s and 80s schlock director Greydon Clark gets a tribute, Joy Sticks and all

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TRASH If you were around in the waning days of drive-ins and urban grindhouses, the heydays of video stores and 1980s late-night cable, or were a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fan, the name Greydon Clark might ring a faint bell — maybe even a warning bell.Read more »