Film Features

Club sprockets

Nightlife hits the movie screen at Frameline
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This year's Frameline is bursting with documentaries about legendary nightlife personalities. Call it the Party Monster effect. Read more »

Night of 1,000 sexploits

A Q&A with lezsploitation maven Michelle Johnson
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Sexually repressed nuns, naughty prisoners, lustful wardens, and love-thirsty vampires are the celebrated heroines of Triple X Selects: The Best of Lezsploitation, Michelle Johnson's effort to reappropriate 1960s and 1970s sexploitation flicks. Intrigued by these films' soundtracks, the Los Angeles DJ, musician, and cult-film enthusiast hunted for the genre's most precious gems and compiled them into a 47-minute metafilm. Read more »

For Christ's sake

LGBT folk vs. Christians
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The cultural divide between a supposed gay agenda and faith-based biases is well represented in several features within Frameline's expansive 2007 program. Read more »

One-on-one-on-one

Add it up for the sensual appeal of Glue
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Violent Femmes and wrestling boys. The same boys watching TV, huffing glue, jerking off, playing soccer, dodging water balloons, sharing headphones, and dancing, singing, and drumming at punk rock shows. Listed in this manner, the basic ingredients of Alexis Dos Santos's Glue don't sound that different from those of a dozen other teen films. But the way Dos Santos views such material is something else entirely. Glue is that rare kind of filmmaking so attuned to pleasure and spontaneity that it tickles your palate, opening up new possibilities about how to live. Read more »

From the ashes

Lizzie Borden's radical Born in Flames is reborn
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"They may label you, try to classify you, and even call you a crazy bitch — but don't flinch, just let them," Honey of Radio Phoenix says to the women of New York City after her black feminist–run station gets bombed by government agents, after her comrade in arms is found dead in her jail cell, as the fireworks are about to go off in a certain tall tower in Lower Manhattan.

There's no denying the evocative weight of that last image these days. Read more »

Hit it or quit it

Short takes on films at Frameline 31
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Black White and Gray (James Crump, US, 2007) If Andre Téchiné's The Witnesses colors the early '80s red, this documentary about Sam Wagstaff (and by extension Robert Mapplethorpe) opts for a relatively bloodless palette. Though its voice-over shows class chauvinism in asserting that Patti Smith brought validity to punk, Black White and Gray perceptively uses its enigmatic subject as a window onto the changing role of photography within the art world. Read more »

There's no business ...

ShowBusiness sets its sights on Broadway-or-bust babies
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One of the most entertaining books ever written about the commercial theater is Ken Mandlebaum's Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops (St. Martin's, 1992). There's something inherently fascinating about the backstories and eventual fates of big stage musicals. Read more »

Call the docs

The Clinton 12, Silences , and the Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes doc at the San Francisco Black Film Festival
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Now in its ninth year, the San Francisco Black Film Festival continues to expand its scope, with two long weekends of narrative films and documentaries plus several shorts programs. If you didn't catch The Last Days of Left Eye during one of its recent VH-1 airings, it's well worth a look on the big screen. Read more »

Candid camera

Shohei Imamura captures Japan's red lights and black markets
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Shohei Imamura's 1961 film Pigs and Battleships opens with the impressive sight of gleaming modern buildings lining the landscape of an industrialized port town. This would-be idyllic image of newfound cooperation between the Japanese and the Americans is swiftly subverted with the upward yank of a crane shot, which ends with a bird's-eye view of the neighboring area. Read more »

Oh Mickey, you're so lame

"F@ck Mickey Mouse" shows precursors that beat Disney to the punch, imitators that ripped him off, and parodies that made fun of him
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In 1938, 13 years before a cinematic Alice visited Wonderland, Porky Pig flew to Wackyland, a Salvador Dalí painting come to life. Determined to find the last dodo bird on earth, he wandered through this surrealist landscape to the rhythm of the marijuana ditty "Feeling High and Happy." In 1931's One More Time, Mickey Mouse's ears grew bigger and his tail bushier as he transformed into Foxy, a police officer who then chased the Prohibition-era villains who had kidnapped his girlfriend. Read more »