"When we use magical in a positive sense," filmmaker Lawrence Jordan explains, parsing an adjective that is frequently brought up in discussions of his work, "it really means my eye is fresh at this moment and what I'm seeing is a discovery." Jordan's films in particular, the animated collages composed of Victorian magazine illustrations, Gustave Doré engravings, and flashing stars and orbs for which he is most famous are the visual records of such moments of discovery.
I've read more than once that Raymond Carver stories are short and laconic by artistic necessity. Some critics are invoking this dogma in writing of Ray Lawrence's new movie, Jindabyne, and the story it's based on, "So Much Water So Close to Home" (also used as a thread in Robert Altman's Carver buffet Short Cuts). This is, at least where "So Much Water" is concerned, horse puckey. Read more »
Mads Mikkelsen has excessively high cheekbones on very long, flat facial planes, making him the kind of handsome actor suited for morally untrustworthy roles. Hence his casting as a charismatic antihero in the violent Pusher series (sort of Denmark's big-screen Sopranos) and as the villain who inflicts improbably impermanent damage to chairbound James Bond's weenus in 2006's Casino Royale. Read more »
Nothing is what it seems in Red Road, a wonderfully restrained thriller that marks the feature debut of British writer-director Andrea Arnold. Jackie (a fierce Kate Dickie) works as a surveillance camera operator, studying closed-circuit feeds streaming from Glasgow's streets. Her life is mysterious without being spectacular; for one thing, she lives alone but wears a wedding ring. Clearly, she's had a tragic past, and her present is haunted by the specter of unfinished business - but what, exactly? Read more »
Guy Maddin, that demented dealer in antiquities responsible for such cinematic curiosities as The Saddest Music in the World and the much-loved short The Heart of the World, has a new film showing at the Castro Theatre as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. The semiautobiographical Brand upon the Brain! - a silent quasi-horror film about an orphanage that harvests life-giving brain juice from its wards - will be accompanied by a live orchestra, Foley artists, a castrato, and narration by local star Joan Chen. Read more »
Despite Sigmund Freud's strong distrust of cinema ("I do not consider it possible to represent our abstractions graphically in any respectable manner," he firmly wrote in a letter to an inquiring film producer), Freudian psychoanalytic theory - primarily as reread by the French analyst Jacques Lacan - has come to form the bedrock of much academic film criticism and theory since the 1960s. Read more »
The oldest film festival in the United States and Canada, the San Francisco International Film Festival reaches its golden anniversary this year. That's half a century of bringing movies from all over the world to one area of America that doesn't assume America is the world.
At this moment a solo videomaker has to kill at least a few dozen people to storm the multinational media palace. Yeah, this thought crashes the SFIFF's party. But it adds context to the fest's contents. Read more »
The San Francisco International Film Festival is offering a rare treat this year with its presentation of Otar Iosseliani's latest film, Gardens in Autumn, and Julie Bertuccelli's documentary about Iosseliani, Otar Iosseliani, The Whistling Blackbird. Read more »
When The Iron Mask screens at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival, four disparate cinematic personalities will merge - three in spirit and one in the flesh.
Now 68, Kevin Brownlow made his first feature film, 1966's It Happened Here, while in his 20s and subsequently published two books, one (How It Happened Here) on the making of that movie and another (The Parade's Gone By) featuring interviews with silent-era filmmakers and stars. At that time, the silent era was almost like a technical glitch to be overcome and forgotten. Read more »