Film Features

Brothers in arms

Battle lines are drawn -- and redrawn -- in the Irish drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley
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cheryl@sfbg.com

In a vulnerable country occupied by a foreign power, civilian frustration leads to anger, which soon explodes into a violent, uncontainable insurgent movement. Read more »

If she could turn back time

Anne McGuire reels in a big catch called Adventure Poseidon The
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johnny@sfbg.com

"The only way out is forward!" a character exclaims roughly 65 minutes into 1972's 111-minute-long The Poseidon Adventure. The same guy says the same thing around 46 minutes into Anne McGuire's 2006 remake-reversal of exactly the same length, Adventure Poseidon The. Yet no matter how or when it's sliced, the soon-to-be-doomed character's sentiment isn't quite right. In Ronald Neame's original, the way out is actually up — albeit through the bottom of a capsized ship. Read more »

Innervisions

Two or Three Things Jean-Luc Godard saw in his coffee
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Rome wasn't built in a day, but cinema's eternal enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard did direct Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Masculine-Feminine, Two or Three Things I Know about Her, and Weekend (and a few others too) in the four years leading up to the political explosions of 1968. These trenchant, tenacious films are as good a record as any we have of an era when light-speed changes in culture and politics only seemed to make history grind to a halt. Read more »

Sleazy like Sunday morning

Four unholy nights of vintage gems
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The collective teeth of umpteen fanboys and fangirls commenced grinding when it was announced that the release of the Quentin Tarantino–Robert Rodriguez nuevo-schlock faux double bill Grindhouse would be preceded by rare 35mm revival screenings of actual '60s through '80s sleazebag hits such as Fight for Your Life and They Call Me One-Eye. A wonderful and laudable thing, of course — at least if you live within driving reach of Los Angeles's New Beverly Cinema.

Well, if you can't join 'em, beat 'em. Read more »

Imitation of Kubrick

John Malkovich turns on the smarm as a genius imposter
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John Malkovich dominates Colour Me Kubrick in much the same way a poodle might lift its pampered leg to claim each stationary street object with its personal scent. He's offensive, oblivious, frilly, absurd — all in service to a character's refined self-preservative instinct, of course.

This happens from his first seconds onscreen, when he's just a background form moving blurrily down a rear staircase while we're supposed to be focused on an attractive young foreground figure — who turns out to be the focus of Malkovich's attention too. Read more »

SFIAAFF: Got fangs?

Why I like Finishing the Game director Justin Lin
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kimberly@sfbg.com

What a difference an indie blockbuster makes. The last time I spoke to Better Luck Tomorrow writer and director Justin Lin, he was energetically doing the grassroots festival rounds, beating the shrubbery on the importance of Asian Americans making Asian Pacific Islander films with empowered, complex characters. Yet judging from the craft, ideas, humor, and humanity that went into Lin's compelling final product, luck was only one part of it. Read more »

SFIAAFF: Freedom isn't free

Docs in competition at the SF International Asian American Film Festival explore the hell of war's aftermath
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Aside from one upbeat depiction of Hawaii's only all-male hula school (Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula), the nominees in the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival's documentary competition are nearly as similar in execution as they are in theme. Immigration tales, filmed in high-definition video from a first-person perspective, abound. Though homelands (Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, and Korea) differ, there's remarkable commonality among the subjects, who display the kind of internal scars only great suffering can inflict. Read more »

SFIAAFF: These monsters are real

Soju, bad sex, and deja vu in the films of Hong Sang-soo
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"Even though it's difficult to be human, let's not turn into monsters." This is said as a reprimand to Gyung-soo (Kim Sang-kyung), a mildly successful stage actor, by one of his colleagues early in South Korean director Hong Sang-soo's Turning Gate (2002). Read more »

Blood money

Three movies explore why the US is broke
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Most Americans are fairly sure they are being screwed where it hurts most: in the wallet. But if they think they know why, it's usually a red herring, while the actual primary causes of shrinking financial stability remain obscured by propaganda, media inattention, and institutional stonewalling. By timely coincidence, three worthwhile documentaries opening this week shine some light on the matter. Read more »