Film Features

Dark days indeed

Melville's Army of Shadows
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French noir rarely darkened, deepened, or explored more nuanced shades of gray and shadow than in the films of Jean-Pierre Melville. From his breakthrough gangster ode, Bob le Flambeur (1955), through 1962's underrated Le Doulos to the trio that put Alain Delon's icy beauty to proper use, Le Samouraï (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), and Un Flic (1972), Melville infused the genre with a rigorous, formal power while simultaneously shooting quickly, stylishly, and on location. Read more »

Rapists and fishwives

Love and aggression spar at this year's Berlin and Beyond fest
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Popular cinema places a lot of stock in stories about the redemptive power of love — stories in which love turns a skeptic into a true believer, an ill-tempered miser into a philanthropist, or a broken spirit into an undamaged specimen free from the taint of failures past. Read more »

Mall-ancholy

Jem Cohen's Chain examines consumers and the consumed
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cheryl@sfbg.com

The world is chained to chains in Jem Cohen's Chain, a sort-of documentary that also weaves two narratives into its study of global economics. Hard-faced young squatter Amanda (musician Mira Billotte of White Magic) spends monotonous days haunting the nearest shopping center, a place so generic it could be positively anywhere, including the suburban hell of George A. Romero's darkest nightmares. Read more »

Super visions: the year in film

Take a long look at the Guardian's 2006 film issue
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johnny@sfbg.com

The end of each year brings a blitz of polls tabuutf8g the best movies and music of the past 12 months. These monster projects spit up a ton of fun lists, but in terms of science or revelatory truth, they range from suspect to useless. In contrast, the Guardian's annual end of the year film issue gives ideas and opinions precedence over bogus math. Read more »

Johnny Ray Huston's top 10 viewing experiences of 2006

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(1) Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand) on Oct. 3 at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Yes, it dug deeper into male-male romance than any hopelessly blinkered creation made and marketed as "gay," but I wasn't as amazed by Apichatpong's Cannes coronation creation Tropical Malady as I'd expected to be, especially given the hypnotism of Blissfully Yours. Read more »

Cinema 2006

Top 10s, rants, and raves
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CRAIG BALDWIN'S PRIZED CINEMATIC PEANUTS

Ever wonder why there's an Automotive section in the newspaper every week ... and perhaps consider that the Film section might also be driven by the same industry forces?

And so commercial cinema, dinosaurlike as it is, does continue to lumber along. Read more »

Monster dearest

The screen moms of 2006 look for redemption through desperate living, methadone, and visitation rights
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kimberly@sfbg.com

Move over, matchy-matchy Faye Dunaway of Mommie Dearest and much too armed and dangerous to hug Shelley Winters of Bloody Mama (possibly the lousy dowager emeritus, thanks to Lolita). Read more »

F stands for family ...

... and for fucked up -- an apt tag for 2006's movie kin
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

It is not — finally — a good moment to be a social conservative, as the Republicans have finally failed enough on so many fronts that their failure is being acknowledged. Evidence increasingly suggests large segments of the population don't really care that much about the terrifying threat of gay marriage, don't want to turn the clock way back on abortion rights, and prefer keeping church and state as they're supposed to be: separate. Read more »

Eleven patriot acts

Cinema in 2006
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(1) Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand). It isn't just the laugh-out-loud third-act arrival of a typically grin-struck and beehive-hairdoed MD who keeps a pint of Mekong whiskey in her prosthetic leg that'll leave you convinced that Syndromes is Apichatpong's funniest film to date. Read more »

A pirate diary

DVD loot in Mexico City
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When I got to Mexico City's main ceremonial drag, where national parades and military marches are flanked by the art nouveau–style Palacio de Bellas Artes and the most striking Sears department store building you will ever see, it had transformed into a full-on tent city: blue tarp, camping tents, and thousands of political cartoons flowed east for half a mile and filled the Zócalo, the city's vast central plaza. Just a few days before, Mexico's highest electoral court had confirmed National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderón as the country's next president. Read more »