Film Review

For your further consideration

Short takes on SFIFF 2012, week two

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More reviews of films playing during the San Francisco Internation Film Festival. For more SFIFF coverage, click here. Read more »

Tiger woods

A lone tracker probes a troubled wilderness in The Hunter

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FILM The Tasmanian tiger wasn't a cat at all, but a pouched marsupial resembling a ring-tailed dog, with the most fearsome steel-trap jaws imaginable. It was hunted out of existence as a menace to domestic livestock; the last one died in captivity in 1936. Nonetheless, alleged sightings persist. Like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, the tiger is kept alive at least in the imagination by the fervency of stubborn believers.Read more »

Diva in the headlights

Danish superstar Paprika Steen comes on strong in Applause
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Solo mio

Gianni Di Gregorio returns with a gentle sequel to Mid-August Lunch

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FILM The phenomenon of grown children remaining under (or returning to) mom and dad's roof well after the customary sell-by date has been a regular topic of late in American entertainment and pop sociology.Read more »

Mister Vengeance

Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts' tense, taut Hunter

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FILM Iran is the kind of nation where political protest in public art has to be muted or disguised. It was well buried in recent hit A Separation, and is just slightly more apparent in Rafi Pitts' The Hunter. Shot and set during the contentious 2009 Presidential campaign — Pitts is a rare expat filmmaker allowed to shoot in the country his family left decades ago — it starts as a Kafka-esque portrait of quiet desperation in a cold, empty Tehran, then turns into a sort of existential thriller. Read more »

The war at home

A veteran filmmaker returns with the Oscar-nominated In Darkness

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FILM Agnieszka Holland is that kind of filmmaker who can become a well known, respectable veteran without anyone being quite sure what those decades have added up to. Her mentor was Andrzej Wadja, the last half-century's leading Polish director (among those who never left). He helped shape a penchant for heavy historical drama and a sometimes clunky style not far from his own.Read more »

Hello, Carol!

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life celebrates a legend

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FILM It is close to impossible not to love Carol Channing; those who would protest otherwise are simply heartless. The only adequate response to her is unconditional surrender, as if standing before an oncoming cyclone filled with puppies.Read more »

The best medicine

Valérie Donzelli draws on her real-life experiences as mother to a sick child in the whimsical, likable Declaration of War

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<P><B>FILM</B> French actor Val&eacute;rie Donzelli made her first feature as writer-director with 2009's <I>The Queen of Apples</I>, which trawled the film festival circuit for a couple of years &#151; eventually getting its title tweaked to <I>The Queen of Hearts</I> &#151; before making its unheralded U.S. debut at the 2010 Mill Valley Film Festival. It got a minor theatrical release in France and none at all here. Read more »

In the realms of the unreal

Wim Wenders' stunning Pina pays tribute to acclaimed choreographer Bausch

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FILM/DANCE Watching Pina Bausch's choreography on film should not have been as absorbing and deeply affecting of an experience as it was. Dance on film tends to disappoint — the camera flattens the body and distorts perspective, and you either see too many or not enough details. Avatar (2009) certainly didn't convince me that 3D was the answer.Read more »

Conflict revolution

Well-crafted A Separation examines a modern Iranian marriage

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FILM Like the Olympics, albeit on a less rigid schedule, the perceived hotspot for evolving cinematic art tends to migrate every few years. Recently we've seen the likes of Romania and South Korea thrust into that rarefied limelight, just as decades earlier it had been Italy, France, Japan, or Sweden. Their moment usually occurs when a new generation of filmmakers with shared stylistic and/or political concerns impact as a collective force, reinvigorating the national cinema while making a splash on the international festival and art house circuits.Read more »