Film Review

Where were you?

New San Francisco AIDS doc We Were Here is an act of emotional archeology, digging up often astonishing tidbits about life during the onset of the epidemic 

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marke@sfbg.com

FILM Amid the worshipful bromides that attended the 100th birthday of zombie Ronald Reagan on Feb. 6, gay blogger Joe.My.God. helped bring back to light a transcript of a 1982 press briefing Q&A session between Reagan administration spokesman Larry Speakes and journalist Lester Kinsolving. It's the first known time that AIDS was brought up at the White House.Read more »

Life after death

Steven Soderbergh charts the melancholy of Spalding Gray

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Beige to the bone

Direct from Sundance: Midwest office comedy Cedar Rapids

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Rise up and reflect

Omnibus film Revolución studies Mexico, 100 years post-revolution
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM A 10-part anthology film marking the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, Revolución derives most of its resonance from bits of Mexico's landscape and cultural identity rather than head-on treatments of the revolution and its ideals. Read more »

Que tristeza

Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful is a grim, dull dirge

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Whether or not they planned it from the beginning — though there was certainly grandiosity there at the start — Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo Arriaga have been interesting as probably the first major narrative filmmakers to make post-NAFTA globalization their ongoing subject. The three-part Amores Perros (2000), while set entirely in Mexico City, found within it layers of society as remote from one another (if united in a fatalism, brutality, and one "accidental" twist of fate) as if they were continents apart.Read more »

Bye bye blackbird

Pedro Costa examines the inner workings of French singer Jeanne Balibar

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM During the course of writing this review, I will at some point be ensnared by a sentence, reworking its syntax and flow across many notebook pages. For some of us, this is what writing is. When we praise commanding literary performances as great writing, we're actually talking about reading. It's not surprising that film portraits of artists usually only give us a mime of their craft; biography and circumscribed performance are shields from the crooked time of the creative process.Read more »

Woman on the verge

Michelle Williams proves her movie-star mettle in Blue Valentine

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FILM Sometimes a performance stands out and grabs attention for embodying a particular personality type or emotional state that's instantly familiar yet infrequently explored in much depth at the movies. What's most striking about Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine is the primary focus it lends Michelle Williams' role as the more disgruntled half of a marriage that's on its last legs whether the other half knows that or not. Read more »

In a lonely place

Dorff attempts depth in Coppola's tame Somewhere

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A lonely Ferrari zooms around a deserted track, over and over and over again. The opening scene of Sofia Coppola's latest, Somewhere, is such an obvious metaphor that at first I thought the director was joking. Actually, she's not: Somewhere is indeed a repetitious movie about a very boring, very ennui-laden individual, who happens to be a movie star with the marquee-ready name of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff).Read more »

Fight club

Master documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns to the sweet science

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Late in Boxing Gym, a pungent documentary even for Frederick Wiseman, an old-timer says something wise to his friend while lacing up. The friend doesn't see the point of analogies. Our man admits that some only work on an intellectual level, but insists that others make intuitive sense of abstraction — the right metaphor can make all the difference in getting a particular movement. It's hard to imagine that Wiseman would still be making his films if he didn't think the same held true for a motion picture sequence.Read more »

Hollywood ho-hum

Indie stalwart Henry Jaglom churns out Queen of the Lot

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FILM Some mainstream filmmakers grow so encumbered by the industry-within an-industry they've become that they profess yearning for those "small, personal" projects they started out with — often vowing they'll get right back there just as soon as they've finished the obligatory Behemoth IV: The Next Generation in 3-D. (Coppola actually did it; Lucas needs to stop saying he will until he actually quits finding new ways to commercially reanimate the charred remains of Star Wars. Meaning never.)Read more »