Film Review

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 »

Highbrow-beaten

The King's Speech tempts Oscar

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Cash and Carrey

Gay romantic comedy I Love You Phillip Morris inches toward the mainstream

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM You had to forgive most of the gay press for getting a little too excited over Brokeback Mountain (2005). Oh, no doubt it's a great movie, or that the Oscar going to the fraudulent Crash (2004) said less about that film's virtues than a skittishness that other movie stirred. But its excellence and commercial success induced widespread bouts of wishful thinking in the form of announcing new trends that never came to pass.Read more »

Dance fever

Portman is prima in Black Swan

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM "Lose yourself," ballet company head Thomas (Vincent Cassel) whispers to his leading lady, Nina (Natalie Portman), moments before she takes the stage. But Nina is already consumed with trying to find herself. Rarely has a journey of self-discovery been so unsettling.Read more »