Film Review

Thinking big with Vig

The Monastery
|
()

THE MONASTERY: THINKING BIG WITH VIG

All of my prior attempts to write about The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun came to a screeching halt on describing the physical presence of the man at the documentary's center, Jørgen Lauersen Vig. The sullenness of Vig's features (accentuated by long white hair that, together with an outrageously wild-looking beard, forms a halo of sorts around his face) and his tall, slender, and raggedy-clothed figure cause him to resemble a hero from a novel by Nikolay Gogol. Read more »

Urinal kinds of trouble

William E. Jones proves that in America, the mirror looks at you
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

William E. Jones's documentary triptych Massillon came out in 1991 — a landmark year for queer film — yet it didn't receive near the popular attention given to Poison, another narrative three-way that is the arguable flagship of the new queer cinema. Read more »

Silencers, please

Dean Martin is propped up for a Bond imitation
|
()

The James Bond movies had a cultural impact like no other film series in the 1960s, spawning umpteen imitations, from cheap Europudding productions (the ones directed by Mario Bava and Jess Franco are quite delightful) to Hollywood spectaculars. There were rival series too. The most popular — and critically loathed — starred Dean Martin as Matt Helm. In Donald Hamilton's original books Helm is a tough customer involved in relatively realistic adventures. Read more »

Torn apart

Control charts the angst of Ian Curtis
|
()

cheryl@sfbg.com

Let's start with the Ian Curtis dance. Part march in place, part ecstatic flail, it conveyed the singer's trancelike connection to Joy Division's music; it also eerily echoed the epileptic seizures he began suffering at age 21, just as his band was becoming famous. Read more »

Imitation of life

Grief, love, and plastic mingle in Lars and the Real Girl
|
()

cheryl@sfbg.com

Lonely, socially awkward dude becomes obsessed with an eerily lifelike female doll. Uh, I've seen that movie before, when it was a horror flick called Love Object. But if you can imagine the same plot transferred into a bittersweet romance and with the kink factor dialed way down, you'll have a grip on Lars and the Real Girl, a movie so softhearted it implies the silicone-worshiping misfit in question (Ryan Gosling) doesn't even have sex with his sex doll. They do smooch on occasion, though.

From Craig Gillespie — the director of Mr. Read more »

Life sucks

A Lebanese vampire makes his mark at the Arab Film Fest
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

By now it's natural to expect a lot from the Arab Film Festival, which is opening its 11th annual survey of cinema from the Arab world and diaspora with veteran Tunisian filmmaker Nouri Bouzid's excellent feature Making Of, then presenting more than 80 features, docs, and shorts from 13 countries in screenings around the Bay and, for the first time, in Los Angeles. Ghassan Salhab's The Last Man (2006), on the other hand, delivers something probably less expected: the first Lebanese vampire movie. Read more »

Seven up

Picks from the Vancouver International Film Festival
|
()

1. Dans la Ville de la Sylvia (José Luis Guerín, France/Spain)

2. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada) My two favorites of the festival were both ghost stories in which a haunted protagonist (fey Xavier Lafitte in Sylvia and Maddin's voice-over in My Winnipeg) traces his past in a city charged with memory. Read more »

Visions of excess

The CounterCorp Film Festival
|
()

Trucks of day-old bread emptied into landfills, a sea of chicks shoved through an assembly line — the horrors of the global food industry make for wildly surreal and yet all-too-real images in We Feed the World, one of six feature documentaries at this year's CounterCorp Film Festival. Read more »

Ideals made reel

Enter Joseph Cornell's prison of silver light
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"Joseph Cornell's cinema remains the central enigma of his work," Anthology Film Archives founder and Visionary Film author P. Adams Sitney wrote in 1980. Read more »

Who wrote the book of love?

For the Bible Tells Me So
|
()

At first glance, For the Bible Tells Me So comes across as a fairly conservative film. Technically and aesthetically speaking, there are no surprises: interviews, found footage, a cute short cartoon, and familiar traditional documentary techniques are mixed with a certain amount of predictability and sentimental cheesiness. But is cinematic form all that defines whether a movie is conventional or groundbreaking? In terms of content, Daniel G. Read more »