Film Review

Lovejoy and company

Film: America labors with its childhood in "My Kid Could Paint That"
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"Think about the children!"

That cry, most memorably a mantra for Reverend Lovejoy's wife, Helen, on The Simpsons, encapsulates the pervasive movement to childproof American life. Parents no longer have the time, will, or ability (so they claim) to properly censor all aspects of culture their kids might be exposed to, so a rising chorus demands the government do it for them.

Yet these efforts only underline the scattershot nature of an institutional overview of today's wide-open mediascape. Read more »

Atmosphere and an actress

A gliding guide: the double visions and global nightmares of Olivier Assayas
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Olivier Assayas's films are both strange and engrossing, so much so that they may evade broad comprehension on the first go-round. Whereas instigating French new wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut played fast and loose with tone and narrative structure to create jarring juxtapositions, Assayas does so to effect a subtler, more mysterious sense of illumination. Read more »

You rescued my "Battleship"!

Eisenstein's step-laden Potemkin gets new life at the Mill Valley Film Festival
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Sergey Eisenstein's legendary 1925 film Battleship Potemkin was declared a masterpiece from the moment it premiered, and it has placed near the top of greatest-film polls for as long as such polls have existed. According to legend, Douglas Fairbanks imported his own copy and showed it to the Hollywood elite in private screening rooms; no one was converted by its politics, but everyone was euphoric over its pure technical prowess. Read more »

Last Tango in Shanghai

There's sex in your violence, Lust, Caution posits
|
()

kimberly@sfbg.com

There's a moment in Lust, Caution (Se, Jie) in which you can clearly make out the writing, and this most awkward title's embedded warning, on the wall. The scene: a humid, tryst-friendly boudoir in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Read more »

Scary Larry

The Last Winter certifies Larry Fessenden as a horror auteur
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Nature enjoyed rebelling against arrogant, polluting humankind in the paranoid ecosploitation cinema of the 1970s: Prophecy, Phase IV, Frogs, Sssssss, The Food of the Gods, and even the Oscar-winning fake documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle all suggested Mother Nature was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Back then, though, nature was just bitching within safe fantasy confines. Read more »

The sound of success

Who put the rock in the rock doc, doc, doc?
|
()

What does every rock doc tell us? Read more »

The works

Ghosts and Numbers and Luchando add new twists to an old story at SF DocFest
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Some films glean artful pleasure from the pains of labor. One flourishing subgenre or strain of documentary tackles working conditions in countries across the world, highlighting the plight of the marginalized to make ends meet and maintain dignity in the face of unjust or extreme conditions. In a sense, Ghosts and Numbers and Luchando, two features at this year's San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, belong to this group, but they are most interesting for the ways that they differ from it, in content and style. Read more »

Ficks's top six

Picks from the Toronto International Film Festival
|
()

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, Romania, 2007). This Romanian debut feature possesses a nonjudgmental flow reminiscent of a Dardenne brothers film as it follows two women who negotiate for an illegal abortion during the final days of Nicolae Ceausescu's Communist regime. You'll be holding your breath as the characters dash from one nightmare to the next. There's a reason this movie won the Palme d'Or at the 60th Cannes Film Festival.

2. Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, France, 2007). Read more »

Witch, please

A thrill-sniffing guide to the Toronto International Film Festival
|
()

cheryl@sfbg.com

If you can end your Toronto International Film Festival experience with a movie that climaxes in a 10-minute fistfight (roofs collapse, cinder blocks are smashed, tables become splinters, ankle bones snap like twigs, and vengeance is won ... but at what price?), that qualifies as a joyous note in my book. Read more »

Written on the skin

Body horror– meister David Cronenberg forges Eastern Promises
|
()

kimberly@sfbg.com

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni, Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune — legendary screen team-ups betwixt a vision-questing director and his or her alter ego star filter are the stuff of cinematic legend. Read more »