"Nine p.m. is the new midnight," declares Will "the Thrill" Viharo, programmer and host of Thrillville, the East Bay's giant cocktail shaker of B-movie bliss. Turns out Thrillville's earliest incarnation was as the Midnight Lounge, which Viharo first oversaw in April 1997, just a few months after Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theater opened. After a particularly scorching Elvis tribute event, Viharo decided his gig, eventually dubbed Thrillville, was ready for prime time. Read more »
CHRISTIAN BRUNO In the mid-'60s the Presidio hosted Underground Cinema 12, a package of late-night movies that might incorporate a little [George] Kuchar, a little Busby Berkeley, and a lot of porn posing as art. It was a traveling package of films that was curated by Mike Getz out of LA, but the Presidio put its own SF (which usually meant gay) stamp on things.
KAREN LARSEN Gosh, I remember going to see the Cockettes at the Palace in North Beach in the '60s. Read more »
Ask Jesse Hawthorne Ficks what his favorite movie is, and he won't hesitate: it's Ski School. Ficks, who programs and hosts the Castro Theatre's monthly Midnites for Maniacs triple feature, interprets "favorite" literally: the 1991 raunch-com might not surface on any highbrow top-10 lists, but it's likely no scholar loves Citizen Kane (1941) as much as Ficks loves Ski School.
"I've always been upset with people who talk about guilty pleasures," Ficks explained when I paid him a visit at the Ninth Street Film Center. Read more »
SINGULAR SIREN Sam Fuller, known for being one of the toughest mugs in Hollywood, wrote of casting Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarchal sexpot in his whacked-out 1957 western Forty Guns, "She was ready to do whatever you needed, even if it meant falling off her horse and being dragged along the ground." That Stanwyck was already 50 when she commanded this attention gives a sense of her fearsome robustness, something that held movie audiences in thrall for the better part of three decades.
A question inevitably surfaces in watching the greatest hits that dot the cen Read more »
Gus van Sant's films are as thick as the Oregon sky. Swept with dreamy remove and elliptical narration, his work strikes me as being the cinematic equivalent of shoegaze music (sorry, Sofia). Now that the writer-director seems to have given up middlebrow commercial filmmaking (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) to return to the art house (Elephant, Last Days), it feels like the right time for a revival of his shoestring 16mm debut, Mala Noche. Read more »
Michael Moore is a divisive character, but he's not the most controversial man in the United States. The first image in Sicko, the director's first doc since 2004's Fahrenheit 9/11, is of George W. Bush. But the liar in chief is only one of Moore's targets this time around. In Sicko he goes after America's entire health care system, examining how even folks who have health insurance are routinely screwed over by corporations that care more about profits than lives. Read more »
Perhaps the only nonzombie movie in recent memory in which the dead outnumber the living, Colma: The Musical did not appear to be a hot prospect when it premiered at last year's San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. A musical suburban-youth angstfest made locally on a shoestring, starring and produced by no one you've heard of? A movie originally intended to be an indie concept album and a stage show? Read more »