Film Review

Full of Zizek

"The Pervert's Guide to Cinema" -- an appreciation
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Despite Sigmund Freud's strong distrust of cinema ("I do not consider it possible to represent our abstractions graphically in any respectable manner," he firmly wrote in a letter to an inquiring film producer), Freudian psychoanalytic theory - primarily as reread by the French analyst Jacques Lacan - has come to form the bedrock of much academic film criticism and theory since the 1960s. Read more »

Ponder or ignore? Enjoy

Choice words about image culture as the SF International Film Festival hits 50
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> johnny@sfbg.com

The oldest film festival in the United States and Canada, the San Francisco International Film Festival reaches its golden anniversary this year. That's half a century of bringing movies from all over the world to one area of America that doesn't assume America is the world.

At this moment a solo videomaker has to kill at least a few dozen people to storm the multinational media palace. Yeah, this thought crashes the SFIFF's party. But it adds context to the fest's contents. Read more »

Cinema brut

Better than sex, worse than violence: a critical survey of new French extremism at the 50th SF film fest
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Early on in A Parting Shot, Isild Le Besco's character curls up at a bar, crowded by two leering men ordering her the hard liquor with which she courts abnegation. Read more »

Otar, Otar, how does your "Garden" grow?

A rare cinematic treat
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The San Francisco International Film Festival is offering a rare treat this year with its presentation of Otar Iosseliani's latest film, Gardens in Autumn, and Julie Bertuccelli's documentary about Iosseliani, Otar Iosseliani, The Whistling Blackbird. Read more »

The four men in "The Iron Mask"

Stepping out of a classic
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When The Iron Mask screens at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival, four disparate cinematic personalities will merge - three in spirit and one in the flesh.

Now 68, Kevin Brownlow made his first feature film, 1966's It Happened Here, while in his 20s and subsequently published two books, one (How It Happened Here) on the making of that movie and another (The Parade's Gone By) featuring interviews with silent-era filmmakers and stars. At that time, the silent era was almost like a technical glitch to be overcome and forgotten. Read more »

Do you remember your first time?

Debut fiction features at the fest
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Of the hundreds of thousands of feature movies made in the past century, how many were spectacular debuts? Maybe 30? Reason decrees that we can't expect the 11 first features that make up this year's SKYY Prize nominees to be brilliant; frankly, they're not. Read more »

On tone's tail

A brief history of star wars and star awards at the SFIFF
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With that inimitable San Franciscan condescension toward anything too popular, various eyes rolled skyward when the SF Film Society announced the tributees at the 50th SF International Film Festival would include the two most famous Hollywood-type people who live hereabouts, George Lucas and Robin Williams. Like a canyon-echoed foghorn, bass exhalations of "borrrrrr-ing" filled select pockets of local airspace. Read more »

Magic stoned

Video artist Kelly Sears's animated shorts crystallize pop-cult preoccupations
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Dream catchers and rainbows. Stately dragons that soar the starry skies as majestically as a space station and more Marshall stacks than you can shake a pewter warlock wand at. Lone wolves and lynx meeting under snowy boughs in untamed, magical communion. Daggers with serpentine handles morphing gently into stalactites and snowflakes. Wizards solemnly lifting crystal balls aloft in triumph, taking a Festival Viking cruise past jagged pink quartz reefs. Read more »

Bubblegum bandits

HK hottie Daniel Wu spoofs boy bands (and himself) in directorial debut The Heavenly Kings
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I'm only a little bit ashamed to admit that I loved Making the Band. No, not the acceptably addictive, Diddy-produced Danity Kane version. I'm talking about the one that birthed O-Town, baby - the quintet of preppy dudes united by boy-band Svengali Lou Pearlmen for three seasons of semi-emotive crooning, thrusting choreography, manufactured drama, and all the *NSYNC coattail riding instant fame could buy. Read more »

There's no place like home

Pedro Costa's Colossal Youth digs up life amid the ruins
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In his recent book Poor People, William T. Vollmann writes, "For me, poverty is not mere deprivation; for people may possess fewer things than I and be richer; poverty is wretchedness. It must then be an experience more than an economic state. It therefore remains somewhat immeasurable." Despite the enormity of such a disclaimer, Vollmann attempts to calibrate a calculus of misery. Portuguese director Pedro Costa seems motivated by a similarly conflicted impetus. Read more »