Film Review

Grizzly spawn

A chat with Werner Herzog
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First off, an embarrassing disclaimer: I'm not a Werner Herzog groupie — I just want him to be my grandpa. I'd like him to take me on long rambles over misty mountaintops, through the ice, snow, and sand; teach me about his ecstatic yet jeopardy-strewn path; and push me to jump into cacti, dance with chickens, and come out with poetry on the other side. And yet, as all good UFO films go, I suspect I'm not alone. Read more »

Czar of noir

Eddie Muller paints it black with the Noir City festival
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One doesn't feel far from the dark, stylized universe of classic film noir in Tosca, a long, obliquely angled bar in North Beach. Read more »

The ballad of Carmelo

Romantico proves documentaries can be gorgeous and soulful
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By the time you read this, a whole lot of filmmakers, publicists, journalists, and miscellaneous affiliates from Los Angeles will have once again descended on Utah for the annual feeding frenzy known as Sundance. Just what the aforementioned feed on isn't always or exactly movies — the original raison d'être can get lost in the general scuffle. Read more »

CineKink 2007

Education to titillate -- or titillation to educate?
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The simple act of witnessing can transform sex into politics, so it's not hard to see why privacy (like permission) is sacred. The quaint notion of the boudoir is ingrained in most acts of physical intimacy — whether lovers seek haven in the bedroom or take joy in rejecting it. Read more »

Fireworks and smoke

A song of love -- that answers one with Anger?
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johnny@sfbg.com

Kenneth Anger and Jean Genet are two greats with outlaw tastes that still taste salty together. So a viewer discovers via a program that marries — for two nights — this pair of master onanists. In compiling the showcase, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts film curator Joel Shepard follows in famous fancy footsteps — none other than Jean Cocteau once showed both Anger's 1947 Fireworks and Genet's 1950 Un Chant d'Amour at an event called the Festival of the Damned Film. Read more »

Dark days indeed

Melville's Army of Shadows
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French noir rarely darkened, deepened, or explored more nuanced shades of gray and shadow than in the films of Jean-Pierre Melville. From his breakthrough gangster ode, Bob le Flambeur (1955), through 1962's underrated Le Doulos to the trio that put Alain Delon's icy beauty to proper use, Le Samouraï (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), and Un Flic (1972), Melville infused the genre with a rigorous, formal power while simultaneously shooting quickly, stylishly, and on location. Read more »

Rapists and fishwives

Love and aggression spar at this year's Berlin and Beyond fest
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Popular cinema places a lot of stock in stories about the redemptive power of love — stories in which love turns a skeptic into a true believer, an ill-tempered miser into a philanthropist, or a broken spirit into an undamaged specimen free from the taint of failures past. Read more »

Mall-ancholy

Jem Cohen's Chain examines consumers and the consumed
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cheryl@sfbg.com

The world is chained to chains in Jem Cohen's Chain, a sort-of documentary that also weaves two narratives into its study of global economics. Hard-faced young squatter Amanda (musician Mira Billotte of White Magic) spends monotonous days haunting the nearest shopping center, a place so generic it could be positively anywhere, including the suburban hell of George A. Romero's darkest nightmares. Read more »

The sounds of Berlin and Beyond

Monks and Einsturzende Neubauten docs prick up Germanophile ears at this year's film fest.
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Einstürzende Neubauten (Danielle de Picciotto, Germany, 2006). Perhaps appropriately, April Fool's Day 1980 marked the first appearance of Einstürzende Neubauten, at the Moon Club in Berlin. After taking the stage frontperson Christian Emmerich (better known as Blixa Bargeld) and percussionist Andrew Chudy (N.U. Unruh), plus others, proceeded to bemuse their audience with a Dadaesque display of hammers banging on metal sheets mixed with accompanying electronic sound effects. Read more »

Super visions: the year in film

Take a long look at the Guardian's 2006 film issue
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johnny@sfbg.com

The end of each year brings a blitz of polls tabuutf8g the best movies and music of the past 12 months. These monster projects spit up a ton of fun lists, but in terms of science or revelatory truth, they range from suspect to useless. In contrast, the Guardian's annual end of the year film issue gives ideas and opinions precedence over bogus math. Read more »