Film Review

Views of Iwo Jima

Japanese responses to Clint Eastwood's Oscar contender
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Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima has been met with near-unanimous stateside praise for its humanistic portrayal of the infamous 1945 battle. It became the first film primarily in the Japanese language to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar — on Feb. 25 it vies for an Academy Award in that category and three others. Read more »

Academy fight song

Our Oscar dreams
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First things fuckin' first: I know I'm not the only film fan who's still pissed about Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain in 2006's Best Picture race. In fact, let's change the subject before I punch the nearest preachy ensemble drama (look out, Babel!). Cinemaniacs actually have a bigger problem this year, with the prospect of an Academy Awards ceremony chockablock with predetermined winners. Read more »

Underworld meets underground

William E. Jones uncovers hidden stories in porn's dark edges
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johnny@sfbg.com

A freeway is viewed from a distance in pitch-black night as oncoming white dots (the fronts of cars) and retreating red dots (their backs) hop like tiny Lite-Brites from one spot to another. It's a cinematic atmosphere as potent as a dream; this first shot from William E. Jones's Film Montages (for Peter Roehr) isn't the kind of image one might associate with porn. In fact, highly poetic urban documentary was commonplace in '70s and early '80s gay porn. Read more »

Snoop on the East side

The Lives of Others looks at peepers
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"Christmas on Earth" in February

Forbidden and Taboo
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The pull quote snagged by most critics from John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus was Justin Bond's quip "It's like the '60s, only with less hope," delivered while surveying the myriad sexual couplings and groupings in his salon's back room. Bond's pithy line encapsulated the film's ideal of community through polymorphous perversity, even if that vision is tempered by an awareness of the initial sexual revolution's blind spots and a hangover from the 20 years of sexual-identity politicking in its wake. Read more »

Brutal fucking movie

An exquisite corpse review of Inland Empire

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A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course. And no one can talk to a corpse, of course. Unless, of course, that corpse is brought to you by the famous Mr. David Lynch. Read more »

A few of the best -- and the rest -- from Indiefest

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Green Mind, Metal Bats (Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, Japan, 2006). Never mind Ichiro and his ballsy ilk — Japan has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to America's favorite pastime. So it fits like a glove when director Kumakiri collides baseball and the impressionable skulls of a few budding players in order to sort out the damage done to his small-town losers. Read more »

Your life is calling

IndieFest films investigate senses of place -- earthly, cosmic, and otherwise
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Just outside Las Vegas sits a solitary phone booth, as isolated as the restaurant at the end of the universe. Despite its unlikely location, it's a magnet for lost souls; they appear at odd hours to pounce on the ringing receiver and chat with Greta (Shani Wallis), a mysterious, husky-voiced dispenser of advice and moral support. Read more »

Abandoned planet

Werner Herzog's The Wild Blue Yonder trips out
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Read Kimberly Chun's interview with Werner Herzog here.

I thought for sure the next Werner Herzog movie I'd be writing about would be Rescue Dawn, a harrowing POW drama (and a remake of his 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly) due out in late March. Read more »

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 »