Film Review

Torture Inc.

Michael Winterbottom goes where Hollywood won't: The Road to Guantánamo
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The Road to Guantánamo is the true story of three British citizens who were held without charges for two years at the American detention camps in Guantánamo Bay. Director Michael Winterbottom's film combines documentary with dramatization in a way that is slightly confusing in the beginning, as we quickly cut between the men who were actually detained (Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed) and the actors who play them (Rizwan Ahmed, Arfan Usman, and Farhud Harun). Read more »

CHATTING WITH MR. VENGEANCE

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During the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, where Lady Vengeance screened under its original title, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, director Park Chanwook (through a translator) discussed payback, villains, and cyborgs.
SFBG Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance don't really form a conventional trilogy in terms of characters and plots — but they share themes [betrayal, revenge] and motifs [child kidnappings, kidney transplants]. Were all three films conceived at once?
PARK CHANWOOK They just happened. I didn't plan them from the beginning. Read more »

Angel of death

Park Chanwook caps off his revenge trilogy with the elegantly brutal Lady Vengeance
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"It has to be pretty. Everything should be pretty," explains Geum-ja (Lee Young-ae), who throughout Lady Vengeance is variously referred to as "a real live angel," "Geum-ja the kindhearted," and "the witch." The fact that what has to be pretty is a gun should surprise no one who's seen Korean director Park Chanwook's gruesome Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance or his staggering Oldboy. Read more »

Meth-y behavior

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Perhaps a good indicator of a social problem's gravity is the number of documentaries it inspires. This year crystal meth addiction, specifically in gay urban communities, brings us two, Meth (Todd Ahlberg, 2005; Fri/16, 3 p.m., Castro) and Rock Bottom: Gay Men and Meth (Jay Corcoran, 2006; Sat/17, 1:15 p.m., Victoria). Watching two treatments certainly seems like a good way to get to the truth — what might be downplayed in one can achieve its rightful resonance with reiteration in the other. Read more »

Shoot for the contents

The Queer Women of Color fest takes over the screen
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"Who is going to tell our stories if we don't?" asks Madeleine Lim, founder and director of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project. She has a point. After wracking my brain to recall queer women or trans people of color who have graced a movie screen this year outside of a film festival, all I could come up with was Alice Wu's Saving Face which certainly didn't play at the multiplex. Read more »

Light after darkness

Jenni Olson excavates the film life of late SF icon Weldon Kees
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Gnaw on this

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cheryl@sfbg.com

There's always room for another film festival in this town, especially when said fest is drowning in blood, guts, and supernatural shenanigans. The San Francisco Independent Film Festival's festering youngest child, Another Hole in the Head, returns this week for its third year of ghouls gone wild.Read more »

Mini mini CinemaScope!

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The term CinemaScope might conjure a 2.66-to-1 vision of an extra-bodacious Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, or, if you're a certain breed of movie maniac, it might inspire a recitation of Fritz Lang's famous Contempt-uous remark that the format is fine for filming snakes and coffins, but not for capturing people. Bizarre, then, that Liu Jiayin has taken an outmoded approach known for gargantuan celluloid spectacle and revived it — brilliantly — for small-scale digital family portraiture. Read more »

Honeycomb hideout

V??ctor Erice's dreamy allegory The Spirit of the Beehive still stings today
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johnny@sfbg.com

Cast a spell that is what movies (at least nondocumentary ones) are or were supposed to do, and yet how often do they achieve that aim today? V??ctor Erice's original feature, 1973's The Spirit of the Beehive, is partly about the spell a masterful movie can cast, and also is a many-shaded masterpiece that casts an unforgettable spell, a waking dream that disperses in a way that seems to infect the world outside the darkened rooms in which it breathes and lives.Read more »

Pride of Frankenstein

"As Sure as My Name Is Boris Karloff" honors horror's enduring icon
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There were macabre and fantastical American films in the silent era, many starring "Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney. But horror as a Hollywood genre arguably didn't exist before 1931, when Universal released what may be the two biggest monster franchise titles in cinematic history.Read more »