Film Review

The 49er

The San Francisco International Film Festival turns a corner before turning 50
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Singin' in the watermelon juice

This year's SFIFF revives the movie musical -- for better and worse
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Imagine being a moviegoer, say, 60 years ago. Then, as now, Hollywood prompted wiseguys and eggheads to complain that the average picture was made by idiots for idiots. In particular, what could be more brain-deadening than yet another 90 minutes spent enduring gaudy production numbers, rickety romance plots, stale patter, throwaway songs, and forced (as they used to put it) gaiety?Read more »

Headbanger's a ball

Canadian doc Metal honors the metal gods
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Hit by the mystery train

Sarah Watt animates death and dramatizes life with Look Both Ways
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Occult classic

Tapping into the magic of Harry Smith
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Harry Smith is a folk hero. Smith's masterwork, the definitive, meticulously edited Anthology of American Folk Music (1952), was the bible of the ’60s folk movement that spawned Dylan, Baez, Fahey, and others. To discover it is to stumble into a forgotten, marginalized world, a portal to — as Greil Marcus put it in his book about Dylan's Basement Tapes — "a weird but clearly recognizable America."Read more »

After the Revolution

In Regular Lovers, it's 1968 all over again
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Mapping The Descent

Seeking scream therapy at the festival? Search no further
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cheryl@sfbg.com

What's worse than being trapped underground? How about being trapped underground with creepy cave dwellers — creepy, hungry cave dwellers? And maybe, just maybe, losing your mind at the same time? Believe the hype: British import The Descent is the scariest movie since The Blair Witch Project, thanks to a killer premise, flawless pacing and casting, and writer-director Neil Marshall's unconcealed love for the horror genre. Here we present a flowchart of The Descent's predecessors and influences.Read more »

Week one

Critics' short takes on the first week of SFIFF films
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Thurs/20Read more »

Cocky bull story

The Outsider pays tribute to the legendary ... James Toback?
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Erich von Stroheim and Orson Welles were early, defining examples of the film director living like a work of art larger than life, a wee bit self-destructive, and as entertaining as their movies. Yet looking, acting, and smelling like a great filmmaker doesn't necessarily mean you are one.Read more »