Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

The Architect

Well-built, but hollow
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REVIEW Writer-director Matt Tauber has clearly taken his debut movie's title to heart. Each streamlined scene has been carefully laid out to maximize character and plot development, seemingly creating the beginnings of a rich, thoughtful film. The strong cast — led by Anthony LaPaglia, Isabella Rossellini, and Viola Davis — provides ample reason to remain hopeful. Tauber, with playwright and coscreenwriter David Greig, gives us a movie full of multifaceted characters, but as the plot progresses, these characters seem increasingly stereotypical and each facet feels calculated. Read more »

Yule be sorry!

Snoozing through The Holiday
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There's a reason Kate Winslet has four Oscar nominations. Even in a film as fake-snow fluffy as The Holiday, she's able to imbue her character, lovesick Londoner Iris, with pathos and dignity. Read more »

Songs of devotion

Nathaniel Dorsky finds alchemy in the dark during the light age
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Accessible to anyone who might be interested in a deeper understanding of his or her own senses, Nathaniel Dorsky’s book, Devotional Cinema (Tuumba Press), explores the physical properties we share with the film medium. Within the book, Dorsky draws upon films by Roberto Rossellini, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Yasujuro Ozu, and others to illustrate his insights on filmic language. Read more »

Stunted growth?

Tony Hawk's Project 8
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(Activision; Xbox 360, PlayStation2)
GAMER The latest incarnation of the greatest skateboard video game series ever is here, and it's a mixed bag. Wait, have any skateboard video games besides this one made it past part one? Anyway, the Xbox 360 version will both please and infuriate fans of the series, just like life. Players who are new to the game will be better off picking up an old copy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 or 4, because that's when this franchise peaked.
One of the major differences between the early Tony Hawk games and the newer ones is that there's an involved story now. Read more »

THE BOURNE IDENTITY

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Well, Tim Burton it isn't. Since Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is inspired by Burton's delightful but dark 1990 film, a comparison seems fair enough. Right off the top, Bourne's dance musical has neither the gentleness nor the creepy underbelly of the filmed adaptation of Caroline Thompson's gothic story. It's coarser, more cartoonish, and fits too smoothly into the conventions of the Broadway musical.
And yet there is a lot to be said for what Bourne has done. Most important, he has made the parable his own. He tells his version of the old story clearly and with a light touch. Read more »

Plays of the year

Suzan-Lori Parks's 365 Days/365 Plays project kicks off in San Francisco
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You may not have noticed, but an unprecedented theatrical experiment was launched nationwide last week. Its San Francisco segment unfolded the night of Nov. Read more »

"Yah Mo B There"

Yacht Rock cruises for a bruising with the soft-rock sounds — and culture — you forgot to forget
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ONLINE TV Contrary to what you might mistake as your better judgment, the soft-rock world of the late 1970s and early ’80s produced some top-notch sounds. Read more »

Fits and housing starts

"Suburban Escape" plumbs the art of California sprawl
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REVIEW There's a new multistory condo complex rising on a sliver of SoMa between the freeway and the Caltrain tracks. It's on one of those heretofore undesirable plots that stood vacant for decades, holding their own as a weedy buffer zone between transportation and industry. I wonder if the contractors are using a new high-tech glass that, in the space of a faux bay window, will neutralize the din of traffic. Who'd want to live there?
San Francisco is an urban area, don't you know. Read more »

Goldies Visual Art winner Chris Duncan

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Artist Chris Duncan came to Northern California for the Tahoe powder — and to get away from his routine in Delaware and his native New Jersey of catching hardcore shows every weekend and doing absolutely nothing else with his life. Duncan recalls he and a friend "snowboarded for a season, and it was rad and it was horrible at the same time. Read more »

Goldies Visual Art winner Yoon Lee

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A good photograph captures an instant of life within a fraction of city space. The oft-awesome paintings of Yoon Lee — on display earlier this year in a solo show at the Luggage Store — condense seconds, days, and weeks of urban life into images of striking movement and color. Blurs from passing cars; a person glimpsed from the corner of one's eye; the liquid shifts of Vampire Princess Miyu anime dreamscapes on a TV screen — these are a few of the everyday materials within Lee's alchemy. Read more »