FESTIVAL Anyone who assumes the San Francisco Film Society hibernates between springtime fests is sorely mistaken. Aside from all the preparations for next year's landmark 50th SF International Film Festival, much year-round activity has been emanating from the organization's Presidio headquarters, including a recent outdoor screening of giant-ant classic Them! Next up: the first San Francisco International Animation Showcase, three days of films at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Clear your Oct. Read more »
COMEDY DVD/CD When comedian Neil Hamburger appeared in the mid-’90s, he didn't exactly burst onto the scene. He floundered, groaned, and groveled his way through jokes that have often been deemed intentionally bad. "It's so bad it's good!" went the typical assessment of the comedian's act — an assessment that's not only insensitive but also a bit simplistic. Read more »
REVIEW When it premiered in New York two years ago, Sam Shepard's latest play was timed to influence the outcome of the presidential election — an enticingly bold agenda. Of course, if you want to influence elections, as everybody understands by now, you need to be more than bold. You need to be Diebold. And anyway, what politician worries about what's on an Off-Broadway stage? As political theater goes, Hugo Chávez calling George W. Read more »
"The shattering of paradise" is how Kali Yuga director Ellen Sebastian Chang refers to the 2002 bombing in Bali in which 202 people from 22 nations died. A series of attacks in 2005 killed 23 more. A world indeed had crashed, not only for the Balinese people but for the music and dance lovers who have made pilgrimages to that magical isle where art is integrated into the texture of daily life.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya was particularly hard-hit. With both Balinese and American members, the El Cerrito–based music and dance group has had an ongoing, close relationship with Balinese culture. Read more »
PRESS PLAY I've reached the point in my sick, sad life where I get urgently flagged e-mails from friends that read like this: "Dude: E! True Hollywood Story: Texas Chainsaw Massacre airs this weekend!" And then I actually write this kind of information down on the nearest calendar. So you can imagine what a chore it was to take a look at Dark Sky Films' brand-new, two-disc "ultimate edition" DVD treatment. Read more »
A lot of the promo CDs that cross the river Styx and wind up at the fiery gates of the Guardian don't even have cover art. However, a good portion do have art, and a good portion of these have very bad art. Read more »
REVIEW There are different doors through which one can enter dunya dinlemiyor (the world won't listen), a 2005 video installation by British artist Phil Collins. One can chart the many passages that lead from Collins's work to the music of the Smiths, whose vocalist Morrissey chose an image from Andy Warhol's Trash to adorn the cover of the group's second attempt at creating a proper first album. In turn, those doors lead to Warhol's earlier screen tests, which Collins deliberately invokes through dunya dinlemiyor’s song-length portraits of Smiths fans in Istanbul. Read more »
RANT/FILM I'm all for the current bicycle renaissance in San Francisco. As the Indian summer heats up, you'll notice the bike lanes will be nose to tail with bikers — like a line of baby elephants. This is a good thing. Maybe the notoriously free-form, Tijuana driving style of SF residents will ease up a notch and they'll return to mowing down pedestrians exclusively. There's safety in numbers.
Of course, every revolution has its drawbacks. There's always going to be that crew that wants to convince the world they're that much more revolutionary, devoted, and pure than everyone else. Read more »
American Conservatory Theater, the Magic Theatre, and Marin Theatre Company all turn 40 this year. Accordingly, these three regionally and nationally preeminent Bay Area companies are rolling out ambitious celebratory seasons. Read more »