Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Film: 12th International Latino Film Festival, Nov 7th to 23rd

12th International Latino Film Festival

The 12th International Latino Film Festival is set to open tomorrow night at the Castro Theatre with Cachao: Uno Mas!, and it closes November 23rd. In between, the festival offers more than 50 films at four venues in San Francisco (plus one in Berkeley and 10 on the Peninsula).

The opening night film celebrates “the life of one of the most influential Afro-Cuban musicians,” Israel “Cachao” Lopez. The documentary “follows the legendary bassist from his early days in Cuba to worldwide recognition and features interviews with Andy Garca, John Santos, and more.” (As I recall, it was quite the favorite at SFIFF 51.) Naturally there will be a Noche Cubana to follow the film! (Nota bene: the party’s at the Hotel Kabuki.) If that’s not your style, you might stay on at the Castro to watch Los travestis tambien lloran, a French feature about two Ecuadorian transsexuals struggling to get by in Paris.

Other opening weekend highlights include Chevolution, which explores the life and legacy of Che Guevara; Children in No-Man’s Land, which documents the plight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors who enter the US each year and are caught by immigration authorities; and the film that has, for my money, one of the best titles ever: Amor, dolor y viceversa, a “sexy thriller” featuring “the stunningly beautiful but forever single Chelo (Barbara Mori),” who is “haunted by recurring visions of a handsome lover (Leonardo Sbaraglia). But dreams turn to nightmares and nightmares to reality. As this tense and noirish jigsaw plot unfolds, truth, fantasy, and lies blur together, and a longing for love turns to unrelenting obsession.” Wow, sounds pretty good to me!

All films Saturday and Sunday are being screened at the Brava Theater for Women in the Arts (located at 24th & York, near Bryant, in Potrero Hill). There are several worthy films this weekend that I haven’t mentioned; for info on them and the other films in the weeks ahead, just check out the full schedule here.

Film: "In a Dream" at SF DocFest

In a Dream, which screens at SF DocFest over the next few days (details below), is a film about the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, who has become an icon in South Philadelphia for the massive scale and extent of the mosaics he has created there. They include, by his description, about “a hundred murals” and “seven buildings, top to bottom, inside and out.” His best-known work is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which represents the transformation of two derelict buildings into a labyrinthine complex that covers half a city block with winding mosaic-covered passageways and sculptures.

Zagar’s mosaics are bright, colorful, and complex, rich with a celebratory spirit towards physicality and sensuality. But the surface cheerfulness of these mosaics belies the deeper obsession and the narcissism that makes such vast, intricate works possible in the first place, and Jeremiah Zagar — the director of the film and the artist’s younger son — uncovers that darkness here with unrelenting economy. All the father’s past secrets rapidly come out in the open, culminating when one of his most shameful episodes plays out right in front of the camera: his self-centered pursuit of “passion” with his assistant, which ends with a brief separation from his wife Julia, right when their oldest son is separated from his own wife and having drug problems.

Jeremiah describes the moment: “I went home to film my parents as they picked my brother up from rehab. The stress from the situation boiled over, and my father suddenly admitted [the affair] to my mother and me … that same night, my parents separated for the first time in 43 years.” Isaiah’s admission is made directly into the camera, and it’s a moment of remarkable drama. Amazingly, Jeremiah retains his composure — he coughs and the handheld camera shakes for an instant, but that is all — and he goes on to capture every instant of what ensues. “I shot 16 hours that day and hated myself for every minute of it,” he writes. Fortunately, Isaiah realizes he has made a big mistake quickly enough. Soon afterward, he goes to stay with his assistant and, as he confesses, “within minutes, my whole being started to rebel. My whole being.”

In the end, he reconciles with Julia, and the film has a brief epilogue, highly effective in its simplicity, that shows how, after a time of healing, the two simply picked up their life together and continued on into the next adventure.

For all the darkness that Jeremiah reveals, it’s an affectionate film. He shot his footage over the course of seven years, filming “whenever something significant happened,” and he describes the result like this: “what started as an exploration of my father’s life has exposed the secrets of our entire family. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. … We know now how imperfect we really are, but also how much we need and love each other.”

The film is highly recommended. In a Dream screens at the Roxie this Sunday, October 26th at 2:45 PM, and Tuesday, October 28th at 9:30 PM. It will also screen at the Shattuck next Sunday, November 2nd at 2:45 PM.

Film: Charlie Kaufman Interview on LifeWithoutBuildings.net


[Image courtesy Sony Pictures.]

Charlie Kaufman is now well-known as the writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but he may soon be better known as the writer-director of Synecdoche, New York (say it out loud: sih-NECK-duh-kee). At least that’s the opinion of Curbed SF blogger Jimmy Stamp, who interviewed Kaufman a short while back for his architecture blog, LifeWithoutBuildings.net. Describing the film as “sublime” and “a piece of work so beautiful, yet so incredibly terrifying that it becomes even more beautiful,” he goes on to liken it to “the ocean seen from the edge of a cliff.” It’s about Caden Cotard (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), a 40-year-old local theater director in Schenectady, New York (say it out loud: skuh-NECK-tuh-dee) whose marriage and health are rapidly deteriorating. He fears that he will die before accomplishing anything important in his life. But then! He receives a MacArthur Grant, and uses the money to create a massive theater piece — an all-consuming Great Work that will rival life itself in its vastness, complexity, and heartbreaking truth.

Not surprisingly, the interview takes its most interesting turn when they begin discussing the architectural aspects of Kaufman’s work:

Stamp: In your movies, but especially in this one I think, there are these broader architectural and spatial ideas but then you also have these smaller set pieces—the burning house in Synecdoche, the 7 1/2 floor in Malkovich, the Montauk house in Eternal Sunshine. Are these just designed to convey a sense of place, or a mood, or do you always intend them to have deeper, metaphorical meaning?

Kaufman: Yeah. It’s all of that. I find myself really interested in spaces, actually. I tend to think about environment early on in writing. I’m doing it now, actually. I find myself going back to houses or buildings as environments environments for my stories — you know, odd buildings or very specific types of spaces. I don’t know why… a Jungian scholar was in here talking about houses being representations of the self. I think that’s what it was, anyway… you know, I tend to write intuitively and I don’t really know why I do certain things, but they resonate or they feel funny or they feel sad. Um, you know, I have my ideas about why Hazel lives in that house but I don’t really explain that because I want people to be able to bring their own metaphor to the experience. That’s kind of the biggest goal I have — to put something out there and let people individually interact with it. So I try not to say “this is what it means” or “this is not what it means” or “this is what it means to me.”

And check this out from later on:

Stamp: In [Paul Auster's] book, The Music of Chance, this eccentric millionaire hobbyist builds a model of what he calls ‘The City of the World.’ It’s a condensed depiction of his entire life that includes all the important places and pivotal events that made him the man he is— including the construction of the model. So in the model, he’s building himself building the model…

Kaufman: Wow. That sounds great, but I haven’t read that. It does remind me of an idea I had though. I wanted to build a casino in Las Vegas called Las Vegas, Las Vegas. Like the idea of Paris, Las Vegas (the real life casino) is that you don’t have to actually go there — their campaign is something like ‘all the best of Paris without the French people.’ So then (with Las Vegas, Las Vegas,) there’s the idea that you don’t actually have to go to Paris, Las Vegas either because there’s a replica of all of Vegas—including Paris, Las Vegas—within this other casino. So you get even more safe by not having to go out into the strip at all. I thought that would be a pretty successful resort.

Say, aren’t they already planning to do something like that in Dubai?

Anyway. Full interview here; provoked by the trailer for the film, Stamp also wrote this interesting article back in September, on the notion of infinitely-repeating cities.

Synecdoche, New York opens November 7th at the Embarcadero, the Shattuck, and the Piedmont.

Film: "Obscene" at the Roxie

Barney RossetTropic of Cancer
[Images of Barney Rosset and the Tropic of Cancer ad courtesy of Double O Film Productions.]

Barney Rosset, the man who risked prosecution to publish Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in the United States, has been a personal hero to me ever since I first encountered the book in high school. Reading it — and his much finer book Tropic of Capricorn — utterly transformed my life. (Whether that was for better or worse is debatable.) In my hours of browsing at used bookstores, I started to take a careful look at anything that happened to have been published by Grove in the 1950s and 1960s. It led me to Sherwood Anderson, D.H. Lawrence, William Burroughs, some of Kerouac’s later stuff, Samuel Beckett, and — oddly enough — Henry James, whose reputation Grove helped to resucitate in the 1950s.

Barney Rosset is most noted for the battles he fought against obscenity laws. By publishing Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Naked Lunch, he provoked the censors. As Win McCormack, the publisher of Tin House, writes: “Through his legal victories in the resulting obscenity cases, as well as in one brought on by I Am Curious (Yellow), a sexually explicit Swedish documentary film he distributed, he was probably more responsible than any other single individual for ending the censorship of literature and film in the United States.”

And now Obscene, the 97-minute documentary film about Rosset, is receiving its San Francisco premiere tonight at the Roxie, at 7:00; a second screening is at 8:50. Directors Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor promise all of the above, plus “Rosset’s public fight against hypocrisy is inextricable from his tumultuous personal life: the same unyielding, quixotic, restless energy that upended centuries of law brought Rosset perilously close to personal destruction.”

Juicy!

The run is from tonight through Thursday, September 11, nightly at 7:00 and 8:50, plus Sat, Sun and Wed at (3:00) and 5:00. The Roxie is at 16th and Valencia.

Film Tonight: Carson Mell’s Dispatches from Dimension X

Bobby Bird
[Image by Carson Mell via KQED.]

Tonight at Mezzanine (seemingly the only club I go to these days) is a live appearance by an animator and writer loved by Wholphin subscribers everywhere — or at least loved by this one — Carson Mell. His self-published illustrated novel Saguaro and several of his short films concern the life and adventures of washed-up country-rock legend Bobby Bird (pictured above). One of my favorite episodes in that saga is Chonto, which contains the amazing line, spoken by Bobby Bird: “Sometimes a man needs a dog. Of course, being a big shot, I decide I need a big shot dog. I need a monkey.” So he adopts one from a South American zoo; the story is surreal, hilarious, and touching all at once. Hopefully we’ll see it on the screen tonight.

As usual, doors at 7, screen at 7:30 or so; tix $12 (or $8 if reserved in advance by emailing SF360@sffs.org with your request).

SFFS: Mad for Manchester

Ian Curtis
[Ian Curtis, singer of Joy Division. Photo attribution unknown; I found it here.]

If you’re looking for something to do tonight and you’re into Joy Division, SF360 is running a program at one of our favorite clubs, Mezzanine, all about the late-70s rock group Joy Division. Remember Joy Division? Sure you do. After singer Ian Curtis committed suicide a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday, the group re-formed as New Order. If you don’t know either one … where have you been, anyway?

The program consists of two films and a musical interlude. The first film, which screens at 7:30, is a documentary about the band directed by Grant Gee, the same guy who did the Radiohead doc, Meeting People is Easy. The second film starts at 10:00; it’s a biopic about Ian Curtis, called Control. I’m not much for biopics, but I’ve heard good things about this one.

The musical interlude is going to be a Manchester-themed set spun by DJ Axelson.

Event page here; tix $12. Hope to see you there!

15 Gallons of Blood

Ask yourself:

1) Do I LOVE Zombies?
2) Would I like to support local filmmakers?
3) Do I absolutely NEED to see a movie where a free puke bag is handed out?

IF you answered yes, Yes, YES!!! Then please proceed to the Victoria Theater at 16th and Mission for a limited theater release of RETARDEAD!

Retardead the Movie

Retardead is a sequel to the heart-warming “Monsturd”. This movie has everything: an evil doctor, some mentally and mortally-challenged flesheaters, and the sexy Living Dead Girlz.

As I mentioned, they are handing out a limited amount of puke bags, which you may actually need in a few parts.

Last night they had a question and answer after the show.

When I asked how much blood was used, they said about 15 gallons. Now that’s art!

Totally awesome weekend

The number of things to do this weekend is mind-blowing. What shall it be?

Awesome local rockers 20 Minute Loop, whose new album Famous People Marry Famous People is filled with power-pop goodness reminiscent of Letters to Cleo, performs tonight at Bottom of the Hill.

The Porchlight reading series celebrates its 6th anniversary with a show on the Seven Deadly Sins, 8:00 pm at the Swedish American Hall. And tomorrow Ishmael Reed and Mistress Morgana headline Writers with Drinks at 7:30 pm at the Makeout Room.

CineKink, a program of alternative erotic films written up this week by the unsinkable Violet Blue, plays tonight at 7:00 pm at YBCA. And for the less carnally minded, Artists Television Access has The Monastery, about an old guy who buys a castle with the idea that it will some day become a spiritual retreat, and the nuns who take him up on it.

Or just hit the beach. It’s nice and cool out there today.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Everybody's Got Something to HideColleen Moore
[Above, Harold Lloyd with a cute monkey, and Colleen Moore with a cute haircut. (The guy's not bad either.) All featured this weekend at the Castro Theatre.]

On Friday night the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will fire up the 35mm projectors once more for a solid weekend of film at the Castro, bringing forgotten (and often, formerly lost) works back to the big screen, with live musical accompaniment. On the second night last year, the line stretched around the block and way, way down the street. And it wasn’t even opening night! I had to ask myself: is this line really for a movie that was originally released in 1928? Yes, it was, and it was awesome. I expect that this year will be just as riotous, as opening night features none other than Harold Lloyd in The Kid Brother. In case you’ve never seen one of his films, let me explain something: he’s amazingly hilarious.

Another highlight of the festival is The Man Who Laughs, starring the principal from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the role that inspired the appearance of a certain creepy character from the Batman comics. And of course there are nine other films, all worth checking out, including one that may well have inspired Monty Python. Or not.

Tickets run from $14-$20; they’re a little cheaper for San Francisco Silent Film Society members. They also have festival passes for $140, if you’re determined to see every minute and hear every note. Get your tickets here.

The Gits Movie – Two Bay Area Screenings

Tonight and Monday mark the only two theatrical screenings of The Gits Movie in the Bay Area.
Gits Movie at Embarcadero Cinema
The film explores the saga of one of the better punk bands I’ve ever had the chance to see in action, whose career was cut tragically short not by the usual mix of lethargy and substance abuse, but by the singer’s horrific rape and murder as she walked home from the Comet Tavern 15 years ago this week. The startling crime sent shockwaves through the Seattle rock scene, stopped a brilliant band in it’s tracks, and suspicions and rumors ran amok for 10 years until DNA testing eventually revealed the culprit. Now a whole new generation has been discovering The Gits through their records ( including the newly issued Best Of The Gits and You Tube videos like the one below.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyCXmaRj0Wg[/youtube]

The film documents the faces of the post grunge era, including interviews with the band, and their friends and supporters who include Joan Jett, Kathleen Hanna, and many local SF residents including Broken Rekids label honcho (and now Rainbow Grocery beer & wine buyer) Mike Millet.

The San Francisco screening is on Monday July 7th at The Landmark Embarcadero Cinema with a special post screening Q&A with members of Seven Year Bitch.

The Oakland screening at the Uptown tonight on Saturday July 5th offers the added opportunity to see The Gits drummer Steve Moriarty now a local resident, in action with a new band he’s just started with Dead Kennedy’s bassist Klaus Flouride.

For more info see the links

7/5 Uptown Oakland or 7/7 Landmark Embarcadero in SF

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