Cheryl Eddy

A big Oscar contender opens! Plus: two politically charged docs, 'Diana,' and more new movies

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The movie you need to see this weekend, ASAP, is 12 Years a Slave — one of the most important releases of the year, and a likely contender for all possible awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture. (Review here.) Also new to theaters is the Cannes-winning, controversy-stirring Blue is the Warmest Color. (Review here.)

Read on for more short takes on today's new releases, plus a 1979 cult classic that's ripe for rediscovery. Read more »

New movies! Including a few scary ones (no thanks to Hollywood)!

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Incredibly, Hollywood is allowing this hallowed weekend to pass without releasing a single horror movie. (Unless you count Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which I don't.) Frights galore exist in local rep houses, however (right this way for a calendar), and for those who'd simply like turn off the lights, pretend nobody's home, and eat all the Fun Size Snickers themselves, there's some non-seasonal fare worth checking out (plus, two of those rep-house chillers!) in the below reviews.

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Fame and blame

'Room 1219' delves into film legend Fatty Arbuckle's SF scandal

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cheryl@sfbg.com

LIT Every student of salacious San Francisco history knows the tale of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Over Labor Day weekend in 1921, the silent-film comedian hosted a rager at Union Square's Hotel St. Francis (now known as the Westin St. Francis), the largest hotel on the West Coast at the time. Starlet Virginia Rappe fell ill at the party, and when she died days later as a result of internal injuries, Arbuckle went on trial (three times) for the crime.Read more »

Camp classic

Bloody long, and bloody fun: 'Crystal Lake Memories' documents the 'Friday the 13th' franchise in its gory entirety

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Daniel Farrands' 400-minute documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th received coverage last month in an unlikely outlet: the New York Times. "A Seven-Hour Documentary About a Horror Franchise? The Director Explains," read the skeptical headline.

"A seven-hour documentary about a horror franchise?" I said. "Gotta get my mitts on that!"Read more »

'Long Shot' doc follows Bay Area hoops star Kevin Laue

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Perfectly timed to coincide with the start of basketball season: the release of Franklin Martin's Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story, billed as "Hoop Dreams meets Murderball," with a healthy shot of Linsanity (now playing) to boot.

Martin spent four years following the Pleasanton-raised Laue, who was born with a left arm that ends just below his elbow. We see the budding hoops star — an honor student at Amador Valley High School as the film begins — mature from tousle-haired teen standout to Division I hopeful, refining his skills at a tough Virginia military academy along the way. Read more »

Docs, docu-dramas, and one verrrry angry high schooler: new movies!

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This week's fare includes a thoughtful doc about the debate over late-term abortions, Benedict Cumberbatch's star turn as Julian Assange, the Carrie remake, and more.

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Machete rages, Tom Hanks sails, and Romeo and Juliet (spoiler alert!) die in the end: new movies!

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First things first: do not pass go or collect your turkey leg until you've seen Escape From Tomorrow, the shot-secretly-at-Disney sci-fi drama that will, in fact, blow your mind. Dennis Harvey's review here. (Speaking of mind-blowing, have you seen Gravity yet? If not, why are you still reading this? Why aren't you rushing to the theater RIGHT NOW?)

Elsewhere this week: two powerful tales of survival are told in doc The Summit and Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips, which stars Tom Hanks and will make you glad your job doesn't require you to traverse pirate-infested shipping lanes. My reviews of both here.

We've also got the latest exploitation-fan catnip from Robert Rodriguez, Machete Kills, starring Danny Trejo (fantasy role-swap: Danny Trejo as Captain Phillips), a comedy in which Amy Poehler plays Adam Scott's stepmother, a Twilight-informed Shakespeare flick, and more. Read on!

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"You've got to be inside the action:" Paul Greengrass discusses filmmaking and 'Captain Phillips'

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Paul Greengrass' latest action film, Captain Phillips, stars Tom Hanks as an American cargo-ship captain taken hostage by Somali pirates. This based-on-true-events tale also stars newcomer Barkhad Abdi as pirate leader Muse. It opens tomorrow — but today, read on for more intel from my recent interview with Greengrass when he stopped by San Francisco to promote the film.

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Survival mode

'The Summit' and 'Captain Phillips' offer authentic thrills

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cheryl@sfbg.com.

FILM Eye of the tiger, baby. The fight for survival is a dominant theme this season at the movies, with astronaut Sandra Bullock grappling for her life in Gravity; lone sailor Robert Redford piloting a leaky boat in All Is Lost; and Tom Hanks battling Somali pirates in Captain Phillips. (More on that film — directed with trademark urgency by Paul Greengrass — in a moment.)Read more »