Dennis Harvey

Pinoy rising

"New Filipino Cinema" spotlights the island nation's burgeoning, work-in-progress filmmaking scene

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Far from heaven

Michael Glawogger wraps up his 'globalization trilogy' with a look at the world's oldest profession

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Hard to be a filmmaker

Aleksei Guerman's five films (from the past 45 years) screen at YBCA

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In 1987, Soviet critics were polled to create a list of the nation's greatest films. Landing on top was a movie still little-known abroad, whose maker has completed just five features in 45 years — one of which he doesn't even consider truly his own work.Read more »

This is your brain on Zulawski

YBCA feeds the Possession obsession with a tribute to the Polish director

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Tiger woods

A lone tracker probes a troubled wilderness in The Hunter

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The Tasmanian tiger wasn't a cat at all, but a pouched marsupial resembling a ring-tailed dog, with the most fearsome steel-trap jaws imaginable. It was hunted out of existence as a menace to domestic livestock; the last one died in captivity in 1936. Nonetheless, alleged sightings persist. Like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, the tiger is kept alive at least in the imagination by the fervency of stubborn believers.Read more »

Truth or consequences

Solid-gold lifestyles and agents provocateurs: SFIFF's documentary highlights

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arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF It's possible to have an almost perfect Sundance Film Festival viewing experience if you hew to one simple rule: only go to the documentaries. Sure, see some of the dramatic entries too, after the 40th person has told you such-and-such title is great. But you can rarely go far wrong with the documentaries. Sundance has its pick of the annual crème de la crème in that genre (among U.S. if not necessarily international films).Read more »

Diva in the headlights

Danish superstar Paprika Steen comes on strong in Applause
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Outer outer space

From Turkish Star Wars to Phantom Planet -- "Starship Vortex" sci-fi flick series dwells in forgotten netherworlds of cosmic fantasy

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FILM Nothing dates faster than yesterday's futurism. Yet particularly at a moment when half the country seems bent on ordering us back to the past — a past that might variably be identified as the Victorian era, the Inquisition, and the Dark Ages — there is something comforting in revisiting old visions of the future. For the next seven Thursdays the Vortex Room boldly goes a few places you've probably been before, several that earn brownie points for foreknowledge, and others that separate the sci-fi nerd from the sci-fi mega scholar.Read more »

Solo mio

Gianni Di Gregorio returns with a gentle sequel to Mid-August Lunch

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FILM The phenomenon of grown children remaining under (or returning to) mom and dad's roof well after the customary sell-by date has been a regular topic of late in American entertainment and pop sociology.Read more »

Mister Vengeance

Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts' tense, taut Hunter

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FILM Iran is the kind of nation where political protest in public art has to be muted or disguised. It was well buried in recent hit A Separation, and is just slightly more apparent in Rafi Pitts' The Hunter. Shot and set during the contentious 2009 Presidential campaign — Pitts is a rare expat filmmaker allowed to shoot in the country his family left decades ago — it starts as a Kafka-esque portrait of quiet desperation in a cold, empty Tehran, then turns into a sort of existential thriller. Read more »