Louis Peitzman

Higher and higher

SF Sketchfest wrings wet, hot laughs out of winter

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TRASH Rejected by audiences. Panned by critics. Beloved by a loyal cadre of alternative comedy fans.

Wet Hot American Summer may not have found success when it premiered in 2001, but the offbeat comedy has since become — like so many underrated flops — a cult classic.Read more »

Camp rocks

Director and star discuss the proudly un-PC Mangus!

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FRAMELINE The eponymous character in Ash Christian's Mangus! has a simple ambition: to be Jesus. That is, to play Jesus in the local production of Jesus Christ Spectacular. Mangus does get the part, but his dreams are crushed when a freak limo accident lands him in a wheelchair and his neighbors decide he's no longer cut out to play their Lord and Savior.Read more »

Father's day

Mike Mills' autobiographical Beginners traces one man's late-in-life liberation

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FILM The central figures in Mike Mills' Beginners — a grown son and his elderly, newly out father — share a relationship rarely featured on screen. But however unique the story seems, it's based on real events in the writer-director's life.

"I thought my dad coming out was the most awesome thing that ever happened in my life," Mills (2005's Thumbsucker) reflects. "What happened between us after he came out — it was the biggest story I had to tell. I like it when filmmakers make really personal stories."Read more »

The darkness underneath

Jodie Foster discusses her return to directing with The Beaver

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FILM It's been more than 15 years since Jodie Foster sat in the director's chair, but for a project like The Beaver, she was up to the challenge. As with her past directorial projects, Little Man Tate (1991) and Home for the Holidays (1994), Foster felt a connection to the material that inspired her to take on a larger role.Read more »

Thornfield calling! Director and star discuss the new "Jane Eyre"

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It’s not exactly the oldest story in the book, but with an 1847 publication date and dozens of adaptations, Jane Eyre has been done before. That presented director Cary Fukunaga, an Oakland native, with a unique challenge — making his 2011 film version of Jane Eyre (out Fri/18) different from what had been done in the past. But after his last movie, 2009’s critically acclaimed Sin Nombre, it was a project he was eager to take on.

“[Jane Eyre] was a story I knew as a kid,” he said in a recent roundtable interview. “The ’44 version Bob Stevens directed was one of my favorites. After spending six years on my last film, I really wanted to do something different in terms of scenery and style and location and even time period.”

But despite Jane Eyre’s status as 19th Century Gothic romance, Fukunaga felt it worked for a modern audience. Mia Wasikowska, who stars in the titular role, was inclined to agree.

“It kind of doesn’t need reinterpreting,” she reflected. “The popularity, as a character and a story, it hasn’t died down — it’s continued to grow, and people continue to connect to her story. If you took away all the costumes and the setting, at the heart of it is a story about a young girl trying to find love and a family, and that’s so, so much a part of what happens every day here.”

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Xavier university

The young multi-talent chats up his latest film, Heartbeats

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FILM "I'm not stupid."

For most filmmakers, that goes without saying, but Xavier Dolan is careful to acknowledge both his talents and limitations. The 21-year-old French Canadian auteur, who wrote, directed, and starred in 2009's I Killed My Mother, returns with the romantic farce Heartbeats. "I honestly did the film knowing that I would obviously not invent anything," Dolan admits. "This is not revolutionary directing or writing."Read more »

Normal love

Two stars of Tony hit Next to Normal sound off on musical theater's future

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THEATER Despite widespread critical acclaim, three Tony Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize, Next to Normal is something of a tough sell.

"It's a story about a bipolar mother and how her family deals with her disease," Curt Hansen explains, "and how it affects the kids, and how they also contribute to the disease."

Hansen plays Gabe, the seemingly perfect son of afflicted mother Diana. As one of Next to Normal's seven characters — performed by only six actors — Hansen has a pivotal role in the show. Read more »

Get "real"

YEAR IN FILM: The Social Network, Catfish, and I'm Still Here push the boundaries of truth and fiction

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YEAR IN FILM Despite being a sharp, compelling look at the founding of Facebook, The Social Network paints an unrealistic picture of Mark Zuckerberg. No, really. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.Read more »

"The Tempest" star Djimon Hounsou talks Shakespeare -- and Mirren

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Beninese actor Djimon Hounsou has had an impressive career, appearing in a diverse range of projects and earning two Academy Award nominations (for 2002’s In America and 2006’s Blood Diamond). His latest film is Julie Taymor’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in which he plays “freckled monster” Caliban, the rightful heir to the island. I spoke to Hounsou about reinventing Shakespeare, finding sympathy for an antagonist, and sparring with Helen Mirren.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: What was your familiarity with The Tempest before you took on this role?

Djimon Hounsou: None. I had very little knowledge about Shakespeare — I’ve known about his work but to dive into his work, it’s a different story. I have tested for Julie Taymor for [her 1999 film version of] Titus Andronicus before, so that was my first recollection of working on Shakespeare. And that was it. So this time around, I was a little bit intimidated and certainly didn’t want to go the distance with it. But with a bit of trust and encouragement from my wife, I ended up going.

SFBG: What in particular attracted you to the character of Caliban?

DH: Probably his raw nature, his very primal nature of the island, his very passionate desire to get rid of Helen Mirren’s character, Prospera. And obviously the text, the layers of text.

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Whip your hair back: Disney's "Tangled" stars speak

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Walt Disney was right all along: dreams do come true. That is, if you’re Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore, and your dream is to be in an animated Disney movie. Levi and Moore star as Flynn and Rapunzel in Tangled, a fresh adaptation of the fairy tale about the princess with way too much hair. While Levi admits an affinity for Aladdin, Moore was always an Ariel fan.

“For our generation, I feel like that’s what every girl wanted to be,” Moore says. “What little girl doesn’t dream of being a Disney princess?” Both actors were also thrilled to be working with noted (and Academy Award-winning) Disney composer Alan Menken. Levi expressed a lifelong devotion to 1992's Newsies, though he’s a fan of Menken’s other work as well.

“[Working with Alan Menken] is bucket list,” Levi says. “It’s crazy, crazy bucket list. We both grew up knowing and singing all the songs to Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin.”

Moore continues, “I just found out he did Little Shop of Horrors last night, and I about lost it.”

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