Louis Peitzman

Viva l'Italia

"New Italian Cinema" spotlights Ferzan Ozpetek

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy cheats on girl. They yell. A lot. If the story sounds familiar, it might be because you've seen it in any number of contemporary Italian films. That's not to discount modern Italian cinema as a whole — for every rehashed infidelity plot, there's a subtler treasure.

Ferzan Ozpetek is one of those original voices. With his Turkish background and queer identity, he brings a unique perspective to the table. And his best films showcase aspects of Italian culture that might otherwise go unexplored.Read more »

GOLDIES 2010: Joshua Grannell

Offering cinematic odes to schlocky gore and bloody camp

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Whether he's all dolled up as Peaches Christ or wearing his everyday attire, Joshua Grannell is a cinematic force to be reckoned with. He turned a love of cult film into a modest empire, with a memorable drag character, a popular midnight movie series, and All About Evil, his first full-length feature film.

But back in 1998 when Grannell was working for Landmark Theatres, Midnight Mass was a tough sell. "Midnight movies had really died in San Francisco," he recalls. "It was sort of a thing that was considered passé and relegated to the suburbs."Read more »

French Cinema Now! Two to see -- and one to avoid

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The San Francisco Film Society's "French Cinema Now" kicks off Thurs/28 with a week of spankin' new Gallic films. Not sure which flick to choose, budding Cahiers du Cinéma contributor? Read on for a batch of brief reviews.

Copacabana (dir. Marc Fitoussi) It feels strange to call Copacabana subtle, especially when the film’s main character Babou (Isabelle Huppert) is consistently over-the-top. But this is a slight comedy, a character study to showcase Huppert’s considerable talent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Copacabana depends on its strong lead, and there are few stronger than Huppert, one of the most dynamic and adaptive French actors working today. Read more »

Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim talks "Waiting for 'Superman'"

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Where do you go from global warming?

Director Davis Guggenheim won an Academy Award for 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth. His latest film, Waiting for “Superman”, takes on the United States’ failing public education system. In some ways, the documentary represents a return to Guggenheim’s first subject. “The very first documentary I made followed first-year teachers, because I believed that teachers were the answer to our schools,” he says. “And I still believe that. Now I wanted to talk about the kids and their families, and what’s at stake for them.”

The kids and families in question are the subjects of Waiting for “Superman”, which follows five young people in search of a better education. While the scope of the film is large — covering the history and bureaucracy that has created this national epidemic — Guggenheim is careful never to stray far from the victims of the crisis.

“The really hard part about it is how complicated this issue is, and it’s hard to simplify it,” he explains. “And I wanted it to be understandable to everybody. Whenever I got lost, I would always bring it back to the kids. It’s a very simple story: five kids, all they want is to go to a great school.”

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Why "The Social Network" isn't just "the Facebook movie"

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Based on the founding of Facebook and Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, The Social Network has already received rave reviews from critics. I offer no dissent: the film is unquestionably one of the year’s best. I recently spoke to three of its lead actors — Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer — and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

We’re all Facebook friends now. (Lie.)

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Better living through porn

The Good Vibrations independent erotic film festival once again touches uncharted territory

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When one door closes another opens: as summer comes to an end, Good Vibrations gives us something to ensure that warm sensation continues — porn.

Yes, it's that time of year again. On Sept. 23, the Castro Theatre opens its doors to the Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Festival's short film festival competition, after a lead-up week of diverse, sex-positive programming at various venues. The annual contest, now in its fifth year, offers filmmakers the chance to share their unique erotic visions on the big screen.Read more »

What is "Catfish"?

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Do not read this interview before seeing Catfish. I say that for a few reasons: 1. It’s mildly spoilery. 2. Some of it doesn’t make sense out of context. 3. I really want you to see Catfish. The documentary — or reality thriller, as it’s been called — follows filmmakers Rel Schulman and Henry Joost as they film Rel’s brother Nev’s online relationship. It’s a unique and contentious experience that I was still mulling over when I sat down with the documentarians and their subject. Here’s a transcript of our interview, minus some digressions about Saturday Night Live in the 80s and my attempts at Facebook stalkage.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: When did you realize you were making the movie that you made?

Henry Joost: When we discovered the songs — that scene. We just turned to each other and were like, “OK, we should probably not stop rolling for the next however long this takes.”
Rel Schulman: Yeah, we sort of just were swimming in the story very innocently up until that point, just trusting the fact that Nev was somehow engaging, and that he’d always been, and that we’d always filmed him and we film each other all the time. Something was happening and it felt like it might go somewhere, but we had no idea where.
Nev Schulman: And also, I have a history in my own life of — to a fault, sort of — pursuing things headstrong, without much consideration, just sort of going for it. And Rel’s observed those many situations where I’ve ended up getting hurt or in trouble or whatever it is, and I think always just sort of regretted not filming them. So he was like, “Henry, if it’s Nev, it’s probably going to get interesting. Let’s film it.”

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Queen Carol

Bay Area legend Carol Channing rides to the rescue of arts education with Help Is on the Way

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Let me tell you what I think about when I think about Carol Channing: "Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never, ever, ever jam today." And then she turns herself into a sheep.Read more »

Lisa Cholodenko on "The Kids Are All Right"

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Writer-director Lisa Cholodenko earned attention with critically acclaimed features like High Art (1998) and Laurel Canyon (2002). Her latest movie, The Kids Are All Right, is a “personal film” about a lesbian couple raising teenagers. I spoke to Cholodenko about queer politics, explicit content, and keeping things lighthearted.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Recently, there was a lot of controversy surrounding a Newsweek article, in which the author wrote about the difficulty of queer actors playing straight roles. I was wondering about your take on that, and on the opposite — straight actors playing queer roles. Is that something you even considered when casting?
 
Lisa Cholodenko: I’ll be honest, I was just told about this article and I didn’t read it. You know, I think it’s kind of weird thing to even discuss in a way, to me. Chiefly because I think actors’ personal lives — I just think people should have a private life, not that they should be in the closet, but that there should be a separation between professional life and personal life. And if a director feels like so-and-so, whether they’re gay or straight, would be good for a role, give them the role. What does it matter? As it turns out, I think gay people have more of an affect, whether they’re lesbians or gay men, that’s harder to camouflage in straight roles. Why that is, I mean, you could talk about that. I think it’s easier to go the other way. That’s just what it is. I say that without a value judgment. It is what it is.

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We are family

The Kids Are All Right's (non)traditional comedy

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arts@sfbg.com

>>Read Louis Peitzman's complete interview with director Lisa Chodolenko here

FILM In many ways, The Kids Are All Right is a straightforward family dramedy: it's about parents trying to do what's best for their children and struggling to keep their relationship together. But it's also a film in which Jules (Julianne Moore) goes down on Nic (Annette Bening) while they're watching gay porn.Read more »