Holy cow, the Outside Lands lineup is out and it is packed full of major, big name acts. How long 'till San Francisco festival season? More thoughts on this to come. But for now, confirmed Outside Lands 2012 lineup is below:
SF Flower and Garden Show, San Mateo Event Center, 495 S. Delaware, San Mateo. (415) 684-7278, www.sfgardenshow.com. March 21-25, 10am-6pm, $15–$65, free for 16 and under. This year's theme is "Gardens for a Green Earth," and features a display garden demonstrating conservation practices and green design. Plant yourself here for thriving leafy greens, food, and fun in the sun.Read more »
No film at this year's festival encountered as much controversy as Craig Zobel's Compliance. At the first public screening, an all-out shouting match erupted, with an audience member yelling "Sundance can do better!" You can't buy that kind of publicity. Every screening (public and press) that followed was jam-packed with people hoping to experience the most shocking film at Sundance, and the film does not disappoint. (Beware: every review I have happened upon has unnecessarily spoiled major plots in the film, which is based on true events.)
What is so impressive about Zobel's film is how it builds up a sense of ever-impending terror. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the film steps into Psycho (1960) terrain, specifically in the final act of the film. Compliance aims to confront a society filled with people who are trained to follow rules without questioning them. Magnolia Pictures, which previously collaborated with Zobel on his debut film Great World of Sound (which premiered at Sundance in 2007), picked up the film for theatrical release; if you dare to check it out, prepare to be traumatized. You'll be screaming about one of the most audacious movies of 2012 — and that's exactly why the film is so brilliant.
In a series of posts, Midnites for Maniacs curator-host and Academy of Art film-history teacher Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports on the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Check out his first, second, and third entries.
Winner of both the World Documentary Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for its celebration of the artistic spirit is every musicologist's dream film: Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man. This larger-than-life tale is about obscure Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez, who created two brilliant albums, Cold Fact (1969) and Coming from Reality (1971), which some have compared to Bob Dylan's greatest works. Yet virtually no one bought either of the records ... except South Africans. The film reveals a fan base of millions, comprised of multiple generations who have viewed Rodriguez's songs as political anthems for 40 years. And that's just the first 15 minutes of the film!
Rodriguez's lyrics and lifestyle celebrated a working-class hero mentality that seems to be as precious as the songs themselves, and Benjelloul's film about his impact on a seemingly far-removed audience is a standout. But here's a warning: be careful while reading any reviews of this film before you see it! Every single critic I've read has spoiled major dramatic points in the film, so try your best to catch it before you come into contact with any spoilers. Read more »
In a series of posts, Midnites for Maniacs curator-host and Academy of Art film-history teacher Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports on the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Check out his first and second entries.
Jeff Orlowski's Chasing Ice, which won this year's Excellence in Cinematography Award for a U.S. Documentary, manages to sidestep the frivolous argument between liberals and conservatives as to whether or not the polar ice caps are melting. In fact, this beautiful documentary is so jaw-droppingly visual, you end up interacting with and understanding the planet's ice structures as if they were your own grandparents. Trekking out to the furthest spots in the Northern Hemisphere, National Geographic photographer James Balog, his hard working-crew, and director Jeff Orlowski have created a document that will force the world to actually see what is happening as opposed to arguing assumptions. What I found even more unnerving is how beautiful I found crumbling ice caps to be. Am I part of the problem?
Doc fans will recognize the name Kirby Dick; his previous works include This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006), which exposed the MPAA (the highly-secretive, surprisingly small group which has been censoring cinema since 1968), and his controversial 2009 film Outrage, which aggressively outed closeted gay politicians who have and continue to vote against gay rights.
In a series of posts, Midnites for Maniacs curator-host and Academy of Art film-history teacher Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports on the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Check out his first entry here.
The surprise hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival was Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, which not only has the power to hypnotize but to also enlighten with its striking cinematography, fantastical special effects (wonderfully designed by San Francisco's own Academy of Art University), and a truly guttural performance by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis. She plays Hushpuppy, a precocious six-year-old searching to understand a world post-Katrina, post-race, and more importantly post-childhood.
Combining David Gordon Green's George Washington (2001), Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are (2008), and most appropriately Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991), Zeitlin has created a genuinely haunting enigma for modern audiences that deserves multiple viewings for maximum understanding. But even though it won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Excellence in Cinematography Award at this year's festival, will Beasts ultimately be able to find an audience outside of the festival?
Now that Drynuary has basically curled up into a ball and died (take that, seasonal sobriety!), it's time to turn our gaze to SF Beer Week. 10 days of heavyweight gourmet beer drinking lie ahead of us, Bay Area. Even if your hankering for a beer paunch pales in comparison, say, to your desire to fit into your Valentine's Day party dress, you have a responsibility to indulge.
For Beer Week is not just a gustatory pleasure -- it supports what has burgeoned in SF into a thriving biz. Breweries sized from nano to Anchor are filling a six pack near you. Feb. 10-19 will conjure everything from urban beer hikes to beer-and-chocolate pairing events, beer-and-cheese couplings to the finest in bitter ales. Quite recently, we had the pleasure to one-on-one (via email) with David McLean, the mastermind behind all the brews at Magnolia Brewery. This isn't his first time talking with the Guardian about the miracles of local boozing, but this time we've captured his can't-miss picks for hobnobbing and hops that will take place Feb. 10-19 (and yes, they include an stout made with Hog Island oysters). Read more »
In a series of posts, Midnites for Maniacs curator-host and Academy of Art film-history teacher Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports on the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
This was my 22nd consecutive Sundance Film Festival (which is well over half of my life), and I found myself more excited than ever to pack in as many films as humanly possible in seven days. Thirty-seven programs were achieved, and mind you: the trick is not to fall asleep, which so often happens at press screenings, resulting in many critics hypocritically denouncing whatever film they slept through.
Oddly enough, two of the biggest world premieres of the festival, Lee Toland Krieger's Celeste and Jesse Forever and Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts both explore the lives of thirtysomething men named Jesse who "have a lot of potential" but for some reason just aren't making the most of their lives.