Film Features

Realness

DocFest is back (already!) with a slate of standouts

|
()

FILM First things first: yeah, you did just attend the 11th San Francisco Documentary Film Festival in November. The schedule shift for the 2013 fest — it's now sandwiched between the well-established San Francisco International Film Festival (which ended May 9) and Frameline (starts June 20) seasons — is a gamble. Will Bay Area film fans (who probably also attended the DocFest-affiliated SF IndieFest in February) suffer festival fatigue, or will DocFest's programming (Burning Man! Bettie Page! Pint-sized magicians!) lure 'em in anyway?Read more »

Get high

A brand-new festival highlights Himalayan films

|
()

cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM San Francisco has a lot of film festivals (understatement of the millennium), but none until now can claim to show "films from the roof of the world." The first annual Himalayan Film Festival kicks off this week with screenings in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Opening night features the West Coast premiere of Leon Stuparich's Road to Peace, a doc that follows the Dalai Lama on his 2008 tour of the UK. Read more »

Crazy sexy cruel

"Girls! Guns! Ghosts!" spotlights Japanese cult studio Shintoho

|
()

FILM Long before VHS demon Sadako glared one eye through a tent of tangled black hair in 1998's Ring (American viewers may switch that to "Samara" and "2002"), another angry, swampy-coiffed dame was doing her best to scare the bejesus out of ticket buyers. The year was 1825, and the kabuki play was called Yotsuya Kaidan. Ghost Story of Yotsuya, the 1959 version of that oft-filmed tale — which contains visual motifs made famous by J-horror — kicks off the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' titillatingly-titled "Girls! Guns! Ghosts! Read more »

Man up

Tough guys rule at "I Wake Up Dreaming 2013" noir film fest

|
()

Aquarius rising

Free your mind and surrender to 'The Source Family'

|
()

FILM Under the guidance of charismatic, luxuriously-bearded leader Father Yod (once named Jim Baker, later known as YaHoWha), the Source Family operated one of the country's first health food restaurants. They lived in a Hollywood Hills mansion, wore flowing robes, assumed dreamy new names, meditated, and studied Father Yod's custom blend of Eastern and Western philosophy and mysticism.Read more »

Nordic track

SFIFF offers an all-too-rare opportunity to appreciate Finnish cinema

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

SFIFF "The greatest Finnish movie ever made" — drop that phrase on someone (at least a non-Finn) and they will most likely make some crack suggesting there can't possibly be enough of them for the distinction to matter. But Finland has had a rich and idiosyncratic filmmaking history stretching back to 1907. It hardly begins and ends with Aki Kaurismäki, the droll minimalist who was the first (and still only) Finnish director to regularly win international distribution.Read more »

Screening is believing

Five must-see documentaries at the huge San Francisco International Film Festival. Plus: Rare Finnish movies and a ton of SFIFF previews.

|
()

Looking over the Overlook

Filmmaker Rodney Ascher entices viewers into 'Room 237'

|
()

cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Though he's now living in Los Angeles, Rodney Ascher was a San Franciscan "for years and years," he says, adding that he used to spend "a lot of time at Craig Baldwin's Other Cinema." He also has praise for the Roxie, the venue that'll be hosting the local premiere of his Room 237 — a fascinating, kinda disturbing documentary that burrows deep down the rabbit hole with people who are obsessed with Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror masterpiece The Shining.Read more »

Able fables

Fairy-tale inspiration done right, in two delightful imports

|
()

arts@sfbg.com

FILM The weak recent likes of Jack the Giant Slayer and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters revealed the extent of expensive, formulaic action-movie lameness with which Hollywood is now determined to treat every story of universal familiarity (and conveniently, no pesky copyright). No doubt there will be a Cinderella: Bitch is Goin' Postal somewhere in our future before the cycle spins out, if it ever does.Read more »

Ennui and I

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's 'Thai Dreams' screen at YBCA

|
()

FILM Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang's international breakthrough, Last Life in the Universe, came out 10 years ago, but its themes of isolation and loneliness still feel very much of the moment. Eternally cool Japanese star Tadanobu Asano plays librarian Kenji, whose Better Off Dead-style existential turmoil leads him to attempt suicide, or at least think long and hard about it, multiple times. Read more »