Film Review

We were here

Detropia chronicles urban decline in a fresh light

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FILM "I feel like I was maybe here, a while back. Or I'm older than I really am, and I just have this young body and spirit and mind — but I have a memory of this place when it was bangin'," says video blogger Crystal Starr in new doc Detropia, gazing at the Detroit skyline from an abandoned building somewhere on the West Side, puffing a little joint.Read more »

Cinetology

This week's movies: gurus, beauty queens, beat cops, and 3D super cops

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Dark and stormy

A real-life ex inspires Ira Sachs' wrenching drama 'Keep the Lights On'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM In Ira Sachs' intensely discomfiting Keep the Lights On, Erik (Thure Lindhardt) is a Danish documentarian in late-1990s New York City, prodding his career along, spending time with friends, having casual sex with strangers. One of the latter is Paul (Zachary Booth), a publishing-house lawyer who first tells him "I have a girlfriend, so don't get your hopes up." Yet some time later they've become a tentative couple, then a live-in one.Read more »

Got movie fever?

See these docs this week

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FILM They're baaack — and in 3D. Director Mark Lewis returns to the subject that made him famous, or notorious, in Cane Toads: The Conquest. Lewis' 1988 short doc Cane Toads: An Unnatural History — about the warty critters' population explosion after being imported to Australia as part of an unsuccessful pest-control experiment, after which they became pests themselves — is by now a cult hit, thanks to its droll tone, quirky interview subjects, and toad's-eye-view P.O.V. shots.Read more »

All in the game

A one-percenter fumbles for his ill-gotten gains in Arbitrage

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM How might filmmaker Nicholas Jarecki measure the success of Arbitrage, his debut feature about a hedge fund honcho's attempt to sell his way out of desperate circumstances? Perhaps a gauge can be found in the response the writer-director received at a recent East Hampton screening for a roomful of magnates such as John Paulson, figures who provided some of the initial inspiration for Arbitrage. Read more »

Heavy drinking

Pretentious 'Lawless' takes its moonshinin' way too seriously

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The much-abused Malvolio in Twelfth Night is far from a great man, but he makes the definitive statement about greatness: that some are born with it, some achieve it, etc. Option number three, however, doesn't really work for movies. No film has ever successfully had greatness thrust upon it, at least not by its maker. Yet every year there are a handful that seem to be handing themselves golden statuettes in every self-consciously majestic frame.Read more »

Live by the sword

Tsui Hark -- director of the awesome new Flying Swords of Dragon Gate -- talks 3D, IMAX, and returning to Dragon Gate Inn

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The wuxia film is as integral to China's cinema as the Western is to America's — though the tradition of the "martial hero" in literature and other art forms dates back well before Clint Eastwood ever donned a serape. Still, the two genres have some notable similarities, a fact acknowledged by Tsui Hark's Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, which adopts "the good, the bad, and the ugly" as a tagline in the splashy trailer for its American release.Read more »

The trouble with demons

First-run Asian films bring sexy spirits and sad samurai to town

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Suspended between the deluge of superhero flicks and awards-show fodder (speaking of, check back next week for the Guardian's fall movie preview), mid-to-late August is an outstanding time to go to your local art house, rep theater, underground cinema, or movie night in the park.Read more »

Fangs, but no fangs

Mary Harron's 'The Moth Diaries' offers a mild take on the vampire drama

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When in Venice

An author struggles with his relationships in André Téchiné's casually intense 'Unforgivable'
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