Film Review

School gaze

Frederick Wiseman's 'At Berkeley' offers a lengthy, layered portrait of higher education

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La ho-hum vita

'The Great Beauty' has style, but doesn't live up to the hype

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Paolo Sorrentino has only been directing features for 12 years, so perhaps it's premature to expect a masterpiece from him — although he probably doesn't think so. Amid generally tepid post-millennium Italian cinema, he's been consistently ambitious and bold, from 2001's One Man Up onward. That facility has won a lot of acclaim (most notably for 2008's Il Divo), but also attracted a certain amount of skepticism: Is he more style than substance? What does he have to say?Read more »

Born to lose

Alexander Payne's small-scale, deeply satisfying 'Nebraska'

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By Dennis Harvey

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Out of the fog

TURF dancing, God's country, Korean War musicals: this weekend's Cinema By the Bay festival showcases films with local ties

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Eternal spring

Chris Marker's 'Le Joli Mai' remains relevant 50 years later

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arts@sfbg.com

Chris Marker did not seem to see a hard distinction between cities and their people. The cat-loving leftist documentarian, whose distinctly poetic outlook we sadly lost last year, is probably best known for his experimental sci-fi short La Jetée (1962) and his ethnography-cum fictionalized-travel-memoir Sans Soleil (1983), film-school favorites both available through the Criterion Collection.Read more »

The great pretender

A legend crashes and burns in 'The Armstrong Lie'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

If something appears too good to be true, the saying goes, it probably is. Take Lance Armstrong, who beat cancer to become a cycling superstar, winning the grueling Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. He vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs until January 2013, when he 'fessed up during a tastefully choreographed sit-down with Oprah. By that point, the big reveal wasn't that he'd doped his way to athletic glory — it was that he was finally admitting to it.Read more »

Keep it reel

Docs from India highlight the SF International South Asian Film Fest

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Life's work

Desperation breeds determination in 'Dallas Buyers Club'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Beware Canadians — they may walk softly, but they carry a big hockey stick. The country next door has always had a bigger influence on American life than generally thought, especially at the movies. Mary Pickford, the medium's first superstar, was Canadian; so, a century later, are Ryans Gosling and Reynolds, Jim Carrey, Ellen Page, Rachel McAdams, and Seth Rogen. Canadians have directed a lot of seemingly very American films, from 1982's Porky's to this year's Prisoners.Read more »

Hot and cool

Love story 'Blue is the Warmest Color' courts acclaim — and controversy

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM The stars say the director was brutal. The director says he wishes the film had never been released (but he might make a sequel). The graphic novelist is uncomfortable with the explicit 10-minute sex scene. And most of the state of Idaho will have to wait to see the film on Netflix.Read more »

To hell and back

Steve McQueen's brutal, stunning '12 Years a Slave'

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