Film Review

A tale of two

Actor-director Ralph Fiennes brings Dickens' love life into focus

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FILM No one reads Uncle Tom's Cabin today — Harriet Beecher Stowe's enormously popular novel that almost single-handedly tilted public opinion against slavery enough to support the Civil War — for anything but historical-footnote interest. Yet fellow 19th-century celebrity author Charles Dickens, who had nearly as direct and significant a reformist influence across the Atlantic, is still ubiquitous.Read more »

Super Tramp

SF Silent Film Fest marks an icon's 100th anniversary

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Bad company

Stage hit 'August: Osage County' loses potency on the big screen
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Back in Burgundy

Director Adam McKay reports on 'Anchorman 2'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The return of Ron Burgundy — the boorish, quotable Will Ferrell character immortalized in 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — has been heralded for months, thanks to an extravagant marketing campaign that has included car commercials, a new Ben & Jerry's flavor, and Burgundy-branded Scotch.Read more »

All that glitters

David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' delivers a giddy caper elevated by memorable performances

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FILM If longer were better, this would be the platinum era of movies. Never before have so many mainstream releases staggered toward or beyond the two-and-a-half-hour mark once reserved for the truly epic — in storytelling breadth, not just in fight scenes, expensive CGI effects, or simple directorial inability to say "when."Read more »

Gore to the world

Scare yourself silly with 1984 cult classic 'Silent Night, Deadly Night'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Consider the giants of ho-ho-horror. Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974) boasted an above-average cast (Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea, John Saxon). Christmas Evil (1980) was dubbed "the greatest Christmas movie ever made" by no less an authority than John Waters, who recorded an audio commentary for its 2006 special-edition DVD.Read more »

3-2-1 contact

Journey into Unarius with 'Children of the Stars'

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FILM El Cajon — between balmy coastal San Diego and arid desert mountains to the east — is just the sort of place where the dream of California living came true for a lot of industrious working-class people in the post-World War II boom years. It's also where their boomer children and generation-next grandkids are currently seeing that dream slowly expire.Read more »

Riot acts

'The Punk Singer' chronicles Kathleen Hanna's remarkable life — and mysterious illness

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FILM It was strange when Kathleen Hanna — riot grrrl activist, iconic Bikini Kill battle cry leader, electro-popping Le Tigre singer — went silent.

Though she was not entirely absent from the public eye, she did not make any new music or tour for nearly a decade. Beat down by a mysterious illness, she seemingly tumbled into hardcore self-preservation mode, contributing her personal files of zines, show flyers, and lyrics to the "Riot Grrrl Collection" at New York University's Fales Library.Read more »

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 »