Film Review

American horror story

Hypnotic hybrid doc 'The Jeffrey Dahmer Files'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM "Go look in the refrigerator." Normally, that's not a particularly sinister phrase. But if the fridge in question happens to be sitting in Jeffrey Dahmer's Milwaukee kitchen, circa 1991, it contains the following: a box of Arm & Hammer, condiments (mustard, ketchup, steak sauce), and a freshly severed human head.Read more »

Six pack

Short takes on IndieFest standouts

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Antiviral (Brandon Cronenberg, Canada, 2012) Yes, that Cronenberg. The spawn of veteran filmmaker David makes an auspicious feature debut with this, uh, Cronenberg-esque body-horror tale. In the stark, gloomy near-future, celebrity worship has become so out of control that healthy people visit special clinics to be injected with diseases gathered from superstars. Read more »

West Memphis blues

'West of Memphis' asks some long-overdue questions of a notorious case

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM At this point, it's hard to imagine a present-day murder trial more painstakingly documented than that of the so-called West Memphis Three. The subject of four documentaries, with a feature film in the works (starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, no less), and inspiring at least as many books, websites, and countless articles, the story of the three teenagers convicted of the brutal killings of three small boys has never quite dropped from public attention.Read more »

Smith happens

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Every year there's at least one: the adorable-old-coot fest, usually British, that proves harmless and reassuring and lightly tear/laughter producing enough to convince a certain demographic that it's safe to go to the movies again, just this once. The last months have seen two, both starring Maggie Smith (who's also queen of that audience's home viewing via Downton Abbey), and in this case more is probably less.Read more »

The damage done

The versatile Robert Carlyle hits a melancholy note in 'California Solo'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Robert Carlyle is the kind of actor who usually elicits a slow-dawning response in realm of "Oh, right ... that guy. What was he in again?" Well, a lot, but if you're not British (let alone Scottish), his visibility has probably been erratic and infrequent — plus he does that exasperating English thing of taking TV assignments like they're perfectly OK, as opposed to the US approach of doing series work only when your big-screen career is in the toilet.Read more »

Still the fairest

Heigh-ho to 'Snow White' on her 75th birthday

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM One of the few upbeat by-products of the increasing infantilization of popular movies is that the same impulse to dumb down live action for permanently adolescent tastes also raises the bar for animation, which no longer has to target grade schoolers as its primary audience. Even not-so-special 2012 had more sophisticated and interesting animated features than you'd find in any given year a couple decades or more ago. Wreck-It Ralph won't win the Best Picture Oscar. But it will almost certainly be better than whatever movie does.Read more »

The awful truth

'The Central Park Five' examines a shocking crime — and its troubling outcome

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Early last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 15-film shortlist from which the five Best Documentary nominees will be culled. There are some strong contenders — including The Waiting Room, set at Oakland's Highland Hospital — but two of 2012's highest-profile docs were oddly absent: Amy Berg's West of Memphis (which opens locally Feb. 8) and Ken Burns' The Central Park Five, which opens Friday. It might be ironic that both films are about injustice.Read more »

father and law

Make time for sensitive indie drama 'In the Family'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM With a running time of just under three hours, writer-director-star Patrick Wang's In the Family rewards patient viewers with its quietly observed tale of a man battling for custody of his son.Read more »

A hello to arms

Who, exactly, is the target audience for Red Dawn?

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The master

'Hitchcock' goes behind the scenes of Hollywood history

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