Film Review

Dan West's top five horror films

Faves from the director of Monsturd
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1. Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) Not only the greatest title in cinema history but also its single greatest achievement. Never before (or since) have bad acting, cannibalism, alcoholism, and the Abominable Snowman scaled such heights. The greatest film ever made.
2. The Wizard of Gore (1970) Director Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast) does it again, becoming the first filmmaker in history to slaughter someone on camera with a live chain saw. A mad magician runs amok with ghastly results. If the crude and relentless gore effects don't turn your stomach, the "acting" certainly will.
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Assassin fascination

Death of a President guns for Bush
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cheryl@sfbg.com
Four presidents have been killed in office: the two you hear about (Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy) and the two you kind of don't (James A. Garfield and William McKinley). But any time a political figure meets a violent death, post-traumatic stress can echo through generations — particularly because Hollywood is so fond of assassination cinema. Read more »

Steel Will

An interview with the director of controversial Golden Gate suicide doc The Bridge
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Inspired by Tad Friend's 2003 New Yorker article "Jumpers," filmmaker Eric Steel spent 2004 shooting the Golden Gate Bridge — intentionally capturing the plunges launched from the world's most popular suicide spot. The resulting doc, The Bridge, studies mental illness by filling in the life stories of the deceased through interviews with friends and family members. After playing to packed houses at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival, The Bridge opens for a theatrical run in the city that's perhaps most sensitive to its controversial subject matter. Read more »

Deliverance

Kelly Reichardt's achingly beautiful Old Joy
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Few American independent features in recent memory have seemed as truly capable of turning something old into something surprisingly new as Old Joy — an achingly beautiful ode to the varieties and vagaries of iPod-era young male disaffection based on a short story by Jon Raymond and transformed into something richly steeped in the increasingly remote cinematic traditions of ’70s New Hollywood by Kelly Reichardt, a filmmaker all-too-little heard from since her startlingly downbeat Badlands rethink, River of Grass, played film festivals more than a dozen years ago.
An oft-times emotionally ellip Read more »

Cooking with genius

I Like Killing Flies
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Kenny Shopsin is a philosopher-cook who shrinks his kitchen to the size of the world and enlarges the world to the size of his kitchen, likening his old stove to ”a whore's ass" and pasting terrorists onto the wings of flies. Here are the rules at his General Store in Greenwich Village, New York City: no parties of five or larger, and everyone has to eat. Don't insult the cook by ordering just coffee unless you want to eat it. Read more »

Rock Doc

An interview with the passionate fans behind American Hardcore
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Director Paul Rachman and writer Steven Blush collaborated on every aspect of American Hardcore — literally. "This is a two-person operation," Blush explained as we settled into a booth at a downtown San Francisco restaurant, where the filmmakers (and passionate music fans) discussed their new documentary.
SFBG What drew you into the hardcore scene?
PAUL RACHMAN I was a college kid at Boston University in the early ’80s [when] I went to my first hardcore show at the Gallery East: Gang Green, the Freeze, and the FU's. I'd never heard anything like it. Read more »

Reagan youth regurgitated

American Hardcore brings it faster, louder, harder to the screen
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kimberly@sfbg.com
REVIEW Tired of those battered punk-rock veterans of the hardcore years? You know, the geezers rocking in their thrift-store easy chairs, wheezing, "You had to be there — those were the days. I saw Darby when ..." before heading to the acupuncturist? Can you help it that you never saw Flag back before My War? Read more »

Breakfast with Dr. Bish

Visionary filmmaker Bruce Baillie speaks
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This weekend brings a major event: the rare return of Bruce Baillie — whose visions of San Francisco are just as brilliant and uncanny, if not as famous, as Alfred Hitchcock’s — to a movie screen in the city. Contemporary filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director making the most revelatory commercial features today, cites Baillie as his favorite experimental filmmaker. Though Baillie primarily made short films, the philosophical rivers of beauty that run between their works are deep. Read more »

Naughty is nice

ConteXXXtualizing Shortbus. Plus: Swinging Scandinavians!
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Once upon a time, a fair number of people, heartened by the Sexual Revolution and the corresponding collapse of censorship in movies, thought porn was just the preliminary phase to the next obvious step: soon, they assumed, mainstream films would also have real, explicit sex.
The last time anybody thought that was probably 1975 — or if really stoned, 1977. But for a while there, that wild idea seemed not only possible but inevitable. Deep Throat pretty much closed the obscenity conviction book on consenting adults watching adult content in public venues. Read more »

The final frontier

Aron Ranen surfs reality - to the moon and beyond
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cheryl@sfbg.com
Ask Aron Ranen about his filmmaking philosophy, and he won't pause long. "I'm a reality surfer. Things pop up as I'm quote-unquote traveling around the world with my camera."
When he says "pop up," he ain't kidding. While attempting to uncover the truth about the Apollo 11 moon landing in Did We Go? (which screened in 2000 at New York's Museum of Modern Art), Ranen stumbled upon the fact that the magnetic tapes used to record the 1969 event had gone missing. Read more »