Film Review

Flagging

Action fluff 'White House Down' is red, white, and redundant

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Ah, the mid-1990s: a time when two big-budget movies on the same subject were regularly released within months of each other (1997's Volcano and Dante's Peak; 1998's Armageddon and Deep Impact). When a director named Roland Emmerich ascended into the blockbuster pantheon with Independence Day (1996), a film that's best-remembered for transforming Will Smith into an action star — and for that iconic shot of the White House exploding under alien death rays.Read more »

The conversations

Ever-evolving characters Jesse and Celine return in 'Before Midnight'

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Tourist trappers

Murder takes a holiday: Hit the road with killer British comedy 'Sightseers'

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Let's dance

Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha believes in modern love

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Assassination character

Michael Shannon is stone-cold stellar in 'The Iceman'

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Short takes: SFIFF week two

Prince Avalanche, Computer Chess, The Strange Little Cat, Waxworks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and more picks from the huge fest

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Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green, US, 2012) It has been somewhat hard to connect the dots between David Gordon Green the abstract-narrative indie poet (2000's George Washington, 2003's All the Real Girls) and DGG the mainstream Hollywood comedy director (2008's Pineapple Express, yay; 2011's Your Highness and The Sitter, nay nay nay). But here he brings those seemingly irreconcilable personas together, and they make very sweet music indeed. Read more »

Short takes: SFIFF week one

You're Next, Rosie, The Kill Team, The Patience Stone, and more reviews of film fest features

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SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

April 25-May 9, most shows $10-15

Various venues

festival.sffs.orgRead more »

Stop making sense

'Upstream Color' is a head-scratcher — but it's worth it

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A woman, a man, a pig, a worm, Walden — what? If you enter into Shane Carruth's Upstream Color expecting things like a linear plot, exposition, and character development, you will exit baffled and distressed. Best to understand in advance that these elements are not part of Carruth's master plan. In fact, based on my own experiences watching the film twice, I'm fairly certain that not really understanding what's going on in Upstream Color is part of its loopy allure.Read more »

Rambling man

Terrence Malick's Hollywood revival sours with 'To the Wonder'

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Alternative medicine

Got Hollywood fatigue? Seek out 'Starbuck' and 'The Silence'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM No country exports mainstream films to the extensive success that the US does. To the frequent chagrin of local filmmakers and cultural watchdogs, Hollywood dominates many nations' box offices, non-English-speaking ones included. Nor do we reciprocate much — there remains a wide separation between what are perceived as commercial entertainments and "art house" films, with foreign-language (or even just British) ones almost invariably limited to the latter category.Read more »