Film Review

The great divide

Robert Reich breaks down the economic breakdown in 'Inequality for All'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Whatever the wisdom of Obama's strategy for Syria, public response has made it clear that most Americans no longer want the US to meddle in foreign affairs — at least not if it costs money and might embroil our troops in another endless, winless imbroglio. This is a little flummoxing, since not so long ago we gave another president a free pass to invade countries for far more dubious reasons, and are still paying the price for those rubber stamps in many, many ways a decade later.Read more »

Blah lust

Brian De Palma's tame, lame 'Passion'

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Lone stars

Old-fashioned 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' claims a new genre: neo-neo-Western noir

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FILM "This was in Texas," reads the hand-lettered opening of Ain't Them Bodies Saints. It's a fittingly homespun beginning to a film that pays painstaking homage to bygone-era cinema. After its Sundance Film Festival premiere, writer-director David Lowery's first high-profile release earned frequent comparisons to 1970s works by Robert Altman and Terrence Malick. That's no accident; Saints openly feasts upon the decade's intimate, sun-burnished neo-Westerns.Read more »

Scenes from a marriage

'Cutie and the Boxer' showcases one artistic couple's functional dysfunction

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FILM At least since Grey Gardens in 1975 provided a peek at mother-and daughter eccentrics living in squalor — distinguished from your average crazy cat ladies by being closely related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — there's been a documentary subgenre devoted to, well, weirdos. Errol Morris and Werner Herzog have devoted a sizable chunk of their output to them, those people who might make you nervous or annoyed if they lived next door but are fascinating to gawk at for 90 minutes or so. Read more »

Midsummer mayhem

From Jupiter's moon to a Chinese drug war: four beyond-the-mainstream treats for genre film fans

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM It's been a zzz summer at the multiplex. The number one movie of the year is Iron Man 3, a highly unmemorable blockbuster. (Quick: Who played the villain? Had to think about it for a second, didn't you?) With the exception of The Heat and The Conjuring, most everything that's grossed a crap-ton of dollars recently is either a sequel or based on some well-worn property.Read more »

Catch a falling star

Paul Schrader talks celebrity, post-theatrical cinema, and 'The Canyons'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Now that "train wreck" is an official celebrity category popular media ignores at its peril, certain people and projects are deemed doomed automatically. Lindsay Lohan can't redeem herself — she'd lose her entertainment value by regaining any respect. Ergo, The Canyons — the first theatrical feature she's starred in since 2007, the year of triple A-bombs Georgia Rule, Chapter 27, and I Know Who Killed Me — was earmarked as a disaster from the outset.Read more »

The killer inside me

Film: Jawdropping 'The Act of Killing' examines the psychological effects of mass murder without remorse 

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM What does Anwar Congo — a man who has brutally strangled hundreds of people with piano wire — dream about?

As Joshua Oppenheimer's Indonesia-set documentary The Act of Killing discovers, there's a thin line between a guilty conscience and a haunted psyche, especially for an admitted killer who's never been held accountable for anything. In fact, Congo has lived as a hero in North Sumatra for decades — along with hundreds of others who participated in the country's ruthless anti-communist purge in the mid-1960s.Read more »

Downwardly mobile

Woody Allen's highly anticipated 'Blue Jasmine' has less San Francisco in it than expected — but it's still his best film in years

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The death aquatic

'Blackfish' investigates the many tragedies of SeaWorld

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The 911 call placed from SeaWorld Orlando on February 24, 2010 imparted a uniquely horrific emergency: "A whale has eaten one of the trainers." That revelation opens Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Blackfish, a powerful doc that puts forth a compelling argument against keeping orcas in captivity, much less making them do choreographed tricks in front of tourists at Shamu Stadium.Read more »

Hysterical blindness

A false accusation devastates a man and his community in 'The Hunt'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Mads Mikkelsen has the kind of face that is at once strikingly handsome and unconventional enough to get him typecast in villain roles. (A good Hollywood parallel would be Jack Palance in his prime — they've got the same vaguely Slavic features, with sharp cheekbones and narrow eyes.)Read more »