Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Goldies Lifetime Achievement winner Pandit Chitresh Das

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After a highly disciplined childhood, spending up to six hours a day practicing on a cement floor for his very demanding but revered guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra, Kathak master Chitresh Das moved from his native Calcutta (by way of a one-year stint in Maryland) to the Bay Area.
The year was 1971. Das had been hired by the Ali Akbar College of Music to teach one of the most ancient arts of India to young countercultural Americans eager to learn Eastern practices.
It was, at the very least, something of a cultural shock — for both sides. Read more »

Tony rewards

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johnny@sfbg.com
FILM FESTIVAL After a week of stealth watching at the Vancouver International Film Festival, you wonder about odd things. Such as: what's with the trend of naming movies after post-punk touchstones? Jia Zhangke probably started it with 2002's Unknown Pleasures. In its wake came All Tomorrow's Parties by Jia's cinematographer Yu Lik-wai and the Smiths-inflected twist of Lee Yoon-Ki's terrific This Charming Girl. Read more »

One nation under dog

Two Bush-era "America plays" connect today to the past
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In Suzan-Lori Parks's The America Play, the setting is a vast dirt hole — what the piece calls "an exact replica of the Great Hole of History." You could say it's still the operative landscape in her 2002 Pulitzer Prize–winning play, Topdog/Underdog, which also takes as a central motif The America Play's image of a black man dressed as an arcade Abraham Lincoln (there for patrons to shoot in a continual reenactment of the assassination in Ford's Theatre). Read more »

Tricks and treats with Down at Lulus

Phantom haircare and "ghost boobs"
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HALLOWEEN BEAUTY The Oakland salon and boutique Down at Lulus is copowered by members of Gravy Train!!! and the Bobbyteens. Seth Bogart of the former and Tina Lucchesi of the latter got together with me recently to first discuss the greatness of Davines hair care products from Italy ("If you have dry hair, they will blow your mind," Lucchesi says), then get down to ghost boobs, hot sweet and sticky treats, and other things Halloween-y.
SFBG What are your best or worst Halloween experiences?
TINA LUCCHESI None are very memorable because I'm always pretty wasted. Read more »

What Is Crispin?

Crispin Glover's film What Is It? begs a genius question.
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CULT ICON Over a decade ago a pair of first-time filmmakers approached Crispin Glover to ask if he would act in their movie.
Glover signed on — but to direct, with the condition that most of the roles be filled by actors with Down syndrome. Best known for eccentric fringe roles in films such as River's Edge, Bartleby, Back to the Future, and Rubin and Ed, Glover had written other screenplays involving people with the condition and had kept it in his mind's eye for some time. Read more »

Head of Hopper

The Last Movie: Dennis on a plate
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CULT MOVIE Movie history is full of figures who could do no wrong one minute, then blew it — never trusted to do right again — the next. This year alone something like this happened to the richly deserving M. Read more »

Win, lose, or draw

Mashups and scares in the SFFS fall lineup
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FESTIVAL Anyone who assumes the San Francisco Film Society hibernates between springtime fests is sorely mistaken. Aside from all the preparations for next year's landmark 50th SF International Film Festival, much year-round activity has been emanating from the organization's Presidio headquarters, including a recent outdoor screening of giant-ant classic Them! Next up: the first San Francisco International Animation Showcase, three days of films at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Clear your Oct. Read more »

Sickness in short order

Neil Hamburger is served up with a side of yucks
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COMEDY DVD/CD When comedian Neil Hamburger appeared in the mid-’90s, he didn't exactly burst onto the scene. He floundered, groaned, and groveled his way through jokes that have often been deemed intentionally bad. "It's so bad it's good!" went the typical assessment of the comedian's act — an assessment that's not only insensitive but also a bit simplistic. Read more »

Static shock

Sam Shepard's The God of Hell: wake up and smell the bacon
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REVIEW When it premiered in New York two years ago, Sam Shepard's latest play was timed to influence the outcome of the presidential election — an enticingly bold agenda. Of course, if you want to influence elections, as everybody understands by now, you need to be more than bold. You need to be Diebold. And anyway, what politician worries about what's on an Off-Broadway stage? As political theater goes, Hugo Chávez calling George W. Read more »

Deconstructing Destruction

Kali Yuga takes on the Bali bombing
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"The shattering of paradise" is how Kali Yuga director Ellen Sebastian Chang refers to the 2002 bombing in Bali in which 202 people from 22 nations died. A series of attacks in 2005 killed 23 more. A world indeed had crashed, not only for the Balinese people but for the music and dance lovers who have made pilgrimages to that magical isle where art is integrated into the texture of daily life.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya was particularly hard-hit. With both Balinese and American members, the El Cerrito–based music and dance group has had an ongoing, close relationship with Balinese culture. Read more »