Film Review

Projections

A long list of short takes on SFIFF 57

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Harmony Lessons (Emir Baigazin, Kazakhstan/Germany/France, 2013) Darwinian natural selection seems to be the guiding principle at the rural Kazakh school where bright farm boy Aslan (Timur Aidarbekov) is sent to further his education. What he learns there is mostly about survival, as he soon discovers the institution is dominated by an elaborate system of bullying and extortion in which a few older students terrorize the younger and weaker. Read more »

Reel-ality

Around the world with SF International Film Festival documentaries

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cheryl@sfbg.com

SFIFF "I'm the wrong kind of person to be really big and famous," Elliott Smith admits in Heaven Adores You, Nickolas Rossi's moving portrait of the late indie musician, who went from regional star to superstar after his Oscar nomination for 1997's Good Will Hunting. "It was fun ... for a day," Smith reflects — and anyone who saw Smith's hushed Academy Awards performance, on a night that also included Celine Dion's chest-thumping rendition of "My Heart Will Go On," has likely never forgotten it.Read more »

New direction

SF Film Society head Noah Cowan settles into the job — and eagerly awaits his first SFIFF

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cheryl@sfbg.com

SFIFF First things first: Brand-new San Francisco Film Society Executive Director Noah Cowan's two favorite movies are 1942 Preston Sturges screwball comedy The Palm Beach Story and 1974 disaster drama The Towering Inferno. Appropriately, our first meeting takes place in downtown San Francisco, where that fictional world's tallest building (containing Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, and O.J. Simpson, among others) went up in flames.Read more »

Blood lush

Three decades into his career, indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch delivers one of his best films yet

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Devil's advocate

Sokurov's 2011 'Faust' finally makes its local debut

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The hunger

Jonathan Glazer on his eerie, haunting alien tale 'Under the Skin'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM At the moment, Scarlett Johansson is playing a superhero in the world's top blockbuster. Her concurrent role in Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin — the gorgeously crafted tale of an alien who comes to earth to capture men, but goes rogue once her curiosity about the human world gets the better of her — could not be more different in story or scope. There's also the matter of its edgy presentation of its usually glamorous star.Read more »

Brawl opera

It's only April, but The Raid 2 is the action movie of the year

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM There are action films. And then there's The Raid 2. One need not have seen 2011's The Raid: Redemption to appreciate this latest collaboration between Welsh director Gareth Evans and Indonesian actor, martial artist, and fight choreographer Iko Uwais — it's recommended, of course, but the sequel stands alone on its own merits.Read more »

Freedom of expression

A PFA series pays tribute to Czech New Wave filmmaker Jan Nemec

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Cinemagic

The dark, entrancing 'A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness' and other Crossroads experimental film fest standouts

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM It's Crossroads time again — the annual San Francisco Cinematheque festival of experimental, avant-garde, abstract, and otherwise difficult-to-easily-categorize works carefully curated for adventurous, open-minded filmgoers.Read more »

Life through the lens

Ross McElwee brings 'Photographic Memory' to the PFA

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