Arts + Culture
Tackling the wide world of espionage, amateur stalking, and clowns on pogo sticks, San Francisco's beloved sketch comedy group gives James Bond the lobster treatment. (The deliciously Scottish James Bond, rather than the Pierce Brosnan incarnation who, you must admit, fights like a girl.)
The best that can be said of The Karate Kid, a bloated but diverting remake of the 1984 original, is that most of its two-and-a-half hour running time reflects a near-flawless reprise. The names and faces have changed, as has the setting, with China replacing sunny Southern California. But the essence of the story hasn’t changed an iota.
No need to pity the fool. If spending your weekend with B.A. Baracus and the rest of the reconstituted A-Team doesn't strike your fancy, you still have time to catch Michael Douglas' mesmerizing turn in Solitary Man, or Noomi Rapace's astonishing coming-out party in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Here, as always, are some of the finest films currently playing at an indie theater near you.
1. Burning Man Film Festival
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: June 12-13
Proving the distance between rural Virginia and San Francisco is much farther than can be expressed in mere mileage, Forever Never Comes is a lively ode to playwright Enrique Urueta's hometown. It's also a darkly funny love story - a young trans man loves a young woman, but their romantic arc is complicated by her nightmares about her brother's death and then complicated more when she strikes a deal with an otherworldly creature who isn't forgiving of debts. Urueta calls it "a psycho-southern queer country dance tragedy," and really, how can you improve on a label like that? (Note: you can't.)
Now that Hollywood has exhausted most of the best-known ’70s TV series, directors like Joe Carnahan, 41, can sink their teeth into big-screen adaptations of the shows they grew up with – in this case, Stephen Cannell and Frank Lupo’s family-friendly ’80s fantasy about a team of noble vigilantes-for-hire, framed for robbing a Hanoi bank during the Vietnam War.
Baghdad replaces Hanoi in Carnahan’s flashy update, which finds the fighting foursome wrongfully blamed for stealing U.S. Treasury minting plates, but little else has changed.
"You expect us to believe in fairy tales?” It’s the most telling question posed in Neil Jordan’s winsome fable about an Irish fisherman who catches a pale young beauty in his net, and the answer is yes. Jordan, whose last fantasy, The Brave One (2007), was a sleazy celebration of vigilantism masquerading as something more, returns here asking us to suspend disbelief, and this time we’re happy to comply.
Chalk another one up for the west coast vintage pop revival. Fat Possum has signed Sonny and the Sunsets. SF-based (geo-locate him in Sunset district) Sonny Smith started up the all-star filled Sunsets back in 2007 [read Shayde Sartin & Tim Cohen (of the Fresh & Onlys), Tahlia Harbour (of Citay and The Dry Spells), Ryan Browne and Kelley Stoltz (Sub Pop Recordings)].
Grief - and what occurs in the space between loss and healing - is explored via Jenny Schwartz's adeptly fragmented prose in God's Ear. When a couple's son drowns, they're bowled over by the expected guilt, love, and pain. But life's ceaselessly marching parade of waiting rooms and loose teeth and barroom insults don't stand quietly by until the confusion passes.
Schwartz's fragmented language and director Erika Chong Shuch's swirl of movement are a compelling frame for the bravery and mistakes and hallucinations (in the guise of cameos by the Tooth Fairy and G.I. Joe) that occur as parents navigate their loss.
In the past year and a half, pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph has spent over $5,000 on iTunes. "Before this record, I didn't sift through music past the seventies," says Randolph. So he's been catching up. Guided by the legendary T Bone Burnett, Randolph mined the canon of 20th century African-American music, pulling from gospel, blues, rock and field recordings from as far back as the '20s to find inspiration for his new album, We Walk This Road, which comes out on June 22. "T Bone is a link between the past and the present," notes Randolph. "He listens to music our grandmothers would listen to as children - the music people working in the fields across the south likely sang nearly a century ago. These are the real roots of rock and roll, where everything comes from.