With roughly 120 films to complement its delectable menu of musical performances and interactive-art exhibits, the 29th International Asian American Film Festival is now underway, through March 20, in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. For tickets, click here. Elsewhere:
1. Dazed and Confused
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 15-16
There was a time, in the 1970s, when stories of middle-class alienation and dreamers struggling to get ahead were invariably set in New York. Lately, such accounts of white- and blue-collar angst have moved 200 miles up I-95 to the Boston suburbs, where the fight to survive isn’t exclusively the domain of street hustlers and last-chance athletes.
It wasn’t that John Wells, executive producer of groundbreaking TV dramas including ER and The West Wing, had never considered making the jump to the big screen. He had received offers, but none of them felt right. Then his brother-in-law fell victim to corporate downsizing, and Wells started writing and researching and seeking out thousands of the unemployed, to share with him accounts of life on the frontlines.
“The stories were self-deprecating, tragic and humorous, but above all dignified,” he says. “That integrity was the common thread in all the people I spoke to, from the couple hundred I met to the couple thousand I found online. I knew I had to present their experiences with the same qualities.”
The second Oakland Underground Film Festival kicks off tonight at the historic Grand Lake Theater with South by Southwest Film Festival favorite Thunder Soul, about the charismatic band leader who turned an inner-city Houston high school's jazz band into a powerful funk outfit, and American Grindhouse, a revealing documentary about cheerfully trashy exploitation cinema. Elsewhere:
The 34th Toronto International Film Festival, billed by organizers as "the most important festival after Cannes," concluded Sunday, Sept. 19, with the announcement of this year's Audience Award winner: The King's Speech, Tom Hooper's account of Bertie (A Single Man's Colin Firth), the man who overcame a humiliating stutter to become King George VI. (Bay Area moviegoers will get a sneak peek of Speech when it opens the 33rd Mill Valley Film Festival on Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.) Here's an account of the 10-day Toronto festival's highlights, lowlights and (almost) everything in between.
San Francisco's Latino Film Festival, featuring contributions by emerging and established filmmakers from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the U.S., runs through Sunday evening at the Roxie, while House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou's darkly humorous new thriller A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop arrives at the Embarcadero. Elsewhere:
Doug MacRay could have been a contender. He robs banks and armored trucks for a living, moonlighting as a blue-collar construction type. Once upon a time he had a chance to escape the mean streets of Boston’s clannish Charlestown neighborhood, and with them the legacy of his father, a career criminal wasting away in Walpole’s Cedar Junction prison.
Doug (Ben Affleck) was a hockey player with a scorer’s touch, but instead of going pro he fell into the family business, emptying vaults for the neighborhood crime boss (Pete Postlethwaite) and setting aside just enough cash to harbor dreams of a better life. He has a tight-knit crew and a guiding sense of principle, though the two are often at odds.