The San Francisco International Film Festival will continue through Thursday, May 6, with a closing-night screening of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work at the Castro Theatre. Until then, the festival's eclectic showcase of international offerings, probing documentaries and soon-to-be cult classics will be playing at its primary venues, including the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the Castro Theatre, the Clay Theatre and the Pacific Film Archive. For tickets, showtimes and more information, click here.
1. Last Train Home
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
Long considered unfilmable, much to the chagrin of Hollywood studios hoping to capitalize on its enduring popularity, Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book Where the Wild Things Are is hardly plot-heavy. At 20 pages and 10 sentences in length, Sendak’s vision is communicated primarily through his handsome, evocative illustrations.
Now, after nearly two decades of false starts and delayed release dates, comes director Spike Jonze’s big-screen adaptation, fleshed out on the written page by Jonze, whose Being John Malkovich (1999) impressed Sendak, and Dave Eggers, author of the bestselling Pulitzer Prize finalist A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Were they tempted to take liberties with Sendak’s minimalist prose?
Rumors of Charlie Kaufman’s reclusiveness have been greatly exaggerated.
Kaufman, the soft-spoken New York native who began his career in television churning out scripts for short-lived Fox sitcoms like Get a Life before graduating to feature films with the Oscar-nominated screenplay for 1999’s Being John Malkovich, is, according to his IMDb.com biography, a voracious reader notorious for avoiding the press. And yet here he is, cordial and seemingly at ease as he lounges in a conference room at San Francisco’s Prescott Hotel, ready for a rigorous day of interviews.
How does one begin to approach Synecdoche, New York, first-time director Charlie Kaufman’s tortured and often brilliant tale of an artist paralyzed by his insecurities and haunted by opportunities missed?
It’s not so much that his film defies description as that none could adequately prepare you for the experience of watching it. Kaufman’s existential musings on life, death and the pursuit of love are sometimes messy and maddeningly self-indulgent, and they're stuffed into a sprawling, surreal narrative that unfolds like a dream. But they are also heartfelt, painfully honest and wickedly funny.