The fifth San Francisco International Animation Festival kicks off tonight at the Embarcadero with Here Comes the Waves: The Hazards of Love Visualized, a colorfully eccentric interpretation (by four different artists) of the acclaimed 2009 album by indie-rock stalwarts The Decemberists. The festivities wind to a close Sunday with Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, Brent Green's moving tribute to a Kentucky hardware-store clerk who, during the 1970s, built a crazy-quilt house to cure his wife's cancer. Elsewhere:
Gareth Edwards won't reveal the budget for Monsters, his thriftily constructed feature debut about two young Americans trying to buy their way back from Mexico following an alien occupation. Yet he’s quick to acknowledge that his acclaimed sci-fi fantasy might never have been possible without advances in filmmaking technology usually associated with big-budget blockbusters like last year’s Avatar.
It was routine mechanical failures and budgetary restraints, more than divine – marine? – inspiration, that led a young Steven Spielberg to keep his shark from audiences throughout so much of Jaws. In the case of first-time feature director Gareth Edwards, the choice was dictated by necessity: To make a $15,000 movie about monsters, the monsters would have to stay scarce.
Monsters is no Jaws, but the comparison is apt on one level: Edwards, like Spielberg, manages to sustain tension even in the absence of early or frequent payoffs. Rather than unleashing his beasts, Edwards hides them, letting the threat they pose loom in their absence. The shadows are pregnant with peril.
The Giants are world champions, the season of Oscar contenders has arrived, and the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival is in full swing this weekend at the Castro. Whether you're a sports fan or a cinephile, it's a great time to be in the Bay Area. Here are some of the most exciting features now playing at an indie theater near you.