Edgar Wright, the English director of the exuberant romantic comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, cites 2007’s Hot Fuzz, his Point Break-inspired follow-up to the 2004 zombie satire Shaun of the Dead, as the movie that afforded him the chance to film in his hometown of Wells, and to pay tribute to influences ranging from Agatha Christie to Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II.
He’s touted as a dark horse in Oscar’s Best Actor race, a relative unknown in a field of nominees highlighted by presumed frontrunner Jeff Bridges and George Clooney. Yet Modesto native Jeremy Renner, the fair-haired star of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, is no stranger to the screen, or to awards consideration.
This has been heralded as the year of the animated movie, and with good reason: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline and Up, among others, proved as engaging for adults as for children, validating a genre unfairly dismissed as kiddie fare by some critics and too many Oscar voters.
To me, 2009 was most memorable for its documentaries. Tyson, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Beaches of Agnes and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers entertained as well as informed, and all remain worthy candidates for end-of-the-year accolades. Consider them (as well as Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are) runners-up to my list of the year’s best films.
The San Francisco International Animation Festival continues through Sunday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, featuring some of Walt Disney's earliest shorts and Tarik Saleh's futuristic thriller Metropia, in which a call-center drone (voiced by Vincent Gallo) breaks from his drab routine to become a wannabe spy. Elsewhere:
With the Mill Valley and Cinema by the Bay film festivals fast approaching, October promises to be one of the year's most exciting months for Bay Area moviegoers. Until then, there's no shortage of vital, engaging films awaiting you at the local indie theaters. Among them:
Only a week left until G.I. Joe and Meryl Streep’s Julia Child bull their way onto the big screen. Can you contain your excitement? Until then, here are some of the most intriguing selections now playing at an indie theater near you.
The Jewish Film Festival is entering its first weekend, the Red Vic is celebrating its 29th birthday, and David Byrne's Talking Heads are taking the stage (in a manner of speaking) for two nights only. It's looking like a promising week for moviegoers seeking an alternative to the mindless savagery of Orphan and the magical incantations of Harry Potter. Here's a list of some of the finest films arriving at an indie theater near you.
If Muggles and the fresh-faced wizards and witches of Hogwarts aren't magical enough to pique your interest, here's a list of the most satisfying alternatives currently in rotation at an indie theater near you.
1. Dead Snow
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Blood spills early and often in director Tommy Wirkola’s amusingly campy tale of eight medical students on vacation in Norway, where the snow-swept hills boast a terrifying secret: A battalion of Nazi zombies whose sadism seems to have been dulled by neither time nor death.
Yes, it’s finally here. By now, you’ve probably seen the commercials billing The Hurt Locker as the year’s most acclaimed film to date – no exaggeration, given its enviable score on the all-important Tomatometer – and after two weeks in limited release, it opens in the Bay Area today. Along with Food, Inc., it ranks as the very best of the films currently in rotation at an indie theater near you.
1. The Hurt Locker
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Americans have made their will known at the polls and the box office, and the message is clear: Our military presence in the Middle East is only slightly less popular than the movies inspired by it. The Hurt Locker may not change that sentiment, which felled recent offerings like Ridley Scott’s underrated Body of Lies and the equally overlooked Rendition, but that takes nothing away from Kathryn Bigelow’s most gripping thriller to date.