December is here, leaving critics and industry insiders to sort through the year's offerings, separating the contenders from the pretenders in the race for Oscar gold. This weekend brings to the Bay Area a popular dark horse: The Artist, a love letter to the era of silent cinema that could upset expected favorites War Horse, The Descendants and Hugo this February at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
Still stuffed from Thursday's annual binge? Try a strictly popcorn diet (minus the artery-clogging globs of movie-theater butter) this weekend at one of the city's indie theaters, where you can choose between some of the year's rumored Oscar contenders (Hugo and The Descendants, both playing at the Sundance Kabuki) or seek out more obscure delights (C. Scott Willis' award-winning documentary The Woodmans, at the Roxie through Monday).
1. The Sing-A-Long Sound of Music
Martin Scorsese's Public Speaking, a revealing portrait of Fran Lebowitz in which the outspoken author and social critic shares her thoughts on gender, celebrity culture, gay rights, smoking bans and strollers, continues its run through Thanksgiving at the Roxie Theater. Elsewhere:
1. The Harry Potter Marathon
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Nov. 19-20
It's the End of the World As We Know It, and She Feels Fine: Kirsten Dunst Embraces Misery in 'Melancholia'
Kirsten Dunst needs a jolt. It’s 10 a.m. on the first Sunday of this year’s Toronto Film Festival, where Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic new drama Melancholia is making its North American debut. And though she arrives not a second late – punctuality is a point of pride with the Point Pleasant, New Jersey, native – the jetlag is beginning to show.
“Look at me, this is totally pathetic,” she says with a bemused grin. “Coca-Cola in one hand, a coffee in the other. Coca-Cola is absolutely terrible for you, but I drink it anyway. It’s one way to start the morning.”
The 3rd i's International South Asian Film Festival, featuring shorts, documentaries and dramatic features from countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet and England, runs through the weekend at the Roxie, with a special Saturday engagement at the Castro Theatre highlighting Lester James Peries' acclaimed 1964 family drama Gamperaliya and Abhinay Deo's new, Hangover-inspired Bollywood farce Delhi Belly. Elsewhere:
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
By now, it doesn’t take a well-honed Spidey sense to recall that, almost exactly a year ago, Tobey Maguire (35), Kirsten Dunst (28) and director Sam Raimi (age unimportant) parted ways with Sony Pictures and Marvel over the studio's decision to send superhero alter ego Peter Parker back to high school, essentially changing horses midstream and rebooting a billion-dollar franchise still seemingly at the peak of its powers.
No, it’s not quite the return of John Carpenter that longtime fans have been anxiously awaiting since the 61-year-old director’s last film, 2001’s underrated Ghosts of Mars. But that’s no reason to scoff at the news that Ronald Moore, the creative force behind the Sci-Fi Channel’s much-heralded Battlestar Galactica relaunch, is planning a prequel to Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing.