J. Edgar Hoover may have savored his tough-guy image as America’s top cop, a rule-bending maverick unrelenting in his pursuit of justice, but Clint Eastwood, whose fascinating biography of the FBI’s first and longest-tenured director opened Wednesday at the Century SF Centre, the AMC Van Ness and the Sundance Kabuki, says there’s no similarity between Hoover and “Dirty” Harry Callahan.
“Harry was a mythical character,” Eastwood says of the rogue San Francisco detective he created in 1971 with director Don Siegel. “He was a man concerned with the rights of victims at a time when everyone was obsessed with the rights of the accused. And his story was very violent.
The inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival opens Wednesday, Nov. 9, in the picturesque communities of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. A must for cinephiles, foodies and wine lovers alike, the five-day "extended weekend" features a premier selection of independent films and hotly anticipated Oscar contenders, as well as conversations with some of the most exciting actors, directors, producers and writers working in movies today.
With 2010 about to fade into our rearview, it's time to pay our respects to a year that produced its share of very good movies, but precious few great ones. It was a year dominated by memorable performances in supporting roles – Christian Bale as a crack-addicted burnout in The Fighter, John Hawkes as a rough-and-tumble hillbilly in Winter's Bone, Jacki Weaver as an insidious matriarch in the overlooked Australian import Animal Kingdom – and the visual bravura of Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and TRON: Legacy.
It isn’t impossible to describe Inception, the wondrous new thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan, in the limited space afforded here, but it’s close. Rarely is a story this ambitious brought to the screen.
Inspired at times by movie classics, modern and otherwise – Dark City and Minority Report, but also Metropolis, Citizen Kane and the best 007 adventures – it earns its place in the same conversation, a tribute to Nolan’s ingenuity. The breadth and detail of his vision is extraordinary.
Son of an English copywriter and an American flight attendant, director Christopher Nolan split his childhood between London and his U.S. hometown of Chicago, where he would eventually film his career’s biggest hits: Batman Begins (2005) and 2008’s The Dark Knight.
For his latest, the cerebral thriller Inception, Nolan went international again, shooting in locations as far-flung as Paris, Tokyo and Morocco. Yet the most spectacular scenery in Inception, in which a team of tech-savvy thieves extracts valuable secrets from the dreams of their sleeping targets, exists not in the physical universe, but in the mind.
When Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island had its long-awaited October 2009 release unceremoniously delayed by Paramount, it was only natural to assume the legendary director's new thriller, starring favorite son Leonardo DiCaprio, might have missed its mark. Hardly. (The studio blamed the decision on the economy and DiCaprio's lack of availability to the foreign press.) It opens today at the Sundance Kabuki for what should be a long, well-attended run, befitting one of the most cleverly confounding thrillers in recent memory.
You may not have heard of Michael Shannon, but it would be impossible to walk away from the Eisenhower-era marital drama Revolutionary Road without being shaken by his blistering performance as John Givings, a recovering psych-ward patient who might just be the sanest inhabitant of a Connecticut suburb where desperation and malaise seem almost universal.
An attack on ‘50s suburbia as a bastion of gray-suited conformity is hardly a fresh idea. So what, pray tell, is the point of Revolutionary Road, besides providing a showcase for two dynamic actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, to chew the scenery in an overwrought exposition of domestic combat Connecticut-style?
There’s no denying the pair’s ability to infuse their dialogue with a wintry chill, and here they attack each other like a pair of poisonous passive aggressors, lacing every syllable with bruising bitterness. Theirs are intense, tortured performances tailor-made for awards consideration, but where is the pleasure in watching them?