David Gordon Green, who directed Your Highness from a script co-written by Ben Best (The Foot Fist Way) and star Danny McBride, describes his new high-concept comedy as the story of a medieval prince who smokes weed and fights dragons.
Right he is. Whether a tale so slight, framed within an adventure of such modest visual sophistication, will leave a lasting impression – especially in the perpetually impaired memories of the movie’s stoner demographic – seems unlikely. But Highness lives and dies not by the sword, but by the charisma of the man so clumsily wielding it, the exquisitely coiffed McBride.
With the city's 13th Independent Film Festival set to kick off next week, now is the time to catch up on all the major players in this year's Oscar sweepstakes, including Best Actor favorite Colin Firth (The King's Speech, playing at the Embarcadero) and Best Actress favorite Natalie Portman, whose tour-de-force performance in Black Swan is currently the featured attraction at the Balboa.
1. The Illusionist
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Based on Danish director Susanne Bier’s 2004 drama, Jim Sheridan’s sure-handed remake is not about a torrid love triangle, as the film’s ad campaign provocatively suggests. It is about Sam, a dedicated husband, father and Marine whose experiences as a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan leave him bitterly withdrawn from his family and tortured by guilt.
Sam (Tobey Maguire) is his father’s golden child, a onetime football star who married his high-school sweetheart (Natalie Portman) and went on to serve his country. He prepares for a fourth tour in Afghanistan without complaint, not because he misses the heady rush of combat but because he takes pride in his work.
Now celebrating its 29th anniversary, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival begins Thursday, July 23, with an opening-night party at the Swedish American Hall followed by a screening of Cathy Randall’s coming-of-age comedy Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger at the Roxie. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start celebrating on your own a few days earlier.