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Oldman, Swinton and 'Tree of Life' Earn San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle has announced its 2011 awards for achievement in film, naming The Tree of Life the year's best picture and doling out top honors to the movie's director, Terrence Malick, and cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki.

'We Bought a Zoo' Stampedes Bay Area Theaters Tonight for Special Sneak Preview

It would be too easy to disdain the earnest sentimentality on display in Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, about a recent widower who, struggling to restore a glimmer of hope to his children’s eyes, retires from city life to raise them in a downtrodden animal park.

It’s based on a true story, of course, though it’s hard to imagine such a Hollywood-ready fairy tale unfolding so neatly off the screen. Cynics will surely scoff at the underlying message – that happiness is worth pursuing at any cost, because it’s better to soak in the sunshine than wallow in a morass of self-pity. Optimism, they’d say, is a sucker’s bet.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Seeking an antidote to the holiday season's traditional tidings of great joy? Director Takeshi Kitano (1997's Fireworks) returns this week at the Lumiere Theatre with Outrage, a bloody, deliriously eccentric gangland drama about rival yakuza clans competing for the favor of their head family in the Japanese underworld. Elsewhere:

1.
Noir City Xmas
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Dec. 14

Free Sneak Preview of 'The Wayshower' at the Castro Theatre on Wednesday Night

"Running from mistakes in his past, a man finds a secret book with ancient powers – a tool that can give him the answers he seeks. But a dark force has been awoken, one that will stop at nothing to reclaim the sacred text. When the book is stolen, an age-old battle resumes. But [the man's] teacher, a 'Wayshower,' can only show him the path to victory, for he must win this epic battle on his own."

San Francisco's Matthew Leutwyler Searches for 'Answers,' Finds Dane Cook

Growing up in San Francisco, armed with a Super 8 camera to document his youthful forays into pyrotechnic mayhem, director Matthew Leutwyler’s journey to Hollywood is more than vaguely reminiscent of the trail blazed by so many innovators – guys with names like Scorsese, Lucas and Spielberg.

“I was always making little movies with my friends and stuff, even when I was at the Town School,” says Leutwyler, 42, whose new drama, Answers to Nothing, opened Friday at the AMC Metreon. “I was 8 or 9, and my brother and a couple friends, Robert and Alexander, we did stupid thing like put a tripod with a camera on it in the middle of our backyard.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

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.

A Complicated Interspecies Love Story Takes Center Stage in 'One Lucky Elephant'

It started out, as so many things in his life have, with a childhood fantasy: David Balding, a Harvard dropout who left the presitigous university to pursue, eventually, a career as the ringmaster of his very own circus, needed an elephant.

“I remember an adventure book for schoolboys, and a scene with the hero riding an elephant,” says Balding, 69, who attributes his early fascination with animals to his father, a well-known horse trainer. “That image somehow stuck with me, though I’ve never been able to find the book again as an adult. 



Disposable Film Festival, Practice Fusion Announce Winners of First-Ever Health Contest

Web-based medical-records provider Practice Fusion recently announced the winners of the Disposable Film Festival's inaugural Health competition at the company’s new headquarters in Union Square. Now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can judge the honorees from the privacy of your living room.

'Hugo' a Beautiful, Brilliantly Crafted Love Letter to a Forgotten Forefather of Cinema

Martin Scorsese approaches Hugo, his delightfully inventive adaptation of Brian Selznick’s elaborately illustrated children’s novel, with a profound sense of wonder, and the feeling is contagious. 



Here, in the bittersweet saga of a clockmaker’s orphaned son who reconnects with his father through the earliest machinery of cinema, we find one of the director’s most personal stories to date, a love letter not only to his craft, but also to one of its earliest innovators, Georges Méliès.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

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

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