It's that time again. The 54th San Francisco International Film Festival is underway, bringing with it an eclectic mix of groundbreaking documentaries, riveting dramas and innovative shorts from around the globe. Among them:
1. Life, Above All
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: April 23, 4 p.m., April 28, 6 p.m.
The San Francisco Film Festival's fourth annual Midnight Awards will be presented Saturday night at the W Hotel, with Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) and Clifton Collins Jr (Star Trek, TV's The Event) on hand to receive the honors. The awards presentation is open to the public, and will be fashioned after the format of a late-night talk show, with New York Times bestselling author Beth Lisick playing Johnny Carson and the Darren Johnston Trio providing live musical accompaniment.
Let’s get one thing straight: Rainn Wilson, the lanky, bespectacled star of NBC’s The Office, doesn’t worry about typecasting.
A self-described “über-geek” who grew up cheering on superheroes like the Green Lantern before turning his attention almost exclusively to science fiction, Wilson, 45, says he enjoys playing misfits like Dwight Schrute, the uptight Office drone – or, as Wilson puts it, “fascist nerd” – who rambles on endlessly about his beet farm and boasts exhaustively about his skills as a karate master and surveillance expert.
The 54th San Francisco International Film Festival opens tomorrow with Beginners, writer-director Mike Mills' hopeful meditation on family and how our formative experiences inevitably influence our choices in life and love, featuring powerful performances by Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Inglourious Basterds' Mélanie Laurent. The lights go down promptly at 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, with the festival's Opening Night party to follow at 9:30 at the Terra Gallery on Harrison Street.
Inspired by his father Henry, who turned to directing and producing after his run as Fonzie ended in 1984, Max Winkler spent his childhood with a camera in hand, constantly filming home movies and, in the process, honing the directorial skills he puts to appreciable use in his feature debut, Ceremony, opening Friday at the Lumiere.
Did Winkler, 27, hope to follow in the Fonz’s footsteps? Not exactly. As a preteen, he entertained thoughts of acting, even making a brief appearance in Henry’s 1993 family comedy Cop and a Half. Yet Max soon discovered his comfort zone behind the camera, where, as he puts it, he felt more focused, more in control.
It’s not easy to root for Morgan Spurlock. He laughs too hard at his own jokes. He seems condescending. And he is, at times, a master of the obvious.
Who would have guessed that a steady diet of fatty foods and a strictly observed regimen of zero exercise could result in long-term weight gain? Spurlock turned that novel notion into Super-Size Me (2004) before returning to theaters four years later to ask a question – Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? – that he didn’t really try to answer.
The San Francisco Film Festival begins Thursday, April 21, with Mike Mills and Ewan McGregor hosting a screening of the terrific new drama Beginners at the Castro, but until then, moviegoers can feast on this Saturday's "Heavy Metal Monster Mash" festival, featuring five rockin' adventures including Heavy Metal (1981), The Monster Squad (1987), Trick or Treat
Ten years have passed since the bloody havoc of the original Scream, and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the surviving heroine of three previous run-ins with the so-called Ghostface Killer, has returned home to promote her new self-help book. Can she avoid another bloodbath, or is she doomed to relive the nightmare?
Need you ask? Arriving more than a decade after the lackluster Scream 3, in which Wes Craven’s second juggernaut franchise (after the Nightmare on Elm Street series) seemed to run out of gas, the director’s fourth entry – another collaboration with original screenwriter Kevin Williamson – once again tweaks the conventions of the genre, poking fun at the “rules” of reboots and the recent spate of Hollywood remakes.
What was Quentin Dupieux thinking? A French record producer, film director and techno DJ better known to fans by his pseudonym, Mr. Oizo, he has crafted one of the more bizarre thrillers in recent years with Rubber, a tongue-in-cheek exercise about a killer car tire who finds his victims along a barren stretch of Mojave Desert highway.
Dupieux, 36, can’t explain his inspiration, but he’s happy to offer some clues. “I tried to make something half dumb and half smart,” he says between quick drags on a Camel Light. “When you are trying to achieve this strange mix, you come up with lots of ideas.
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