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.
The Sonoma Film Festival and the San Francisco Women's Film Festival are both underway through Sunday, while Super, an ultra-violent comedy starring Rainn Wilson as a hopeless schlub turned vigilante superhero, ratchets up the body count at the Embarcadero. Elsewhere:
1. Bill Cunningham New York
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
If you’ve ever wondered whether contemporary filmmakers have run out of original stories to tell, look no further than Rubber, Quentin Dupieux’s cheerfully deranged tale of a killer car tire rolling down a barren interstate, using psychokinesis to obliterate anyone who stands in his way. (Yes, it’s a he. No Christine here.)
The 14th Sonoma International Film Festival, an annual celebration of cinema, fine wines and gourmet foods set in the picturesque heart of the Northern California countryside, begins tonight with two sneak-peek attractions: the world premiere of You May Not Kiss the Bride, Rob Hedden’s screwball romantic comedy about a photographer unwittingly ushered into a breakneck adventure when he’s forced to marry a Croatian mobster’s daughter; and Journey from Zanskar, Frederick Marx’s documentary about the last remaining original Tibetan Buddhist society.
“We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, paying the ultimate compliment to legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, whose work has been featured in the New York Times Style section for 33 years. But who is Cunningham, the octogenarian-about-town whose days and nights are still spent navigating New York’s streets on a bike – his 29th; the other 28 were stolen – searching for the perfect shot?
It might seem like a dramatic departure for director Joe Wright and his favorite young star, Irish-born Saoirse Ronan, who last collaborated on the tender World War II-era romance Atonement (2007) before reconnecting two years later, at Ronan’s suggestion, on the set of Hanna.
Yet Wright, 38, says his latest, opening Friday, a taut, Bourne-inspired thriller about an Eastern European teen isolated from society and trained from childhood to kill – a task at which she is frighteningly adept – isn’t so different from Atonement once you delve beneath Hanna’s grittier surface.
Jake Gyllenhaal is no stranger to working with mad scientists – or, at least, mad science. It was a decade ago that he played schizophrenic teen Donnie Darko in Richard Kelly’s memorably offbeat feature about wormholes, time travel, a diabolical rabbit and an impending apocalypse.
Now Gyllenhaal, 30, is back on semi-familiar ground, playing Air Force Colonel Colter Stevens, badly wounded in the Middle East but kept alive as the star guinea pig in a top-secret – aren’t they all? – government experiment. The movie is Source Code, the second offering (after 2009’s Moon) from sci-fi surrealist Duncan Jones.
If James Wan and Leigh Whannell didn’t seem so exuberant about Insidious, their cheerfully twisted take on a traditional haunted-house chiller, now playing at the Metreon, you might expect them to be bitter.
It was seven years ago that the Australian filmmakers, who met while attending the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, collaborated on a short film called Saw that would prove the blueprint for the most successful horror franchise of the new millennium.
Having joined the ranks of today’s most promising young directors after first crafting music videos for Morrissey and Dionne Farris, Zack Snyder has skillfully married his passion for song with his inclination to grandiose cinema.
Whether thrusting us into a world on the brink of apocalypse against the haunting strains of Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” in Dawn of the Dead (2004), or opening his adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen (2009) with a condensed century of superhero history backed by Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” Snyder has a Midas touch in the soundtrack department.
Inspired by the true story of Danny Greene, a onetime labor leader turned gangster who rose to fame during the summer of 1976 as the man Cleveland's Italian mafia couldn't seem to murder, Kill the Irishman arrives at the Century Centre 9 on Market Street today, bringing with it a stellar cast led by Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio and Paul Sorvino. Elsewhere:
1. The Wizard of Oz Sing-Along
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: All Week
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