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Fifth International Animation Festival Begins Tonight at the Embarcadero

Sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society, the city's fifth International Animation Festival, a four-day celebration of innovative artistry and visionary storytelling, opens tonight at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

This year's selections include the Decemberists-inspired Here Come the Waves: The Hazards of Love Visualized; animated music videos featuring the music of Rage Against the Machine, Paul Oakenfold and Gorillaz; and brothers Edward and Rory McHenry's Jackboots on Whitehall, in which puppets, voiced by the likes of Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson, reveal what might have transpired if the Third Reich had occupied Buckingham Palace during World War II.

Oscar Winner Danny Boyle Tells the Tale of the Man Who Traded His Arm for His Life

Danny Boyle has directed stories about rage-driven zombies, Scottish junkies on the lam, and an unlikely game-show champion educated on the unforgiving streets of Mumbai, but never has he accepted a challenge as daunting as 127 Hours.
 
Inspired by the real-life ordeal of mountain climber Aron Ralston, pinned to the wall of Utah’s Blue John Canyon for nearly five days by an errant boulder, Hours, which opens Friday, finds the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy pulling their most ambitious trick to date – translating the agony of a man totally immobilized into riveting, briskly paced drama.
 

Indie Filmmaker Gareth Edwards Explains Why CGI Is the Great Equalizer

Gareth Edwards won't reveal the budget for Monsters, his thriftily constructed feature debut about two young Americans trying to buy their way back from Mexico following an alien occupation. Yet he’s quick to acknowledge that his acclaimed sci-fi fantasy might never have been possible without advances in filmmaking technology usually associated with big-budget blockbusters like last year’s Avatar.
 

Jeff Goldblum Talks 'Morning Glory,' Leaving 'Law & Order' and Waking Up with Martha Stewart

Jeff Goldblum isn’t really a morning person – much of the time, his sleep schedule is dictated by his work – but that doesn’t stop him from catching MSNBC’s Morning Joe whenever he can, sometimes as early as 3 a.m. if he’s lucky enough to be staying at his Los Angeles home.
 
Goldblum, the 58-year-old star of David Cronenberg’s 1986 sci-fi classic The Fly and, more recently, the USA network’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, returns to the big screen this week with Morning Glory, the new comedy from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) about a work-obsessed TV producer charged with rescuing a floundering morning talk show.
 

Todd Solondz Follows 'Happiness' with the Post-9/11 Confusion of 'Life During Wartime'

Todd Solondz can’t wait to get to Chicago, the next stop on the promotional tour for his challenging new drama, Life During Wartime.

Unfamiliar with Mark Twain’s appraisal of the City by the Bay's seasonal chill factor – “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco” – Solondz, a New Jersey native, craves heat and humidity. But lounging in a climate-controlled suite at the Prescott Hotel, the 49-year-old director seems to have found his comfort zone.

Former 'SNL' Players Will Ferrell, Tina Fey Embark on 'Homoerotic' Adventure

It’s a formidable comedy match: Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, reunited for the first time since their years together at Saturday Night Live, each having graduated to movies and, in Fey's case, the Emmy-winning NBC comedy 30 Rock, which she created and stars in.
 
They find themselves gamely butting heads in Megamind, the animated satire in which Ferrell plays the titular super-villain, ordinarily hapless in his attempts to subdue Brad Pitt’s cocksure crime fighter, Metro Man. When one of Megamind's schemes actually pays off, leaving him without a worthy nemesis and Metro City vulnerable, the diabolical genius becomes the unlikely savior of a city in crisis.
 

Doomed Romance Blossoms in the Aftermath of an Alien Attack in 'Monsters'

It was routine mechanical failures and budgetary restraints, more than divine – marine? –  inspiration, that led a young Steven Spielberg to keep his shark from audiences throughout so much of Jaws. In the case of first-time feature director Gareth Edwards, the choice was dictated by necessity: To make a $15,000 movie about monsters, the monsters would have to stay scarce.

Monsters is no Jaws, but the comparison is apt on one level: Edwards, like Spielberg, manages to sustain tension even in the absence of early or frequent payoffs. Rather than unleashing his beasts, Edwards hides them, letting the threat they pose loom in their absence. The shadows are pregnant with peril.

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Sundance Standout 'Four Lions' Makes Bay Area Debut with South Asian Film Festival

It sounds like an invitation for righteous outrage – an unflinching comedy about jihad-minded suicide bombers determined to strike a blow for Islam but too dim to settle on a plan. Incredibly, first-time feature director Christopher Morris, who co-wrote Four Lions with Sam Bain (BBC’s Peep Show) and In the Loop screenwriters Jesse Armstrong and Simon Blackwell, pulls it off, with a hilariously biting satire that turns unexpectedly poignant when his terrorist wannabes stumble into the final phase of their half-baked operation.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The Giants are world champions, the season of Oscar contenders has arrived, and the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival is in full swing this weekend at the Castro. Whether you're a sports fan or a cinephile, it's a great time to be in the Bay Area. Here are some of the most exciting features now playing at an indie theater near you.

With 'Fair Game,' Doug Liman, Naomi Watts Get to the Heart of Valerie Plame's CIA Nightmare

Actors usually feel an elevated sense of responsibility when playing real-life characters, a desire to do them justice without pulling any dramatic punches. Especially when their living alter egos are monitoring them on the set.
 
Just ask Naomi Watts, who stars as ex-CIA officer Valerie Plame in Doug Liman’s new thriller Fair Game. Watts first met Plame during filming, long after her cover with the agency had been blown as the result of a White House leak following her husband's public discrediting of the Bush administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had obtained weapons-grade uranium from the African nation of Niger. Getting to know the onetime covert operative presented a unique challenge.

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