Now that a certain chill is in the air and pumpkin food and drink is being hawked by every vendor in sight, we take a break from our regular film calendar (which isn't really doing much in the horror department this year–come on San Francisco!) to share some of the best overlooked horror flicks from the past.
There are certain imperatives and obligations that come to the forefront when one becomes a journalist of any sort. Traditionally, they have to do with integrity, fairness, respecting the intelligence of the reader and other fairly unglamorous notions, but when one sets foot in San Francisco, they start–like most other things–to get a little weird. In our fine city, I can see no journalistic imperative higher than the obligation to encourage the leading arts and cultural institutions to program the silliest, most over-the-top, most fun events and programs–because if no one but you goes to see them, maybe they won't do it again, you know?
Somewhat troublingly for those of us without cars, bikes or private helicopters, one of the San Francisco's biggest film events, the Mill Valley Film Festival, isn't actually in San Francisco. Known for its propensity to attract top-tier talent and lead the Oscar season more than its laughably ugly program covers, the MVFF takes a bit of patience to reach by bus, but is resoundingly worth the trip, and makes a great weekend mini-getaway to boot.
Welcome to "On Location," a micro-feature taking you to little-known cinematic locations of SF and taking a look at the films shot in the city by the bay over the years. This week we head to the Mill Valley Film Festival for an interview with Spencer McCall, director of the local doc The Institute.
Now that the heatwave has subsided and you've begun to feel that good ol' San Francisco malaise start to return, why not throw on your puffy jacket, grab your boyfriend/girlfriend (if you didn't break up with them in a fit of Indian Summer-induced mania), take a seat in a nice comfy theatre and enjoy some rays of a different sort. This week's recommendations:
Ah Germany, the land of Beer and Techno. I've always been a fan of Germany's cultural output but I never saw what happened this year coming–Berlin has drawn nearly as many of my friends away from me as has New York, and I've increasingly found myself attempting to slot a trip to the city into my schedule. Not an easy task for someone who works mostly in non-profit film. The closest I'll probably get this year is a slew of trips to Public Works and the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival, which runs this weekend into next week at the Castro.
"Does everyone here love Dick?"
"Are you here because you're a Dick Head?"
"Who's a Dick Head?"
"I can't hear you!"
"WE'RE THE DICK HEADS!"
"ARE YOU READY FOR SOME DICK??!!"
No, I'm not preparing my carnival barker routine for the Folsom Street Fair this Saturday–in my head, that's how the opening remarks will go down at this weekend's first-ever Philip K. Dick Festival, where PKD scholars from all over the country will gather to discuss the "Ubik" author's life and lasting contributions to science fiction (and science fact).
Whether you're too busy to notice it or swimming in too many invitations to see the forest for the trees, an invisible war for your attention (and cash) is being waged in theaters, art spaces and non-profits around the Bay; the fall film festival season has officially begun. Save a real war, few things could be less rewarding or more dangerous to head into blind than a film festival. Here's a primer on some of September's strong contenders so you don't get caught in an ambush.
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