AltWeeklies Wire

Killer-Nature Flick 'The Canyon' Inadvertently Advocates Staycationsnew

A first feature for director Richard Harrah and writer Steve Allrich, The Canyon falls firmly within that vacation-from-hell subgenre recently capped by the very clever, funny, and fairly freaky A Perfect Getaway. (None of which adjectives apply here, alas.)
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  10-28-2009  |  Reviews

The Notorious Subject of 'Bronson' Inspires a Star-Making Performancenew

Bronson is utterly revved up in a way that's showy but not at all dumbed-down. Tom Hardy's prankster-rageaholic portrayal emerges amid several flavors: ironic Pulchinella à la contemporary music-theater sensation Anthony Newley; Tom of Finland bad-muscle-daddy fantasy; and adrenaline exercise of mainstreamed, po-mo directorial testosterone.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  10-21-2009  |  Reviews

'Still Walking' Observes a Family in Quiet Crisisnew

This is Kore-eda's most truly naturalistic, let alone Ozu-like film since his first -- the comparatively bleak 1995 Maborosi -- as well as a dysfunctional-family seriocomedy uncommonly beautiful inside and out. It's a quietly funny and insightful two hours capable of inducing one pretty ecstatic afterglow.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  09-02-2009  |  Reviews

'Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg' Honors a Forgotten Sitcom Star from the Early Years of TVnew

Even more than the largely forgotten popular institution The Goldbergs, Yoo-Hoo commemorates the one-woman dynamo who created and sustained it: Gertrude Berg.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  07-22-2009  |  Reviews

Jennifer Lynch Steps Up -- Cruelly -- With 'Surveillance'new

With this Jennifer Lynch starts to be interesting on her own -- even more since her already-wrapped next, Hisss, is an India-shot horror fantasy based on local mythology. Which, at last, is a project one can't even imagine David Lynch doing.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  07-01-2009  |  Reviews

'Objectified''s Subjects Plot a User-Friendly Universenew

Gary Hustwit's Objectified is more an appreciation than a critique of something utterly ubiquitous -- in this case product design -- and a few stellar personalities behind it.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  06-24-2009  |  Reviews

'Lymelife' Nails a Savvy Balance of Comedy and Dramanew

Do we really need another dysfunctional-family flashback with the requisite retro pop hits, pot smoking (back when it came dirt cheap), awkward virginity loss, and nostalgically horrible decor? Sure, why not?
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  04-22-2009  |  Reviews

Art and Horror Converge in Steve McQueen's Uncompromising 'Hunger'new

Hunger is completely realized, without compromise. It's convincingly ugly in an aesthetically beautiful way, cool to the touch, admirably near-perfect, and off-putting.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  04-01-2009  |  Reviews

A New Film Imagines Vietnam If Kennedy Had Livednew

A new documentary makes the case that Kennedy's nonconfrontational tactics on the world stage during his presidency would surely have carried over to preventing that "quagmire" known here as the Vietnam War (and over there as "the American War"). Had he lived, of course.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  03-18-2009  |  Reviews

A Filmmaker and Her Subject Chronicle an Epic Immigrant Experiencenew

The Betrayal fascinates like other rare, intimate documentaries shot over long periods -- Michael Apted's Seven Up series being the most famous example.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  02-25-2009  |  Reviews

Ghosts is a Powerful and Realistic Look at Illegal Chinese Immigrantsnew

Made before his terrific 2007 Iraq War docudrama, Battle for Haditha, but only released here now, Ghosts (2006) isn't quite that film's equal. But it's still powerful and realistic.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  11-19-2008  |  Reviews

Madonna's 'Filth and Wisdom' is Another Unlucky Starnew

Seeking to amuse and enlighten, Filth feels joyless and pretentious, yet empty. There will be worse 2008 movies. Probably none will make their makers seem quite so smugly unpleasant.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  10-23-2008  |  Reviews

'Sputnik Mania' Takes a Hot Look at the Cold Warnew

Two decades ago, when communism in most territories ended with a whimper, the Cold War era officially died with it. But David Hoffman's documentary Sputnik Mania turns the Way Back Machine to that long moment when it was overwhelmingly, virulently alive.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  08-13-2008  |  Reviews

Tom Kalin's 'Savage Grace' is Shallow and Gracelessnew

Other New Queer Cinema mavericks have gone on to make films that challenge artistic, thematic, and commercial assumptions. In comparison, Savage Grace is oddly conservative.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  06-18-2008  |  Reviews

'Stuck' Cuts Both Waysnew

Inspired (very loosely) by an actual incident, Stuck is a eminently satisfying comedy of the grotesque, sporting all of director Stuart Gordon's flair for balancing queasy horror and near-surreal hilarity.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  Dennis Harvey  |  06-04-2008  |  Reviews

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