Film Review

Cruel stories of youth

'Rich Hill' and 'Me and You' offer very different (but equally compelling) coming-of-age tales

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Richard Linklater's Boyhood is so popular that by now it's acquired the seemingly inevitable backlash against such overwhelming critical support — god forbid "the critics," that mysterious, possibly secret-handshaking Masonic elite, should tell anyone what to think. It's a lucky movie that invites hostility by being so widely (and, admittedly, a bit hyperbolically) considered a masterpiece. Whatever your parade, someone will always be dying to rain on it.Read more »

Cubicle cult

Stephen Root on staplers and the enduring appeal of 'Office Space'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM For anybody who has ever had to put up with a creepy boss, annoying co-workers, or a soul-sucking work environment — and that is most likely all of us, at some point in our lives — Mike Judge's 1999 comedy Office Space has become a supremely entertaining and highly relatable touchstone for its razor-sharp take on office politics and corporate culture.Read more »

Beyond the force

'Alec Guinness at 100' presents epics, capers, and delightful deceptions — but no mind tricks

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM In the 14 years since Sir Alec Guinness' death, his fame has only grown, thanks to the enduring cult of the biggest hit of his long career — a film he famously dubbed "fairy-tale rubbish." Star Wars (1977) made the stage-trained thespian a very rich man. It also meant that he was forever branded as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the minds of every moviegoer born in the post-lightsaber era.Read more »

Ye of little faith

A priest struggles with his flock in John Michael McDonagh's tasteful, frustrating 'Calvary'

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM While I'm sure they don't enjoy being lumped together — one imagines them ornery, if not just bratty — the brothers McDonagh share an extremely like-minded sensibility. Not least among numerous overlaps is possessing the kind of talent that is undeniable and suspect. Just because they're frequently as clever as they think they are, need they be quite such show-offs about it?Read more »

Rise up singing

'Alive Inside' charts one man's quest to bring music to patients with memory loss

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A remarkably effective — and remarkably simple — form of music therapy pioneered by New York social worker Dan Cohen finds a strong advocate in filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, whose documentary Alive Inside benefits greatly from its awesomely cinematic results. The doc sprang from a 2011 YouTube video, "Man In Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music from His Era," a six-minute clip that went viral after a Reddit post. (It's since garnered nearly 1.5 million views.)Read more »

Shots fired

A PFA series brings World War I films into focus

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM "The First World War holds the distinction of being America's most popular conflict while it lasted, and the most hated as soon as it was over," writes Russell Merritt in the intro to his guest-curated Pacific Film Archive series "Over the Top and Into the Wire: WWI on Film." Though World War I is a much less popular cinematic subject than WWII, or even the Vietnam War, its complexities mean that the films it did inspire continue to fascinate.Read more »

Inglorious bastards

'The Kill Team' brings an ugly chapter in US military history to light

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It is a conundrum of modern life that we encourage aggression in our heroes of the battlefield and playing field, then are shocked when they fail to act like gentlemen. The comparison may be forced in some ways — especially in the wildly unequal compensation given people who risk their lives in uniform, versus those who risk a broken bone or concussion at worst. But both arenas are last bastions in which we celebrate unabashed machismo, physical strength, and daring in real-life as opposed to fictive form.Read more »

What she sees

Truth, tears, and staple-gun battles: SFJFF's female-centric films

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cheryl@sfbg.com

SFJFF The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival opens July 24 with The Green Prince, a documentary based on the memoir of Mosab Hassan Yousef. The son of a founding member of Hamas, he worked as an undercover agent for the Israeli secret service for 10 years, sharing a profound trust with his Shin Bet handler. The closing night film is also a documentary about a conflicted childhood that paves the way for tough choices later in life — but if Little White Lie is also a personal story, it's a far less political one.Read more »

What she sees

Truth, tears, and staple-gun battles: San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's female-centric films

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