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7/31/15 03:26 pm - Rowdy Roddy Piper


7/24/15 12:38 am - Don Joyce

Going into a goddam death dedication!
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6/28/15 11:31 am - Chris Squire

Schindleria Primaverius Mortuum!
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5/15/15 02:46 pm - Those Who Walk Away From Hyperbole

I'm going through old Amoeba staff 'Music We Like' zines and listening to them on Spotify. The format gives each staff person as much as a page to fill with their favorite recent music, movies, and TV shows and say a little bit about each one.

Some staffers give capsule summaries of rap rivalries. Some make extended metaphors about cheese and sneakers. Some wax breathless about bands which are indistinguishable from the Rolling Stones c.1975.

And some list five things with no explanation or other commentary. And then sometimes they're all fantastic, esoteric gems. I about those people. I wonder what they're holding back on. Perpetual motion? Levitation? Danger 5?

5/14/15 11:09 pm - The Thrill


4/24/15 12:48 am - #SFIFF 2015 Must Sees (finally. geez.)

OK, OK, after all that parsing, what are the absolute best things to see at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival? What have I been holding back?

I really have no idea, but if you combine my inborn prejudices and weakness for good trailer editing you get these:

Entertainment - Neil Hamburger vehicle

Kronos Quartet Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 - The Quartet accompanies original 35mm footage from World War One.

The Taking of Tiger Mountain (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122138269?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Amazing-looking action movie from veteran director Tsui Hark.

Welcome, Space Brothers: The Films of the Unarius Academy of Science with Jodi Wille (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122138270?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Fuck the Scientology doc, this is the science fiction-inspired cult doc to watch. Wild proto-SubGenius tropes abound!

The World of Kanako (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBUhGiu1r64) - It's hard to tell what all is going on here, but there sure are some excellent shots. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgsdXOdCpK4
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4/24/15 12:31 am - #SFIFF 2015: The Probably Good

Beats of the Antonov - "refugees from the Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountain communities seek shelter from the bombs dropped indiscriminately from Russian-built Antonov cargo planes in Sudanese government air raids, while creatively strategizing their survival." (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129254?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) So it's like Hunger Games, with good music.

Call Me Lucky - Bobcat Goldthwait-directed movie about fellow standup Barry Crimmins

Cibo Matto New Scene - This is Cibo Matto accompanying several short films, live. So there's that.

City of Gold (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129256?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Portrait of veteran LA food critic Jonathan Gold, who is a true gourmand and inveterate explorer of any and all ethnic restaurants in the sprawling city.

Deep Web (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129034?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - OK, this also falls under the heading of "old news". But it's also a nonfiction cyberpunk thriller with whose politics I agree wholeheartedly. So sue me. If you can. I'm behind seventeen proxies.

DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Story of the National Lampoon - I have to see the movie or they'll shoot this dog.

Eden - Sweet & Lowdown, with Daft Punk instead of Stephane Grappelli

The Editor (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122781420?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) A homage to Argento and other giallo films. Maybe a little too on the nose?

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films - Whenever I see "Golan-Globus" I can hear Joel and the robots chuckling. This promises to be a fun ride through their terrible works.

Iris (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129419?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Follows an aged style maven as she hits thrift stores, makes appearances, and talks about her life. If the trailer is anything to go by, she's a gorram epigram machine.
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4/24/15 12:28 am - #SFIFF 2015: The Possibly Good

54: The Director's Cut - "The cut of the film released in theaters in 1998 removed more than 30 minutes of beautifully acted, Cabaret-like licentiousness in the form of amibisexual polyamory and rampant drug use at the Studio 54 nightclub and replaced it with 40 minutes of cloying romance and "aw shucks" dialogue in a bid to make the film palatable for mainstream audiences. With the original footage restored, the film now is a gritty masterpiece, a classic of bored excess and existential longing, framed by sweaty abs, jeroboams of quaaludes and the pulsing beat and recreated performances of music's most celebrated and reviled era." ...I dunno, this looks like a movie about pretty people.

Advantageous (http://player.vimeo.com/video/124652620?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) I love science fiction, but the trailer feels like school. Unless there's an inverse Corman going on here, it's a bad sign.

Dearest (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129306?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - This is like a Chinese Sally Field movie, but with more crying.

Far From Men (http://player.vimeo.com/video/123020740?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Viggo Mortensen is an Algerian-born Spaniard teaching a village's children and gets caught between sides in a colonial conflict. This only made it through my monkey filter because of the well-known Viggo Exception.

The Forbidden Room (http://player.vimeo.com/video/124869245?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - "Submariners coping with dropping oxygen levels are baffled when a new passenger, a lost woodsman, suddenly appears aboard the doomed vessel." Hi, Guy Maddin!

Goodnight Mommy (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122781422?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - "A mother (Susanne Wuest) recovers from plastic surgery in an idyllic country retreat while her two fresh-faced young twin boys Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) frolic about the house and in the nearby cornfields [....] They begin to suspect that something might not be altogether right with her since her procedure." Manages to make plastic surgery creepy! Wait, is that an accomplishment?

Jauja (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122138040?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - I figured out where the sets from Dead Man went!

The Look Of Silence (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122138314?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Companion piece to The Act Of Killing. Only on this list because I haven't seen the first movie yet. Hey, what am I doing writing this then?

Magical Girl (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129421?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Film noir; the trailer has some great shots and music, and laughing about throwing babies out of windows. Fingers crossed.

Meru (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122133507?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - Doc about a hard-to-climb mountain. Features manly men talking about how it's vitally necessary for them to risk their lives and their families' well-being in order to climb it. Which of course I find stupid and totally understandable.

Mr. Holmes (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122129423?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) Sherlock Holmes in his sunset years. Hey, is this canon? Ian McKellen plays Holmes so this will get distribution.

New Society - Miranda July doing a bit with the audience live. Get ready to share!

Results (http://player.vimeo.com/video/125263871?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - A relationship comedy which might be funny if you voluntarily watched Friends.

Sunday Ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dhZu0wPiuc) - Doc about the annual favela soccer championship in Rio de Janeiro. tl;dw People get excited.

Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents (http://player.vimeo.com/video/122138312?autoplay=1?autoplay=1) - This doesn't look to be as mind-blowing as something *by* The Residents, but you can't go too wrong with this.

The Tribe - A school for the deaf portrayed as "a Lord of the Flies-like world of social Darwinism". Sort of like high school for those with hearing.

The Wolfpack (https://youtu.be/z10-9vHG2Kc?t=10m23s) - Six brothers and a sister in Manhattan are almost never allowed to leave the apartment while growing up. But they do have access to thousands of movies. Pop culture fetishization ensues. Link contains homemade Batman costume.
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4/22/15 05:59 pm - #SFIFF 2015: Documentaries

Now we are getting to documentaries which actually might be good and not a waste of time, in the same sense that crab Louie might be good and nutritious. That is to say, yeah maybe but I'm just not feeling it right now.

But you might!

All of Me - Women wait by train tracks, passing food to young men emigrating to the US.

Boomtown: Remaking San Francisco - "How does our city deal with change?"

Experimenter - "inventive and playful biography of social psychologist Stanley Milgram" (contains Winona Ryder, who I hear steals the picture).

How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock in Normandy - Les Blank and his partner Gina Leibrecht visit another documentarian.

Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno Live! - This seems to be a movie of the stage show, with the director and Rossellini doing a Q&A. The program description is not clear.

Listen to Me Marlon - Marlon Brando doc, drawing on 300 hours of audio tape.

Love & Mercy - John Cusack plays Brian Wilson and Paul Giamatti plays his therapist. I'd actually see this in a heartbeat, but this will get major distribution so you can skip it at the festival.

Dreamcatcher - Former sex worker tells other sex workers "It's not your fault" (because sex is always bad).

Romeo Is Bleeding - Not the Gary Oldman movie, this is about adapting Romeo and Juliet to life in Richmond, CA.

T-Rex - Olympic women's boxing

Very Semi-Serious - "The world of The New Yorker's cartoons and cartoonists"
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4/22/15 05:56 pm - #SFIFF: Old News Documentaries

Before continuing, I should point out that movies are hard to make, and most movies st the SFIFF are at least decent. The reason for this progressive winnowing is that you simply can't see all the movies. It's not physically possible. And for most people, it's not psychically possible. My limit is about six.

So we must be ruthless. Movies which aren't fantastic and gripping must fall by the wayside. For example, documentaries where you can look up the end on Wikipedia:

3 1/2 Minutes - "The 'loud music' murder trial of Michael Dunn" (sentenced to life without parole)

Best of Enemies - "As the 1968 Democratic and Republican conventions were about to commence, ABC News, nestled at the bottom of the ratings, decided to try something a little different: They enlisted the arch novelist Gore Vidal and archconservative William F. Buckley Jr. to act as post-coverage commentators." (a feud began, they sued each other, and eventually died)

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution - "Stanley Nelson [...] shines a light on the iconic Black Panther Party (BPP), charting its meteoric rise in the 1960s and its disintegration several years later" (doomed by murderous infighting and other illegal activity, the organization collapsed and now they make hot sauce)

Chef's Table - This is two episodes of a TV series which is literally on Netflix right now.

Democrats - "The transition to democracy from autocratic rule might seem impossible when the tyrant is actually still in power. Such was the position Zimbabwe found itself in after the elections of 2008, when President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party lost Parliamentary control to opposition party MDC." (Mugabe remains in power)

The Diplomat-"Richard Holbrooke-American diplomat, UN Ambassador, Assistant Secretary of State, Peace Corps official, professor, investment banker and author-died of heart failure on December 13, 2010." (Holbrooke remains dead)

A German Youth - "The legacy of Nazi Germany with its many adherents still in power provoked a fervent youth movement to question the very legitimacy of the State. From this rapidly spreading resistance, rose the Movement's most lethal offshoot, the Red Army Faction, or as the media was wont to call it, the Baader-Meinhof Gang." (many were killed; the remaining members dissolved the group and do not sell hot sauce)

Maidan - "Sergei Loznitsa's film is not a standard journalistic report about civil riots in Kiev's Maidan square." (The riots resulted in a revolution. Russia subsequently invaded and large parts of Ukraine are disputed territory)

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine - "Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s fascinating documentary examines not only the man in the machine but also the world those machines created" (we now have smart watches with slightly better battery life than those made by Samsung and Sony)

Western - "Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedra Negras, Mexico, sit across from one another, separated only by the Rio Grande." (they continue to do so)

What Happened, Miss Simone? - "Nina Simone was not your typical '60s diva. Although her music is often grouped with the greatest soul singers, in her early years, she really wanted nothing more than to be the first acknowledged female Black classical pianist." (Miss Simone is widely known as one of the greatest soul singers)
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