Screen Dreams: 5 to Watch
The Dadaists -- or was it the Surrealists? -- conjured the delirious idea of watching films as if they were dreams. It could be the dream of the main character, perhaps, which is as valid a way as any of appreciating Vertigo or Chinatown, or the dream of the filmmaker (Buster Keaton, David Lynch and Belá Tarr, notably, invite us into their heads).
This month's array of cinematic temptations offers a wealth of disorienting opportunities to drift into bizarre flights of fancy. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a -- heck, I wouldn't presume to tell you what kind of ride you're in for. Every film is ultimately your dream, after all.
The astonishing animator Jan Svankmajer was born in Prague in 1934, and the twisted and darkly funny world of his films is infused with an off-center Eastern European sensibility inevitably informed by the alternate-universe propaganda of Soviet-style communism. (It's no surprise that he has adapted writers such as Poe, Goethe and Lewis Carroll.) The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts series Animating Dark Dreams: The Films of Jan Svankmajer, running Nov. 8-29, 2012, features a new 35mm print of Alice (1989), as well as the Bay Area premiere of his latest feature, Surviving Life (2010), the story of a married man whose waking and dream lives overlap, mingle and meld. For more information, visit ybca.org.
A Girl Like Her
Do you still insist, at this late date, that nothing is more absolutely, unequivocally real than daily life? Then how do you explain Herman Cain's campaign for the Presidency, or dog-grooming competitions, or Keanu Reeves' career? Life is weird s---, man. The 11th annual San Francisco Documentary Festival, more familiarly known as DocFest (Nov. 8-21, 2012), is partial to films that locate the strangeness in everyday settings. This year's typically wide-ranging lineup encompasses A Girl Like Her (about unwed mothers before Roe. v. Wade), Herman's House (which traces the unlikely collaboration between artist Jackie Sumell and Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3 convicted in 1972 -- and sentenced to decades of solitary confinement -- for allegedly murdering a prison guard), and much, much more. For more information visit sfdocfest.festivalgenius.com.
The lack of dialogue may put you off silent films, but consider for a moment what's gained by eliminating the annoying chatter that, in contemporary movies, tends to distract rather than reveal. Does it not evoke a kind of dream state, and speak to us as a missive from a world that exists on the other side of a veil (or screen)? Author, artist, photographer and bookmaker Peter Linenthal, the director (as near as we can ascertain) of the Potrero Hill Archive Project and producer of the annual Potrero Hill History Night (taking place this year on Nov. 3, 2012) presents three shows of silent movies at the New Potrero Theater on Fri., Nov. 9 and Sat., Nov. 10. The program includes 1930s home movies shot on the Hill, followed by F.W. Murnau's pioneering (and still moving) 1927 feature, Sunrise. For more information visit potreroarchives.com.
San Francisco native Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, aka Natasha Gurdin, aka Natalie Wood, had three Oscar nominations before her 26th birthday (for Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass and Love With the Proper Stranger). The dream factory of Hollywood extracted a price for fame and fortune, one could say, for Wood drowned in a mysterious boating/drinking accident off Catalina Island 31 years ago this month at the age of 43. Another S.F. icon, events maestro Marc Huestis, marks the downbeat anniversary with an upbeat retrospective of Wood's films and a rare, candid onstage interview with her sister, Lana. Glamour makes a comeback when Forever Natalie Wood takes over the Castro Theatre, Nov. 9-11, 2012. For more information visit www.castrotheatre.com.
Portrait of Las Vegas
The brilliant and uncompromising experimental filmmaker and college instructor Craig Baldwin -- an icon of the San Francisco underground who deserves a statue, or at the very least a permanent installation in his favorite Mission District taqueria -- has programmed Other Cinema at ATA Gallery with unflagging verve and passion for literally decades. A Saturday night bastion of formally and thematically subversive and poetic film and video, Other presents mind-blowing new work by veteran and newly minted artists. The Nov. 17 show, Desert Rats, includes the latest heat-inspired offerings from S. F. faves Sam Green (Portrait of Las Vegas), Scott Stark (Bloom), Bill Daniel, Laura Kraning and others. When all else fails, there's nothing like a little sunstroke to push your mind into an alternate dimension. For more information visit othercinema.com.
More on Movies
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Noise Pop | May 24, 2013
Listen to the newest Noise Pop picks for you and your partner's listening pleasure, featuring Liars, Future Islands, Beach House, Jessie Ware, and The Weeknd. Note: this episode contains adult language and situations.
NPR Film | May 24, 2013
The indie darling returns in a winning collaboration with Noah Baumbach that tracks her developmentally arrested dancer heroine through the transition from protracted adolescence to reluctant adulthood. (Recommended) By Ella Taylor
NPR Film | May 24, 2013
Fast 6 pits Dominic's crew against a wily terrorist in a high-tech battle royale -- but it has a devil of a time explaining why everyone should hop into their cars. By Scott Tobias
The Do List | May 23, 2013
Suzie Racho and David Wiegand scout the Bay Area for things to do this coming weekend and turn up Puerto Rican flavor, a pair of poets, and much more!
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke return for the third in Richard Linklater's loosely peerless Before series, and they've never been more persuasive — nor has the storytelling. (Recommended)
Horror director Rodrigo Gudino grew up Roman Catholic in Mexico, but now he calls Canada his home. He's no longer a practicing Catholic, but he's brought the aesthetics of his childhood into his movies, including his latest, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh.
Are women really being shut out of film criticism? One recent study claims that they're worse off in the online world than they were in print.
In dumping his formula, director Todd Phillips has thrown out just about everything else that made the surprise-hit first movie even a little likable.
Also on KQED.org this week ...
KQED Science Site Relaunches
All of KQED's science and environment content is now aggregated in one place on KQED.org. Find everything from Astronomy to Zebras!
Enter the New "ImageMakers" Screening Room
Enjoy films from present and past seasons of KQED's short independent film series, divided into Animation, Comedy, Drama, and Suspense.