Close the laptop, drop that tablet, pause the smartphone and join your fellow humans in Bay Area theaters this week with recommendations from our film critic Michael Fox.
Vogue Theatre, San Francisco
The Bay Area abounds with documentary makers, but sightings of that other cherished varietal of independent filmmaker -- writer-directors of feature-length fiction -- are extremely rare. It’s tough to sustain a narrative filmmaking career here, especially with L.A. just down the road. And the few who do stick it out and make film after film in the Bay Area don’t get the attention and audience they deserve.
Two you should know: Oakland native Finn Taylor resolutely makes quirky comedies in the East Bay -- his latest, Unleashed, starring Kate Micucci and Justin Chatwin, received its U.S. premiere last week at the Mill Valley Film Festival -- while Texas transplant J.P. Allen explores the permutations of love and storytelling in San Francisco.
reVISIONS, Allen’s brand new movie, revolves around a screenwriter (played by Allen) scrambling to save his relationship with an actress (Bekka Fink). He originally seduced her with love letters (how perversely anachronistic is that?) and returns to the written word (in the form of a screenplay) in a desperate effort to retain her affections. But all hell breaks loose as the innate volatility of the creative process manifests itself via characters and voices vying for more “screen” time. The writer grapples to maintain control of his work against the forces of anarchy, ego and farce, but how do you reason with The Inner Critic, First Draft, The Screenplay and The Suit?
Allen has made eight features -- so why haven’t you heard of him, right? -- and his recent films, especially, are rife with the pleasures of color-saturated compositions, truth-soaked banter between the sexes and smart musical choices. (Full disclosure: Your correspondent had an [unpaid] cameo in Allen’s last film, Love and Demons.)
The rare filmmaker who’s always challenging himself, Allen is as interested in innovative ways of telling a story onscreen as he is in probing the earnestness, neediness and absurdity that surrounds contemporary relationships between consenting adults. reVISIONS opens Friday, Oct. 21 at the Vogue Theatre for a one-week run.