SFFILM, the venerable, far-ranging festival and big dog on the local cinema calendar, was supposed to start Wednesday. To fill the void, I should have compiled a selection of challenging films from around the globe. Maybe next week. Right now, a bit of comic diversion is called for. Here’s a batch of movies that use San Francisco locations to excellent effect.
What’s Up, Doc?, 1972
Peter Bogdanovich’s homage to ’30s screwball comedies is a charming romp up and down San Francisco’s hills. Careening from coincidence to improbability, the movie revels in the comic timing of Barbra Streisand and straight man Ryan O’Neal. Raise a glass to co-screenwriter Buck Henry, who jitterbugged off this mortal coil in January.
North Beach, 2000
Telegraph Hill is the picturesque setting for this indie gem that played to a packed Lumiere at a long-ago Indiefest. Casey Peterson (who wrote the clever comic screenplay) wakes up after a one-night stand with a stripper to discover that everyone—including his fiancée—knows about the dirty deed. Co-directors Jed Mortenson and Richard Speight draw naturalistic performances from a coterie of likable twenty-somethings who handle the sparkling banter with brio and aplomb.
So I Married an Axe Murderer, 1993
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The other comedy that Mike Myers put out in 1993 spun the turnstiles a good deal slower than Wayne’s World 2. It’s worth a look for its local setting, the star’s dual performances and the weirdly funny supporting cast of Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Phil Hartman, Brenda Fricker, Amanda Plummer and Charles Grodin.
Bicentennial Man, 1999
Six years after Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams and Chris Columbus paired up again to showcase the Bay Area’s natural and man-made beauty—as envisioned in the near and distant future. This speculative and overly sentimental fiction, adapted from Isaac Asimov’s story, follows a household robot’s progress over two centuries.