Press screenings started a few weeks ago for the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival, which starts tonight, April 20, 2006. What follows are a few picks from the upcoming fest.
Addictive TV Â– Live in San Francisco
Co-presented by Microcinema, the British duo Graham Daniels and Tolly will be doing live video mash-ups and audiovisual remixes of films using their DVJ-X1 DVD turntables. Watch an online demonstration of their talents as they remix Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas.
Monday, May 1st at the Kabuki, 9:45 p.m.
Wednesday, May 3rd at Mighty, 119 Utah St., San Francisco, 9:00 p.m.
Perhaps Love opens the film festival on April 20th at the Castro Theatre. The film is mainly shown in flashbacks and the film-within-a-film musical numbers are right up there with the spectacle of Moulin Rouge. While elaborate, the film's pacing tends to drag and some of the flashbacks get confusing. It's not one of the better films in the festival's otherwise great schedule, but it'll be a fun night with the energy of the audience and the after party might make up for the film's inadequacies. Director Peter Ho-Sun Chan will be available for questions after the screening.
Thursday, April 20th at the Castro Theatre, 7:00 p.m.
Brothers of the Head
Brothers of the Head is by far my favorite film screening at this year's festival. Directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha), Brothers of the Head is a mockumentary about conjoined twins who become rock stars. It's truly original, will make you squirm and laugh at the same time and has a few tender moments. There will be comparisons to Spinal Tap, which are totally warranted. In fact, it's better than Spinal Tap and the band created for the film NEEDS to go on tour.
Saturday, April 29th at the Kabuki, 9:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2nd at the Kabuki, 6:30 p.m.
Norwegian director Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories) succeeds brilliantly at an adaptation of Charles Bukowski's writing. Matt Dillon plays Henry Chinaski with more subtlety and humanity than Mickey Rourke's portrayal in Barfly. The first time I watched the film, I walked away with mixed feelings because I thought Matt Dillon was too good looking to play Chinaski (Bukowski's alter-ego in his writings). After a second viewing, I got passed Dillon's looks, just watched and it was magic. If you haven't seen video interviews of Bukowski, watch some after seeing Factotum and you'll be amazed at the transformation in Dillon.
Saturday, April 22nd at the Kabuki, 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 30th at the Kabuki, 3:00 p.m.
Art School Confidential
Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World), directs veteran actors John Malkovich and Angelica Huston and a cast of new comers in this laugh out loud comedy. There are lots of similarities to Ghost World, since Daniel Clowes wrote the film.
Wednesday, April 26th at the Kabuki, 6:30 p.m.
Eden is a film from Germany about a man who is a culinary genius. Gregor doesn't care that he's fat, so long as he can blend the perfect concoction of tempting sauces, truffles and desserts. He's a loner and prefers life that way until Eden, a married woman, enters his life and falls under the spell of his cuisine. After eating his food, Eden's sex life with her husband is spiced up and she can't get enough of Gregor's creations. Eden's husband sees the change in her and assumes she's seeing another man and all three of their lives spiral downward from there.
Eden is an engaging film. I recommend making dinner reservations after the screening because you'll have a whole new appreciation for the culinary arts.
Friday April 21st at the Kabuki, 7:00 p.m.
Monday April 24th at the Kabuki, 10:00 a.m.
Monday April 24th at the Kabuki, 5:45 p.m.
Dan is an inner-city schoolteacher who loves his job and wants to inspire his 13 and 14 year old students. He enjoys a special rapport with them, treating them with respect while giving them valuable life lessons.
But, when school is out and Dan is on his own, he parties hard, has a serious drug habit and is anything but a role model for his students. One of his troubled students catches him smoking from a glass pipe and they become awkward friends after the incident.
Ryan Gosling (The Believer, The United States of Leland) plays Dan and I smell some awards coming his way for his stellar performance in this film.
Sunday, April 30th at the Kabuki, 6:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2nd at the Kabuki, 9:00 p.m.
The French film Backstage comes in a close second for my favorite film of the festival so far. A teenager obsesses over a pop star and one day gets a surprise meeting with the star as part of a promotion for a TV show. The teen loses complete control over her emotions and locks herself in her bedroom. The pop star is pissed about the missed promotional opportunity. Later, the teenager hitches a ride to Paris to try to get back into the pop star's life.
This film is sheer perfection when it comes to character development and the actors play very well off of each other. It asks the question, who is more in need of the other, the person being worshipped or the fan?
Tuesday, May 2nd at the Kabuki, 7:00 p.m.
Directed by Xavier Beauvois, Le Petit Lieutenant is a crime drama about a young police officer that moves to Paris from the suburbs so he can really get his hands dirty investigating serious crimes. He's paired up with an experienced female officer who used to have a drinking problem. Russian immigrants are on a murder spree and drown their victims in the Seine.
This is the worst film of the festival I've seen so far, comparable to the depth and complexity of an episode of Nash Bridges without the "witty" banter. Miss it.
Other films worth mentioning: Manslaughter from Denmark, Viva Cuba from Cuba, I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed from France and Romance & Cigarettes directed by John Turturro. Romance & Cigarettes has been shelved for North American distribution by MGM because of management changes. This will be the only chance you'll have to see it unless you buy the DVD off of Ebay UK when it comes out there.