FILM The music biopic is a tricky beast. Very few directors are able to compellingly compress true-life tales into films that actually have some interest beyond "Hey, that famous/infamous thing you already knew about happened like this!" — though superior performances (recent Oscar-winning examples: 2004's Ray, 2005's Walk the Line) can help buoy the results. Far rarer are more artistically daring films that unfold more like docu-dramas than glossovers, like Control (2007) and Sid and Nancy (1986).Read more »
FALL ARTS Autumn is primo movie season, not just in awards-hungry Hollywood. Here in the Bay Area we've got unique rep programming and festivals galore to keep our eyeballs fully engaged — and just enough room for some prestige movie-star pictures for dessert.
FILM In the 14 years since Sir Alec Guinness' death, his fame has only grown, thanks to the enduring cult of the biggest hit of his long career — a film he famously dubbed "fairy-tale rubbish." Star Wars (1977) made the stage-trained thespian a very rich man. It also meant that he was forever branded as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the minds of every moviegoer born in the post-lightsaber era.Read more »
FILM A remarkably effective — and remarkably simple — form of music therapy pioneered by New York social worker Dan Cohen finds a strong advocate in filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, whose documentary Alive Inside benefits greatly from its awesomely cinematic results. The doc sprang from a 2011 YouTube video, "Man In Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music from His Era," a six-minute clip that went viral after a Reddit post. (It's since garnered nearly 1.5 million views.)Read more »
FILM "The First World War holds the distinction of being America's most popular conflict while it lasted, and the most hated as soon as it was over," writes Russell Merritt in the intro to his guest-curated Pacific Film Archive series "Over the Top and Into the Wire: WWI on Film." Though World War I is a much less popular cinematic subject than WWII, or even the Vietnam War, its complexities mean that the films it did inspire continue to fascinate.Read more »