Archive | Film

Tugg This Movie and Support the Cartoon Art Museum: Comix Beyond the Comic Book Pages (June 9)

Comix PosterThe Cartoon Art Museum is hoping to host a screening of Comix: Beyond the Comic Book Pages on June 9 at Landmark Embarcadero Theatre. The documentary explores the history and culture of comics through the voices of creators, publishers, store owners, collectors, and fans. The screening is a dual opportunity to celebrate comics while supporting the important work of the Cartoon Art Museum. However, the event will only happen if enough people RSVP using the Tugg screening platform before May 30.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tugg it’s a clever tool that allows cinema fans to bring obscure films to a theater with very little risk. I used the system a couple of times as an events producer in Madison, Wisconsin. Most notably, to bring the crowdsourced Iron Sky to the city when I couldn’t get any theaters to commit. It sold out. How it works is a theater determines the minimum number of butts that need to fill seats to justify showing the film. If that many people RSVP in advance the screening moves forward. If you can’t generate the minimum number of attendees the screening doesn’t happen. Guests are only charged if the screening happens.

The Cartoon Art Museum shuttered it’s doors last September due to the high cost of hosting a unique museum in San Francisco. Currently, the Cartoon Art Museum is questing for a new home. In addition to seeing the film, attendees can donate to the museum when they reserve a place through Tugg. As of this morning, it looks like I’m one of two people RSVP’d. That’s a shame! Let’s all watch a film together and support the Cartoon Art Museum.

Exhibition: CJM announces Stanley Kubrick Exhibition programming

shiningmuseum The Contemporary Jewish Museum has announced programming for the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition. The exhibition celebrating the life and work of one of cinema’s finest auteurs opens on June 30 (June 29 for members) and will kick-off four months of lectures and gallery talks related to Kubrick. Opening night features a discussion about the personal and professional life of Kubrick featuring Jan Harlan, Tim Heptner, Katharina Kubrick, and Hans-Peter Reichmann.

Throughout the following four months Kubrick fans will have opportunities to attend discussions related to his films, the filmmaker through the lens of Judaism, a spotlight on his immense collection of lenses and cameras, Kubrick as futurist, and much more. A complete list is available here.

We previously wrote about how the exhibition was presented in South Korea and we’re looking forward to seeing CJM’s presentation.

Exhibition: Stanley Kubrick at the Contemporary Jewish Museum starting June 30

Image courtesy of Seoul Museum of Art

Image courtesy of
Seoul Museum of Art

Touring art exhibitions aren’t uncommon but they’re typically focused on artists one would expect to see on a museum wall or floor: photographers, painters, sculptors, etc. It’s rare to have an exhibition focused on the life and career of an auteur filmmaker. This summer the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street in San Francisco, will host an exhibition focused on the works of the late Stanley Kubrick.  This unique experience will take visitors deep into the works of Kubrick by showcasing his meticulous research and production documents, screenplays, correspondence, production stills, props, costumes, cameras and lenses.

The immersive experience highlights Kubrick’s entire cinema including popular films like Lolita, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange. It examines the many cinematic breakthroughs that can be credited to Kubrick and his team of filmmakers. Perhaps of most interest to Kubrick fans is the opportunity to see materials related to Kubrick’s unfinished projects Napoleon and Aryan Papers.

Some prop highlights include the dresses worn by the Grady twins in The Shining, Private Joker’s “duality of man” helmet from Full Metal Jacket, the Star-Child from 2001, decor from the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, and period costumes from Barry Lyndon.

The exhibition opens June 30 and runs through October 30, 2016. More information and photos are available at the exhibition’s website.

Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.655.7800

Monday 11am–5pm
Tuesday 11am–5pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 11am–8pm
Friday 11am–5pm
Saturday 11am–5pm
Sunday 11am–5pm

 

The Alamo Awakens

alamoawakensEver since moving to the Bay Area in 2013 one of the most constant questions on my mind has been “when will the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema open?”

I’ve been following the renovation to the point of occasionally watching the construction cam (when it was available). I open every Victory newsletter hoping this will be the one to finally let me know when I can move into my future home take in my first Drafthouse experience. Suffice it to say, I’m really excited about the Alamo Drafthouse opening in San Francisco.

Something I haven’t been excited about until 9:30 a.m. this morning? Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It isn’t that I’m not looking forward to seeing new stories set in the Star Wars universe, but two things working against me is having been burned by the new trilogies and a natural reflex against unearned hype. I was a Star Wars Hype Monster before The Phantom Menace arrived in theaters, but by time Revenge of the Sith hit the screen I’d sufficiently adjusted my hype meter. Moving forward my devotion and willingness to spread gospel for a licensed property needed to be earned. J. J. Abrams didn’t impress me with his take on Star Trek, so he needs to win me over with SW:TFA before I’ll start singing praises for the next Star Wars.

That isn’t to say watching the first trailer didn’t make me feel giddy (which I acknowledge is a form of being excited). It made me giddy to the point where I moved from “I’ll go see it at some point opening week” to “I’ll likely go see it opening weekend.” Honestly, it was the shot with the crashed Star Destroyer and a sudden desire to want to see that image on a giant screen.

Back to 9:30 a.m. this morning. The meter moved from “I’ll likely go see it opening weekend” to “I will go see this movie opening night.” Why? Because, as long as I can get tickets, I’ll be able to see it at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco. This morning the Victory newsletter revealed that although we don’t know the opening date for the new theater (I understand that information will be coming later this week) we do know it’ll be open in time for The Force Awakens. I’m all about the proper viewing experience and I trust the Drafthouse team to make this into one hell of a proper viewing experience.

Tickets for The Force Awakens  go on sale tomorrow. As of this writing the exact time is TBD.

star-wars-the-force-awakens-teaser-2-breakdown-359967

AMC Metreon 16 is screening “Snowpiercer”

johnhurtI have a love/hate relationship with the Weinsteins. For all of the great film work they bring to the universe they also do a great deal of damage on the independent circuit. For some reason, going all the way back to the days of Miramax, they love to buy up the rights to Asian films and either sit on them or hack the shit out of them (earning the name Miramaxe). I recall 2003 being a rather spectacular year for the Weinsteins when they sat on Shaolin Soccer, Hero, and Infernal Affairs. All three films are now considered classics, but Asian film fans were chomping at the bit waiting for the movies to be released stateside.

I’d forgotten about this tendency until the current debacle with remnants of humanity on a train dystopian film Snowpiercer. For nearly a year now I’ve been waiting for the Weinsteins to trust the U.S. audience by releasing Snowpiercer. Much of the reason for the delay is due to typical Weinsteinian fiddling. They wanted to hack the film and make it easily digestible for a US audience and director Bong Joon-ho wasn’t having any of it. Neither side would flinch and the film has languished – until now.

My God, America, can you believe the Weinsteins are going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you might want to see an uncut foreign film? It’s true! Mostly. A tiny handful of theaters around the country are screening Snowpiercer. In San Francisco, the pleasure goes to AMC Metreon 16.

Snowpiercer is based on Jean-Marc Rochette’s graphic novel of the same name. The English translation of the graphic novels were released earlier this year by Titan.

Petition: Build Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in San Francisco

The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum was one of the three proposals rejected to be built on the gateway of the Presidio. Since the proposal was rejected George Lucas and his museum team have been shopping the proposal around to other cities. This month San Francisco Mayor Ed lee plans to present Lucas with alternative sites. There’s currently a petition circulating  to show public support for the museum to be built in San Francisco. Personally, I’d like to see it land in Oakland, but would be content with the museum ending up anywhere within a public transit ride from where I live. Sign the petition here.

SFIFF 57: The quirky, the scary, and the creepy

sfiff57The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival* starts on April 24 with more than 100 films spanning two weeks. The more than 100 films screening at SFIFF captures the whole gamut of film genres from documentaries to dramas to the downright creepy. This post is mostly interested in the latter. Below you’ll find five films from this year’s film festival that will leave cinephiles with either pounding pulses or pondering brains.

Borgman Netherlands

Screenings:
Wednesday, April 30 | 9 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Monday, May 5 | 9 p.m. | New People Cinema

Most reviews of Borgman suggest the film is a home invasion story at it’s heart. Before you roll your eyes and mumble something about “home invasion” movies having run their course take a moment and reflect on You’re Next. Most horror film fans tend to agree that You’re Next, which screened at last year’s SFIFF, took the subgenre and managed to squeeze rewarding fresh life out of it. Everything I’ve read about Alex van Warmerdam’s dark horror/comedy seem to suggest it does the same. Jordon Hoffman wrote for Film.com “What works wonderfully, however, is the unease of not knowing just who, if anyone, deserves our sympathy in this story. The infiltrators are all so charismatically nonchalant (and well dressed) that it is hard not to cheer them on, but as the body-count of innocents unlucky enough to get in the way of their scheme increases, the “Funny Games” fourth-wall break isn’t even required.”

Coherence USA

Screenings:
Friday, April 25 | 9:45 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Tuesday, April 29 | 9:45 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

Coherence is an indie sci-fi flick that comes to SFIFF riding on a wave of buzz created at last year’s Fantastic Fest. Reviews for this film are spoiler heavy, so I won’t be linking out for this one, but the festival guide describes it as “delightfully weird and brain-busting.” If you wanted to have a loose theme for your festival  viewing experience Coherence would act well as a bridge between Borgman and The Double.

The Double UK

Screenings:
Saturday, April 26 | 1 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Tuesday, April 29 | 9:15 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

The Double, based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, follows mundane office worker Simon James as he copes with the sudden appearance of an out-going and well-liked doppelganger of himself. Fans of  Terry Gilliam’s kingdom of schizophrenic alienation will feel right at home while taking in Richard Ayoade’s sophomore effort. While the film has been received with considerable praise where there is negative criticism it mostly relates to Ayoade’s dependence on his influences. Considering the source material this criticism seems appropriate. Dostoyevsky scholars see The Double as the important juncture where the author was still under the shadow of his influences, but also showing the signs of his personal voice.

History of Fear Germany/France

Screenings:
Wednesday, April 30 | 7 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Friday, May 2 | 9 p.m. | New People Cinema
Wednesday, May 7 | 8:45 p.m. | BAM/PFA

History of Fear provides a different sense of paranoia and anxiety than The Double. While The Double offers an object of paranoia for the audience History of Fear goes the opposite direction. The audience is only granted vague suggestions of what’s creating the air of anxiety in a Buenos Aires suburb. It’s the sort of storytelling that isn’t well-suited for mass consumption, but, as The Hollywood Reporter‘s Boyd van Hoeij writes, “is the kind of feature that requires an active investment from its audience, making this more suited to festivals.”

The Sacrament USA

Screenings:
Saturday, April 26 | 11:45 p.m. |Sundance Kabuki
Monday, April 28 | 9 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

I won’t lie, You’re Next was one of my favorite films of 2013, so it brings me some pleasure to reference it twice in this post. Fun trivia: In You’re Next the character Tariq, who takes a cross bolt to the head during dinner, was played by The Sacrament director Ti West. This year West brings to the festival a horror film that takes many of its queues from the Jamestown Massacre…maybe?  Using the “found footage” technique the film follows  ambitious Vice reporters as they travels to the Eden Parish commune where all isn’t as it seems…or is it?  I don’t know the answers to these questions…or do I?

* disclosure: this author is a seasonal employee of the San Francisco Film Society

Bay Area Crowdfunding: The New Parkway Facade

newparkwayNot comic book related, but a very worthy mention for one of the coolest indie movie theaters in the United States. Oakland’s New Parkway is raising money to put a new façade on the space. Not only will this help bring attention to the theater, but also make a glum section of 24th & Telegraph a little brighter. The Kickstarter has less than 39 hours left and they’re more than $20,000 away from their goal, so the chances they’ll get what they need this round isn’t likely. This is less of plea for readers of The Shared Universe to pledge, but more of a hope that The New Parkway will try again.

It should be noted that I only found out about this campaign this morning thanks to a sponsored post on Facebook. It’s tragic really, because I spent eight hours in The New Parkway lobby for CAAMFest on Sunday and if there was anything alerting patrons to the Kickstarter it certainly didn’t catch my eye. If they relaunch the campaign I have a handful of suggestions for making a more successful campaign:

1. Have they sought a façade improvement grant through the city of Oakland? The city has limited funds earmarked for helping businesses make better first impressions. There’s no guarantee that The New Parkway would qualify, but I’d like to know the theater at the least made the effort.

2. What materials will go into the façade? How much labor? One of the many things I love about The New Parkway is the entire venue is very DIY. I imagine this will continue when creating the new façade and as a backer I’d like to know how much of the funding is going toward materials and how much is going toward manual labor.

3. How will they promote the campaign? What’s the plan for getting the word out? Any in-house events planned?

4. Lower backer levels. Statistically projects with reward levels of $20 or less are more likely to succeed. Kickstarter isn’t shy about sharing data, so it’s known that Kickstarters without a reward level under $20 only succeed 28 percent of the time while those with a reward level below $20 succeed 45 percent of the time.  Also, the most popular backer level is $25.

5. More updates. I have no statistics on updates, but I do know when I back a campaign I feel more connected if I receive four or five updates during the life of the campaign. In addition to feeling valued it keeps the campaign in my mind and I push it out to friends. For the first Kickstarter the New Parkway made eight updates during the life of the campaign, but this time they only made their first three days ago.

The New Parkway is an amazing space and it deserves to have a top notch street facing showcase.  If you haven’t been it’s worth checking out.

Roxie Theater to host Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pizza Party

When the programmers at San Francisco’s historic Roxie Theater looked at the cinemas long list of accomplishments they realized there had somehow never been a “totally tubular all-night pizza party.” They’re tmnt_poster-195x300planning to remedy that situation this weekend with the help of the 90s-era Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On Saturday and Sunday the theater will be screening Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze back-to-back. On March 8 the doors open at 7:30 p.m. and on March 9 at 2 p.m.  According to the Roxie:

Join us for a night of pizza, photo booths, costume contests, drinks, and those heroes-in-a-half-shell themselves: Raphael, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Leonardo!  Fun starts at 7:30pm!  Your ticket includes ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA (Vegan ‘za, too, brah!)

TMNT, originally created as a 1984 comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, has been experiencing a bit of a resurgence in the last couple of years. IDW started publishing a new TMNT series in 2011, a CGI-series was launched by Nickelodeon in 2012, a new film is scheduled for release later this year, and Vanilla Ice has been getting back in touch with his TMNT roots through a mac & cheese commercial and headlining an epic crowdfunded TMNT party.

Thought Bubble: Rumored Fantastic Four casting doesn’t go far enough

The insider sourced casting rumors regarding the Fantastic Four film reboot has the Internet all atwitter. In a declarative headline TheWrap reports the cast has been found while going on to write with less certainty “Hollywood was buzzing Wednesday with news that Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell are nearing deals to star in the studio’s reboot of the popular comic book franchise.” “Nearing deals” doesn’t mean “set in stone” in Hollywood and the article goes on to point out justified reasons to doubt the reporting, but let’s run with these rumors as being accurate, because the rest of the unsourced echo-chamber Internet is doing so.

Michael B. Jordan possibly playing Johnny Storm isn’t going over well with purists.*

Frankly, director Josh Trank could, and should, do so much more to shake up the status quo. The superhero film universe is overwhelmingly white due in part to the big two comic book universes being historically overwhelmingly white. When the second Captain America hits the screen with Falcon he’ll be the third black superhero since the first Iron Man film introduced a non-War Machine James Rhodes in 2008 (I’m counting Thor‘s Heimdell). All of these roles are secondary at best and there hasn’t been an African-American in a starring role since 2004’s Blade Trinity. The Johnny Storm casting decision will fill a decade long absence.

The only issue I have with the casting decision is that Sue Storm and Johnny Storm are brother and sister. There are some obvious ways to address this issue. One is that the Storm family could have multiethnic heritage and the other is one of the Storm children could have been adopted. Both of those story lines could work, but it would be a huge leap forward for cinematic superheroes if Sue was a black woman. The only cinematic black female superhero to date has been Halle Berry as Catwoman (and unfortunately she was the victim of Hollywood choosing an artsy French director with only one previous film under his belt).

A secondary benefit of casting an African-American Sue is the need for more interracial relationships in mainstream films. It’s sad to think that casting the future wife of Reed Richards as a black woman would be progressive in the 21st Century, but in light of the shameful Internet response to an interracial couple in a Cheerios commercial it seems the media consuming populace needs more opportunities to realize it doesn’t need to be an issue.

* I don’t necessarily agree that fans who demand there be no change in comic character race are racist. Many are the same people who were upset when Sam Raimi gave Peter Parker biologically-based web shooters instead of technology-based web shooters. They are against change from the funny book gospel.   That said, yes, there are definitely racists upset with the possible decision.

 

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