No. Not a “Bro” marathon. More like a hip music marathon?

Noise Pop is upon us again… Also known as that week where Bay Area music fans marathon as many shows as they can in a single week. And, well, not all of us can be in multiple places at once, so let’s try to limit our Noise Pop anxiety a bit!

Full schedule, full fest badges, and individual show tickets can be found here! [read the whole post]

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The Sundance Film Festival ran from January 18th to 28th this year; over 120 films were shown in ten days. For the fourth year in a row, I was on the (often snowy) ground, knocking out almost 20 films in five days in order to bring you the Best of the Fest. I present here the ten best films I saw – five features, four documentaries, and one special screening. Keep your eyes out for these during the coming year, as they are well worth your time and money. And if you’d like to know all the films that took home awards this year, you can see the winners here.

TOP FIVE FEATURE FILMS

1.) Search
(USA 2017, 101 min. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Category: Next)

Worried father David Kim (John Cho) uses the Internet to search for his missing daughter.

The word innovative doesn’t even come close to doing filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty’s first feature film justice. Using a narrative that unfolds completely on a computer screen (via video chats, texts, emails, Internet searches, and news videos), Chaganty immerses us in the story of recently widowed dad David (John Cho, excellent as always) and his desperate search for his missing teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La). Debra Messing, cast against type, is terrific as the San Jose police detective heading the investigation. Filled with red herrings and twists and turns you’ll never see coming, Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian’s South Bay-set mystery is as imaginative as their method of telling it. Both a celebration and a critique of our increasing reliance on technology, the brilliantly executed Search is my hands-down favorite film of the Festival. Sony Pictures acquired the picture for five million dollars in one of the Festival’s biggest buys, so a wide release will be forthcoming. The film also deservedly won both an audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. Don’t miss this one. [read the whole post]

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One of my favorite things Sketchfest does is that they book many of their shows using the old music format: take a lesser known act and have them do a short set ahead of the headlining set. It’s a great way to learn about some lesser known sketch troops, and often times, it’s very rewarding. Tonight we got to enjoy a set by Dopetown 3000! (Spoiler: They were exceptional) [read the whole post]

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Jane Kaczmarek reads a story by Katherine Heiny at Selected Shorts: Too Hot For Radio at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre on January 26, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Tommy Lau

As a longtime listener of Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts, a short story reading radio program broadcast locally on KQED-88.5 on Saturday nights, I was thrilled to see that Sketchfest was bringing the show to the Festival for the first time ever this year. What made the live performance even more special and fun was that it promised to offer stories “too hot for radio” – ones that, for various content reasons couldn’t be read over the air during the regular program, but could be read to a non-broadcast, live theater audience. As an added bonus on top of that, as is typical with Selected Shorts, the stories would be read by famous, well-regarded actors. For “Too Hot for Radio” we were graced with Arrested Development regular and comedian David Cross, actors Lance Reddick (The Wire) and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (an alumni of Larkspur’s Redwood High School), and actress and Symphony Space regular reader Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle). The live show, held on Friday, January 26th at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre, didn’t disappoint, and more than lived up to my expectations.

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Annie Ellicott sings with Jeff Goldblum (on piano) and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre on Jan. 28th. (Photo courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/pg/goldblumofficial/photos)

For the third year in a row, SF Sketchfest fans were treated to the affable charm of actor and musician Jeff Goldblum, who brought his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra jazz band to the Marines’ Memorial Theatre last Sunday for a cabaret-style evening of jazz, movie clips, and a whole lot more. Goldblum’s laid-back and amiable presence is always enjoyable, and he seems to take just as much pleasure in his show and his audience interaction as his fans do. [read the whole post]

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Photo by Julie Schuchard

There are many unique things about SF Sketchfest, but one of the most interesting thing they do is book monthly and weekly shows that happen in other metropolises, and bring them to the Bay Area. Tonight we got to enjoy a special delivery from New York City: Sasheer Zamata Party Time!. This is a variety show hosted by SNL’s Sasheer Zamata. We got to enjoy comedians, musicians, and even “party games” played with the audience. I guess this is what you do at parties in New York? As somebody that loves taking in new cultures, I’m up to experience what they do in New York for fun.    [read the whole post]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Hold On with Eugene Mirman at Swedish American Hall, 1/26/18

January 30, 2018

When I plotted out my Sketchfest schedule this year, I based my show decisions on a number of factors: Scarcity: How often does this person actually come to town? Age: How likely is it that I won’t be seeing this performer ever again? Fandom: The old “does this performer make my heart feel warm” when […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Animal House 40th Anniversary with Cast and Crew Panel Discussion

January 23, 2018

The cast and crew from the classic movie Animal House assembled at the Castro Theatre for a panel discussion of the comedy classic in honor of its 40th anniversary. It is, as you may remember, vibrant with jokes that stand the test of time. The movie was groundbreakingly raunchy for its time, with sexual humor […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Sara Schaefer: Little White Box, Krista Fatka at Punchline, 1/16/18

January 22, 2018

As we all know, things are kind of nutty right now. There are some terrible people in power, those people are inspiring other terrible people to act and speak out in terrible ways, and it seems that the entire country has been either drowning, burning, or freezing most of this year. The best thing for […]

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Spinning Platters Interview: Rick Springfield

January 20, 2018

  Although it’s widely touted as a comedy festival, SF Sketchfest has a wide ranging program that meanders into film, television, literature and music as well. How fitting it is, then, that Rock Solid With Pat Francis is welcoming a guest with a long career doing all three. From his beginnings with mega-hit “Jesse’s Girl” […]

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