Film Review: Queen of Katwe

by Carrie Kahn on September 23, 2016

Nair brings inspirational chess prodigy story to life in appealing new film  

Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) imparts chess – and life – wisdom to young Phiona (Madina Nalwanga).

The phrase “heartwarming family film” has been overused so much that it’s become a meaningless cliché, but when is the last time you saw a live action picture that legitimately fit that description? A few Pixar movies aside, the cinematic offerings that truly appeal to parents and kids alike have been pretty paltry lately. Disney competently rectifies that situation today with Queen of Katwe, a well made, well acted, inspirational-without-being-cloying film that tells the true story of a poor girl from the poverty-stricken town of Katwe, Uganda, who becomes a national and international chess champion.
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Film Review: Kicks

by Gordon Elgart on September 9, 2016

A promising start that never elevates to excellence during its running time.

kicksgroup

 

Kicks starts off with Brandon, our lead character, introducing us to his wishes of being in space, where he no longer gets chased around the neighborhood and can live in perfect quiet. His dreams are accompanied by visions of a man (or woman) in a space suit, and this astronaut makes many appearances throughout the movie during critical moments. It’s weird and otherworldly, and does momentarily elevate this movie into the stratosphere, but the reality keeps dragging us down.

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Film Review: Sully

by Carrie Kahn on September 9, 2016

Heroic pilot’s story takes flight in Eastwood’s well executed film 

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks, r.) and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart, l.) prepare to land US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

No discussion of Sully, director Clint Eastwood’s new film about East Bay hero Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the commercial airline pilot who, in January, 2009, successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the frigid Hudson River after its engines failed, can begin without first acknowledging that casting Tom Hanks as Sully is a perfect marriage of actor and role. Tom Hanks, the Jimmy Stewart of our day, embodies competence, integrity, and innate decency in a way that makes him a natural fit to play the heroic pilot of the so-called Miracle on the Hudson, in which all 155 people on board survived the emergency water landing. Imagining another actor in the role is almost impossible, and Hanks’s dependable Everyman persona is a large reason Eastwood’s dramatization of the real life event works so well.
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Boris 01

To say that Boris’ performance at the Fillmore was good is an understatement of the highest degree.  Though they are Japanese, they came to San Francisco like Romans.  They saw, and they conquered.  Playing the Japanese track list release of their seminal 2006 album ‘Pink’ they completely owned the stage.  Woe to she/he who was not wearing ear plugs because this band plays LOUD.

First of all:  Anyone who says women can’t play guitar can get back on the Misogyny Train with a one way ticket to “Fuckoff Town,” because Wata destroys the guitar.  Does she explode around the stage like your most punk/metal/rock/insertsomethingovercompensatingHERE person?  No.  But that couldn’t possibly matter because her absolute control over her instrument and her ability with it shine spectacularly.

Earth 04

But let’s backtrack a little bit.  Tour mate’s and opening act, Earth, got the crowd started with their unique western styled sludge metal.  They played 5 songs in their 45 minute set, all of which drew in attention like the white flash of a nuclear blast.  Clad in white cowboy hats, the guitar players clearly needed no bass (especially with a beautiful moog pedal to replace it) and were in their grandest element before a packed house.  I kept seeing images from Sergio Leone westerns over their music which was, in my mind, a worthy replacement of the already wonderful Ennio Morricone scores.

If you think playing the drums FAST is hard.  Imagine playing them slowly.  There is nothing harder than to play slowly (as far as I am concerned) but Adrienne Davis is 100% unperturbed by downbeat half-time tempos and wrecks on the drums in a way that is utterly fascinating to watch.

Boris 05

Throughout the night, all I could say was “What a fucking show.”  That is what was delivered.  Whether you like their music or not, you got a memorable performance.  One for the books; not to be forgotten, etc. etc. etc.  Between Takeshi’s masterful double neck Bass/Guitar (just look at the god damn pictures), Wata’s shredding leads, and Atsuo, the hype master’s, precision drumming (complete with gong bashing insanity), you could not ask for a better show.

Boris + Earth

And just when I thought, “How can they top anything that I just saw?” Instead of an encore set of anything recent, they brought Earth back on stage (completely) and played an epic sludgey jam to close the night.  How often do you get to see 2 drummers and 4 guitarists (one who can switch from bass to guitar at will) just rock the fuck out together for 8 minutes?  The answer is not very often.  If only you could have been there!
They’ll be in Los Angeles tonight and continuing the rest of their US tour throughout the next month or so and they are NOT to be missed.

Earth Setlist: Introduction/Coda Maestoso in F (Flat) Minor | Even Hell Has Its Heroes | The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull | Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon | Old Black | High Command.

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/earth/2016/the-fillmore-san-francisco-ca-33fc1415.html

Boris Setlist: Blackout | Pink | Woman on the Screen | Nothing Special | N.F. Sorrow | Pseudo-Bread | Afternburner | Six, Three Times | Talisman | Are You Ready | Electric | My Machine | Just Abandoned Myself | Farewell | (Encore) Ouroboros Is Broken (Earth cover w/Earth)

Setlist based on Previous and Following concerts dates where the setlist was identical.

*More photos will be added at a later date.

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Film Review: War Dogs

by Carrie Kahn on August 19, 2016

Arms and the bros: Hangover director brings incredible true story to the screen

Efraim (Jonah Hill, center) and David (Miles Teller, r.) inspect some choice merchandise in an Albanian warehouse.

The economy of war and the audacity of youth brilliantly collide in writer/director Todd Phillips’s new picture War Dogs. A heavily fictionalized dramatization of Guy Lawson’s 2011 Rolling Stone article  (and later book), the film details the spectacular rise and fall of two 20-something young men from Miami Beach who became major international arms dealers during the heart of the Iraq War.
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‘Kubo’ is a visual masterpiece!

Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey looking high...

Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey looking high…

I’ve never seen stop-motion animation as inventively crafted or as embedded in the storytelling as I saw in Kubo and the Two Strings. Laika, the animation studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, releases their most ambitious film yet with Kubo. Part parable and part fantasy epic, Kubo has a bit of everything, and though it gets a little over-indulgent in the final ten minutes, the film never feels overcrowded. Credit is due to first time director Travis Knight (son of Phil Knight, of Nike), who does a solid job of executing on an intelligent script by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. The filmmakers infuse Kubo with unique action sequences, family-friendly humor, some nightmarish chills, and strong emotional themes. When these aspects are woven together with solid voice acting and stunning visuals, Kubo becomes a memorable cinematic tapestry.

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Film Review: Hell or High Water

August 12, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQoqsKoJVDw

Bridges, Pine anchor riveting western crime drama Actor turned screenwriter Taylor Sheridan proved he had a knack for conveying the rhythms and feeling of the American southwest with his award-nominated debut feature screenplay for last year’s gritty drug smuggling crime drama Sicario. The success of that debut was no fluke, as we see here in […]

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Film Review: Sausage Party

August 12, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fP9q_LyDc

A profound examination of religious faith — buried deep, deep within a hilariously crude, offensive, foul-mouthed animated film. Imagine if Toy Story was written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and then sprinkled with a dash of Caligula. Even that probably doesn’t quite capture just how far Sausage Party goes in terms of it’s R-related language and content […]

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Film Review: Pete’s Dragon

August 12, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPOamb6d_20

Recapturing that ol’ warm fuzzy Disney feeling. For those who remember the 1977 Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon, you may wonder why an obscure title such as that one would need a remake. To be honest, the remake doesn’t answer that question. But nevertheless, the new Pete’s Dragon is a very charming family film. Pete’s Dragon has an old school magical feel to […]

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Film Review: Suicide Squad

August 5, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO5l8dkerqg

Suicide Squad dies a slow, painfully disappointing death. Watch the Suicide Squad trailer one more time. Do you feel that insane energy? Well, that same energy exuding from all the Suicide Squad trailers, posters, and marketing materials doesn’t exude from the feature film. All the hype, and true potential, of this anti-hero DC property has been damaged […]

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