SFIFF Spotlights #5: The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir/Abuse of Weakness/The Blue Wave/Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

by Carrie Kahn on May 1, 2014

Spinning Platters brings you more spotlights from the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF), which continues through Thursday, May 8th. Program notes and tickets available here.

The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir
(USA 2014, 90 min)

Which is the greater wonder - Bob Weir or the pyramids?

Which is the greater wonder – Bob Weir or the pyramids?

“Mine has been a long strange trip,” says Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir in Mike Fleiss’s fantastic new documentary about the Dead’s “other one.” Jerry Garcia may have been more famous, but Weir was a stellar musician in his own right, and, with his graciousness, intelligence, and unwavering authenticity, perhaps the band’s true heart. Weir, vital and still just as handsome in his 60s (Weir gets some ribbing for being the band’s best looking member), speaks eloquently and thoughtfully about his life and the cult of personality surrounding Garcia and the Dead. Weir’s meditative reflections, along with Fleiss’s brilliant use of still photos, new interviews and old footage, make this picture a must-see for Dead fans and anyone with even a passing interest in music or Bay Area history. Smart, funny, and poignant, this is a film worthy of Bay Area rock’s elder statesman.


  • Friday, May 2nd, 9:30pm, Kabuki (with Bob Weir reportedly scheduled to appear!)

Tickets available here.

Abuse of Weakness
(France/Belgium/Germany 2013, 104 min; French with English subtitles)

Mutal support... or is it?

Mutal support… or is it?

Catherine Breillat, a French filmmaker known for her highly personal films, here presents a fictionalized version of an episode from her own life. Isabelle Huppert plays filmmaker Maud Shainberg, a stroke victim left partially paralyzed. She becomes taken with small-time crook Vilko (French rapper Kool Shen) after seeing him on TV. Drawn to his authenticity, she decides to cast Vilko in her next picture, and the two form a codependent friendship of sorts, with Maud willingly giving Vilko personal loans, while he provides her assistance and companionship. Why Maud so readily allows Vilko to take her money is the film’s main question, and the answers are neither easy nor simple, for us, or for Maud. Huppert and Shen give riveting, complex performances as a duo whose power dynamic is constantly shifting.


  • Thursday, May 1st, 9:00pm, Kabuki

Tickets available here. 

The Blue Wave
(Turkey/Germany/Netherlands/Greece 2013, 97 min; Turkish with English subtitles)

Teenager Deniz (Ayris Alptekin) contemplates her future.

Teenage Deniz (Ayris Alptekin) contemplates her future.

A quiet, but thoughtful coming-of-age story set in the western Turkish coastal town of Balikesir, this debut collaborative feature by Turkish female directors Zeynep Dadak and Merve Kayan captures the universal teenage themes of restlessness, uncertainty, and parental and scholastic pressures, while also allowing us a glimpse into contemporary Turkish life. High school junior Deniz (a remarkable Ayris Alptekin) struggles with decisions about her future as she navigates the often rocky waters of adolescence. A crush on a school counselor (which may or may not be requited), mutual interest in a classmate, and family responsibilities further complicate Deniz’s life, as she and Balikesir’s other residents deal with the difficulties of a natural gas shortage. A unique and timely view of a region seldom seen on the American screen, The Blue Wave is well worth a look.


  • Thursday, May 1st, 1:00pm, Kabuki
  • Friday, May 2nd, 6:15pm, Kabuki

Tickets available here.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
(USA 2013, 84 min)

Shep Gordon, Supermensch.

Shep Gordon, Supermensch.

Comedian Mike Myers makes his directorial debut with this documentary about legendary talent manager and all around good guy Shep Gordon. While the picture’s narrative is a tad scattered, Gordon’s appealing personality and dishy Hollywood anecdotes make for great fun and highly entertaining viewing. Gordon, a former probation officer turned A-list manager, started his career in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s by most famously managing a little known cutting-edge rocker named Alice Cooper. From there, Gordon built a client roster that ranged from Anne Murray to chef Emeril Lagasse (Gordon, in fact, is credited with creating the first celebrity chefs). An expert at maneuvering the publicity machine, Gordon was lauded as a star-making genius, yet he always remained grounded and well liked by all who knew him. Anyone who loves Behind the Music-style stories will love Supermensch – both the movie and the man.


  • Friday, May 2nd , 1:00pm, Kabuki

Tickets available here.

Carrie Kahn

Moving from the arthouse to the multiplex with grace, ease, and only the occasional eye roll.

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