Films

In space, simply scary beats too much talking

The crew of the Covenant, in better times.

Alien: Covenant, the eighth of the Alien series of films, feels like an old friend from whom you’ve long since grown apart, but with whom you’ll still grab a beer and listen to the same stories and jokes. The film checks all the series boxes, and delivers all the same jolts, but ultimately cannot break out of its own constraints.  

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Film Review: Snatched

by Carrie Kahn on May 12, 2017

Hawn, Schumer deserve better than middling comedy

Emily (Amy Schumer, l.) and her mom Linda (Goldie Hawn) find themselves in a bit of a predicament when their Ecuador vacation goes awry.

Legendary comedienne Goldie Hawn has not been seen on the big screen since 2002’s The Banger Sisters, so it’s a shame that her return from a 15-year absence is in a mediocre film unworthy of her talents. On paper, the premise for Hawn’s revival movie probably sounded great: an adventure comedy that would pair her with Amy Schumer, the current generation’s hip young blonde comic actress (can a remake of Private Benjamin with Schumer in the lead be far behind?). But the genius of casting the legend as mother to the edgy newcomer only works if the material is fresh, sharp, and funny, and, unfortunately for Hawn and Schumer, Snatched falls short on that front.
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Powerhouse actors make tonally odd picture worth watching

Married couple Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) are both having affairs, unbeknownst to the other. 

The Lovers is an odd movie. That’s not to say that it’s not worth seeing; it’s just that tonally, strange is the best word to describe it. A virtual pas de deux between heavy hitters Tracy Letts and Debra Winger, the picture focuses on their characters Michael and Mary, a long-married husband and wife, each of whom is having an affair and plotting to leave the other. In the midst of this mendacity, however, a spark rekindles between the couple, jeopardizing their extracurricular relationships.
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Dazzling, vibrant fun with a classy set list

Drax jumps right in.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the highly anticipated follow-up to the surprise superhero blockbuster from Marvel Studios, opens with a credit sequence set to Baby Groot dancing around a space station platform while the rest of the gang fight an intergalactic squid monster. Of course, Baby Groot is dancing to the late ’70s jolly tune “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra. If that isn’t a welcome return to the colorful, soundtrack-propelled, fun tone of the Guardians franchise, then I don’t know what is. From the first moments to the very end of the closing credits, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun ride with all the elements that made the first such a glowing success, and, even if it doesn’t feel quite as fresh and employs a few unorthodox plot maneuvers, it still delivers a ton of laughs and top notch visuals. 

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The healing power of a natural disaster

Dash Shaw’s film mixes genres and mediums.

To a teenager, the world is a boundless sea of experiences and hopes and fears and people and possibilities. But when the confines of a public high school, with its endless days of tedium, unquestionable authority, and worst of all – other teenagers – impose arbitrary bounds, the dramatic possibilities are endless, and have tempted artists of just about every medium, style, and approach.

My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, the first feature written and directed by graphic novelist and animator Dash Shaw, manages to jolt the venerable high school film genre with new life from some surprising places, and suggests that nothing short of disaster can save those between thirteen and eighteen years old.

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Film Review: The Promise

by Carrie Kahn on April 21, 2017

Emotionally powerful new film brings story of Armenian genocide to light

Mikael (Oscar Isaac) arrives in Constantinople for medical school.

April 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, so opening The Promise this weekend is obviously intentional. Irish director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and screenwriter Robin Swicord have made the first major Hollywood picture to tell a story about the horrific event commemorated by that date. If you can’t see the film this weekend, I would encourage you to see it when you can, as a way to both honor the tragedy’s victims, and to learn a history that many non-Armenians know far too little about.
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SFFILM Festival Spotlights #5

April 16, 2017
vimeo.com/20852777

Five More Spotlights as SFFILM Enters Final Week The 60th San Francisco International Film Festival wraps up this week, but there’s still time to catch a few screenings before closing day on Thursday; you can browse the schedule and buy tickets here. Stay tuned to Spinning Platters for our final spotlight posts to help finish […]

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Show Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark Live in Concert with the SF Symphony

April 14, 2017

A lovely night with Williams’s score, Ford’s performance, iconic scenes… there are no bad dates here! Raiders of the Lost Ark is the quintessential action-adventure film. One could confidently claim that it is the greatest action-adventure film of all time! There is nothing about Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic that isn’t famous — the giant boulder, […]

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SFFILM Festival Spotlights #4

April 12, 2017
vimeo.com/20852777

(Films #31-#40 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th) The 60th SFFILM Festival is HALFWAY through! Be sure to get your tickets now — visit http://www.sffilm.org/festival for tickets and info. Also, be sure to check back here frequently, or follow along at our Facebook page and on Twitter (or follow film critics Carrie […]

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Film Review: Gifted

April 7, 2017
youtu.be/tI01wBXGHUs

Talented cast is the real gift in otherwise predictable family drama Director Marc Webb’s new film Gifted asks us to not only buy a 7-year-old girl as an MIT-level math genius, but also hunky Captain America star Chris Evans as a former Boston University philosophy professor; I’m not sure which characterization requires the greater suspension […]

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