San Francisco

(Films #11-#20 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th)

Our preview coverage of the 60th SFFILM Festival continues! 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 Kahn- @CKCinephile / Chad Liffmann- @chadcarsten). And now, time for 10 more spotlights:

Heaven Sent
(France/Lebanon 2016, 70 min; in Lebanese with English subtitles)

A scene from HEAVEN SENT, playing at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 5-19, 2017.

Uproariously absurd and twistedly entertaining, Heaven Sent is a rewarding dark comedy from the Middle East. It features a tight script and talented actors with superb comedic timing. The story revolves around a celebrity’s bodyguard, Omar, whose life is turned upside down when his presumed dead soldier brother returns out-of-the-blue. Even with some political jabs, director Wissam Charaf still invites the audience to laugh with solid slapstick and visual gags. Much of the film’s biting satire stems from the audience’s pre-existing knowledge of the ongoing war in the Middle East, and thus to contrast that knowledge with the hilariously trivial annoyances of Omar’s life become more and more comedically pronounced as the film unfolds. Definitely see Heaven Sent with a full house, since laughter is infectious!

Screenings:
(click here for tickets)

  • Thursday, April 13th, 9:00 pm, YBCA Screening Room
  • Friday, April 14th, 6:00 pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Tuesday, April 18th, 6:30 pm, Alamo Drafthouse

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A passionate, spellbinding set at the final leg of the duo’s North American tour

Brian King of Japandroids

Brian King of Japandroids

If you can believe it, five long years have passed since the last time that Japandroids came to San Francisco and took over The Fillmore, and it’s been far too long of a wait. Their 2012 work Celebration Rock marked a pivotal shift from their laden-with-chaos-and-noise debut tunes to the triumphant, thundering anthems that their singles are now gleaming with, and 2017’s Near To The Wild Heart Of Life continues in this fashion, offering up a slab of pieces full of vitality and potency — this time with the extra sheen of studio magic. Lest you be concerned that the slick sounds of overdubs have marred the energy level that the Vancouver duo are famous for possessing, worry not: if anything, their chemistry has reached an all-time high, their precise delivery pairing magnificently with the massive walls of sound they can tirelessly deliver. If Japandroids were tired at the end of the tour, there was no sign of such weariness at this performance.

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(Films #1-#10 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th)

The SF Film Festival is back and celebrating its 60th year! It’ll be taking place at venues in San Francisco and the East Bay from April 5-19. Once again, Spinning Platters is thrilled to provide you extensive coverage of the films, special events, and award ceremonies. Check back here frequently, or follow along at our Facebook page and on Twitter (or follow film critics Carrie Kahn- @CKCinephile / Chad Liffmann- @chadcarsten). Without further ado, let’s take a look at ten titles:

A Date for Mad Mary
(Ireland 2016, 82 min; in English)

Tara Lee and Seána Kerslake in Darren Thornton’s A DATE FOR MAD MARY, playing at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 5 – April 19, 2017.

I loved A Date for Mad Mary! It’s a funny, heartfelt, coming-of-age comedy filled with real characters and even realer interactions. Adapted from a stage play, the script by Darren Thornton and his brother Colin is clever and well-balanced, dealing with serious subject matters (bullying, prison, sexual identity) while also poking fun at classic comedy targets like dating, weddings, and sex. Throughout the story, complex emotions are expressed in subtle and delightfully informal ways. The cast is a powerhouse of strong Irish actresses, led by Seána Kerslake in a star making turn as the ostracized Mary. Bring a date to see A Date for Mad Mary, since it’s destined to be the feel-good sleeper hit of the year.

Screenings:
(click here for tickets)

  • Sunday, April 9th, 6:00 pm, BAMPFA
  • Saturday, April 15th, 7:00 pm, Alamo Drafthouse

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Sketchfest co-founder & all-around funny girl Janet Varney

I’ve always liked Janet Varney, who I knew almost exclusively from her work with Thrilling Adventure Hour, but once someone made the connection for me that she was one of the co-founders of SF Sketchfest, my admiration for her ratcheted up quite a few notches. So, she’s super funny, and likeable, and charming, and kind of a badass producer too? So cool! So this year, when I was perusing the schedule, and saw that she was doing a live podcast (The JV Club, it’s called) with Matt Nathanson, Rachel Dratch, and Jon Hamm? Hell yeah! I’d been trying to get to a Rachel Dratch appearance at Sketchfest for at least a year or two, and Jon Hamm is so fun when he’s in comedy mode (which I’d not yet seen live, either). I immediately put in my request and hoped I’d get to cover the show. Next thing I knew, there I was, at Brava Theater Center, last Saturday afternoon, with a great seat, just in time for the house lights to go down. [read the whole post]

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Special guest: the delightful “Weird Al” Yankovic

Show 2 of my 3 at this year’s SF Sketchfest was last weekend at Swedish American Hall on a chilly grey Saturday afternoon. What better way to spend such a day than laughing with Pat Francis taping a live Rock Solid podcast with Kyle Dodson and special guest “Weird Al” Yankovic? I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do, either. [read the whole post]

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A biting, hilariously crude musical parody.

I don’t believe there’d be many folks who’d argue that Silence of the Lambs isn’t ripe for parody. The distinct characters, the famous lines, the bone-chilling seriousness of it all — all primed for spoofing. The good news is that the feat has been accomplished in a fun, shockingly crude way by Cloud 9 Theatricals, Lang Entertainment Group, and Ray of Light Theatre in their production of Silence! The Musical (show now extended through March 18th! – tickets here). The show is an incredibly tight, minimalist production punctuated by musical numbers culled from infamous lines of dialogue and plot elements of Jonathan Demme’s 1991 film. Scott Hayes and Anne Norland, who I had the chance to interview, play Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, leading the bill of the 10 member cast. Yes, that’s right, the picture above includes 7/10 of the total cast. Aside from the two leads and Brian Watson as Buffalo Bill, the remaining seven cast members wear multiple hats, playing an assortment of characters including a chorus of lambs, FBI agents, work colleagues, guards, etc. The manic energy and precisely crafted parodical elements of the show make Silence! a ridiculously fun time at the theatre.

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SF Sketchfest Review: Kirsten Vangsness: MESS w/The Right Now and Kevin Yee at PianoFight, 1/15/2017

January 27, 2017
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It’s that time of year again: SF Sketchfest 2017 is in town, and as always, brings with it the promise of some great talent and good times. It also marks yet another anniversary for me with Spinning Platters (my 6th), which also always makes me smile. Anyway, this year is no exception in terms of […]

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Spinning Platters Interview: Anne Norland & Scott Hayes, Silence! The Musical

January 26, 2017

Silence! The Musical opens at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco on Friday, February 3rd — tickets here. The “unauthorized parody of Silence of the Lambs” is a show you are not to miss. In eager anticipation for the show, I got the opportunity to ask the two leads, Anne Norland (who plays Clarice Starling) and Scott Hayes […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Hound Tall Podcast with Moshe Kasher at Swedish American Hall, 1/21/17

January 25, 2017

Moshe Kasher’s podcast Hound Tall takes several comedians and one expert on a subject and makes either a glorious or terrible mess of things. When the podcast is great, it is so great. And when it misses, it really misses. Last year I watched the electronic music episode and it was so much more than […]

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SF Sketchfest Review: Laraine Newman: The Audition at PianoFight, 1/21/17

January 24, 2017

In the world of comedy, Laraine Newman is an industry legend. She’s been consistently working for over 40 years, starting as a member of the legendary first cast of Saturday Night Live, and branching out into dozens of roles in television, film and voice acting. She has an amazing amount of stories, and when I […]

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