Films

2018 San Francisco International Film Festival ends this week

If you haven’t made it out to the SF International Film Festival yet, don’t worry – you still have one more day to catch some great films. The Festival ends tomorrow, Tuesday, April 17th, and tickets to remaining screenings can be found here.

Spinning Platters continues its coverage by taking a look at four films that screened at the Fest that will be opening soon here in the Bay Area (we note each film’s opening date below), so if you had hoped to see some of these at the Fest and missed them, you’ve got a second chance. And even though the Fest ends soon, stay tuned to Spinning Platters; we’ll have some wrap up coverage after the Fest concludes.

1.) Kodachrome
(Canada/USA 2017, 105 min. Marquee Presentations)

Matt (Jason Sudeikis, l.), Zoe, (Elizabeth Olsen), and Ben (Ed Harris) have some fun.

Upon hearing the title of director Mark Raso’s new film, you would be forgiven for thinking it might have something to do with Paul Simon’s 1973 single of the same name. That song is referenced in the film, but never played, which is for the best, since the last film to take its title from a Paul Simon song was a huge flop. Raso fares better here, working from a script by the author and screenwriter Jonathan Tropper (This is Where I Leave You). Based loosely on a 2010 article in the New York Times about the closing of the last photo lab in the country to develop Kodak’s famed color film, Kodachrome is a father-son redemption story that calls to mind Sam Shepard, and not just because Shepard stalwart Ed Harris plays Ben, the estranged, terminally ill famous photographer father to Jason Sudeikis’s wounded music producer son Matt. The actors are believable as a father and son with a complicated history, which helps detract from the cliché of their road trip from New York to Kansas to drop off old Kodachrome rolls of Ben’s before the lab closes. Accompanying the duo is Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), Ben’s nurse and assistant and, of course, love interest for Matt. Olsen’s likable presence and her chemistry with Sudeikis also help keep the story from feeling too obvious, and you find yourself wanting to spend more time with them. The film does occasionally succumb to the hackneyed, though, as when Matt and Zoe finally look at Ben’s developed slides (you’ll have long since guessed what’s on them), in a somewhat cloying scene that may remind some viewers of the famous “The Wheel” episode of Mad Men. But with its nostalgic look at how our analog world has given way to digital, Raso and Tropper manage to pull off a charming narrative that would have felt derivative with a lesser cast at the helm.

Kodachrome will open in the Bay Area this Friday, April 20th.

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Make time for these three great documentaries at the 61st San Francisco International Film Festival

1.) Carcasse
(Iceland/France 2016, 61 min. Vanguard)

Faraway lands and anthropologic impulses lured filmmaker Gústav Geir Bollason to the subject of how we adapt the 21st century’s material bounty to the timeless problems of survival. Drawing heavily from Robert Flaherty and Basil Wright, Bollason is fascinated with the ways in which we repurpose the consumerist world to adapt quite nicely in the survivalist one. Aircraft fuselages become shelters for lamb flocks. Volkswagen bodies become boat bridges. Compact car bodies become horse drawn buggies. Flaherty showed how the Inuk bent nature to tame nature. Bollason shows both the pervasive nature of modern material culture, and our ingenuity at bending it our needs. Plays with the short The Art of Flying (Jan van Ijken, Netherlands 2015, 7 min).

Screenings (tickets available here):
— Saturday, April 14th, 3:15pm, YBCA Screening Room
— Sunday, April 15, 2018, 8:00pm, YBCA Screening Room 

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Film Review: Blockers

by Carrie Kahn on April 6, 2018

Don’t let anyone Block you from seeing this smart, funny comedy

Parents Mitchell (John Cena, l.), Lisa (Leslie Mann), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) try to figure out what their daughters are up to on prom night. 

The teen sex comedy is given a refreshing update in Blockers, director Kay Cannon’s feature film directorial debut. Cannon, an actress and screenwriter best known for the Pitch Perfect series, brings a welcome feminine touch to a genre that’s typically directed by men, for a teenage boy audience (e.g., American Pie). Here, though, working from a script by brothers Brian and Jim Kehoe, Cannon’s focus is a trio of teen girls, friends since kindergarten, and their somewhat hastily made pact to lose their virginity on prom night. That the trio’s well intentioned but clueless parents set out to stop them (hence the film’s title) brings a layer of fun to the proceedings that widens the film’s audience from rebellious teens to adults, who may find themselves alternatively relating to the girls or the parents at any given moment. [read the whole post]

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61st annual San Francisco International Film Festival opens this Wednesday, April 4th

The 61st annual San Francisco International Film Festival begins this Wednesday, April 4th, and will run almost two weeks, until Thursday, April 17th. This year’s Festival features 186 films from over 40 countries, and will include eight world premieres, five North American premieres, and six U.S. premieres. Of special note is that over a third of this year’s selected films are directed by women. Tickets and more information about films and programs can be found here.

To help you plan your Fest schedule, we’ll start you off here with five Festival film spotlights (three narrative features and two documentaries). And be sure to bookmark Spinning Platters and check back frequently, as we’ll have more coverage throughout the Festival.

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Reality is a bummer, and so is this movie  

Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) enters the Oasis via his virtual reality gear. 

Let me start this review with a caveat, since I know there are a lot of die hard fans out there of Ernest Cline’s 2011 sci-fi book Ready Player One, on which director Steven Spielberg’s new movie is based: I have not read the book. So if you’re looking for a detailed synopsis of how the movie is different from the book, you may as well click off Spinning Platters right now and search for a different review. That said, however, I did attend the screening with a friend who had read the book, and he let me know that much of the film’s plot differs dramatically from Cline’s story; he also opined that he thought a lot of the book’s charm was lost on screen. But that’s where I come in: to discuss a.) what, exactly, is on screen; and b.) to tell you if it’s worth your time and money. And the short answers are: a.) not much of interest, and b.) no.
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Film Review: Isle of Dogs

by Chris Piper on March 23, 2018

Anderson’s new film stumbles

From l-r: Bryan Cranston as Chief, Bob Balaban as King, Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi, Bill Murray as Boss, Edward Norton as Rex, and Jeff Goldblum as Duke.

Early in Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson’s ninth feature film, the troubled but resolute stray dog Chief (Bryan Cranston) exhorts his pack to persevere despite extreme difficulties. “You’re Rex,” he says to Rex (Edward Norton). “You’re King,” he reminds King (Bob Balaban). “You’re Duke,” he cajoles Duke (Jeff Goldblum): “We’re a pack of scary, indestructible alpha dogs.” We the audience are now helplessly under their sway, and will follow them through this film anywhere.

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Film Review: Unsane

March 23, 2018

Soderbergh’s psych ward horror pic commits to mediocrity   Director Steven Soderbergh, whose much anticipated Logan Lucky last year ended up being a disappointment, continues his losing streak with his new film Unsane, a schlocky, run of the mill horror film that feels like the work of a first year film student, not a prolific and […]

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Film Review: Love, Simon

March 16, 2018

You’ll love Simon, and his movie, too “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story, and I want someone to share it with,” so declares high school senior Simon Spier, in Love, Simon, the new teen romance that bears his name, and, […]

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Interview: Director Cory Finley and Actress Anya Taylor-Joy on Thoroughbreds

March 9, 2018

Cory Finley’s debut feature, Thoroughbreds, has many signs that point to a promising career in film. His dialogue is often whip-smart, crackling along at a fast pace. He has scenes of incredible tension realized in interestingly new yet classic style. He’s got a knack for casting, and clearly has a way with actors, as his small […]

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Film Review: A Wrinkle in Time

March 9, 2018

A Wrinkle for our Time: DuVernay’s adaptation worth the wait If you’re going to go see A Wrinkle in Time, director Ava DuVernay’s new Disney big budget adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic 1962 young adult novel — and I absolutely think you should — there is one thing you should keep in mind: this movie is […]

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