Ethan Hawke

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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The Sundance Film Festival ran from January 18th to 28th this year; over 120 films were shown in ten days. For the fourth year in a row, I was on the (often snowy) ground, knocking out almost 20 films in five days in order to bring you the Best of the Fest. I present here the ten best films I saw – five features, four documentaries, and one special screening. Keep your eyes out for these during the coming year, as they are well worth your time and money. And if you’d like to know all the films that took home awards this year, you can see the winners here.

TOP FIVE FEATURE FILMS

1.) Search
(USA 2017, 101 min. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Category: Next)

Worried father David Kim (John Cho) uses the Internet to search for his missing daughter.

The word innovative doesn’t even come close to doing filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty’s first feature film justice. Using a narrative that unfolds completely on a computer screen (via video chats, texts, emails, Internet searches, and news videos), Chaganty immerses us in the story of recently widowed dad David (John Cho, excellent as always) and his desperate search for his missing teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La). Debra Messing, cast against type, is terrific as the San Jose police detective heading the investigation. Filled with red herrings and twists and turns you’ll never see coming, Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian’s South Bay-set mystery is as imaginative as their method of telling it. Both a celebration and a critique of our increasing reliance on technology, the brilliantly executed Search is my hands-down favorite film of the Festival. Sony Pictures acquired the picture for five million dollars in one of the Festival’s biggest buys, so a wide release will be forthcoming. The film also deservedly won both an audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. Don’t miss this one. [read the whole post]

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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 up the Fest: we’ve got five more here (and you can read Chad’s previous posts here, here, here, and here).

1.) Maudie and Ethan Hawke Tribute
(Canada/Ireland 2016, 115 min. Awards and Tributes)

Everett (Ethan Hawke) and Maud (Sally Hawkins) on their wedding day.

In a true coup for cinephiles, SFFilm presented a tribute to actor Ethan Hawke at the YBCA Theater on April 8th. Following a delightful clip reel of Hawke’s career highlights, Michael Almereyda, Hawke’s director in 2000’s Hamlet, interviewed the actor. Hawke came across as smart, charming, modest, and immensely likable. In a conversation that ranged from Hawke’s start in high school plays to his embodiment of Gen X angst in 1994’s Reality Bites (“It’s a strange feeling to touch the zeitgeist,” he told us), Hawke gamely opened up on topics both professional and personal. His distaste for violence in films drew a round of applause. “It’s very hard to have a career in professional movies and not kill people,” he said, mentioning that Roger Ebert once toasted him for not killing anyone on screen until Hamlet. Movies that deal with connecting with other people are what he’s most drawn to, he told us, which helps explain his continuing collaboration with Richard Linklater, who memorably cast Hawke in the critically acclaimed Before Sunrise trilogy and Boyhood.

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Sundance 2016-2

Spinning Platters continues its coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which ended last Saturday, Jan. 30th with its evening awards presentation (all the winners can be found here).

We’re highlighting 18 of the nearly 200 films shown at the Fest, so you can know what to look for in the coming year – and what to avoid – as many of these titles are purchased and widely distributed.

As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly:

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Sundance 2015 Spotlights: Six Feature Films

Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, closed last Sunday, February 1st, and the award winners were announced that day; they can be found here.

Spinning Platters Sr. Film Reviewer Carrie Kahn continues her coverage of Festival films, so you can know what to look for in the coming year – and what to avoid – as many of these titles are purchased and widely distributed

As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly:

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2014

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2014. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. And you can see Chad’s list here.

1.) Boyhood

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane are outstanding as a mother and son who grow and change together.

Filmed intermittently over 12 years, Richard Linklater’s film chronicling a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18 in real time is both a technical marvel and a cinematic masterpiece. There has been nothing like it before on screen, and there will no doubt be nothing like it again. Utterly unique in scope and vision, the film lets us watch a life develop in front of our very eyes, with all of its attendant hopes, dreams, achievements, and disappointments. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s parents, changing and growing right alongside him and his older sister (Lorelei Linklater). An absolutely dazzling achievement that will leave you breathless and awed, Linklater’s picture is sure to be the one to beat for Best Picture come Oscar time. (You can also read Gordon’s full-length review here).

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Film Review: Boyhood

July 18, 2014
www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0HZKk_0BE4

There are two types of people who are going to see director Richard Linklater’s newest film, Boyhood. There are those who will not know anything about, or perhaps not even care about the history of the making of the film. They may wonder what all the fuss is about. And then there are people like me who […]

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SFIFF Spotlights #7: Boyhood/Pioneer/Freedom Summer/Little Accidents

May 6, 2014
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0oX0xiwOv8

Spinning Platters brings you more spotlights from the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF), which continues through this Thursday, May 8th. Program notes and tickets available here.  There is still plenty of time to catch some screenings, and you can also see many of the films as they open widely throughout the year. Boyhood […]

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Film Review: Before Midnight

May 30, 2013

I was excited to see Before Midnight, the third film in the series directed by Richard Linklater that, in a way, I felt like I grew up with. The characters of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have always been so strong in my closet-romantic pseudo-intellectual imagination. I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I’m not a sucker […]

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