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Showing posts from April, 2013

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan


When 1992's "Strictly Ballroom" became an international hit, exhibitors were eager for MORE offbeat Australian movies that would do as well.  "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" fit the bill.  Who would ever imagine Terence Stamp, the Oscar-nominated, impossibly gorgeous "Billy Budd" in Sir Peter Ustinov's superb 1962 film of the same name, would EVER play a drag queen named Bernadette?  And yet, Stamp, who initially resisted the idea, discovered that Bernadette was a role he was destined to play.  The camera is not overly kind to Stamp at 55, yet he invests the role of Bernadette with dignity, elegance, intrigue and mystery, all the qualities of a great diva.  Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, too, are terrific as fellow divas Mitzi A.K.A. Tick and Felicia A.K.A. Adam.  The three of them hit the road in the title character, an outdated bus.  Along the way, Bernadette discovers romance, Tick experiences fatherhood and …

Udine Far East Film Festival honors Kim Dong-ho

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By Moira Sullivan


The 15th Udine Far East Film Festival opened on April 19th with a great lineup of films from Southeast Asia. The Udine festival is the largest portal of films from South East Asia in Europe, and many of the films come directly from their premiere in their country or make their international debut at Udine and this year is no exception

This festival has a success formula written all over it, even if it feels the crunch of the economy and has to be frugal. The Autumn edition of the highly regarded Oxford journal Screen wrote about the Udine recipe for success in "Counter programming and the Udine Far East Film Festival". The authors regard the festival as a high quality festival because of how it programs festival films from Asia. The authors maintain that although a film from Asia is presented at an A-list festival such as Berlin, Cannes and Venice, it gets attention primarily because it comes from Asia, not because the film is popular and given critical att…

The Cliff House and Sutro Heights - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

For my 12th birthday, I was treated to a brunch at the Cliff House.  It was special and beautiful and even though I considered my childhood over by the age of five, I was convinced that no one else would consider me a kid in the sixth grade!  The attractions of the Cliff House and Playland at the Beach were always rooted in the past, though.  Not my past, the long ago past.  The Fun House and Laughing Sal and the Giant Slide were slipping away from me at a time I thought they would go on forever.

Director Tom Wyrsch's new film on The Cliff House and The Sutro Heights captures that sense of "Look close feel everything, this world will be gone before you know it."  The clever title cards remind us that we're not in the nineteenth or twentieth century.  Unfortunately for the first half of the feature two park rangers give us the facts as if we were on a guided tour. Then, suddenly, we arrive at 1903 when we see a batch of adorable children running tow…

My Brother; The Devil

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By Moira Sullivan


Opening this week in San Francisco is Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil, which won the best debut feature, award at the Frameline LGBT film festival this summer. El Hosaini is an Egyptian Welsh director and her film was developed with the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs in 2009. This was her first feature shot in Hackney London. 
The story takes up an Egyptian immigrant family, with two first generation English sons. The wife has a minor role, almost part of the furniture in her casting, and is always forgiving of her two sons. You can almost predict that there is going to be tension between the father and the older son. So, the older boy Rashid (James Floyd) has fallen out with his father, but there is still hope for the younger Mo (Fady Elsayed). Nevertheless Mo has managed to pick up a lot of conservative values and is homophobic. One of his best friends is a young woman who refuses to accept an expensive gift from him.
Rashid deals drugs to help …