Posts

Showing posts from June, 2017

Hired Gun- new documentary by Fran Strine opens in San Francisco June 29

Image
By Moira Sullivan

Fran Strine worked on his documentary “Hired Gun” for three years, where he interviewed 55 backup musicians to major artists such such as Alice Cooper Metallica and Pink. They are referred to as "Hired Guns" - assassins - and are the best around that go on music tours with major artists. According to one artist there are about 20 musicians - hired guns - on every single record that everyone ones. The reality of their lives and the ups and downs of their careers are captured by the filmmaker. It was Strine’s ambition to make a different documentary with profiles of the inner lives of these excellent musicians. Two of the interviewees are the drummer Liberty DeVitto and guitarist Russell Javors. Both of them worked for and were replaced by other musicians by Billy Joel –De Vitto had worked for him for 30 years. Nita Strauss, one of the hired Guns featured in the film, has played for Alice Cooper, Jermaine Jackson, Femme Fatale Critical Hit and the The Iron…

Haneke's tale of family misfortune at Cannes

Image
By Moira Sullivan

Happy End by Michael Haneke is one of the least interesting films by the Austrian filmmaker. Selected for the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival last May the film is about the Laurent family living in the French port of Calais, a wealthy family whose fortune is run by Ann Laurent, played by Isabelle Hubert and headed by 80 year old George Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is suffering from dementia and is alone after smothered his wife with a pillow in a mercy killing

The film features a wide variety of dysfunction: Ann’s alcoholic son Phillipe beats up a worker at the family construction business, her father is chronically suicidal, her brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) has remarried and is cheating on his new wife already, and the young daughter Eve (Fantine Harduin) from Thomas’ first marriage comes to live with the Laurent’s with her own baggage. Her mother seems to have been poisoned by Eve evidenced in a video she takes with her smart phone. …

Takashi Miike's 100th film at Cannes Film Festival

Image
By Moira Sullivan



It was with great anticipation that the 100th film made by the Japanese master director Takashi Miike Blade of the Immortal would screen at a midnight showing at Cannes in May. Clearly making 100 films does not necessarily confirm that each will be of quality. In fact, for several years Takashi Miike has shown considerably less prowess than in his earlier films such as Audition, Zebraman, Ichi the Killer, Izo, Masters of Horror - films from seven to two decades ago.

Blade of the Immortal is based on a manga about a skilled Samurai warrior during the Edo era, Manji (Takuya Kimura) who becomes immortal after a legendary battle. During this epic event of bloodshed, his sister is brutally murdered. Manji decides to avenge her death by helping the young girl Rin Asano to avenge the death of her parents, a girl who looks much like his dead sister (played by the same actress (Hana Sugisaki). Rin’s parents were killed by the evil warrior Anotsu (Sôta Fukushi).
As immortal l…

Frameline41 draws to a close

Image
By Moira Sullivan

Towards the end of the Frameline are several films worthy of mention. On June 22 "Hot to Trot" will be screened at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley. The film is directed and produced by Gail Freedman. This is a look back documentary at four international dancers as they enter same-sex ballroom dance competition at the 2014 Gay Games: the Costa Rican Ernesto, Russian Nikolai New Zealander Kieren and the American Emily .

On June 23 is "Signature Move"  at the Castro Theatre and June 24 at Landmark Theatres in Piedmont directed by Jennifer Reeder. Zaynab Qadir , a Muslim lawyer is involved in lucha libre-style wrestling. She is a member of Chicago’s Pakistani community and unbeknownst to her family is a lesbian. Next door neighbor Parveen tries to match Zaynab with a husband, afer spying on her with binocularsAt the same time Zaynab meets the former Chicana wrester Alma (Sari Sanchez) and a real romance is brewing.

On June 24 at the Roxie, …

Frameline41 San Francisco LGBT Film Festival June 15-25

Image
By Moira Sullivan

The largest ongoing LGBT film festival in the world, Frameline41, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, will take place June 15-25, 2017. This year there are films from over 19 countries and the good news is 40 percent of the films are made by women directors. Here are some highlights:

The OPENING NIGHT Film and Gala on June 15 is THE UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN  directed by Jennifer Kroot. This will be the Bay Area premiere. Armistead Maupin will be in attendance and is warmly remembered for his Tales of the City. The film includes interviews with Sir Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis and others.

AFTER LOUIE - Closing Night Film, on June 25, the debut feature of Vincent Gagliostro in a West Coast Premiere. The film's protagonist Sam (Alan Cumming) hails from the onslaught of HIV/AIDS in the 80's and 90's and was an ACT UP activist. He is skeptical of a younger generation of gay men and their lack of political commitment or …

Agnès Varda wins “The Golden Eye” for best documentary at Cannes

Image
By Moira Sullivan

Agnès Varda won “The Golden Eye”prize for best documentary, at Cannes on May 27 for her latest film, Visages Villages (Faces Places), produced by Varda’s production company, Ciné Tamaris, and Rosalie Varda.

The style of the film is candid and forthcoming emphasizing the things we take for granted, the people we don’t know about, and the heroic people behind the scenes who are worthy of our attention.

Together with the French street artist JR Varda travels throughout parts of France in a van with a huge camera painted on the side. JR makes huge posters on the sides of buildings or large objects, even though they may later disappear through rain, or the waves of the ocean.

In their van, Varda and JR meet women who work in a cargo ship container company and their images are pasted onto the containers. Seen from afar they show the women behind the men who stack these large objects The artists visit the brick homes of a mining ghost town that would have been forgotten i…

'Invincible' Godard biopic at Cannes

Image
By Moira Sullivan

One of the special memorable films at the Cannes Film Festival this year that ran from May 17 -28 was Le RedoubtableRedoubtable or the Invincible – directed by Michel Hazanavicius. The French director is acclaimed and known for his award winning The Artist starring his wife Bérenice Bejo – who is also in this film – a colorful and entertaining film about Jean Luc Godard. It evokes the time period of the 60s and Louis Garrel’s Godard is convincing.
Redoubtable is based on the memoirs of Godard’s second wife Anne Wiazemsky played by Stacy Martin. The time period is 1967 when Godard is 37 and is shooting his film La Chinoise starring his younger bride Anne. Redoubtable is also about the evolution of Godard as a political filmmaker who moved from his more accessible films such as Breathless with Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg – an emblematic film of the French new wave with hand-held cameras , mobile tracking, nonsynchronous sound and lack of studio interference i…

Cannes biopic on Rodin - distant sculptor

Image
By Moira Sullivan

Many of the films at this year’s anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival held between May 17 and May 28 were not outstanding and there were several screenings I attended by veteran directors that were disappointing. Perhaps the festival put more emphasis on the parties for the celebrities who were invited, rather than the films that 4,000 journalists were there to critique. However, it is really a case of this is what directors are turning out, directors that return to the festival based on past laurels that have proven successful - accomplished directors that this year did not make the grade for high quality.

The first disappointment would be Rodin, a biopic on the sculptor Auguste Rodin directed by Jacques Doillon. The film was to open in theaters all over France the day it was screened at Cannes. The reaction by the audience was a universal boo. Now that Camille Claudel has been the subject of feature narratives, the lover of Rodin, Doillon takes a look at the s…