“Anna Karenina” is back, regardless of whether we need another adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s tragic story of love, longing, locomotives and, when things work well, some pithy social material in between. Director Joe Wright gives it an original go, but his stylized, design-heavy approach undercuts essential passion. Read More
“Holy Motors” is only the fifth feature film in 28 years by Leos Carax, who is perhaps the most mesmerizing, poetic and baffling filmmaker in France.
His best film, “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf” — released here in 1999 as “The Lovers on the Bridge” — reached the glorious, grandiose heights of passion that “Gone with the Wind” and “Titanic” were praised for.
On the other hand, the amazing “Holy Motors” is more about the remnants of passion. Read More
Amid action and visual effects, the holidays are a time when films focus on humans. With luck, viewers will meet cinematic souls that will live on in their imaginations.
With an assignment botched and a cyberterrorist unapprehended, 007 and longtime boss M must save the world and their own standing as modern and efficient agents in the new James Bond thriller, “Skyfall.” They demonstrate that the James Bond franchise, however hoary an institution, remains relevant and vital. Read More
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner of “Angels in America” fame wrote the new movie “Lincoln,” filling roughly 145 of its 149 minutes with dialogue.
In four scenes, maybe, characters are actually doing, rather than saying, something.
Yet Steven Spielberg, one of America's best directors, makes the movie come alive; watching it is like eavesdropping on history. Read More
Pat Dwyer and Stephen Mosher decided to make a political statement about the fact that same-sex marriage remains one of the nation’s most debated issues — so they got married in every U.S. state that allowed two men to do so.
The result of their ambitious road trip can be seen in the heartwarming “Married and Counting.” Screening at the Roxie Theater on Sunday and Nov. 14 in the 11th annual San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, the film is part social commentary and an all-out love story. Read More
“Flight” is the most satisfying movie that director Robert Zemeckis has made since “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the “Back to the Future” trilogy.
The strong screenplay by John Gatins nicely balances character development and humanity with gripping suspense and special effects in a story about a pilot who also is an alcoholic.
“This was one of those rare scripts,” said writer-director-producer Zemeckis, recently in San Franicsco to promote the movie. “The last time this happened is when I read ‘Forrest Gump.’ It was just so compelling.” Read More
One of the best things about “A Late Quartet” is that director Yaron Zilberman (and his cinematographers and audio engineers) makes the audience believe that actors Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir are seasoned professional musicians.
Yet it’s the Brentano Quartet gloriously playing the piece referenced in the film’s title: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C Minor, Op. 131, an apex of chamber music written just a year before the composer’s death. Read More
The well of Holocaust stories that make for informative and engrossing cinema may never run dry, and “The Flat,” Israeli director Arnon Goldfinger’s documentary about Jewish-Nazi collaboration, adds to the catalog.
Goldfinger has crafted a combination home movie, investigative document and big-picture journey that explores skeletons in family closets, German and Jewish modern history, and how the human need for self-preservation can be dubious.
That may add up to a bit of a bog, but a strong pulse and driving purpose keep things on track. Read More
“The Sessions” is about Berkeley-based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, who, afflicted with polio as a child, spent much of his adult life inside an iron lung before he died in 1999 at age 49.
Directed by Ben Lewin (who also contracted polio as a child and walks with crutches today), the film focuses on a fascinating episode in the 1980s when O’Brien hired a sex surrogate to help him explore and understand himself as a sexual being. Read More