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Jonathan Kiefer 

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.
Culture, The Exhibitionist Chatting With <i>Experimenter</i> Director Michael Almereyda: On the Legacy of a Creepy Researcher

Chatting With Experimenter Director Michael Almereyda: On the Legacy of a Creepy Researcher

In 1961, psychologist and Yale professor Stanley Milgram ran a controversial experiment to see whether ordinary people would deliberately administer harmful electric shocks to strangers just because an authority figure told them to. It’s a good question. If only…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist Wait, There’s a New Paul Thomas Anderson Movie? And It’s Playing at the Roxie?

Wait, There’s a New Paul Thomas Anderson Movie? And It’s Playing at the Roxie?

At about this time last week, subscribers to MUBI, the boutique film streaming service, got an email from Paul Thomas Anderson. His message was brief: “So… here’s Junun — the movie we made of our time in India. Plug it…
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Film, Freeheld

Freeheld

Yes, here is more awards-season schmaltz from ace affliction sufferer Julianne Moore. This time it's cancer, but also a reluctant battle for gay rights. Director Peter Sollet's bland but affecting audience sniffle-generator is precisely the Hollywood version of Cynthia Wade's…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist Architecture and Design Films at YBCA

Architecture and Design Films at YBCA

If all architecture is shelter, what is it that we’re really trying to keep safe? The soul of civilization? That does seem vulnerable, and precious, in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ second annual, monthlong Architecture & Design Films…
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Film, The Martian

The Martian

This otherworldly adventure yarn, with Matt Damon as a sort of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, might be the least self-serious movie Ridley Scott has ever made. Taking on Andy Weir's scientifically scrupulous hit novel (as adapted by Drew Goddard), Scott…
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Film, Sicario

Sicario

Prowling back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border, stirring up dread, Denis Villeneuve's drug-war-quagmire movie puts on very serious airs. It stars Emily Blunt as an FBI agent who's increasingly dismayed by cartel brutality, Josh Brolin as a shady federal…
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Film, Pawn Sacrifice

Pawn Sacrifice

To like this movie, you'll need to be someone who enjoys a good chess montage, or Tobey Maguire, or both. (Both would be ideal.) The story of prodigious, cantankerous chess champ Bobby Fischer feels like a bit of a for-hire…
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Film, Sleeping with Other People

Sleeping with Other People

In writer-director Leslye Headland'sSleeping with Other People, ye olde let's-try-a-platonic-relationship trope gets a dirty-talking update. It makes an impression less as an individual movie than as akindof movie, the R-rated rom-com, circa 2015. To help you remember: This is the…
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Film, California Independent Film Festival

California Independent Film Festival

Family matters are all the rage at the 18th annual California Independent Film Festival, which this year highlights non-hetero characters' subversive requisition of familiar movie-comedy maneuvers. Consider the tagline for writer-director Mikki Del Monico's lesbian mob comedy Alto: "Because coming…
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Film, Listening

Listening

A slick, thrifty sci-fi thriller, writer-director Khalil Sullins' debut feature has the distinctly amateurish sheen that comes from being at once unconvincingly lifelike and unconvincingly movie-like. Two handsome and quarrelsome grad students (Thomas Stroppel, Artie Ahr) have a secret tech-bro…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist <i>The Tribe</i>: A Whole Movie in Sign Language, With Something Harsh to Say

The Tribe: A Whole Movie in Sign Language, With Something Harsh to Say

Well, who needs dialogue, anyway? Just look at Shaun the Sheep Movie. You might need to look at Shaun the Sheep Movie in order to feel better after looking at The Tribe. It is one thing to make a…
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Film, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Alex Gibney has been sorting through the lures and lies of a lot of huge personality cults lately. Not to psychoanalyze the guy too much, but he might have a slight fetish for male mavericks confusing the currents of the…
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News, Feature Fall Arts 2015: Film

Fall Arts 2015: Film

9/8 Everest Directed by Baltasar Kormákur Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Debicki, Keira Knightley, and Robin Wright There's been a host of great mountain-climbing documentaries (MeruandThe Ascentin the last few years alone), but narrative films on the same subject tend to…
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News, Feature Fall Arts 2015: Film Festivals

Fall Arts 2015: Film Festivals

California Independent Film Festival Sept. 10-16 The Castro Theatre, the New Rheem Theatre in Moraga, and the Orinda Theatre in Orinda www.caiff.org Now in its 18th big year, the California Independent Film Festival features not just Golden State-sourced indie flicks…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist <i>7 Chinese Brothers</i> Star Jason Schwartzman and Director Bob Byington Discuss Drowsy Dogs, Forgotten Lines, and San Francisco Smartness

7 Chinese Brothers Star Jason Schwartzman and Director Bob Byington Discuss Drowsy Dogs, Forgotten Lines, and San Francisco Smartness

Available on demand today, writer-director Bob Byington’s new comedy 7 Chinese Brothers stars Jason Schwartzman as a hard-drinking, wise-cracking, endearing Austin slacker with very slim prospects for professional or personal growth. His charismatic co-stars include Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Root, Eleanore Pienta,…
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Film, Digging for Fire

Digging for Fire

Is there something about going mainstream — or, well, relatively mainstream — that's sapping Joe Swanberg's vitality? God knows he's entitled to a little slowdown after many years of matchless productivity in the DIY shoestring-indie trenches (although Swanberg's great filmmaking…
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Film, Steak (R)evolution

Steak (R)evolution

Faced with a title likeSteak (R)evolution, is it so wrong to hope for a movie in which cows genetically modify themselves into super-intelligence and overrun their corrals in a stampede of rebellion? (You could have scenes of dumbfounded cable news…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist Chatting With <i>Digging for Fire</i> Director Joe Swanberg

Chatting With Digging for Fire Director Joe Swanberg

The prolific and ever-burgeoning independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg makes warmly lived-in movies, increasingly involving commercially familiar actors. His newest, Digging for Fire, is a love story, and maybe also an oblique thriller, about house-sitting in Hollywood. Jake Johnson and…
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Film, Being Evel

Being Evel

Daniel Junge's likable, longish documentary opens with Johnny Knoxville informing us that "going for it" is part of the culture now, and that's thanks to surly, macho motorcycle daredevil and 1970s pop icon Evel Knievel. So the audience for this…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist New on Video: Agnès Varda in California

New on Video: Agnès Varda in California

Agnès Varda first came to California in 1967, when Hollywood summoned her fellow-director husband Jacques Demy after his The Umbrellas of Cherbourg became an international hit. Varda wasn’t sure how long she’d stay, but the place just smelled like cinema, mixed…
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