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Alan Scherstuhl

Film, $ellebrity: The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Photos

$ellebrity: The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Photos

It's not easy being famous, as the famous love to remind us. Just ask Jennifer Aniston, Kid Rock, or any of the other instantly recognizable talking heads director Kevin Mazur has assembled for his docu-evisceration of the parasitic celebrity apparatus,…
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Culture, Books The Real Fantastic: Of Dungeons and Day Jobs

The Real Fantastic: Of Dungeons and Day Jobs

In an age when the price of a movie ticket can get you three hours of hang-time in Middle Earth, fantasy worlds aren’t exactly at a premium. But stories that brush up against the truly fantastic, that capture anew some…
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Film, "Tchoupitoulas": The Real, Real New Orleans

"Tchoupitoulas": The Real, Real New Orleans

While they almost certainly have plans for striking new projects that expand our understanding of what documentaries can be, Bill and Turner Ross — the co-directors, -producers, -camera operators, and -troublemakers behind Tchoupitoulas — could do posterity a service if…
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Film, "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D": Bring on the Acrobats

"Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D": Bring on the Acrobats

The ravishing and kitschy Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is the rare movie whose title serves as an accurate indicator of whether you would enjoy seeing it. If you think it sounds good, it damn straight is; if not, beware…
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Film, "This Is 40": Long, Aimless, and Worth It

"This Is 40": Long, Aimless, and Worth It

Sadly, country songwriters stand as nearly the only entertainers in our popular culture who craft memorable art on the subject of marriage, the state in which just less than half of Americans spend the majority of their lives. A few…
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Film, "Hyde Park on Hudson": Patrician Patriotism

"Hyde Park on Hudson": Patrician Patriotism

It's dispiriting that a film about the romantic life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who cultivated a small coterie of mistresses, should exhibit so little interest in what so engaged its hero: the women's individual hearts and minds. Instead, Hyde Park…
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Culture, Books Travel Channeling: December Books Search for the Self

Travel Channeling: December Books Search for the Self

It's not an insult to the work of Swiss novelist/memoirist/archaeologist Annemarie Schwarzenbach that readers, in the decades since her death in 1942, have found her writing not quite as interesting as her life. After growing up in Zurich dominated by…
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Film, "The Details": Deliciously Black Comedy

"The Details": Deliciously Black Comedy

Another dark comedy exposing the wormy dirt beneath suburban sod, The Details never lays bare any truths we haven't known since, say, Revolutionary Road — the book. But a gorgeous, pungent shot early on of that sod and those worms…
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Culture, Books Found in Translation: Great Sci-Fi From AmazonCrossings

Found in Translation: Great Sci-Fi From AmazonCrossings

A laugh-out-loud apocalypse, a daft two-against-the-world love story, and a science-fiction satire of the godawful way advertising can cram everything but itself right out of our brains, Andri Snær Magnason's LoveStar (SevenStories Press, $16.95, 320 pages) is the rare novel…
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Film, Film Feature

Good Spielberg's Bad Moments: An Emotional History

The first few minutes of Lincoln play out like a parody of the expectations of Steven Spielberg's detractors. The Great Emancipator rests like a humble Solomon upon a hard wooden chair, surrounded by freely mixing black and white soldiers of…
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Film, "Atlas Shrugged Part II": The Free Market Can't Improve This

"Atlas Shrugged Part II": The Free Market Can't Improve This

It's tempting to snipe that the argument of Atlas Shrugged Part II — that the genius of an unregulated free market results in the greatest of all greater goods — is somewhat undone by the chintziness of Atlas Shrugged Part…
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Film, "Seven Psychopaths": A Great, Nasty Time at the Movies

"Seven Psychopaths": A Great, Nasty Time at the Movies

Perhaps you've lost faith in movies about amusingly digressive criminals. Maybe you believe it's no longer possible to be pleasurably jolted by inventive swearing, from-no-place head shots, and post-everything structural flourishes. Certainly you have no reason to expect blood-splattered poetry…
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Culture, Books Virtual Worlds: A Few of This Season's Instant Classics

Virtual Worlds: A Few of This Season's Instant Classics

One of the few happy developments here at the end of all book culture has been the vigorous republication of out-of-print marvels by the New York Review of Books crowd under the imprint NYRB Classics. Among the mid-century delights they've…
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Film, Feature "Raiders of the Lost Ark": Still Joyously Disreputable in IMAX

"Raiders of the Lost Ark": Still Joyously Disreputable in IMAX

The story goes that while filming in Tunisia in the summer of 1980, Steven Spielberg avoided the dysentery that afflicted most of the cast and crew of Raiders of the Lost Ark by holing up in his hotel room with…
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Film, "2016: Obama's America": The Five Most Hilarious Lowlights

"2016: Obama's America": The Five Most Hilarious Lowlights

The movie of choice this week for people who hold the beliefs that A) America is the strongest, best-est country that God ever virgin-birthed and B) that that nation somehow just isn't strong enough to survive eight years of centrist…
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Culture, Books "A Hologram for the King": Dave Eggers Shows His Kind Heart

"A Hologram for the King": Dave Eggers Shows His Kind Heart

Perhaps what's most remarkable about Dave Eggers' big-spiritedness is that the same humane, world-minded impulses that animate his work with 826 Valencia et al. also have become the hallmark of his fiction and reportage. Who could have guessed that, after…
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Culture, Books "The Chaperone": A Starlet Starts Her Century

"The Chaperone": A Starlet Starts Her Century

A year after the first Nickelodeons opened in 1900, the wiseasses at the Edison Company filmed and unleashed The Kansas Saloon Smashers, a raucous low comedy in which an Irishman drinks, a cop falls on his butt, and that old…
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News, Sucka Free City

Cruel Summer: Further Excerpts from a 1993 Diary

What follows are actual entries from a tiny, mysterious diary discovered at the Goodwill at 822 Geary by former SF Weekly Copy Editor Vicky Walker. When last we checked in with our mysterious diarist ("Remembrance of Things Dreary," Feb. 15),…
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News, Sucka Free City

But, the Children: Save California Denounces Harvey Milk Day

There's a chance that yesterday morning's commute was a touch easier than usual. Turns out that Tuesday, May 22 — also known as Harvey Milk Day, in honor of the 1930 birthday of the martyred gay activist — has become…
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News, Sucka Free City

Rant: How to Prove Your Worth to Walgreens

Ranter: Pixie-cut, mini-skirted fortysomething woman in dingy garb that suggests hipsterism, homelessness, or both. Location: Outside the Walgreens at Market and Stockton Time: 10 p.m. on a recent Saturday Topics covered: Security guards' prerequisites; the importance of advanced education; how…
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