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Reel World 

Wednesday, May 26 1999
Am I the only one in town who's not stupid with delirium about the imminent opening of the upscale gigantiplex and shopping mall called Sony Metreon? My antipathy for the project has nothing to do with Sony's failure to invite me down to Fourth and Mission streets for a tour and a T-shirt (journalists are suckers for cheap swag), but with the inexorable conversion of the urban center into an exclusive, overpriced playground for tourists and suburbanites. At best, the Metreon is a harmless outing for your inner xenophobe; at worst, it's ethnic cleansing, American style.

Presumably the Metreon will be more inviting than the AMC 1000 Van Ness (which, despite its suburban Toledo ambience, is consistently jammed), but the new theater will blast the same awful blockbusters at runway volume. The only detail that gives me pause is the S.F. International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival's choice of Metreon for its "centerpiece screening" on June 22 of Aimee and Jaguar, a German film based on the true story of a lesbian love affair cut short by the Nazis. It's a savvy ploy by Sony to lure gay folks through the doors (Big Daddy and American Pie sure aren't going to do it), but don't expect to see another gay-themed flick on the marquee for a long while.

In fact, I'll wager that -- festival screenings excepted -- the Metreon never plays another foreign-language film.

House Party
In the land of single-screen theaters, the Bridge (aka The House That Miramax Rebuilt, given Shakespeare in Love's longevity) is holding a poster contest to mark its 60th anniversary in mid-July. Designs must include a "representation" of the Golden Gate Bridge since (I didn't know this) that was what inspired the theater's name. Each entrant receives a pair of movie passes, while the winner scores $500 plus a '99 Landmark pass and goodies from Pearl Art & Craft Supply. June 15 is the deadline for entries; a list of rules is available at Landmark theaters, Pearl stores, and Full disclosure: I'm serving as one of the judges, but flattering depictions of Reel World in a Speedo won't help your chances.

Paris Is Burning
In anticipation of quake retrofitting, the Pacific Film Archive will leave the cozy George Gund Theater at the end of June (and resume at a new location in September). The last month's offerings at the Gund include Japanese animation, American faux documentaries, and the unsentimental French kisses of Claude Chabrol and Jacques Becker. ... Francophiles still have another week of Truffauts to savor at the Castro; journalist Terry Gelenter's site has free tix plus the lowdown on the new Truffaut biography. The urbane Gelenter takes the stage June 3 at the Rafael Film Center to chat with Jeff Young about his new book of 1971-72 interviews, Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films, followed by a screening of On the Waterfront; tickets at 383-5256. ... The S.F. Lesbian and Gay Fest's opener, Trick, marks the joyful return of co-producer Bob Hawk, who spearheaded the Film Arts Festival a decade ago. ... Amid all the visual effects keeping The Phantom Menace (barely) airborne, one amazing little feature that George Lucas had built into his laptop has been somehow ignored. Dubbed "Syllable Check," this nifty word processing tool translated Lucas' original dialogue into words no longer than one syllable.

Or do you have a better explanation for how a living, breathing adult could write such drivel?

By Michael Fox

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Michael Fox


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