Tuesday, April 28, 2015

San Francisco International Film Festival 58: Titles to Watch For

I've never been very good about film festivals, I'm not sure why. After they were over, I'd hear about some of the things I missed out on for no good reason, and would tell myself that I'd be more aware of what would be playing where and on which days, and make it to as many as I could, which resulted in a great experience at the Guillermo del Toro night. So here are some of the highlights I've found for the rest of this year's SFIFF:

"Seventeen-year-old Shiori’s Gothic Lolita garb attracts a lot of fans to her interactive video blog, a stepping stone she hopes will launch her career as a model and actress. One day while handing out promotional pamphlets, she meets Ayumi, a timid 13-year old who is in awe of her and her wardrobe. Shiori is initially wary of the attention but takes pleasure in being idolized, and eventually allows the girl to get closer. Ayumi’s growing infatuation becomes difficult to disguise, and their odd friendship takes an unforeseen turn after Ayumi runs away from home and quietly begins to infiltrate Shiori’s life and relationship with her boyfriend. Prominently showcasing the music of Japanese pop star Seiko Oomori, Wonderful World End embraces a narcissistic and hyper-commercialized version of Japanese teen life. Director Daigo Matsui spiritedly and stylishly presents a youth culture where emojis, text messages and candy-colored fantasies invade the screen in unabashed fashion. —Julia Barbosa"
This will be playing at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre 4/30 at 4pm, 5/1 at 8:45pm, and 5/3 at 4:45pm 

"From the fantastic team behind Father’s Day and Manborg comes a loving tribute to the giallo films of the 1970s. The Editor distills the best and most sublimely ridiculous bits of this unique, largely Italian-made thriller-erotica-horror genre into a story about a once-famous editor who becomes the prime suspect in a series of homicides. Editor Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once a great practitioner of his craft, but a freak accident leaves him with four wooden fingers. Equipped with a clumsy prosthetic, he now spends his days slaving on lurid pulp movies in 1970s Italy. When the cast and crew of his most recent project start turning up dead, suspicions keep turning to Rey and even he starts questioning his own innocence. Hilarious, visually adventurous, politically incorrect and violent, The Editor is packed with cult actors, including Udo Kier, Laurence R. Harvey, Tristan Risk and Paz de la Huerta. —Evrim Ersoy"
This is will be showing at the Roxie Theatre only on 5/1 at 11pm. The trailer will get you Italian horror fans pumped, because that is actually Claudio Simonetti of Goblin taking part in the score of the movie.

"A mother (Susanne Wuest) recovers from plastic surgery in an idyllic country retreat while her two fresh-faced young twin boys Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) frolic about the house and in the nearby cornfields. What at first seems like an idyllic country paradise, however, is quickly shown to be rotten just beneath the surface. The boys are at home in nature. They collect bugs, play with animals, like to roughhouse and get a little dirty. Their fastidious mother sits in icy, stark contrast, much like their sleek, sterile, modern home juxtaposes the rustic countryside in which it is plopped. Mom needs absolute calm for her recovery and becomes increasingly annoyed and borderline abusive with her free-spirited children. They in turn begin to suspect that something might not be altogether right with her since her procedure. Austrian weirdo auteur Ulrich Siedl (The Paradise trilogy, In the Basement) produced Goodnight Mommy, and his distinctly odd, subtle flourishes of humor and style can be detected in its nooks and crannies. But writers/directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala craft a deliciously intense and genuinely exhausting thriller that is distinctly their own. With slow-burning tension that excruciatingly ratchets tighter and tighter from first frame to final credits, Goodnight Mommy will leave genre fans both exhilarated and exhausted. —Tim League"
This will be playing at the Clay Theatre on 5/1 at 4pm

"The avant-garde music and multimedia collective known as The Residents has never revealed the identity of its members, always appearing in costume in extravagant live musical performances and filmed projects. They have also been making some of the world’s most mind-bending music and visual artifacts for more than 40 years. Don Hardy’s fast-paced documentary tells the story of the group’s start in rural North Louisiana, their artistic awakening in late-‘60s San Francisco (including some incredible archival footage of the band in what appears to be a North Beach folk club), and follows them to the present day where they are still going strong creating and performing. The film employs a trove of archival material alongside contemporary performances and interviews with the band’s longtime “business managers,” the Cryptic Corporation as well as a wide variety of creative minds—including Penn Jillette, Jerry Harrison, Les Claypool of Primus,Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening and members of Neurosis, Henry Cow and Ween—drawn to the group’s uncompromising focus on creative control over conventional commercial success. Without exposing that final mystery,Theory of Obscurity illuminates the ethos and influence of a band whose perseverance and originality have begun to attract a whole new generation of fans. —Cory Sklar"
This film will be screening at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre 5/1 at 9pm, and 5/3 at 6:15pm.

"Akikazu Fujishima has made some mistakes. He beat his wife’s lover to within an inch of the man’s life, quit his job as a detective and now lives as an alcoholic, estranged from his family. When he receives a call from his wife, telling him that their daughter Kanako has gone missing, he sees an opportunity to quickly restore himself as the man of the house and sets off on a mission to find her. Fujishima quickly learns that his daughter is far from the picture of perfection he thought she was, and finds himself in a vile and extremely violent mess. From the high school cafeteria to underground raves to dark sewers, there’s nowhere Fujishima won’t go—and nothing he won’t do—to find his daughter. Tetsuya Nakashima (Confessions, Memories of Matsuko) has taken audiences to some severely dark places, and his latest film tells his most sordid story yet. Based on the novel Hateshinaki Kawaki by Akio Fukamachi, the pitch-black The World of Kanako combines a ‘70s sense of exploitation action with modern violent thriller tropes and a touch of unexpected humor. The result is a shocking yet frequently beautiful film that ventures into some horrific places. —Brian Kelley"
This will be screening at the Roxie Theatre on 5/2 at 11pm

"Set in the near future, Advantageous (winner of a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival) focuses on Gwen Koh, a single mother, whose aspirations for her daughter drive her to the precipice of a fraught decision. Including eerie and ingenious low-key special effects and a deliciously understated performance by Jacqueline Kim, this sci-fi film is rife with underlying tension and lyrical beauty perfectly matching the city’s atmosphere of quiet desperation. Gwen works as a spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living (an innocuous sounding organization that is, in fact, a corporate behemoth) and finds that she is in danger of losing her job. That would make it impossible for her to send her daughter Jules to private school, a termed “advantage” that in actuality is more a necessity to shield Jules from this future society's brutal economic disparities. The Center’s newest and untested health procedure offers Gwen a dangerous, life-altering chance to continue her career. To weigh her options, Gwen attempts to reconnect to the estranged father of her child (Ken Jeong) and his new wife, but as seems standard for all in this dystopian landscape, Gwen remains alienated and alone. Through this allegorical structure, Advantageous intelligently investigates present-day society’s perspectives on femininity and motherhood and how they intersect with questions of beauty, surveillance and the economy. —Sean Uyehara"
This will be playing at the Clay Theatre on 5/3 at 6:15pm and at the Sundance Kabuki 5/5 at 9:15pm and 5/6 at 1pm. 

Follow the respective links for ticket information to each movie. 
And let's all go to the movies!

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