Volume 42 Number 36

Comedy of the grotesque


REVIEW Always looking like the potato famine’s desperately drunk survivor, Stephen Rea is that rare screen actor masochistically gifted at communicating physical as well as psychic pain. No one could possibly have struck more notes on the scale from pathos to giddy gallows humor than he does in Stuck, cult horror director Stuart Gordon’s brutally tart black comedy. He plays Tom, a down-on-his-luck, newly jobless and homeless guy whose already shitty day gets a whole lot worse when he’s accidentally plowed into by Brandi (Mena Suvari), a young rest home caregiver in the distracted aftermath of some major off-time partying. Lodged in her windshield — half in, half out of the car — Tom appears to be not long for this world. So Brandi (afraid that involving the police, to say nothing of jail time, might endanger her potential job promotion) does the logical thing: she drives home, parks the car in the garage, and goes to work, assuming that Tom will expire during her shift. Only he hangs on, finding ways despite his weakened, bloody, and, er, stuck condition to keep the not-exactly-evil but slightly trashy, supremely self-involved Brandi and her less-than-faithful boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby) from disposing of him. Inspired (very loosely) by an actual incident, Stuck is a eminently satisfying comedy of the grotesque, sporting all of Gordon’s flair for balancing queasy horror and near-surreal hilarity. (When you look back on his track record of imaginative genre films and consider the dreck that routinely gets wide-released, it’s shameful that this is practically his first theatrically distributed feature since Re-Animator and From Beyond, both more than two decades old.) Suvari and Hornsby etch shallow yet oddly sympathetic characters in very funny and credible details, while Rea is ideal in one of his best roles ever — not that this is the kind of movie people give acting awards for. Maybe they ought to, though.

STUCK opens Fri/6 in Bay Area theaters.

“Written on Spiders”


REVIEW From this side of the planet, as many in the American art world see it, Berlin is currently the art world’s utopia. Things are happening there: experimentation and funding can be had, as well as cheap studios, alternative-gallery spaces, and thriving collectives galore. But this scene didn’t just fall from the sky like a space virus and infect the German capital in the past few years. It’s been brewing for some time. One collective, known as a hub that links dozens of contemporary German artists, is Starship. In 1998 it began publishing a self-titled alternative-art magazine with conceptually-themed issues, including images and writing generated by its community. San Francisco gallerist Jessica Silverman befriended Starship founding members Ariane Müller, Martin Ebner, and Hans-Christian Dany five years ago, and Silverman Gallery’s inaugural exhibition in its former Dogpatch location showcased their work.

The collective’s current show at Silverman is a mixed-media gathering that includes drawings, text, sculpture, back issues of Starship’s magazine, and a selection from the group’s poster series titled The Like of it now happens, which focuses on the subjects of excess and sustainability. Judith Hopf’s Singing Frogs — a photo collage of frogs with frogs in their throats — and Klaus Weber’s Ultra Moth provide weirdly funny, surreal social commentary in the tradition of propaganda posters. Because the group chose to not plaster its work around San Francisco — a city not known to embrace guerilla art kindly — they created a faux "outside" for them to exist in. Visitors entering Silverman are confronted by a large, silver, barred cube, like an astral reproduction of the gallery space. Sit on the space’s floor and thumb through the relatively recent Starship issue, The year we went nowhere (2005), and it feels like browsing a travel guide: you might get a sense of these Berliners’ flourishing art boom.

WRITTEN ON SPIDERS Through June 14. Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Silverman Gallery, 804 Sutter, SF. (415) 255-9508, www.silverman-gallery.com