Volume 43 Number 11

These Arms Are Snakes

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PREVIEW Rising from a new-millennium Seattle rock renaissance, These Arms Are Snakes offers a new take on an ever-growing post-hardcore scene. Often compared to bands like mewithoutYou and As Cities Burn, These Arms Are Snakes raises the bar yet again with this year’s brilliant Tall Swallower and Dove (Suicide Squeeze). While most prog/post-hardcore riffraff skew toward more experimental, ambient pastures, the Northwestern miscreants opt for a more direct approach with Tall Swallower and Dove: the outfit seems as happy to bludgeon the listener with sonic buzzsaw and raw power as it is to confound the listener with odd time signatures and intricate melodic structures. "Prince Squid" and "Red Line Season" display These Arms Are Snakes’ impressive ability to write melodic, tuneful pieces, laced with an edge becoming to a group that includes former members of nineironspitfire and hardcore legends Botch.

Tall Swallower and Dove‘s tracks have an energetic, organic feel that will lend itself well to the stage, though These Arms Are Snakes already has a reputation as a spellbinding live act: frontperson Steve Snere is known to thrash and convulse wildly, like an intoxicated rag doll. And then there’s the bona fide guitar virtuosity of Ryan Frederiksen, which remains as underrated as the band itself. In a post-hardcore scene sorely lacking the raw passion and ingenuity of acts like At the Drive-In and Refused, These Arms Are Snakes remain one of the few groups that is capable of sonic innovation while staying true to its roots in the hardcore scene


THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES With Trap Them and Narrows. Sun/14, 9 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 626-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com

Cinematic repression

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REVIEW Falling ill from scarlet fever on a mid-1950s Berlin street, strapping 15-year-old schoolboy Michael Berg (David Kross) experiences kindness from passerby Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) that he seeks to repay when he recovers some months later. The brusque, moody woman more than twice his age brushes him off, initially. But then they commence an affair in which she proves a very astute erotic tutor, though she resists the emotional connection he feels. A decade later, as a law student, he discovers Hanna’s secret while spectating a Nazi war crimes trial. Decades later still, grown-up Michael (Ralph Fiennes) recollects these events as they’ve weighed on his subsequent life. David Hare’s very sharp screenplay takes some liberties adapting Bernhard Schlink’s novel. But in general, the screenplay and director Stephen Daldry (2002’s The Hours, 2000’s Billy Elliot) do an exemplary job transutf8g a primarily interior-voice tome into cinematic terms. Like other recent successful films about emotional repression (2005’s Brokeback Mountain and the forthcoming Revolutionary Road, for instance), The Reader is most moving precisely in its rigorous restraint, directorial and performance-wise.

THE READER opens Fri/12 in San Francisco.

“incidental films for an accidental audience”

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PREVIEW The Bay Area is no stranger to outdoor projection: the past few years alone have brought Melinda Stone and Liz Keim’s "A Trip Down Market Street" program; a series of "Illuminated Corridor" get-togethers in Oakland; and of course, numerous installments of Film Night in the Park. But Michael Damm’s "incidental films for an accidental audience" is something new — a more ephemeral, relatively (in the artist’s words) "unannounced" projection event taking place in various transit spaces or zones. "I’m interested in the anonymity of people seeing [the projections] in passing," Damm explains, during a recent phone conversation. "It presents a different way of thinking about how people see things. A glimpse can be an interstice — a glimpse in passing can leave a question hanging."

Though "incidental films" is an extension of an ongoing project with Portland, Ore., curator Stephanie Snyder, Damm happened upon the idea of projections shortly after moving from SF to the East Bay. "Oakland is a lot more about driving, and about the freeway," he says. "I became curious about those transit corridors." Damm found himself drawing ideas from the German architect and urban planning theorist Thomas Sieverts, in particular Sieverts’ idea of the Zwischenstadt, or "in-between city." Though Damm is guarded about the specific visuals he’s projecting, expect to see views of life-in-motion as you speed past his sights or sites.

INCIDENTAL FILMS FOR AN ACCIDENTAL AUDIENCE Through Dec. 21. Evening commute hours. In Oakland: viewable from the westbound platform of the West Oakland BART Station, and from passing trains northwest of the station. In San Francisco: viewable on Folsom (between 15th and 16th streets) and intermittently on the 80, 880, and 101 freeway corridors.

www.davidcunninghamprojects.com, www.invisiblevenue.com, www.suddenly.org