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The Selector: Oct. 8-14, 2014

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WEDNESDAY 8

 

King Khan and BBQ Show

King Khan is perhaps best known for his work with his garage-soul-punk outfit The Shrines, a tremendously noisy and riotously fun group of talented musicians. But it is his collaborations with Mark Sultan, a.k.a. BBQ, that will make you laugh, mist up, shake your groove thang, and fall in love. The pair has been working together since the late ’90s, first in Canadian punk band the space Spaceshits, and then again as a rock duo. Though the relationship has been tumultuous, there’s no denying that King Khan and BBQ are musical soul mates. Their (extremely) unique blend of doo-wop, punk, garage rock, and potty humor will steal your heart and sell your soul. (Haley Zaremba)

With Isaac Rother, The Phantoms

8pm, $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell St

(415) 885-0750

www.slimspresents.com

 

THURSDAY 9

 

Shocktoberfest 15: The Bloody Débutante

Horror and carnage! Songs and…chuckles? Local theater menagerie Thrillpeddlers — beloved for its hugely successful revivals of Cockettes musicals — never disappoints when it comes to putting a uniquely bawdy yet gore-gushing spin on Halloween entertainment. In addition to the trademark “Spook-Show Finale” (you may laugh yourself silly during the prior acts, but this part is genuinely freaky), the 15th Shocktoberfest boasts a titillating quartet of short plays. The title entry is by composer and music director (and original Cockette) Scrumbly Koldewyn; there’s also a circa-1903 entry from Paris’ legendary Grand Guignol, the Poe adaptation The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather, and two black comedies: Deathwrite and The Taxidermist’s Revenge. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Nov 22

Opens Thu/9, 8pm; runs Thu-Sat and Oct 28-29, 8pm, $30-35

Hypnodrome

575 10th St, SF

www.brownpapertickets.com

 

 

Imelda May

Taking the sounds of traditional rockabilly, blues and jazz and giving them an injection of her own infectious energy and style, Irish chanteuse Imelda May’s sultry and sumptuous voice can make listeners swoon at a ballad or jump up to the searing rockers that pepper her excellent new album Tribal (Verve), which was released last month in the United States. May has been rocking stages for well over a decade in the UK, and is finally gaining the popularity here that she and her talented band so rightly deserve — this is your chance to see the Dublin-born singer belt it out in a venue truly befitting her timeless tunes. (Sean McCourt)

With The Rhythm Shakers

8pm, $29.50

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-3000

www.thefillmore.com

 

FRIDAY 10

 

Arab Film Festival

The 18th annual Arab Film Festival, which focuses on independent films from the Arab world, opens tonight at the Castro Theatre with writer-director-star Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer, about a Jordanian American writer whose impending marriage to a Palestinian shakes up her family. Alia Shawkat — yep, Maeby Fünke from Arrested Development — co-stars as her straight-talking sister. The rest of the fest sprawls across the Bay Area, with documentaries, shorts, and more; Tangiers-set drama Rock the Casbah closes it out Oct. 23 at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Oct 23, most shows $12

Various venues in SF, Oakl, Berk, and Palo Alto

www.arabfilmfestival.org

 

 

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife first materialized in Osaka in the early ’80s. Working against the backdrop of J-pop, at the time a burgeoning movement, Shonen Knife drew equally from sunny ’60s-style pop and raw, ’70s punk. Using simple, solid songwriting and light-hearted lyrics in both English and Japanese, Shonen Knife have managed to remain a beloved mainstay in DIY and punk scenes around the world. Fans included Fugazi and Kurt Cobain, both of whom invited the band to open for them. (Shonen Knife did a whole European tour with Nirvana just before the band released Nevermind.) One of very few all-girl bands to come out of Japan in their era, not only are Shonen Knife (literally translated as Boy Knife) girl-punk pioneers, they are musical and feminist role models — with kickass haircuts and killer riffs. (Zaremba)

Death Valley Girls, Great Apes

9:30pm, $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St, SF

(415) 626-4455

www.bottomofthehill.com

 

 

Bay Area Book & Cover Design Exhibition

Litquake will sprawl across the city for another year of festivities to appreciate the written word, where, “against the backdrop of a technology-crazed San Francisco, writers [are] still drawn to the city.” For the 12th year, book lovers will have their cravings met, and this week-long exhibition will showcase the best in book and cover design from Bay Area publishers with books published between 2010 and mid-2014. This is a unique chance to take a closer look at the art and design that enclose masterpieces of text. The designs will be displayed at Chronicle Book’s Metreon store as well the SF Public Library Main branch.

Through Sat/18

6pm-8pm, free

Chronicle Books

165 4th St, SF

 

SF Public Library

100 Larkin, SF

(415) 369-6271

www.litquake.org/events/booksxdesign.com

 

 

Carmen Ledesma

The 9th annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival will debut Spain’s own Carmen Ledesma to the Bay Area as she celebrates the unique Gypsy flamenco traditions of Utera. Her performance is a representation of Sevilla’s legacy of female dancers and will be accompanied by a group of professional flamenco artists — including guitarist Antonio Moya and singer Mari Peña of the legendary “Pinini Clan.” Ledesma has performed with Spain’s National Ballet and is known as one of the “best flamenco dance teachers in Andalucía today,” so take advantage of her workshops during the festival, where you will get your chance to learn from one of the best.

8pm, $30-$100

Cowell Theater

2 Marina, SF

(510) 444-2820

www.bayareaflamencofestival.org

 

SATURDAY 11

 

Berlin and Beyond Autumn Showcase

Hot on the heels of the SF Silent Film Festival’s “Silent Autumn” comes another seasonal mini-fest: the Berlin and Beyond Autumn Showcase, showcasing a quintet of films ahead of the main B&B fest in January. First up is a 35mm screening of documentary Megacities, a tribute to its Austrian filmmaker, Michael Glawogger, who died of malaria earlier this year while working on a new project in Africa. Another doc, Enemies/Friends: German Prisoners of War, makes its North American debut, as does Dreamland, a Zurich-set ensemble drama. There’s also a repeat from the ongoing Mill Valley Film Festival — Volker Schlöndorff’s World War II nailbiter, Diplomacy — and Banklady, a based-on-true-events tale of a young woman who hones her bank-robbing skills in 1960s West Germany. (CherylEddy)

First film at 11am, $12 (full day pass, $50)

New People Cinema

1746 Post, SF

www.berlinbeyond.com

 

 

4th Annual Yerba Buena Night

Wander the streets in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena district and see it come alive for just this night. Music, video, art, and dance — you name it. The festival is back and better than ever with over 40 performances scattered across five stages. Kicking off the night will be the Yerba Buena Alliance Artwalk, where you can look in awe upon giant video projections, interactive installations, and explore galleries and exhibits for free. And later, if you’ve never seen live aerialists perform, now is your chance. Not to mention local buzzworthy bands like Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Roem and The Revival, Rin Tin Tiger, Robot Dance Party…the list goes on. For the first time, Off the Grid will make an appearance; you can also keep the festivities going late into the night — long after the streets have emptied — as neighboring businesses will offer all kinds of food and drink specials.

4pm-10pm, free

Multiple Locations

760 Mission, SF

(415) 644-0728

www.ybnight.org

 

SUNDAY 12

 

Bay Area Ladyfest Presents: Feminist Porn

Bay Area Ladyfest, a four-day smorgasbord of performances, DIY workshops, film screenings, and house shows celebrating the art and work of all self-identified women, will close out the festivities Sunday evening with um, a bang. “Feminist Porn and Self Pleasure: A Dialogue and Screening,” co-presented with Fucking Sculptures (which creates sex toys that double as fine art), will include a discussion with Fucking Sculptures’ owner, followed by screenings from local independent queer and feminist porn purveyors. Afterward, meet the performers and tell them just how much you enjoyed their work! (Emma Silvers)

18+, 6pm-10pm, $5 suggested donation

701 Bancroft, Berk.

www.bayarealadyfest.tumblr.com


TUESDAY 14

Culture Collide SF

For the first time in SF, the originally LA-based Culture Collide is bringing more than 35 bands from all over the world — Peru, Israel,the Netherlands, Turkey, Japan, in addition to the US — to venues throughout the Mission, all for a very-easy-on-your-wallet $20. This 21+ fest has bigshots like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Cloud Nothings, locals who are in the process of blowing up like GRMLN, and a whole slew of buzzy international folks we’ve been hearing about — the Netherlands’ Go Back to the Zoo, the UK’s Nothing But Thieves, Costa Rica’s Alphabetics, at Mission venues the Chapel, the Elbo Room, Mission Workshop, and Amnesia. Plus, comedy, music industry panels (SF’s Different Fur will host the Elbo Room stage), and events billed as “Beers of the World,” “Spirits of the World,” and “Best Mission Burrito” (if you don’t want to take the NYT’s word for it.) Best of all — no passport necessary.

Through Wed/15 3pm-12am, $20-$30

Venues through the Mission, SF

www.culturecollide.com

 

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Questions of the week: Who is the walrus? And who is Liam Neeson gonna take down next? New movies!

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If Jesse Hawthorne Ficks’ ongoing Pixel Vision posts about the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival have you longing for your own festival experience, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s one-day “Silent Autumn” series at the Castro Theatre, as well as Cine+Mas’ San Francisco Latino Film Festival, which opens tonight at the Brava Theater and runs through Sept. 27 at various venues.

First-run picks o’ the week include Liam Neeson’s latest lone-wolf action movie, an ensemble movie starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, and Kevin Smith’s new joint, in which Justin Long turns into a walrus. Yep, you read that right. Read on for reviews and trailers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ng4MD66WyU

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Writer-director Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby began as separate films about a failed marriage, told from the points of view of the husband (James McAvoy), and then the wife (Jessica Chastain). Because Americans will happily binge-watch entire TV seasons but still get the shakes when confronted with a two-part film, the segments (titled Him and Her) are getting wide release in the edited-together Them. (Diehards will have a chance to seek out the complete work eventually, but for now, this review concerns only Them.) As the film begins, Chastain’s Eleanor (yep, named after the Beatles song) flings herself off an NYC bridge. She survives physically, but her mental state is still supremely fragile, so she checks out of her Manhattan life and her marriage to Connor (McAvoy), and digs in at the chic suburban saltbox occupied by her parents (Isabelle Huppert and William Hurt) and sister (Jess Weixler), a single mother with a young son. Meanwhile, Connor mopes around his failing restaurant with his chef BFF (the suddenly ubiquitous Bill Hader), and pays occasional visits to his own moping father (Ciarán Hinds). The estranged couple circles each other, in flashbacks and occasional run-ins, and the audience is slowly made privy to the tragedy that drove them apart and has them both reeling from grief months later. Even in mash-up form, this is a delicate film, enhanced by Benson’s confidence in his audience’s intelligence; what could have been a manipulative tear-jerker instead feels authentically raw, with characters whose emotional confusion leads them to behave in realistically frustrating ways. The casting is note-perfect, with a special nod to Viola Davis as Eleanor’s world-weary college professor. I’ll be seeking out Her just to catch more of that performance. (2:03) (Cheryl Eddy)

The Iceman A palace guard accused of murder (martial arts star Donnie Yen) and three vengeful brothers are all frozen mid-battle — only to defrost 400 years later and pick up where they left off. (1:46) Four Star.

Los Angeles Plays Itself Remastered and newly cleared for fair use, Thom Andersen’s incisive 2003 film essay on narrative cinema’s many representations and misrepresentations of Los Angeles plays a single night at the Castro. Andersen’s impressively choreographed montage zigzags through a vast litany of film history, submitting erotic thrillers, middlebrow Oscar bait, and avant-garde outliers to the same materialist protocol. Observing Hollywood’s tendency to falsify geography and transform landmarks of modernist geography into villainous hideouts, Andersen’s treatment of mainstream ideology is acidly funny but never condescending. To the contrary: Los Angeles Plays Itself is driven by an unshakeable faith that another kind of film — and with it another kind of world — is possible. In methodically deconstructing countless car chases and phony denouements, the native Angeleno lays groundwork for the fresh appreciation of the diverse neorealisms found in the work of directors like Kent Mackenzie (1961’s The Exiles), Nicholas Ray (1955’s Rebel Without a Cause), Fred Halsted (1972’s LA Plays Itself), Charles Burnett (1979’s Killer of Sheep), and Billy Woodberry (1984’s Bless Their Little Hearts). A true work of termite art and an impassioned argument for “a city of walkers, a cinema of walking,” Los Angeles Plays Itself is the closest thing to a cineaste’s Death and Life of Great American Cities. (2:49) Castro. (Max Goldberg)

The Maze Runner In a post-apocalyptic world, a youth (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself among a group of boys trapped at the center of a mysterious maze. Based on the YA novel by James Dashner. (1:53) 

This Ain’t No Mouse Music! See “Joyous Blues.” (1:32) Elmwood, Roxie, Smith Rafael.

This Is Where I Leave You Jason Bateman plays Judd Altman, the hollow center of a clan of snarky, squabbling siblings — Wendy (Tina Fey), fractiously married with kids and pining for her high school sweetheart (Timothy Olyphant); Paul (Corey Stoll), who runs the family sporting goods store; and Phillip (Adam Driver), a philandering über-fuckup currently dating his former therapist (Connie Britton) — reunited somewhere in eastern seaboard suburbia by the death of their father. This vaguely sketched individual’s last wish, they are informed by their mother (Jane Fonda), a therapist turned author who mined their adolescence for pop psych bestseller gold, was that, his atheism notwithstanding, they conform to Judaic tradition and sit shivah for him. A seven-day respite of quiet reminiscing and clarifying reflection, broken up by periodic babka-and-whitefish-salad binges, could be good for Judd, whose recent misfortunes also include coming home to find his wife (Abigail Spencer) between the sheets with his shock jock boss (Dax Shepard), resulting in a divorce-unemployment double whammy. But there is no peace to be found at the Altman homestead, where fuses blow, siblings brawl, in-laws conduct high-volume international business transactions and reproductive rites, and Wendy’s latchkey toddler wanders the property with his portable potty. Director Shawn Levy (2013’s The Internship, 2010’s Date Night) and writer Jonathan Tropper, who adapted the script from his novel, don’t want any of the siblings, or satellite characters, to feel left out, and the story line is divvied up accordingly. But the results are uneven — lumps of comedy and genuine pathos dropped amid the oppressive exposition, pat resolutions, and swings in pacing from slack to frenetic. (1:43) (Lynn Rapoport)

Tusk Michael Parks has a gift for looking like he’s in a different movie than everyone else, and it’s possible that ineffable skill of his has found its best use to date in Kevin Smith’s new fuck-you horror-comedy Tusk. When jerky podcaster Wally (Justin Long) finds a video that begins like “Star Wars Boy” but ends with dismemberment, Wally flies to Canada to interview the “Kill Bill Boy” (so named for the sword wielding and spurting stump). Wallace reaches his destination and is importuned by the funeral. This is one of a handful of scenes that exists to make us happy when Wally meets magical storyteller Howard Howe, an ex-sailor full of sea tales and an dark plan to turn Wally into a Franken-walrus. The story is based on something Smith hashed out in his sModcasts (excerpted during the credits) and when you look for author surrogate (not that you should) Wally’s impossible to distinguish from Smith. Asshole podcaster? Fights for permission to work freely? Body issues? All Wally needs is a dachshund and a jersey. Tusk isn’t up to the level of Smith’s early output, but it’s right in line with the decline in quality he’s been facing since critics broke his spirit, studios turned cold shoulders, and cynicism naturally set in. I hope whatever soul coughing Tusk represents will provide Smith momentum and license to leave any transformative hardships behind him — there are always beacons of hope (an uncredited Johnny Depp provides a good one here). Despite fundamental frustrations, Tusk has some deep and inky moments. When Howe takes Wally’s leg from him (leveling him to a “Kill Bill Kid”-styled punch line) Wally wails impotently, and Howe laughs — at what, it’s not certain (perhaps it’s really Parks, guffawing at Long’s performance?), but whatever that gloriously complicated motivation was, in the mingling of cries emerges an eerie but profoundly communal squall. (1:42) (Sara Maria Vizcarrondo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Ttj9tXzCA

A Walk Among the Tombstones The latest in Liam Neeson’s string of films in which he plays a tough guy uncannily adept at hissing orders (or threats) through a telephone is as pitch-black as its eerie title suggests. Set conspicuously in 1999, when Y2K and far more sinister threats loomed (see: a poignant shot of the World Trade Center), Tombstones is the grim tale of Matt Scudder, a loner with both an NYPD career and a prodigious drinking habit wedged 10 years in the past. He maintains his bare-bones lifestyle by doing off-the-books PI work, but none of his dirty-deeds experience can prepare him for his next case, a nightmarish pile-up of missing women sliced to pieces by a van-driving maniacs. Working from Lawrence Block’s novel, writer-director Scott Frank (2007’s The Lookout) emerges with surprisingly layered characters that extend beyond the archetypes they initially seem to be at first; besides Neeson’s Scudder, there’s a street-smart youth who becomes his sorta-helpful sidekick (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and a vengeful drug dealer (Dan Stevens) with a junkie brother (Boyd Holbrook). Even the murderers behave in unexpected ways. And if its story hews a bit too closely to Urban Noir 101, it’s bleak as hell, and has the guts to make relentlessness one of its primary objectives. (1:53) (Cheryl Eddy)

Wetlands It begins, like many a classic coming-of-age tale, with an unbridled case of hemorrhoids, followed by a barefoot meander through possible sewage to the vilest public restroom captured on film since 1996’s Trainspotting. None of this seems to faze Wetlands’ outspoken heroine and narrator, 18-year-old Helen (Carla Juri), a skateboarding, sexually adventurous young maniac who admits to having a markedly lax attitude toward personal hygiene. Viewers of director-cowriter David Wnendt’s film, however, may want to refrain from visiting the concession stand just this once — chewing on Milk Duds is likely to become negatively evocative as Helen embarks on a round of tactile explorations involving a tasting menu of bodily excretions. The biotic high jinks continue when she winds up in the hospital in the wake of a viscerally enacted shaving incident, from which vantage point, occasionally under general anesthesia, she revisits scenes from both her fraught childhood and her teenage exploits, wandering between the homes of her divorced parents: an anxious, uptight germophobe mother (Meret Becker) and a checked-out, self-indulgent father (Axel Milberg), whose inadvisable rapprochement she hopes to engineer from her hospital bed. Impressively, amid the advancing waves of gross-out, a poignant story line emerges, and, like Helen’s handsome, bemused nurse Robin (Christoph Letkowski), the object of her wildly inappropriate advances, we find ourselves rolling with the shock and revulsion, increasingly solicitous and bizarrely charmed. (1:49) (Lynn Rapoport)

The Zero Theorem See “Waltz Work.” (1:46) 

This Week’s Picks: Sept 17-23, 2014

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WEDNESDAY/17

 

 

Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane

Flyaway Productions, the aerial dance company that aims to “expose the range and power of female physicality,” will use an 80-foot wall offered up by the UC Hastings College of the Law to perform its new, site-specific dance created for the Tenderloin. If you’ve never seen aerial dance before, get ready to hold your breath as you watch dancers careen, tumble, and pirouette some seven stories up into the stratosphere. But the social justice themes for this performance keep its spirit on the streets, while dancers Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, Alayna Stroud, Marystarr Hope, Becca Dean, Laura Ellis, and Esther Wrobel fly through the air: Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane was choreographed by Jo Kreiter to narrate the experience of homeless women in San Francisco, in a neighborhood where extreme privilege and poverty collide. This afternoon’s performance will also have tabling with housing activists from Tenants Together. (Emma Silvers)

Wed/17-Thu/18 at noon and 8pm; Fri/19-Sat/20 at 8 and 9pm; free

UC Hastings School of the Law

333 Golden Gate, SF

(415) 672-4111

www.flyawayproductions.com

 

THURSDAY/18

 

 

 

Quaaludes

Some know quaaludes as a sedative that was popular in the disco era for its dizzying side effects. Others more hip to San Francisco’s independent music scene know Quaaludes as an all-girl quartet from the city by the Bay. Combining elements of grunge, post-punk, and riot grrrl, the band is unapologetically fierce when it comes to its live shows and lyric matter. In the band’s latest conquest to conquer a primarily male-dominated scene, Quaaludes is releasing its newest 7″ EP, dubbed Nothing New, on Dollskin and Thrillhouse Records this week. In celebration of this and their upcoming tour, the band will be playing with Generation Loss, Bad Daddies and Man Hands at everybody’s favorite Bernal Heights’ dive bar, The Knockout. (Erin Dage)

With Generation Loss, Bad Daddies, Man Hands

10pm, $7

Knockout

3223 Mission, SF

(415) 550-6994

www.theknockoutsf.com

 

 

FRIDAY/19

 

 

Eat Real Festival

Do you like noshing on food that’s as tasty as it is wallet-friendly? (If the answer is negative, the follow-up is: Do you have a pulse?) Oakland’s Eat Real Festival lures some of the most tempting food trucks and vendors in the Bay Area to Jack London Square, none of which will charge more than eight bucks for whatever’s on the menu. Besides affordable, sustainable and local are other key buzzwords at play, but the loudest buzz of all will be emanating from the hungry as they feast on mac n’ cheese, tacos, BBQ, falafel, vegan delights, sweet treats, and more. (Cheryl Eddy)

Today, 1-9pm; Sat/20, 10:30am-9pm; Sun/21, 10:30am-5pm, free

Jack London Square

55 Harrison, Oakl.

www.eatrealfest.com

 

 

 

 

Cine+Mas 6th Annual SF Latino Film Festival

Filmmakers, young and old, parading their versions of the provoca-creative relationship between the eye behind the lens and the image in front of the camera. This 6th edition of the San Francisco Latino Film Festival not only highlights most genres and styles of cinematography but a substantial example of the new Latin American film current. The result might well outshine Hollywood. In El Salvador, there is still a lot to do to settle scores with one of its most prolific (and ignored) poets, and the film Roque Dalton, Let’s Shoot the Night! (Austria, El Salvador, Cuba) is one step forward. In Peru’s Trip to Timbuktu, teenagers Ana and Lucho use love to hide from the social unrest of the ’80s. The festival opens with LA’s Alberto Barboza Cry Now. Films will also be shown in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. (Fernando A. Torres)

Through Sept. 27

7pm, $15 (prices and times vary)

Brava Theater

2781 24th St., SF

(415) 754-9580

www.sflatinofilmfestival.org

 

 

 

Beck

In case you hadn’t heard, the Nob Hill Masonic Center recently had a little work done — a nip here, a tuck there, the installation of 3,300 brand-new seats, a few new bars, food options, and a rather expensive state-of-the-art sound system. Kicking things off at the new-and-improved music venue that will henceforth be known as The Masonic is Beck, who seemingly never ages, and whom you can count on to christen the stage but good with his idiosyncratic blend of funk, rock, and melancholy blues (this year’s Moon Phase was on the mopier side of the spectrum, but in a darn pretty way). The last time we saw him we were freezing our butts off at the Treasure Island Music Festival, so we’re excited to see him moonwalk again (hopefully!) in slightly cozier pastures. (Silvers)

8pm, $85-$120

Masonic

1111 California, SF

(415) 776-7475

www.sfmasonic.com

 

SATURDAY/20

 

 

 

 

“Silent Autumn”

Good news, SF Silent Film Festival fans: The popular “Silent Winter” program is now “Silent Autumn,” and its movie magic (with live musical accompaniment) arrives at the Castro months earlier than usual. The day is packed with top-notch programming, but if you must narrow it down: The British Film Institute-curated “A Night at the Cinema in 1914” showcases newsreels (think votes-for-women protestors and World War I reports), comedies (early Chaplin!), a Perils of Pauline episode, and more; while the freshly restored, memorably creepy German expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) gets its US premiere. (Eddy)

First program at 11am, $15

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

www.silentfilm.org

 

 

 

Samhain

After the breakup of the original Misfits in 1983, Glenn Danzig built upon the horror punk foundation of his first band and added even darker lyrical content, and later on, a more metal sound to the mix, creating Samhain — a group that would go on to release three records before the singer re-tooled the lineup and adopted the eponymous moniker of Danzig. When original members Steve Zing and London May join Danzig on stage in San Francisco tonight — one of only seven gigs that the band is playing on this special reunion tour — you can be assured that “All Hell Breaks Loose!” (Sean McCourt)

With Goatwhore and Kyng

8pm, $30-$45

The Warfield

982 Market, SF

www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

 

 

 

SUNDAY/21

 

 

 

Berkeley World Music Festival

Telegraph Avenue is enough of a spectacle in and of itself on an average day, but on day two of this free fest — which marks the first time organizers have thrown a fall party in addition to the spring festival — the whole street will become a stage, as organizers have closed the Ave to cars between Dwight and Durant. Get ready to hear Zydeco and Canjun sounds, Klezmer tunes, Moroccan Chaabi pop, Zimbabwean dance numbers, Sufi trance, and just about every other kind of international music you can think of. A kids’ section will have puppet shows and street art, while a special beer garden on Telegraph at Haste serves to benefit Berkeley’s beloved Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center. No passport necessary. (Silvers)

Starts Sat/20, noon to 6pm, free

Telegraph between Dwight and Durant, Berk.

www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

MONDAY/22 The Raveonettes Grafting lush harmonies, catchy song structures, and timeless production values from 1950s rock ‘n’ roll pioneers such as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers onto a modern indie approach, The Raveonettes have created an ethereal sound that is virtually all their own. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have added fuzz-tone guitars and more on top of their history-steeped musical foundation over the course of several records to great effect, including their latest, Pe’ahi, which hit stores in July. Based on tracks like “Endless Sleeper,” it appears that living in Los Angeles has added a ripping surf twang to their guitar sound — along with other welcome, varied instrumentation. (McCourt) 8pm, $28 Bimbo’s 365 Club 1025 Columbus, SF (415) 474-0365 www.bimbos365club.com TUESDAY/23 Robin Williams Double Feature: The World According to Garp and The Birdcage What is there to say about the beloved comedian that hasn’t already been said? Better to let him speak — rant, sing, preach — for himself, in any of the countless, ridiculous voices in which he spoke. The 1982 adaptation of John Irving’s novel sees Williams in the title role of Garp, alongside Glenn Close making her feature debut, plus John Lithgow’s Academy Award-nominated turn as a transgender jock. And The Birdcage, Mike Nichols’ classic, uproarious 1996 adaptation of La Cage aux Folles, pairs Williams with two of the other finest comedic actors of his generation, Hank Azaria and Nathan Lane, for the original Meet the Parents, so to speak. (Hint: It’s funnier when one of the couples owns a gay nightclub in South Beach.) Shoes optional? (Silvers) 4:45pm, 7pm, 9:30pm, $11 Castro Theatre 429 Castro, SF www.castrotheatre.com George Thorogood Celebrating 40 years of bringing blues and booze-fueled good times to fans around the globe, George Thorogood and The Destroyers continue to be the unabashedly best bar band in the world. Just hearing the first few notes or verses of songs like “Move It On Over,” “I Drink Alone,” “Who Do You Love,” and of course, “Bad to the Bone” transports listeners to a jumpin’ juke joint of yesteryear, where you forget all your daily troubles and just dance the night away — and you know what to order when the bartender asks. Of course, it’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer!” (McCourt) 8pm, $38.50 The Fillmore 1805 Geary, SF (415) 346-3000 www.thefillmore.com The Guardian listings deadline is two weeks prior to our Wednesday publication date. To submit an item for consideration, please include the title of the event, a brief description of the event, date and time, venue name, street address (listing cross streets only isn’t sufficient), city, telephone number readers can call for more information, telephone number for media, and admission costs. Send information to Listings, the Guardian, 835 Market Street, Suite 550, SF, CA 94103; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.

Guardian Intelligence: September 3 – 9, 2014

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CASTRO CURTAIN CALL

If your favorite thing about seeing movies at the historic Castro Theatre is hearing the score for that Charlie Chaplin short played on the instrument that would’ve been used when the film actually came out — well, get thee to the movies, and fast. The Castro Theatre’s famous Wurlitzer organ is being sold by its current owner, and will be replaced early next year with an elaborate, one-of-a-kind digital console, with seven keyboards and more than 800 stops, designed by acclaimed organ creator Allen Harrah — pro bono. One trade-off: We’re guessing this will be better for scoring alien movies than its analog counterpart?

THEFT TIMES TWO

It’s a drag to have your car stolen. But if the vehicle is recovered, the high fees you may fork over to get it back only add insult to injury. In San Francisco, police give the owner of a recovered stolen vehicle 20 minutes to retrieve it before sending the car to impound. That’s where the costs add up. Worst-case scenario? The fees rise above the value of the car, and it gets auctioned off. Sup. Scott Wiener has called for a hearing to review the city’s towing policies with respect to stolen cars. The company that operates the city’s impound lot, AutoReturn, is due for contract renewal next year.

TAG, YOU’RE IT!

The neighborhood some call “upper Safeway” has gotten some negative attention lately, but the Friends of Duboce Park Tag Sale — back for its 17th year — is perfectly timed to recharge the area’s community spirit. Last year’s event was hit with an unexpected deluge, so hope for sunny skies Sat/6 and head to the ‘hood’s collective backyard from 9am-2pm for shopping (bargains galore on household items, clothes, sports equipment, books, and more!) and hob-nobbing, with all proceeds going toward improvements to Duboce Park, including its playground. www.friendsofdubocepark.org

SWEET TRIBUTE

Former SF clubkid (now renowned LA artist) Jason Mecier is famed for his celebrity portraits done with junk food and trash — and his tribute to Robin Williams is gaining attention. “It’s Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire, with a Patch Adams nose and a Flubber green background,” Mecier says. “This portrait took over 30 hours to make and is comprised of thousands of candy pieces including Red Vines, Black Licorice, gum balls, Jelly Bellies, Jelly Beans, Tic-Tacs,Gum Drops, Gummy Bears, Sixlets, Mike and Ike’s, Hot Tamales and others. I’ve always wanted to do a portrait of him combining all of his most popular roles. Unfortunately, now was the time to do it.” www.jasonmecier.com

CYCLE UP

San Francisco-style cycletracks — bike lanes physically separated from automobile traffic — could proliferate in cities throughout California under a bill approved today [Fri/29] by the Legislature, provided Gov. Jerry Brown decides to sign it. Assembly Bill 1193, the Protected Bikeways Act, by San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting, was approved today by the Assembly on a 53-15 vote after clearing the Senate on Monday, 29-5. The bill incorporates cycletrack design standards into state transportation regulations, which had previously stated that such designs weren’t allowed. In other bike news, the SF Bicycle Coalition announced that a plan was approved to bring a raised bikeway to Valencia between Cesar Chaves and Duncan Streets next year, creating a buffer between drivers and cyclists.

VOTERS IN THE DARK

Proposed legislation to shed light on who’s bankrolling political campaign ads has been stalled for now. The DISCLOSE Act — which stands for “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections” — needed a two-thirds vote to pass both houses of the California Legislature, but lacked support. It would have required funders of TV, print, and radio ads, and robocalls, to be clearly identified by closing a loophole that allows them to be disguised by ambiguous committee names. Sen. Mark Leno and other cosponsors vowed to continue the fight next year.

ZOOBORN

On Aug. 26, the SF Zoo welcomed rare newborn twin male giraffes — unfortunately one was too weak to survive, but the other little fellow is doing fine at 100 pounds and 5’6″ tall. The calf’s mother is 11-year-old Bititi, who was born at the Oakland Zoo and made the journey across the bay to live at the San Francisco Zoo in 2005. The father is 12-year-old Floyd, who was born in Albuquerque at the Rio Grande Zoo. We’re looking forward to the naming contest. www.sfzoo.org

PARK ARIAS

One of our favorite picnic singalongs (and “try-to-singalongs”) is coming, as SF Opera’s Opera in the Park hits Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, Sun/7 at 1:30pm. On the menu? Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture, Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” from Turandot, and Leoncavallo “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci. (You may not know the titles but you’ll recognize the tunes.) Pack a flask of wine and pray for sunshine. www.sfopera.org.

GORGE YOURSELF

The Asian Arts Museum’s “Gorgeous” show (through Sept. 14) is a sugar rush of centuries’ worth of crowd-pleasing art hits, including everything from Jeff Koons’ infamous porcelain portrait of Michael Jackson and pet monkey Bubbles to breathtaking ancient Chinese paintings. The show, produced in partnership with SFMOMA, provides a great introduction to art history for our ADD age; more experienced types will appreciate the chance to linger before Mark Rothko’s “No. 14, 1960” alongside works from artisans of other eras. www.asianart.org

 

This Week’s Picks: August 13 – 19, 2014

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THURSDAY 14

 

Kevin Morby

If you’re enough of an indie rock fan, you might have heard Kevin Morby’s work without knowing it. He’s played bass for Brooklyn psych-folk crew Woods since that band’s 2009 breakthrough Songs of Shame, and he co-fronts The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. But after touring with Real Estate and releasing the solo album Harlem River on Woods’ label Woodsist last year, he’s primed to take the spotlight. A fan of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Morby’s always had a strong Americana streak, from the Western ballads on the Babies’ Our House On The Hill to the New York City love letters on Harlem River. But despite his buzz-band cred, his all-American ethos never seems ironic, and his voice and guitar playing are perfectly suited for his ambitions. (Daniel Bromfield)

7pm, $8

1-2-3-4 Go! Records

420 40th St., Oakland

(510) 985-0325

www.1234gorecords.com

 

 

Sir Sly

There’s no need to call these band members “sir.” But you might’ve had to rely on that as a fallback when the musicians adopted anonymous identities at the beginning of their careers. Though that act was certainly mysterious enough to accompany the band’s gloomy sound (sad indie rock tinged with some hip-hop and electronic influences), Sir Sly deserves recognition for last year’s EP, which is enough to appease fans until this September’s release of its debut full-length. If the title track “You Haunt Me” is anything to go by, then yep, the trio’s polished its melancholy music the first album. (Amy Char)

With Thumpers, Mother

9pm, $15

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011

www.rickshawstop.com

 

 

Like Stars We Collide

Playwright Vadenek Ke is ready to unveil his second installment in his “A Series of Collisions.” The enigmatic and elusive playwright, who explores the sexual, cultural, and vocational limitations of relationships, has written three new one acts, titled collectively Like Stars We Collide, that will be performed by his trusty troupe, the Planets Aligned Theatre Company. Known for their quick wit and occasional surreality, Ke’s works are morsels of romantic truth — they certainly don’t attempt to paint idealistic portraits of love, but simultaneously acknowledge the raw beauty and excitement that accompanies the pain. Each of the three works is directed by a different local voice, and features burgeoning SF stars. “Call it Off,” which chronicles a crumbling couple at a theme party, takes on a Rashomon-esque storytelling device to explain the individual experiences of the lovers. The small yet stylish Mojo Theatre provides an evocative locale for Ke’s elegant glimpses into the human condition. (Kurlander)

8pm, $15

Mojo Theatre

2940 16th St. #217, SF

(415) 830-6426

www.mojotheatre.com

 

 

GAYmous

San Francisco queer electro duo GAYmous claim to be motivated by the “power of the synthesizer.” On one level, this has to do with sound — their synths pack plenty of sonic oomph. But the self-declared “slut-step” duo is also motivated by synth-driven music’s ability to unite and empower marginalized groups, from the queer synthpop of the ’80s to the relentlessly empowering pop music of the early ’10s. Following those traditions, GAYmous delivers plenty of raunchy and sexually candid humor but ultimately succeeds on the basis of great pop hooks and melodies. They’ll be performing at the Uptown Oakland alongside multimedia drag performance group Daddies Plastik and the amazing Fatty Cakes & The Puff Pastries, an ensemble consisting of multiple vocalists and centered around a dizzying glockenspiel-snare drum-organ setup.

9pm, $8

Uptown Nightclub

1928 Telegraph, Oakland

(510) 451-8100

www.uptownnightclub.com

 

FRIDAY 15

 

 

Joshua Cook and the Key of Now

Joshua Cook made his name as the lead guitarist and sometime-singer of the Soft White Sixties, a local soul-heavy rock outfit that has made a huge splash at festivals (particularly an electric SXSW set) inthe last year. Cook has now formed his own outfit, a bluesier crew called Joshua Cook and the Key of Now. Their debut single, 2013’s “All Bad Things,” has a lick that sounds decidedly Jimmy Page-esque and cynical, frustrated lyrics about romantic near-misses and economic woes. FCC Free Radio, the six year-old internet radio station that champions local artists and opinion, takes over the DNA Lounge to present Cook’s new sound alongside Kitten Grenade, Survival Guide, and I Am Animal. Kitten Grenade, singer Katelyn Sullivan and instrumentalist Ben Manning’s ukelele and drum group, has been churning out sweet yet edgy folk-rock for the last two years and looks to be a nice counter to Cook’s heavier jams. (Kurlander)

8pm, $10

DNA Lounge

375 11th St, SF

(415) 626-1409

www.dnalounge.com

 

 

Deadfest

Non-metalheads may not recognize any of the names at the Oakland Metro’s two-day Deadfest. But with four stages and 46 bands from the Bay Area and beyond (including Impaled, Bell Witch, and Negative Standards), Deadfest should have something for anyone even remotely interested in heavy music. Spearheaded by DIY promoter Gregg “Deadface” Paiva, Deadfest also features a food bar with delicious-sounding gourmet tacos, featuring absurdly Bay Area-sounding accoutrements like “key lime crema” and “heritage pepper confit.” The event is only $20 per day, meaning an average of less than a buck per band. If you have even a passing interest in thrash metal, doom metal, hard core, crust punk or any of the other various forms of loud, overdriven, fancy logo-encouraging music that will be on display at Deadfest, there’s no reason not to go. (Bromfield)

7pm, $20 per day

Oakland Metro

630 3rd St., Oakland

(510) 763-1146

www.oaklandmetro.org

 

SATURDAY 16

 

 

 

The Muppet Movie 35th Anniversary

Muppet fans! It’s time to get “Movin’ Right Along” down to the Castro Theatre to catch a 35th anniversary screening of The Muppet Movie, the feature film that started the big screen careers of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and the rest of their beloved gang. Presented by SF Sketchfest, today’s event is extra special — Dave Goelz, the voice and puppeteer of The Great Gonzo will be appearing for a talk and Q&A — and he is bringing a real Gonzo Muppet with him! Don’t miss your chance to make a “Rainbow Connection” with the legendary performer (who also worked on The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Emmett Otter) and his iconic, chicken-loving creation. (Sean McCourt)

11am, $10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

www.sfsketchfest.com

 

 

 

Civil War Living History Day

The band called the Civil Wars may have broken up, but the dream of the 1860s is alive in San Francisco. No need to adopt the fashion trends of years past for this American Civil War enactment. (Just dress appropriately for the city’s August weather and be glad you don’t have to deal with the South’s humidity.) In a condensed jump back into time, the day offers regular infantry drills and artillery discussions throughout the day and plenty of demonstrations of soldier and civilian life way back when. Highlights include historical music (characterized by heavy reliance on the drums) and medical treatment (which may not be up to snuff to deal with Ebola). (Amy Char)

10am – 5pm, free

Fort Point National Historic Site

999 Marine, SF

(415) 556-1693

www.nps.gov/fopo

 


SUNDAY 17

 

Name Drop Swamp Records + Quiet Lightning

This new collaboration between independent SF record label Name Drop Swamp Records (Fox & Woman, Split Screens) and the long-running lit and spoken word series Quiet Lightning brings together live music, poetry, and performance for an evening that’s sure to draw a crowd full of all kinds of artists — in addition to those being featured on stage. Featured performer Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba is someone you won’t get to see in a small room for too much longer, thanks to her unique, rich vocals and skilled storytelling through song. The door is sliding scale and the aim is for this evening to be the first in a bimonthly series at the Emerald Tablet (sorry, “Em Tab,”) so get in before it blows up. (Emma Silvers)

5 – 9pm, $10-20; no one turned away for lack of funds

The Emerald Tablet

80 Fresno, SF

(415) 500-2323

www.emtab.org

 

MONDAY 18

 

Built To Spill

Boise’s Built To Spill has been churning out heartbreakingly lovely indie rock songs for over 20 years. Doug Martsch, formerly of Treepeople, formed the group in 1992. Since then, the band has gone through a whirlwind of lineup changes with Martsch as the only constant, but have managed to create seven equally beautiful, reverb-heavy studio albums. Martsch’s music has been cited as a major inspiration by such indie rock royalty as Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Though it’s been five years since they’ve released an album, Built To Spill’s live show hasn’t declined a bit. This three-night run at Slim’s is a very special event, and certainly not to be missed. (Haley Zaremba)

With Slam Dunk, The Warm Hair

8pm, $28

Slim’s 333

11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slimspresents.com


TUESDAY 19


Fucked Up

Toronto’s Fucked Up might be the most ambitious punk band on the planet. This six-piece hardcore band has been releasing more and more epic and boldly experimental records since their explosive entrance to the scene in 2001. The group has even been recognized by the Canadian government, winning the prestigious Polaris Prize in 2009 for its incredible, sprawling punk-rock opera The Chemistry of Common Life. Their most recent effort, Glass Boys, maintains their hardcore edge while finding more rock depth, borrowing simultaneously from Dinosaur Jr. and Negative Approach. The record asks questions about what it means to be an aging and successful punk band. Known and notorious for their tempestuous relationship and wildly unpredictable live shows, Fucked Up is one of the best hardcore bands and certainly one of the best live acts on the road. (Zaremba)

Tijuana Panthers, The She’s

8pm, $20

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.independentsf.com

The Guardian listings deadline is two weeks prior to our Wednesday publication date. To submit an item for consideration, please include the title of the event, a brief description of the event, date and time, venue name, street address (listing cross streets only isn’t sufficient), city, telephone number readers can call for more information, telephone number for media, and admission costs. Send information to Listings, the Guardian, 835 Market Street, Suite 550, SF, CA 94103; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.

Cubicle cult

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM For anybody who has ever had to put up with a creepy boss, annoying co-workers, or a soul-sucking work environment — and that is most likely all of us, at some point in our lives — Mike Judge’s 1999 comedy Office Space has become a supremely entertaining and highly relatable touchstone for its razor-sharp take on office politics and corporate culture.

Written and directed by Judge, who also created Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, along with the recent HBO show Silicon Valley, the movie has gone on to become a cult classic, with a variety of quotable lines (“Yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow … that would be great”) and cultural references (do you have the requisite pieces of flair?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IwzZYRejZQ

Office Space fans are in for a treat this weekend when SF Sketchfest presents a special 15th anniversary screening in 35mm at the Castro Theatre, with actor Stephen Root — who plays the stapler-obsessed Milton — in person for the festivities.

“I don’t think there’s a set that I go on where some part of the crew doesn’t have something for me to sign from Office Space — it’s its own little animal, much like Rocky Horror was in its day,” says Root.

“For me it’s a constant amazement that it continues to get a new audience; people who weren’t born [when it came out] get it, people who enter the work force get it, and it keeps a life of its own. It’s about the interplay of the people in the office. That’s universal.”

While Root has fond memories of working on the film, he says that bringing the mumbling, mistreated, and bespectacled Milton to life did present some challenges, particularly when it came to wearing the character’s signature glasses.

“They were a nightmare!”, he remembers. “They were about a half an inch thick at least, and I had to wear contact lenses behind those glasses to be able to see at all. I didn’t have any depth perception whatsoever, so whenever I had to reach for something during a scene I had to practice it because I couldn’t tell where it was — just reaching for the stapler and putting it to my chest, I had to practice that, because I could have reached out and missed it by five inches.”

That stapler, the red Swingline that Milton prizes (and loses), has gone on to become a pop culture icon of its own — a fact that still makes Root laugh.

“There was no red Swingline stapler [when the film was made]. I have one of the props, and Mike [Judge] has another one. Who knew it would start a cottage industry for staplers? I see them every week — people want me to sign them. It is what it is, it’s crazy, but it’s great, and it makes me smile.”

While he has appeared in many other films and television shows (including NewsRadioKing of the Hill, and Boardwalk Empire) since Office Space, Root admits that he’s recognized as Milton most of the time — and that’s fine with him.

“I always tell everybody, my obituary will be ‘Milton’s dead!'” Root laughs. “And I’m okay with that!” 2

OFFICE SPACE 15TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

Sat/16, 9pm, $12

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

www.sfsketchfest.com

 

This Week’s Picks: August 6 – 12, 2014

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sockhop in a sheet-metal factory

THURSDAY 7

 

Post:Ballet’s Five High

Most choreographers start small, slowly developing skills — and an audience for their work. In 2010 Robert Dekkers’ Post:Ballet burst onto the local scene like a comet. Dekkers hasn’t stopped since. His choreography can flow like warmed honey; he works with excellent collaborators and, above all, being a very fine dancer himself, he choreographs with the ballet trained body in mind. He doesn’t — yet — have a permanent ensemble, but he gets exceptional dancers who seem to thrive in his contemporary choreography. This year they include four from Smuin Ballet, and two LINES Ballet alumni. The new ourevolution (with a score by Matthew Pierce) will be joined by field the present shifts (2013) — with Robert Gilson and Catherine Caldwell’s spectacular set — and the 2012 quartet Mine is Yours. (Rita Felciano)

Through Sat/9, 8pm, $30+

YBCA Theater

700 Howard, SF

(415) 978-ARTS (2787)

www.tickets.ybca.org

 

 

 

Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin is one of the San Francisco garage-rock scene’s most omnipresent figures. Though he was once best-known for his frequent collaborations with Ty Segall (they played together in Epsilons and Ty Segall Band, and they’ve got a collab album awesomely titled Reverse Shark Attack), he’s got two very good solo albums of muscular yet shamelessly catchy power pop that have established him as a formidable presence on the scene in his own right. Unlike most of the scene he’s associated with, Cronin actually moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles, and as such, he’s showing no signs of abandoning his hometown fans. If you can’t catch him at Outside Lands this year, this night show at The Independent might be slightly more intimate. (Daniel Bromfield)

9pm, $20

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com

 

 

 

“Mythological Bird”

Birds in San Francisco are usually nothing special. Pigeons? Please. But when it comes to the parrots of Telegraph Hill, you admittedly revere them. Extinct birds, for the most part, are cast in the same mould. Under the careful eye of some local artists, they’ve majestically flown back to life. The exhibition is a multimedia experience characterized by digital projection — which creates an alternate world for the birds that viewers can step into and thoroughly engage with the art — and more conventional art mediums. The last time the birds were alive may’ve been in the distant past, but the exhibition is a proper modern tribute to their beauty, spirit, and memory. (Amy Char)

Through Sept. 7

6pm, free

Incline Gallery

766 Valencia, SF

(415) 879-6118

www.inclinegallerysf.com

 

 

 

Beardyman

Beardyman isn’t just a beatboxer. While the London-based performer can lay down rhythmically astonishing beats and juxtapose his lines with melodic or bizarre vocal elements, his ability to use live loops is what makes him such an exhilarating live act. Often, Beardyman will start with a simple pattern that, after some fooling with his one-of-a-kind live rig, the Beardytron 5000 mkll, will grow into a layered and almost impossibly complex musical collage. He still is working on transferring his live chops to recording — uploads of his performances have garnered far more attention than his one album to date — but his new project, the long-awaited Directions, may very well change that. After being forced to cancel his last Mezzanine show because of illness, Beardyman looks to pull out all the stops this time; don’t be surprised if costumes, political invective, and incisive cultural commentary make their way into the act. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $18

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

 

 

 


FRIDAY 8

 

Crocodiles

One of the key figures in the noisy San Diego rock scene, Crocodiles have come a long way from their Jesus and Mary Chain-aping early days, with four albums and a feud with notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio under their belt. The band has released an album every year since 2009 (except 2011, but they put out an extra EP in 2010 to make up for it) and are showing no signs of slowing down, gigging relentlessly with a variety of bands. A live Crocodiles show tends to sound like a sockhop in a sheet-metal factory, with rock ‘n’ roll riffs and yelps bouncing around a nightmarish industrial landscape. Their upcoming show on August 8 with Tweens is their second time at the Chapel. (Bromfield)

$15, 9pm

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157

www.thechapelsf.com

 

 

 

Youth for Asian Theater’s Perfect Pairs

Following what must be an age-old tradition, adults often don’t take teens seriously. However, this theater company, completely comprised of local youth from a range of ethnic backgrounds, explores different cultures and the experience of growing up Asian-American through writing, directing, and performing original plays — these youth have already accomplished so much more than some adults have! In the midst of a productive summer, the company’s 14th annual production includes promising plays, such as one described as “Austen-tatious” that follows “prideful, sometimes prejudiced” characters. The theater scene is in good hands with these talented — and well-read — teens. (Amy Char)

6:30pm, free

San Francisco LGBT Center

1800 Market, SF

(415) 865-5555

www.yfat.org

 

SATURDAY 9

 

Woods

Mix Best Coast with mid-’70s Eno and you’re left with Woods, the lo-fi Brooklyn outfit that has released a prolific seven albums over seven years. The band’s most recent, With Light and With Love, is their most melodic work yet — generally known for their rampant experimentation and unpredictability, the group isn’t entirely eschewing their eccentricity, but are making their work more accessible. Lead singer Jeremy Earl, whose nasal vocals don’t exactly scream pop, is surprisingly adept at more smooth and singable melodies. The group will likely still be high from their annual Woodsist Festival in Big Sur, which features their friends and occasional collaborators Foxygen and Real Estate. Steve Gunn, the former guitarist in Kurt Vile’s The Violators, will open with cuts off of his acoustic and meditative 2013 release Time Off. (Kurlander)

10pm, $15

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782

www.brickandmortarmusic.com

 

 

 

Gold Panda

Gold Panda hit post-Dilla paydirt five years ago with “Quitter’s Raga,” a brief, volatile single that remains one of the most fascinating works of 21st-century producer music. Since then, he’s established himself as one of the most singular and intriguing producers in the electronic world, merging pristine minimal techno with loping hip-hop rhythms and influences from South and East Asian music. His debut, Lucky Shiner, remains a high-water mark of the last half-decade of electronic music, featuring the absolutely devastating lead single “You” and a host of other speaker-ready songs. Though last year’s Half Of Where You Live found him taking a more Spartan approach to his craft, it’s still comfort-food music, accessible across a wide spectrum of genres, demographics, and consumed substances. (Daniel Bromfield)

10pm, $20

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

 

 

SUNDAY 10

 

 

Darlene Love

Just in case you weren’t already in love with the unsung ’60s girl group singer — who repeatedly got the shaft from producer Phil Spector when she tried to launch a solo career as opposed to singing backup for very little money and even less glory (Spector actually released her work under a different girl group’s name) — last year’s award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom likely did the trick. Her voice sounds strong and joyful as ever, and the warmth and effusiveness that pour from her live performances are undeniable. If the masses at Outside Lands aren’t quite your thing, this free show should bring out a different kind of mass, indeed. (Emma Silvers)

With the Monophonics

2pm, free

Stern Grove

19th Ave. and Sloat, SF

www.sterngrove.org

 

MONDAY 11


The NBA’s Jason Collins

At the end of the 2013 basketball season, after becoming a free agent, with one of the most-discussed Sports Illustrated cover stories of all time (that wasn’t a swimsuit issue), 35-year-old NBA center Jason Collins became the first publicly gay pro athlete in any of the four major American sports leagues. Lauded for his honesty and bravery, Collins signed with the Nets in February, but we’re guessing that little in his life has returned to “normal.” This event, hosted by the Commonwealth Club as part of the 2014 Platforum series The LGBT Journey, will see Collins in conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas, producer-director of the documentary Documented, who has been open about his status as a gay, undocumented Filipino American, for a discussion of American identity that doesn’t fit neatly into any one box. (Silvers)

6:30pm, $10-$20

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6350

www.castrotheatre.com


TUESDAY 12


The Coathangers

Joking ideas can be surprisingly fruitful. Rather than forming a band to appeal to their musical dreams, these four Atlanta-based women just wanted to have a good time while playing shows (conveniently ignoring how none of them knew how to play a musical instrument), which helps explain why their live energy is just as raw eight years later. The Coathangers eventually warmed up to the musical intricacies behind writing songs. Their efforts culminated in Suck My Shirt, the band’s fourth album, which reflects the newfound, thoughtful spirit while retaining their well-honed DIY garage-punk sound. They’re still as flippant as ever with their song titles: “Love Em and Leave Em.” (Amy Char)

With White Fang, Twin Steps

8pm, $12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011

www.rickshawstop.com

This Week’s Picks: July 30 – August 5, 2014

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WEDNESDAY 30

 

 

The Budos Band

If you ever hear someone say they find instrumental music boring, all you need to do is point them in the direction of the Budos Band, a 10- to 13-member (depending on the year) Afro-soul group that collectively, with its energetic meanderings through jazz and deep-pocket funk with just the right smattering of pop sweetness, commands more attention on stage than many a lead singer I’ve seen. Daptone Records labelmate Sharon Jones is having a banner year — and with the Budos’ first album since 2010, Burnt Offering, due out Oct. 21, we imagine the record company is too. Head to the Independent prepared to get sweaty. (Emma Silvers)

8pm, $25

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

www.theindependentsf.com

 

 

THURSDAY 31

 

 

 

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry may only be 19, but the burgeoning blues guitarist has already had a career that many musicians spend their entire lives trying to accumulate. The Normal, Illinois native recently came off of a summer tour with Bay Area legends the Steve Miller Band and has already released an acclaimed album made up entirely of originals. His music isn’t just Stevie Ray Vaughan rehashing either — his first disk, Electric Religion, is made up of tracks that explore dynamics, confessional lyricism, and modern production. “Bad Bad Day,” an almost seven-minute jam with prolonged solos by all members of the band, is exhilarating: When Curry comes in on vocals four minutes in, he sounds like a gruff and aged Southern bluesman of the ’50s; he’s that throwback and that mature. Along with his band, The Fury (which is made up of equally talented players who are, on average, about twice Curry’s age), the group is in the midst of a cross-country odyssey that sees them opening for the Doobie Brothers and Peter Frampton. Yoshi’s will provide a break from larger venues and a chance to see Curry’s intricate guitar work up close. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $12-14

Yoshi’s

1330 Fillmore, SF

(415) 655-5600

www.yoshis.com

 

 

Pretty In Ink

Featuring highlights from the personal archives of comics historian Trina Robbins, Pretty In Ink (Fantagraphic Books) looks at the work of some of the top women cartoonists from the early 20th century, including Ethel Hays, Edwina Dumm, Nell Brinkley, and Ramona Fradon. An exhibit of the same name is currently on display at the Cartoon Art Museum, with original artwork, photographs, and other rare items featuring characters such as Miss Fury and Flapper Fanny — don’t miss your chance to head down tonight for a reception and party celebrating both, where Robbins will be on hand to autograph the toon-filled tome. (Sean McCourt)

6-8pm, free

Cartoon Art Museum

655 Mission, SF

(415) CAR-TOON

www.cartoonart.org

 

 

FRIDAY 1

 

 

 

Omar Souleyman

Though Syrian singer Omar Souleyman’s been performing for two decades and allegedly has over 500 releases to his name, you may not have heard of him until recently. Formerly a regular performer at weddings in Syria, Souleyman performs dabke music, meant to accompany the traditional line dance of the same name. Wild videos of these dances and performances found their way onto YouTube and attracted the attention of Seattle label Sublime Frequencies, which released several compilations of his work and brought him to the attention of the world’s music cognoscenti. A Four Tet-produced album and a few inexplicable Bjork remixes later, he’s become something of an underground star, performing for audiences across the world — including in San Francisco, where he’s set to most likely fill The Independent tonight. (Daniel Bromfield)

9pm, $20

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com

 

 

 

Xiu Xiu

Twelve albums and 15 years in, Xiu Xiu remains one of the most fearless and uncompromising bands in the American rock underground. Bandleader and songwriter Jamie Stewart speaks to the part of the brain that craves the twisted and taboo, but doesn’t dare make itself known. At best, he’s like that friend you can talk to about just about anything; at worst, he’s like your own fears, screaming in your ears and telling you everything you’re thinking is sick and wrong. Approaching Xiu Xiu’s music takes mental preparation and a certain mindset. But if you think you’re ready, put on one of their records (I’d recommend Knife Play or Fabulous Muscles, but they’re all good) and trek out to see them at Bottom of the Hill. (Daniel Bromfield)

9:30pm, $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 626-4455

www.bottomofthehill.com

 

 

 

Real Estate

As members try to shrug off the stereotype of a “beach band,” there’s something about Real Estate’s mellow guitar pop that resonates with listeners, telling them the band definitely isn’t the modern Jersey equivalent of the Beach Boys. Shaking off a reliance on overdubs, the band recorded almost each take on its newest album, Atlas, live, which bodes well for the Fillmore’s audience tonight. Grab a friend who doesn’t babble about housing prices when you ask if they like Real Estate and prepare for a musical journey of sorts, as the tracks on Atlas are meant to compose a personal road map for the listener. (Amy Char)

With Kevin Morby, Corey Cunningham

9pm, $22.50

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-3000

www.thefillmore.com

 

 

Brainwashing The Ride

Seldom has there been a more romantic musical coupling than that of Katie Ann and MC Zill. Ann, an indie singer who recently recorded her debut album, the heart-wrenching The Ride, at Goo Goo Dolls frontman Robbie Takac’s studio in New York, met the socially conscious Zill (his website is mcofpositivity.com) during her recording process, when she hit his car during a stressful day of outtakes. Their friendship morphed into an engagement, and the duo took to the road to spread their music together. The juxtaposition of Ann’s redemptive lyrics and Zill’s existential queries evoke the power pop/hip-hop mashup of later Eminem. The artists have fused the songs from their debuts into alternately sung and rapped tracks that promise an evening of emotional and stylistic fluctuation. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $10

50 Mason Social House

50 Mason, SF

(415) 433-5050

www.50masonsocialhouse.com

 

 

 

SATURDAY 2

 

 

Film Night in the park: Clueless

Watch a movie alone on your couch Saturday night? As if! This week’s free film screening, 1995’s Clueless, is timeless. Way timeless. Forget about feeling like a heifer and happily gorge on ice cream from Bi-Rite, a community partner of the outdoor film series, before the movie begins — don’t forget to bring some herbal refreshments. Tonight’s selection is this summer’s third movie in the series, following mid-July’s Frozen, and let’s be real, Coolio’s “Rollin’ With My Homies” totally has more musical merit than that annoying song about a snowman. And sure, this isn’t LA, but the event still offers valet — bicycle valet, that is. So it’s totally okay if you’re a virgin who can’t drive. (Amy Char)

Dusk, free

Dolores Park

19th St. & Dolores, SF

(415) 554-9521

www.sfntf.squarespace.com

 

 

 

Art + Soul Blues & BBQ Blowout

Live blues music all day in the sunshine, paired with barbecue cooked up by 40 top “pitmasters” from all over California. Need I say more? Oakland’s Art + Soul festival has long been a gem in the city’s cultural crown, with visual art, kids’ activities, and killer musical lineups, this year drawing old-school local favorites like Tommy Castro and the Painkillers and “Oakland Blues Divas” Margie Turner, Ella Pennewell, and more for a showcase presented by the Bay Area Blues Society. How good will the barbecue be? Mayor Jean Quan is presenting California “Chef of the Year” Tanya Holland of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ with a key to the city. So, you know: Officially, city-decreed, smokin.’ (Emma Silvers)

Through Sun/3, noon to 6pm

$10 adults, $7 seniors and youth, kids 12 and under free

14th and Broadway, Oakl.

www.artandsouloakland.com

 

 

SUNDAY 3


The Sturgeon Queens

This quick documentary, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of iconic Jewish fishmongers/New York deli nosh-purveyors Russ & Daughters, is a must-see for delicatessen aficionados, or food history buffs, or, you know, anyone who likes to get really hungry while watching movies. At the film’s center are 100-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman, the daughters after which the store was named and the heirs to their family’s culinary Lower East Side legacy; guest appearances by loyal celebrity fans of the store include Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mario Batali, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. (Emma Silvers)

12:15pm, $14 (as part of SFJFF)

The Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

www.sfjff.org

 

MONDAY 4

 

Bad Suns

The 2012 release of “Cardiac Arrest” was supposed to be a one-time deal from Bad Suns — the band planned to have only one song to its name. But not surprisingly, the catchy, sleek track caught people’s attention and blew up on the radio. Opening for groups such as Geographer and The 1975 in the past year or so, the LA-based band finally sets out on its own tour to promote its debut LP, Language & Perspective. With a more impressive repertoire than the members might’ve imagined, the album is comprised of sunshine-infused ’80s-tastic New Wave tunes. Fellow Southern California musical compadres Klev and Hunny join Bad Suns tonight. (Amy Char)

With Klev, Hunny

8pm, $15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com


TUESDAY 5


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Even Clap Your Hands Say Yeah couldn’t have predicted the impact the unassuming Philly band’s self-titled debut had on the music world when it dropped in 2005. First blogs hopped on the hype, then Bowie and Byrne, then The Office. Seemingly overnight, the band and its leader Alec Ounsworth became one of the most polarizing entities in the indie world, at once beloved and derided for their off-kilter vocals and bizarro art-pop. Their second album, Some Loud Thunder, helped members shake off some of the buzzband backlash they’d accumulated, but now that they’re practically elder statesmen, their fan reputation is only growing. Catch the band at The Independent — before music critics decide they were the Talking Heads of their time in 10 years. (Daniel Bromfield)

9pm, $20

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com

 

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Guardian Intelligence: July 23 – 29, 2014

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J-POP ROCKED

The annual J-Pop Summit in Japantown drew a lively crowd of anime and other Japanese pop culture treasures to Japantown last weekend (including Shin, pictured). This year’s festivities included a Ramen Festival portion, featuring noodle cooks from around the world — and lines up to two hours long to sample their rich, brothy creations. PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

DA LOBBYIST

Former San Francisco Mayor and current Chronicle columnist Willie Brown, often just called Da Mayor, is widely acknowledged to be one of the most politically influential individuals in San Francisco. But until recently, he’d never registered as a lobbyist with city government. Now it’s official: Brown has been tapped as a for-real lobbyist representing Boston Properties, a high-powered real-estate investment firm that owns the Salesforce Tower. News outlets (including the Bay Guardian) have pointed out for years that despite having received payments for high-profile clients, Brown has never formally registered, leaving city officials and the public in the dark. Da Mayor, in turn, has seemed unfazed.

GAZA PROTEST

On July 20, marked as the deadliest day yet in the Israeli-Gaza conflict, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in San Francisco to march against the ongoing violence. Waving flags, participants chanted “Free, free Palestine!” and progressed from the Ferry Building to City Hall. It was just one of hundreds of protests staged worldwide in response to the bloodshed. As of July 21, the Palestinian death toll had risen to about 500, while 25 Israeli soldiers were killed. PHOTO BY STEPHANY JOY ASHLEY

PET CAUSE

Last year, the SF SPCA (www.sfspca.org) assisted with over 5,000 cat and dog adoptions. With its new adoption center near Bryant and 16th Streets, which opened June 13, it aims to increase capacity by 20 percent — saving 1,000 more furry lives in the process. The new facility features improved condo-style enclosures rather than cages, a small indoor dog park, and SF-themed climbing structures for cats. (So far, there’s a Golden Gate Bridge, a Transamerica Pyramid, a cable car, the Sutro Tower, and the SF Giants logo; a Castro Theatre design is in the works.) These improvements make the shelter life more comfortable for the animals, but they also help entice visitors, making the adoption process “a fun, happy experience,” says SF SPCA media relations associate Krista Maloney. See more kitties and puppies at the Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com. PHOTO BY CHERY EDDY

MIX IT UP

The quarterly SF Mixtape Society event brings together people of all, er, mixes with one thing in common: a love of the personally curated playlist. This time around (Sun/27, 4pm-6pm, free. The MakeOut Room, 3225 24th St, SF. www.sfmixtapesociety.com) the theme is “Animal Instinct.” You can bring a mixtape in any format to participate — CD, USB, etc. (although anyone who brings an actual cassette will “nab a free beer and respect from peers.”) Awards will be given in the following categories: best overall mixtape, audience choice, and best packaging. Hit that rewind!

CODERS FOR KOCH

This week San Francisco plays host to the Libertarian conference/slumber-party Reboot 2014, aimed at — you guessed it — tech workers. Conservatives and government-decrying libertarians are natural allies, wrote Grover Norquist, scion of the anti-tax movement, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Uber swerves around transportation regulations, Airbnb slinks under housing regulations. It’s no wonder politically marginalized libertarians are frothing at the mouth to ally with Silicon Valley’s ascendant billionaires. Reboot 2014 speaker Rand Paul’s recent meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and Peter Thiel should have liberals all worried.

BART CLEANSING

BART announced via a press release they’d begin “ensuring safe evacuation” of downtown BART stations. By this they mean they’ll start sweeping out anyone sitting or laying down in the stations, clearly targeting the homeless. Deflecting those accusations, BART said they are one of the few transportation agencies with a dedicated outreach and crisis intervention coordinator, as if that gives them a pass.

CLIFF JUMPING

At 66, Jimmy Cliff put on one of the most energetic live shows we’ve ever seen on Saturday, July 19 at the Fillmore, high-kicking through newer songs, like “Afghanistan,” an updated version of eternal protest song “Vietnam,” as well as the classics: “The Harder They Come,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” etc. Check the Noise blog at www.sfbg.com for a full review.

 

Purr-suit of happiness: SF SPCA aims to save more lives with its new adoption center

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Last year, the SF SPCA assisted with 5,084 cat and dog adoptions. With its new adoption center near Bryant and 16th Streets, which opened June 13, it aims to increase capacity by 20 percent — saving 1,000 more furry lives in the process.

“When our old adoption center opened in 1998, it was the first shelter in the country to house animals in condominium-style rooms instead of cages,” SF SPCA co-president Jason Walthall said in a June press release. The upgraded shelter continues this tradition — and continues to offer dog training classes, volunteer programs for youth, and other community-service activities — but with even more enhancements for the animals. Each glassed-in enclosure features a touch screen pad that provides more information about the pet inside, with an emphasis on personality type (“social butterfly,” “busy bee,” “delicate flower”) over breed — a more efficient way of linking animals with potential new families. 

For dogs, there’s a small indoor park that’s used to make introductions (especially important if the potential new owner already owns a dog — gotta make sure the new pooch gets along with the pack), while the cats, housed in a separate section of the building, get to scamper across SF-themed cat condos. (So far, there’s a Golden Gate Bridge, a Transamerica Pyramid, a cable car, the Sutro Tower, and the SF Giants logo; a Castro Theatre design is in the works.) These improvements make the shelter life more comfortable for the animals — though most dogs only stay two weeks; cats, just slightly longer — but they also help entice visitors.

“We want to make it a fun, happy experience,” says SF SPCA media relations associate Krista Maloney, pointing out that the shelter — which was founded in 1868, has an attached vet hospital (providing free and sliding-scale spay-neuter procedures, among other services), and is a nonprofit funded by donations — competes with pet stores and breeders to place animals in homes. Earlier this year, it joined forces with fellow nonprofit Pets Unlimited, which is located in Pacific Heights, to further its mission: “to save and protect animals, provide care and treatment, advocate for their welfare and enhance the human-animal bond.”

But wait! You’re a San Francisco renter! The words “NO PETS ALLOWED” haunt your nightmares! How can visiting an animal shelter be anything but depressing? SF SPCA’s website has an entire section offering advice for landlords and tenants (one tip: create a “pet resume” to include with your rental application) on the subject of pet-friendly housing. And if the landlord won’t consent to a dog, the SF SPCA just might be able to help out anyway. Coming soon to the new facility: adoptable small mammals, including rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Drop a house

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SUPER EGO Some of us fabulous fairies caught flailing in the ratty-tutu-and-trucker-cap tornado of Pink Saturday, during this year’s Pride celebrations, were like, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Castro, anymore.”

Indeed, the radical roots of the huge 24-year-old celebration — it began as an ACT-UP protest and party — seemed all but washed away in a sea of urine, puke, and shrieks at some points. And, while no one got shot like in 2009, violence tainted the roiling street affair: Even one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the charitably benevolent gay nuns who host Pink Saturday, was physically attacked along with her husband.

(Alas, homophobic violence was everywhere that weekend: Two lesbians were beaten senseless in SoMa, and my friend in Nob Hill got jumped by an SUV-full of assholes. Gross.)

I adore our young allies — and I ain’t mad about straight dudes ripping off their shirts to show support, neither. ‘Mos before bros! I know they’re not all to blame for flooding the Castro’s streets with, er, pink. Hey, we invited them to join us. However. The bad outfits, the worse liquor, and the pushy elbowing need to be checked at the door. (Looking at you, too, mouthy gays.)

Has this year ruined it for everyone? Now that Pink Saturday seems out of control, will it go the way of Halloween in the Castro?

“The Sisters don’t get nearly enough credit for Pink Saturday,” Castro supervisor Scott Wiener told me over the phone. “They plan all year round, working closely with my office, the Police Department, and the Department of Public Works to try to make sure that it’s welcoming and safe. That said, I think we can acknowledge there were a lot of problems — and while the general level of violence was kept low, the attack on the Sister and the human waste issue were definite takeaways as we consider how to keep this event accessible in the future.

“The Sisters meet every year to vote on whether to put on this now-150,000-plus event every year,” Wiener continued. “Pink Saturday holds enormous importance for the LGBT community and raises tens of thousands of dollars in funds. Ten percent of the police force were assigned to it this year.

“But Castro residents put up with a lot. And I think we really noticed how the vibe changed after 9pm, after the Dyke March crowd had filtered away. I’ll be meeting with the Sisters and Police Chief Greg Suhr about viable plans for next year — and nothing’s being ruled out right now.”

 

NIGHTLIFE LIVE: WATER

The biennial Soundwave Fest sweeps over the bay with an awesome series of esoteric-cool sonic installations and head-trip voyages. (This year’s theme is “water,” very prescient in a time of drought.) Your aural-aqueous immersion kicks off at the Cal Academy’s Thursday Nightlife party, with performances by Rogue Wave and Kaycee Johansing and sonic installations throughout the museum. Submerged turntables! Underwater zither! Coral reef data-surfing! Full bar!

Thu/10, 6pm-10pm, $10–$12. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., SF. www.soundwavesf.com

 

BARDOT A GO GO

Can’t have a Bastille Day celebration without a little Swingin’ Sixties “ooh-la-la.” This insanely fun, 16-year-old annual soiree dazzles with Franco-groovy chic — and classic, decadent French pop tunes (Bardot, Gainsbourg, Dutronc, etc.) from DJs Pink Frankenstein, Brother Grimm, and Cali Kid. Plus, Peter Thomas Hair Design will be there 9pm-11pm to fluff your coiffure for free.

Fri/11, 9pm, $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.bardotagogo.com

 

LAS CHICAS DE ESTA NOCHE

When gay bar Esta Noche closed in March after 40 years, it was a Latin drag tragedy. (The closure, not the bar itself.) In honor of the de Young Museum’s essential show of vintage ’70s photos Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay, the Esta Noche scene is being resurrected for a night, with comedian Marga Gomez hosting, classic Noche tunes and drag performances by Lulu Ramirez, Persia, and Vicky Jimenez — aka Las Chicas de Esta Noche — that will shake a few tailfeathers.

Fri/11, 6pm-9pm, free. de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, SF. deyoung.famsf.com

 

THE WIZARD OF OZ

Drag doyenne of darkness Peaches Christ is hosting a screening of this classic at the Castro Theatre. But, as with all Peaches productions, you get an extravaganza. A live pre-show “Wizard of ODD” promises to be bananas, featuring the Tin Tran, The Scare-Ho, Glen or Glenda the Good Witch, and more. Bonus: Peaches herself playing “Peachy Gale” (aka Dorothy?) and one of the only RuPaul drag thingies I can remember the name of, Sharon Needles, as the Wicked Witch of the West. Don’t ask what happens to Toto.

Sat/12, 3pm and 8pm, $30 advance. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF. www.peacheschrist.com

 

Film Listings: June 25 – July 1, 2014

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Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Kimberly Chun, Dennis Harvey, Lynn Rapoport, and Sara Maria Vizcarrondo. For rep house showtimes, see Rep Clock. For complete film listings, see www.sfbg.com.

FRAMELINE

Frameline 38, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, runs through June 29 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St, SF; Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; and Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College, Berk. For tickets (most shows $10-15) and schedule, visit www.frameline.org.

OPENING

Breathing Earth: Susumu Shingu’s Dream Japanese artist Susumu Shingu has built his career through his concerted engagement with the natural world. The wise and eternally smiling 75-year-old creates angular and often gargantuan mobiles that harness the power of wind and water to gyrate in ever-changing directions. In Breathing Earth, German director Thomas Riedelsheimer crafts a deliberately paced rumination on Shingu’s life philosophy that, while devoid of the frenetic facts, figures, and trite biographical rehashes that punctuate hyper-informative pop-docs, uses a beautifully simplistic narrative arc to illuminates Shingu’s attempt to create a hilly, open-air collection of windmills. The sculptor’s impassioned narration and charming conversations with potential landlords and investors (who usually entirely miss the point of his mission to raise environmental consciousness through aesthetic beauty) make Shingu impossible not to fall in love with — he is laid-back, funny, and astonishingly youthful. Riedelsheimer’s camera is similarly relaxed, gliding sumptuously over the green and wild landscapes on which Shingu installs his works. Despite his meditative tempo, Riedelsheimer manages to explore a remarkably wide scope; Shingu’s late-life marriage to a fellow sculptor, his appeals to both Japanese and German schoolchildren to care for the earth and help to avoid environmental disasters, and his intricate technical processes all receive intimate and inspiring sections. (1:37) Roxie, Smith Rafael. (David Kurlander)

Citizen Koch After quietly influencing conservative ideology, legislation, and elections for decades, the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers have found themselves becoming high-profile figures — much to their dismay, no doubt. The relative invisibility they hitherto enjoyed greatly abetted their impact in myriad arenas of public policy and “popular” conservative movements. Look behind any number of recent red-vs.-blue flashpoint issues and you can find their fingerprints: Notably state-level union busting; “smaller government” (i.e. incredible shrinking social services); seeding allegedly grassroots organizations like the Tea Party; furthering the Corporations = People thing (see: Citizens United); and generally helping the rich like themselves get richer while fostering working-class outrage at everybody else. This documentary by Trouble the Water (2008) co-directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessen touches on all those matters, while also focusing on Wisconsin as a test laboratory for the brothers’ Machiavellian think-tank maneuvers, following a Louisiana GOP candidate on the campaign trail (one he’s marginalized on for opposing corporate influence peddling), and more. Any one of these topics could support a feature of their own (and most already have). Citizen Koch‘s problem is that it tries to encompass too much of its subjects’ long reach, while (despite the title) leaving those subjects themselves underexplored. (It also suffers from being a movie completed at least 18 months ago, a lifetime in current US political terms.) For the reasonably well-informed this documentary will cover a lot of familiar ground—which is not to say that ground isn’t still interesting, or that the added human interest elements don’t compel. But the film covers so much ground it ends up feeling overstuffed and unfocused. (1:26) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Harvey)

Coherence See “Vortex Room.” (1:29) Presidio.

Korengal This companion piece to 2010’s Oscar-nominated Restrepo — one of the best docs about modern-day warfare to date, offering unfiltered access to an Army platoon stationed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley — uses previously unseen footage shot during the year filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spent shadowing their subjects. Korengal is structured as a more introspective work, with musings on what it feels like to be a soldier in the Korengal, surrounded by rough (yet strikingly beautiful) terrain populated by farmers who may or may not be Taliban sympathizers, not to mention unpredictable, heavily armed opponents referred to simply as “the enemy.” Interviews reveal sadness, boredom, a deep sense of brotherhood, and the frustrating feeling of going from “100 miles an hour to a dead halt” after the surreal exhilaration of a firefight. Korengal also functions as a tribute to Hetherington, who was killed in 2011 while on assignment in Libya. Not only does his death add a layer of poignant subtext, it also suggests why Junger felt moved to revisit this story. That said, though Korengal‘s footage is several years old, its themes remain distressingly timely. (1:24) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Eddy)

Snowpiercer Eighteen years after an attempt to reverse global warming has gone wildly awry — freezing all life into extinction — the only known survivors are on a one-of-a-kind perpetual-motion train that circles the Earth annually, has its own self-contained ecosystem, and can smash through whatever ice buildup has blocked its tracks since the last go-round. It’s also a microcosm of civilization’s worst class-economic-racial patterns over history, with the much-abused “tail” passengers living in squalor under the thumb of brutal military police. Unseen at the train’s front is its mysterious inventor, Wilford, whose minions enforce “Eternal Order Prescribed by the Sacred Engine.” Curtis (Chris Evans) is default leader of the proletariat’s latest revolt, in which they attempt to force their way forward though the prison section (where they free Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung as the train’s original lock designer and his psychic daughter) on to the wonders of the first class compartments, and beyond. This first (mostly) English-language feature by South Korean Bong Joon-ho (2006’s The Host, 2009’s Mother), based on a 1982 French graphic novel, starts out as a sort of locomotive, claustrophobic Mad Max (1979) variation. But it gets wilder and more satirical as it goes along, goosed by Tilda Swinton’s grotesquely comic Minister Mason, and Alison Pill as a teacher propagandist in a particularly hilarious set piece. In case the metaphor hasn’t already hit you on the head, one character explains “The train is the world, we the humanity.” But Snowpiercer‘s sociopolitical critique is as effective as it is blunt, because Bong handles everything here — visceral action, absurdist humor, narrative left-turns, neatly etched character archetypes, et al. — with style, confidence, and wit. Some of the FX may not be quite as seamless as it would have been in a $200 million Hollywood studio production, and fanboys will no doubt nitpick like nitwits at various “credibility gaps.” (As if this movie ever asks to be taken literally.) But by current, or any, sci-fi action blockbuster standards, this is a giddily unpredictable, risk-taking joy. (2:07) (Harvey)

Third Person A screenwriter, Paul Haggis, pens a script in which a novelist (Liam Neeson) sits alone in a smoke-filled hotel room in Paris struggling over a manuscript about a novelist who can only feel emotions through his characters. What that psychic state would actually look like remains unclear — when the woman (Olivia Wilde) he’s left his wife (Kim Basinger) for shows up, their playful, painful, fraught interactions reveal a man with above-average emotional reserves. Meanwhile, in another hotel in another city, Rome, a sleazy fashion industry spy (Adrien Brody) finds his life turned sideways by a seemingly chance encounter in a bar with a beautiful Romanian woman (Moran Atias) in dire need of money. And in a third hotel, in Manhattan, a young woman (Mila Kunis) cleans up the suites she used to stay in when she was married to a renowned painter (James Franco), with whom she has a son she may or may not have harmed in some terrible way. The film broadly hints at connections between these three sets of lives — in each, the loss or endangerment of a child produces an unrelenting ripple effect; speaking of which, objects unnaturally submerged in water present an ominous visual motif. If the movie poster doesn’t give the game away as you’re walking into the theater, the signposts erected by Haggis ensure that you won’t be in the dark for long. Learning how these characters relate to one another, however, puts considerable drag on the fabric of the plot, exposing the threadbare places, and where Haggis offers his tortured characters redemption, it comes at the cost of good storytelling. (2:17) Shattuck. (Rapoport)

Transformers: Age of Extinction Mark Wahlberg and the Dinobots star in the latest installment of Michael Bay’s action sci-fi series. (2:30) Presidio.

Under the Electric Sky Hey, raver! This 3D concert film enables you to experience the Electric Daisy Carnival without punching any holes in your brain. (1:25)

Violette Taking on another “difficult” woman artist after the excellent 2008 Séraphine (about the folk-art painter), Martin Provost here portrays the unhappy life of Violette Leduc (Emmanuelle Devos), whose fiction and autobiographical writings eventually made her a significant figure in postwar French literature. We first meet her waiting out the war with gay author Maurice Sachs (Olivier Py), one of many unrequited loves, then surviving via the black market trade before she’s “discovered” by such groundbreaking, already-established talents as Jean Genet (Jacques Bonnaffé) and Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain). It is the latter, a loyal supporter who nonetheless retains a chilly emotional distance, who becomes bisexual Violette’s principal obsession over the coming 20 years or so. Devos does her best to portray “a neurotic crazy washed-up old bag” with an “ugly mug” — hardly! — who is perpetually broke, depressed, and awkward, thanks no doubt in part to her mean witch of a mother (Catherine Hiegel). “Screaming and sobbing won’t get you anywhere,” Simone at one point tells her, and indeed Leduc is a bit of a pill. For the most part lacking the visual splendors of Séraphine (this character’s environs weren’t so pastoral), Violette is finely acted and crafted but, like its heroine, hard to love. (2:18) Albany, Embarcadero. (Harvey)

ONGOING

Belle The child of a British naval officer and a Caribbean slave, Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is deposited on the doorstep — well, the estate grounds — of her father’s relatives in 1769 England after her mother dies. Soon she’s entirely orphaned, which makes her a wealthy heiress and aristocratic title holder at the same time that she is something less than human in the eyes of her adopted society. For Belle is black (or more properly, mixed-race), and thus a useless curiosity at best as a well-bred noblewoman of the “wrong” racial makeup. Based on a murky actual historical chapter, Amma Asante’s film is that rare sumptuous costume drama which actually has something on its mind beyond romance and royalty. Not least among its pleasures are a fine supporting cast including Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, and Emily Watson. (1:45) Embarcadero, Piedmont, Shattuck. (Harvey)

A Coffee in Berlin How do you say “mumblecore” in German? Jan Ole Gerster’s debut feature has certain arty pretensions — it’s shot in black-and-white, and scored with peppy jazz — but it’s more or less a rambling day in the life of law school dropout Niko (Tom Schilling). It happens to be the very day Niko’s golf-loving father decides to stop funding his shiftless son’s slacker lifestyle, though that crisis (which, you know, Lena Dunham built an entire HBO comedy around) receives nearly equal heft as a cutesy ongoing gimmick that sees Niko incapable of getting a cup of coffee anywhere in Berlin. Hipster ennui can be compelling if it has some underlying energy and purpose (see: 2013’s Frances Ha, to which this film has been compared), but A Coffee in Berlin comes up short on both. That said, it does offer an intriguing portrayal of Berlin — a city whose modern-chic façade barely contains the history that haunts it — and some of its supporting characters, particularly Friederike Kempter as a former schoolmate of Niko’s who has outgrown him emotionally by about one thousand percent, provide pleasant enough distractions. (1:28) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Eddy)

The Fault in Our Stars I confess: I’m no card-carrying, vlog-flogging Nerdfighter in author John Green’s teen-geek army. But one can admire the passion — and teary romanticism — of the writer, readers, and the breakthrough novel that started it all. Much has been made over the cinematic tweaks to the best-selling YA book, but those seem like small beefs: OK, male romantic lead Gus’s (Ansel Elgort) perhaps-understandable brattiness seems to have been toned down a touch, but we’ll all get the somewhat-subversive push and pull of Green’s love story centered on two cancer-stricken innocents. Sixteen-year-old Hazel (a radiant Shailene Woodley) has been battling cancer almost all her life, fighting back from the brink, and now making her way every day with an oxygen tank and her devoted parents (Laura Dern, Sam Trammel) by her side. Her mordant wit, skeptical attitude, and smarts attract Gus, a handsome teen with a prosthetic leg, at a cancer support group, and the two embark on what seems like the most normal thing in the world — sweet, sweet love — albeit cut with the poignancy of almost-certain doom. Would the girl who calls herself a grenade dare to care for someone she will likely hurt? That’s the real question on her mind when the two reach out to the solitary author (Willem Dafoe) of their favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. The journey the two make leaves them both open to more hurt than either ever imagined, and though a good part of Fault‘s denouement boils down to a major puddle cuddle — with solid performances by all, but particularly Dern and Woodley — even a cynic is likely to get a bit misty as the kids endure all the stages of loss. And learning. (2:05) Balboa, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center. (Chun)

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia Nicholas Wrathall’s highly entertaining documentary pays tribute to one of the 20th century’s most brilliant, original, and cranky thinkers, with extensive input from the man himself before his death in 2012 at age 86. The emphasis here is less on Vidal’s life as a literary lion and often glittering celebrity social life than on his parallel career as a harsh scold of US social injustices and political corruption. (Needless to say, recent history only sharpened his tongue in that department, with George W. Bush dismissed as “a goddamn fool,” and earlier statements such as “This is a country of the rich, for the rich and by the rich” seeming more apt than ever.) He’s a wellspring of wisdoms both blunt and witty, sometimes surprising, as in his hindsight doubts about the virtues of JFK (a personal friend) as a president. We get plenty of colorful archival clips in which he’s seen verbally jousting with such famous foes as William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer, invariably reducing them to stammering fury while remaining exasperatingly unruffled. His “out” homosexuality and outré views on sexuality in general (at odds with an increasingly assimilationist gay community) kept him controversial even among many liberals, while conservatives were further irked by his rock-solid family connections to the ruling elite. In our era of scripted political rhetoric and pandering anti-intellectualism, it’s a joy merely to spend an hour and half in the company of someone so brilliantly articulate on seemingly any topic — but particularly on the perpetually self-mythologizing, money-worshipping state of our Union. (1:29) Opera Plaza. (Harvey)

The Grand Seduction Canadian actor-director Don McKellar (1998’s Last Night) remakes 2003 Quebecois comedy Seducing Doctor Lewis, about a depressed community searching for the town doctor they’ll need before a factory will agree to set up shop and bring much-needed jobs to the area. Canada is still the setting here, with the harbor’s name — Tickle Head — telegraphing with zero subtlety that whimsy lies ahead. A series of events involving a Tickle Head-based TSA agent, a bag of cocaine, and a harried young doctor (Taylor Kitsch) trying to avoid jail time signals hope for the hamlet, and de facto town leader Murray (Brendan Gleeson) snaps into action. The seduction of “Dr. Paul,” who agrees to one month of service not knowing the town is desperate to keep him, is part Northern Exposure culture clash, part Jenga-like stack of lies, as the townspeople pretend to love cricket (Paul’s a fanatic) and act like his favorite lamb dish is the specialty at the local café. The wonderfully wry Gleeson is the best thing about this deeply predictable tale, which errs too often on the side of cute (little old ladies at the switchboard listening in on Paul’s phone-sex with his girlfriend!) rather than clever, as when an unsightly structure in the center of town is explained away with a fake “World Heritage House” plaque. Still, the scenery is lovely, and “cute” doesn’t necessarily mean “not entertaining.” (1:52) Albany, Embarcadero. (Eddy)

Ida The bomb drops within the first ten minutes: after being gently forced to reconnect with her only living relative before taking her vows, novice nun Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) learns that her name is actually Ida, and that she’s Jewish. Her mother’s sister, Wanda (Agneta Kulesza) — a Communist Party judge haunted by a turbulent past she copes with via heavy drinking, among other vices — also crisply relays that Ida’s parents were killed during the Nazi occupation, and after some hesitation agrees to accompany the sheltered young woman to find out how they died, and where their bodies were buried. Drawing great depth from understated storytelling and gorgeous, black-and-white cinematography, Pawel Pawilowski’s well-crafted drama offers a bleak if realistic (and never melodramatic) look at 1960s Poland, with two polar-opposite characters coming to form a bond as their layers of painful loss rise to the surface. (1:20) Albany, Clay, Piedmont. (Eddy)

Ivory Tower The latest “issue doc” to come down the pipeline is this very timely and incisive look at the cost of higher education from director Andrew Rossi (2011’s Page One: Inside the New York Times). Rossi is a Yale and Harvard Law grad, and he begins his film in the hallowed halls of the latter to frame the question: In the era of skyrocketing tuition, and with the student loan debt hovering at a trillion bucks, is college still worth it? The answer is left open-ended, though with the very strong suggestion that nontraditional education (including community colleges, online learning, and the Silicon Valley-spawned “uncollege” movement) is certainly something worth exploring, particularly for the non-wealthy. Along the way, we do see some positive tales (a kid from the mean streets of Cleveland gets a full-ride scholarship to Harvard; students at rural Deep Springs College follow philosophy discussions with farm work; African American women at Spelman College thrive in an empowering environment), but there’s a fair amount of cynicism here, too, with a hard look at how certain state schools are wooing deep-pocketed out-of-staters with fancy athletic stadiums, luxurious amenities, and a willingness to embrace, however unofficially, their hard-partying reputations. Segments following a student protest at New York’s Cooper Union, a formerly free school forced to consider collecting tuition after a string of financial troubles, echo Frederick Wiseman’s epic At Berkeley (2013), a thematically similar if stylistically very different work. (1:37) California. (Eddy)

Jersey Boys The musical that turned the back story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons — the 1960s hit making machines behind upbeat doo-wop ditties like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and a zillion more; you will recognize all of them — into Broadway gold ascends to the big screen thanks to director Clint Eastwood, a seemingly odd choice until you consider Eastwood’s own well-documented love of music. Jersey Boys weaves a predictable tale of show biz dreams realized and then nearly dashed, with a gangster element that allows for some Goodfellas-lite action (a pre-fame Joe Pesci is a character here; he was actually from the same ‘hood, and was instrumental in the group’s formation). With songs recorded live on-set, à la 2012’s Les Misérables, there’s some spark to the musical numbers, but Eastwood’s direction is more solid than spontaneous, with zero surprises (even the big finale, clearly an attempt at a fizzy, feel-good farewell, seems familiar). Still, the cast — including Tony winner John Lloyd Young as Valli, and Christopher Walken as a sympathetic mobster — is likable, with Young in particular turning in a textured performance that speaks to his years of experience with the role. For an interview with cast members Young, Michael Lomenda (who plays original Four Season Nick Massi), and Erich Bergen (as Bob Gaudio, the member who wrote most of the group’s hits), visit www.sfbg.com/pixel_vision. (2:14) Four Star, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki, Vogue. (Eddy)

Obvious Child We first encounter the protagonist of writer-director Gillian Robespierre’s funny, original film — a Brooklyn-dwelling twentysomething named Donna (Jenny Slate), who works at a lefty secondhand bookstore and makes regular (if unpaid) appearances at a local comedy night — onstage mining such underdiscussed topics as the effects of vaginal discharge on your garden-variety pair of underwear. This proves a natural segue to other hefty nuggets of embarrassment gold concerning her love life, to the dismay of boyfriend Ryan (Paul Briganti), auditing from the back of the club. He pretty much deserves it, however, for what he’s about to do, which is break up with her in a nasty, well-populated unisex bathroom, taking time to repeatedly glance at the texts coming through on his phone from Donna’s good friend, with whom he’s sleeping. So when Donna, mid-drowning of sorrows, meets a nice-looking fellow named Max (Jake Lacy) at the bar, his post-fraternity-presidency aesthetic seems unlikely to deter her from a one-night stand. The ensuing trashed make-out dance-off in Max’s apartment to the Paul Simon song of the title is both comic and adorable. The fractured recap of the evening’s condom-free horizontal events that occurs inside Donna’s brain three weeks later, as she hunkers down with her best friend, Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann), in the bookstore’s bathroom after peeing on a stick, is equally hilarious — and unwanted-pregnancy jokes aren’t that easy to pull off. Robespierre’s treatment of this extended windup and of Donna’s decision to have an abortion is a witty, warmhearted retort to 2007’s Knocked Up, a couple generations’ worth of Hollywood rom-com writers, and an entertainment industry that continues to perform its sweaty contortions of storytelling in the gutless cause of avoiding the A-word. (1:15) California, Embarcadero, Piedmont, Sundance Kabuki. (Rapoport)

Ping Pong Summer Eighties teen flicks of the My Bodyguard (1980), smart-dweebs-beat-the-bullies ilk are paid homage in Michael Tully’s deadpan satire, which is closer in spirit to the Comedy of Lameness school whose patron saint is Napoleon Dynamite. Radley (Marcello Conte) is an average teen so excited to be spending the summer of 1985 in Ocean City, Md. with his family that he renames himself “Rad Miracle.” He acquires a new best friend in Teddy (Myles Massey), who as the whitest black kid imaginable might make even Rad look cool by comparison. However, they are both dismayed to discover the local center for video gaming and everything else they like is ruled by bigger, older, cuter, and snottier douchebag Lyle Ace (Joseph McCaughtry) and his sidekick. Only kicking Lyle’s ass at ping pong — with some help from a local weirdo (a miscast Susan Sarandon, apparently here because she’s an off screen ping pong enthusiast) — can save Rad’s wounded dignity, and the summer in general. A big step up from Tully’s odd but pointless prior Septien (2011), this has all the right stuff (including a soundtrack packed with the likes of the Fat Boys, Mary Jane Girls, New Edition, Whodini, and Night Ranger) to hilariously parody the era’s inanities. But it’s just mildly amusing — a droll attitude with lots of period detail but not much bite. (1:32) Roxie. (Harvey)

The Rover Future days have never seemed quite so bleak as they are depicted in the wild, wild Aussie west of The Rover — rendered by Animal Kingdom (2010) director David Michod, who co-wrote The Rover with Joel Edgerton. Let’s just say we’re probably not going to see any primo Burner ensembles inspired by this post-apocalyptic yarn: Michod ventures to a plausible future only a decade out, after a global economic collapse, and breaks down the brooding road trip to its hard-boiled bones, setting it in a beauteous, lawless, and unceasingly violent outback. A heist gone wrong leads a small gang of robbers to steal the car belonging to monosyllabic, ruthless mystery man Eric (Guy Pearce). The latter wants his boxy little sedan back, badly, and, in the cat and mouse game that ensues, seems willing to die for the trouble. Meanwhile, one of the gang of thieves — the slow, dreamy Rey (Robert Pattinson), who has been left to die of a gunshot wound in the dirt — turns out to be more of a survivor than anyone imagined when he tracks down the tracker hunting for his brother and cohorts. Michod seems most interested in examining and turning over the ties that bind, in a mean time, an eminently absurdist moment, when everything else has fallen away in the face of sheer survival. Cineastes, however, will appreciate the elemental, existential pleasures of this dog-eat-dog Down Under out-Western, not the least of which include the performances. Pearce’s rework of the Man With No Name exudes intention in the very forward thrust of his stance, and Pattinson breaks his cool — and the confines of typecasting — as a blubbering, babbling, thin-skinned man-child. Clad in the mystic expanses of the South Australia desert, which tip a hat to John Ford Westerns as well as scorched-earth-of-the-mind movies such as El Topo (1970) and Paris, Texas (1984), The Rover is taken to the level of tone poem by the shuddering, moaning cellos of Antony Partos’s impressive, atonal electroacoustic score. (1:42) Metreon, Shattuck. (Chun)

The Signal Sharing its title with a 2007 film — also a thriller about a mysterious transmission that wreaks havoc in the lives of its protagonists — this offbeat feature from co-writer and director William Eubank belies its creator’s deep affection for, and knowledge of, the sci-fi genre. Number one thing The Signal is not is predictable, but its twists feel organic even as the story takes one hairpin turn after another. MIT buddies Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) are driving Nic’s girlfriend, Haley (Olivia Cooke), cross-country to California. Complicating the drama of the young couple’s imminent separation is Nic’s deteriorating physical condition (it’s never explained, but the former runner apparently has MS or some other neurological disease). The road trip turns dark when the trio (who also happen to be hackers) realize an Internet troll they’ve tangled with in the past is stalking them. After a brief detour into found-footage horror — fooled ya, Eubank seems to be saying; this ain’t that kind of movie at all! — the kids find themselves embroiled in ever-more-terrifying realities. To give away more would ruin the fun of being shocked for yourself, but think Twilight Zone meets Area 51 meets a certain futuristic trilogy starring Laurence Fishburne, who turns up here to play a very important role in Nic and company’s waking nightmare. (1:37) Metreon. (Eddy) *

 

A heart in San Francisco

5

arts@sfbg.com

THEATER This week, at New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco’s Evan Johnson remounts his popular 2013 solo play, Pansy. It’s the story of a disaffected twentysomething gay man who discovers a cache of videocassettes in the basement of his SF apartment building — made by someone who could be considered his doppelganger, a club kid long since felled by AIDS. The play functions in part as a communion between a younger generation of queer San Franciscans and the early era of the AIDS crisis.

Of course, there are those who, in their lives as well as work, continue to bridge the two eras, maintaining a vital link to this fraught but fecund period in SF’s queer/queered history. One of them is the inimitable Justin Vivian Bond. Mx. Bond has long since been based in New York, and yet v (to apply the preferred prefix and pronoun to someone who has gracefully sidestepped the dominant gender binary) grew into an artist here, and has returned to SF many times over the years, including for packed performances produced by Marc Huestis at the Castro Theatre.

Although maybe still most often identified with the cabaret sensation Kiki and Herb — a Tony-nominated, long-running duet with Kenny Mellman, in which Bond excelled as the perennially sloshed Kiki Durane — Bond’s career has hardly slowed since K&H were put to rest more than five years ago. In fact, the output for this internationally acclaimed artist, actor, performer, and singer-songwriter has been impressive: In addition to innumerable musical performances, there are two fine albums, a spunky and poignant memoir about growing up as a trans kid in suburban 1970s Maryland, and a recent turn as the Widow Begbick (singing original songs by Duncan Sheik) in a New York production of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s a Man.

A powerfully soulful and charismatic performer, Bond brings Love Is Crazy!, an evening of songs about love in all its aspects, to Feinstein’s at the Nikko this weekend.

SF Bay Guardian In the late 1980s and early ’90s, AIDS made SF a dark place, but it was also a time of exceptional artistic, intellectual, and political ferment. How did that affect the development of your career?

Justin Vivian Bond I majored in theater in college, but I couldn’t really see a place for myself in mainstream theater. At my freshman evaluation they told me I had to butch up; I had to be able to pass as a straight man in order to make a living in the theater. Fortunately, I’ve been able to prove them wrong! But that was sort of a frustrating and unappealing way to live my life.

So I moved to San Francisco. I was going to probably go back to college and get a degree in art history and teach. But instead, I found Theatre Rhinoceros and queer performance and Queer Nation. It was a time when there was a tremendous amount of activism around HIV and AIDS. I worked at A Different Light bookstore, so I was exposed to the greatest queer minds of the day, brilliant writers and artists that would come in there. It was also, looking back now, the golden age of queer publishing. It was when Mike Warner published Fear of a Queer Planet. It was an intellectual and creative surge for queer people. Rick Jacobsen was still alive, and he did the Kiki Gallery [1993–1995]. I worked with him on a show that was written by Christian Huygen called Waiting for Godet, which appropriated Waiting for Godot and made it about two drag queens. It was so much fun, and really exciting. And I was in Hidden: A Gender with Kate Bornstein at Theater Rhinoceros. We toured that around the country — that was my New York stage debut.

I was at the Alice B. Theatre in Seattle when the NEA Four were defunded. Three of the four were at that festival. That was when I decided that I was going to devote my life to queer performance and to having the voices of queer people heard in as many places as possible. That propelled me to stay in the role of Kiki longer than I might have liked to, because it eventually brought me to Carnegie Hall and a Tony nomination on Broadway. [After that] I thought, OK, now I can really start honoring my own creativity, aside from making political statements. Fortunately for me, once I gave up that character and started performing as myself, I feel like things have been going pretty well. And it all started for me in San Francisco, which is why I love it so much.

SFBG Was there always a political dimension to your work?

JVB Having my art spring from a political place — exposed to the queer politics, really the life-or-death politics, that were happening back then — really justified my impulse to be an artist. I’m not saying that everything I’ve ever done has been politically astute or important, but there is a political perspective behind everything I do. That helps me justify asking a bunch of people to pay attention to me. If I didn’t feel like I was actually saying something, I’d probably be embarrassed to be on the stage, really.

SFBG What are the origins of Love Is Crazy!? You took it first to Paris. Was it a show you made specifically for that city?

JVB It kind of evolved. When I was last in San Francisco, actually, I was getting ready to host a benefit for the Lambda Legal Defense [and Education] Fund. Sometimes I’ll just pick a word and put it on my iPod, then let all the songs with that word in them play. That particular day, I had recently become single, so I hit “love,” and this list of songs played. I thought, “I should just write down this list and that could be my next show.” And that’s what I did for a show here in New York called “Mx. Bond’s Summer Camp.” I liked that show but over time I sort of finessed it. Now, not all the songs have the word love in them. Some are songs from both of my records. I was going to Paris, and I decided I wanted to do this Valentine’s Day show in front of the Eiffel Tower. I had a really wonderful time with it, so I decided to tour that show this year. So that’s what it is, craaazy love. And it’s got some good anecdotes in it.

SFBG I’m curious about the origins of your distinctive singing voice.

JVB For Kiki, I sang with a character voice. I started performing Kiki when I was like 28 or 29. I was just coming into my own voice at that time, and I kind of sang in that voice for 15 years. In San Francisco, during the last run of Kiki and Herb, I met this person who I fell in love with, and went on the road with, from San Francisco up to Canada. I kind of got back in touch with my queer roots, and I started writing my own songs, because I needed to find my own voice. It really helped me to get myself into the mindset of what I wanted to say, as opposed to what I wanted to say as this character.

I wrote several songs that were on my record Dendrophile. And I started singing songs that really resonated with me, including “The Golden Age of Hustlers,” which is a song by Bambi Lake and Jonathan Basil, who lives in the Bay Area. It’s about San Francisco and Polk Street. It’s an elemental song for me. And that’s how I started to rediscover my own voice. I had also just been in London; I went to Central Saint Martins College for my MA in scenography, which is like performance installation. One of my teachers was talking about Nina Simone, and how when you hear her sing you hear the life that she’s lived. I set out to try and make my voice reflective of my experience, so that when people hear my singing voice, they’ll sort of know what my life has been like and the world that I inhabit through it. That was my goal. And it really is a very satisfying thing, I have to say.

SFBG To be concentrating on your voice?

JVB And my life, and what my voice can say. 

JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND

Sat/21-Sun/22, $35-$50

Feinstein’s at the Nikko

222 Mason, SF

www.feinsteinssf.com

 

Reel pride

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The Case Against 8 (Ben Cotner and Ryan White, US) This documentary follows the successful fight to have Proposition 8 overturned as unconstitutional and restore legality to gay marriage in California. There’s way too much time spent on the couples chosen as plaintiffs, a Berkeley lesbian pair and two Los Angeles male partners — we get it, they’re nice people — and the decisions to disallow broadcast of the eventual court proceedings means we get laborious recitations of what people have already said on record. Frameline has shown so many documentaries about gay marriage already that festival regulars may find this one covers too much familiar ground at excessive length. (It also doesn’t bother giving much screentime to the anti-gay forces, which might have livened things up a bit.) Still, it’s a duly inspirational tale, with real entertainment value whenever the focus turns to the case’s very unlikely chief lawyers: mild-mannered Ted Olson and boisterous David Boies, the latter a longtime leading conservative attorney who’d argued the other side against Olson in the Bush v. Gore presidential election decision. Nonetheless, he’s all for marriage equality, and these otherwise widely separated figures are great fun to watch as they work, taking considerable pleasure in each other’s company. Thu/19, 7pm, Castro. (Dennis Harvey)

Bad Hair (Mariana Rondón, Venezuela, US) Living in a Caracas tenement, Marta (Samantha Castillo) has no husband, no romance in her life, and now no job after she’s fired from a security company. She turns her frustrations on the older of her two fatherless children, 10-year-old Junior (Samuel Lange Zambrano), whose insistence on straightening his hair like the people he sees on TV strikes her as incipiently gay — and that is something she is not willing to tolerate. Mariana Rondón’s prize-winning feature is a small, subtle drama about the poisoning effects of economic pressure and homophobia within the family unit. It’s also quietly devastating about something you don’t often see in movies: The real-world truth that, sometimes, deep down, parents really don’t love their children. Sat/21, 1:30pm, Roxie. (Harvey)

Floating Skyscrapers (Tomasz Wasilewski, Poland, 2013) Competitive swimmer Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk) has moved girlfriend Sylwia (Marta Nieradkiewicz) into the Warsaw apartment he shares with his possessive divorced mother (Katarzyna Herman), but the two women don’t get along and Kuba doesn’t seem very committed to the relationship anyway. So Sylwia immediately worries her days are numbered when Kuba — who already indulges in the occasional furtive public gay sex — shows unusual interest in out Michal (Bartosz Gelner). As the two young men grow closer, it becomes clear that this is something neither of the women in Kuba’s life will stand for. Tomasz Wasilewski’s Polish drama has a crisp widescreen look and a minimalist air, with little dialogue articulating emotions the characters are wrestling with. Though its protagonist isn’t particularly likable, the film’s simultaneous confidence and ambivalence lends its eventually depressing progress real punch. Sat/21, 9:30pm, Victoria; June 26, 9:30pm, Roxie. (Harvey)

I Am Happiness On Earth (Julián Hernández, Mexico, 2013) When young dancer Octavio is picked up by well-known filmmaker Emiliano, he’s instantly smitten — not realizing yet that the latter is the kind of serial seducer allergic to fidelity. Rich, famous, and gorgeous, he can have anyone he wants, and he does. That’s about it for story in Julián Hernández’s latest, which features some of his characteristically lush camerawork and poetical romanticism. But it’s one of his weaker efforts, basically turning into one sex scene after another with even less attention to character and plot development than usual. This sexy, aesthetically sensual eye candy sports the odd enchanting moment, as when two men after a quickie are suddenly transfixed by the TV and begin singing a pop ballad along with it, to each other. But Hernández (2006’s Broken Sky, 2003’s A Thousand Peace Clouds Encircle the Sky) is a highly talented filmmaker who here seems to be running out of ideas. Sat/21, 9:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

The Foxy Merkins (Madeleine Olnek, US, 2013) Writer-director Madeleine Olnek of Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011) hits a bit of a sophomore slump with this similarly loopy but less inspired absurdist comedy. Lisa Haas returns as Margaret, a sad-sack new arrival to Manhattan who — apparently like most holders of Women’s Studies degrees — ends up homeless and prostituting herself to a large available client base of better bankrolled lesbians. She gets schooled in the ways of the street and kink-for-pay by veteran Jo (Jackie Monahan), who’s a good business partner if also a somewhat unreliable ally. After a hilarious first half hour or so, the movie runs out of steam but keeps plodding on to diminishing returns, despite scattered moments when Olnek and cast hit the comedic bull’s-eye. She’s got a unique sensibility, at once deadpan and utterly nonsensical, but it’s fragile enough to need a stronger narrative structure to sustain than it gets here to sustain feature length. Sun/22, 9:15pm, Castro. (Harvey)

Winter Journey (Sergei Taramaev and Luba Lvova, Russia, 2013) This stylish Russian drama depicts the paths-crossing and eventual unlikely friendship of two extremely different young men in Moscow. Keanu-looking Eric (Aleksey Frandetti) is a bratty, lieder-singing voice student who escapes pressures at home and school by getting drunk and hanging out with a circle of older gay artistic types. Lyokha (Evgeniy Tkachuk) is homeless and unstable, inclined toward picking fights and stealing stuff. Their not-quite-romance — a bit like a below-zero My Own Private Idaho (1991) with lots of Schubert — isn’t particularly credible, but it’s directed with confident panache by Sergei Taramaev and Luba Lvova, to ultimately quite poignant effect. Mon/23, 9:15pm, Victoria. (Harvey)

Violette (Martin Provost, France, 2013) Taking on another “difficult” woman artist after the excellent 2008 Séraphine (about the folk-art painter), Martin Provost here portrays the unhappy life of Violette Leduc (Emmanuelle Devos), whose fiction and autobiographical writings eventually made her a significant figure in postwar French literature. We first meet her waiting out the war with gay author Maurice Sachs (Olivier Py), one of many unrequited loves, then surviving via the black market trade before she’s “discovered” by such groundbreaking, already-established talents as Jean Genet (Jacques Bonnaffé) and Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain). It is the latter, a loyal supporter who nonetheless retains a chilly emotional distance, who becomes bisexual Violette’s principal obsession over the coming 20 years or so. Devos does her best to portray “a neurotic crazy washed-up old bag” with an “ugly mug” — hardly! — who is perpetually broke, depressed, and awkward, thanks no doubt in part to her mean witch of a mother (Catherine Hiegel). “Screaming and sobbing won’t get you anywhere,” Simone at one point tells her, and indeed Leduc is a bit of a pill. For the most part lacking the visual splendors of Séraphine (this character’s environs weren’t so pastoral), Violette is finely acted and crafted but, like its heroine, hard to love. Note: Frameline is also showing Violette Leduc: In Pursuit of Love, a documentary on the same subject. Mon/23, 9:15pm, Castro. (Harvey)

To Be Takei (Jennifer Kroot, US) The erstwhile and forever Mr. Sulu’s surprisingly high public profile these days no doubt sparked this documentary portrait by SF’s own Jennifer Kroot (2009’s It Came From Kuchar). But she gives it dramatic heft by highlighting the subject’s formative years in World War II Japanese-American internment camps, and finds plenty of verite humor in the everyday byplay between fairly recently “out” gay celebrity George and his longtime life and business partner Brad Altman — the detail-oriented, pessimistic worrywart to his eternally upbeat (if sometimes tactlessly critical) star personality. We get glimpses of them in the fan nerdsphere, on The Howard Stern Show, at Takei’s frequent speaking engagements (on internment and gay rights), and in his latter-day acting career both as perpetual TV guest and a performer in a hopefully Broadway-bound new musical (about internment). Then of course there’s the Star Trek universe, with all surviving major participants heard from, including ebullient Nichelle Nichols, sad-sack Walter Koenig, thoughtfully distanced Leonard Nimoy, and natch, the Shat (who acts like a total asshat, dismissing Takei as somebody he sorta kinda knew professionally 50 years ago.) We also hear from younger Asian American actors who view the subject as a role model, even if some of his actual roles weren’t so trailblazing (like a couple “funny Chinaman” parts in Jerry Lewis movies, and in John Wayne’s 1968 pro-Vietnam War film The Green Berets). Even if you’ve tired of Takei’s ubiquity online and onscreen, this campy but fond tribute is great fun. Tue/24, 6:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

Back on Board: Greg Louganis (Cheryl Furjanic, US) For most Americans, the words “famous diver” conjure up only one name: Greg Louganis, the charismatic, record-breaking Olympian who dominated the sport in the 1980s. But as Cheryl Furjanic’s doc reveals, athletic perfection did not spell easy livin’ for Louganis. Though he hid the fact that he was gay (and HIV positive) from the public for years, his sexuality was an open secret in the diving world, and likely cost him lucrative endorsement deals. Louganis’ tale is not being shared for the first time (see also: the best-selling autobiography, which became a made-for-TV biopic), but Furjanic goes in deep, revealing Louganis’ considerable financial woes even as he finally finds personal happiness — and recharges his sports career when he’s asked to mentor 2012 Olympians. He’s clearly a good-hearted guy, and it’s hard not to root for him, particularly when we’re treated to so much footage of “the consummate diver” in his prime. He made it look easy, when clearly (in so many ways) it was not. June 25, 4pm, Castro. (Cheryl Eddy)

Regarding Susan Sontag (Nancy Kates, US) This excellent documentary by Nancy D. Kates (2003’s Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin) places more emphasis on the subject’s life — particularly her lesbian relationships — than on the ideas expressed in her work as a novelist, essayist, filmmaker, and cultural theorist. But it’s still a fine overview of a fascinating, often divisive figure. Extremely precocious (she began college at 15), she abandoned an early marriage for freedom in late 1950s Paris, then became a charismatic cultural theorist at the center of all 60s avant-gardisms. Her lovers included playwright Maria Irene Fornes, painter Jasper Johns, choreographer Lucinda Childs, and finally photographer Annie Liebovitz. A terrific diversity of archival footage and contemporary interviewees contribute to this portrait of a very complicated, difficult (both personally and as an artist/intellect) woman perpetually “interested in everything.” June 25, 7pm, Victoria; June 26, 7pm, Elmwood. (Harvey)

Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story (Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog, US) “I don’t do anything halfway,” admits Kristin Beck, a 20-year, highly-decorated veteran of the Navy SEALs. During her time in the military, she was known as Christopher — and she admits now, as a trans woman “trying to be the real person that I always knew I was, and always wished I could be,” that her willingness to embrace danger was a coping mechanism as she struggled to realize her true identity. In this moving, well-crafted doc, we follow along as Kristin travels to visit with family (some more accepting than others, and some, like her aging dad, making a heartfelt effort even as they stumble over pronouns and still call her “Chris”) and former Navy colleagues and fellow veterans, many of whom have put aside their initial confusion and embrace Kristin as she is. And who is she? A badass who survived multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, with a wry sense of humor and an easygoing, thoughtful personality, Beck is also an inspiration — an American hero on multiple levels. June 27, 1:30pm, Castro. (Eddy)

Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan, US) First seen packing her belongings under the malevolent eye of her newly ex–girlfriend, then walking unabashedly down the street with a harness and dildo in hand, Brooklyn-dwelling twentysomething Shirin (played by writer-director Desiree Akhavan) doesn’t seem like a person who has trouble owning her sexuality. And indeed, in the parts of her life that don’t require interacting with her close-knit Iranian American family, Shirin is an out, and outspoken, bisexual. Brash, witty, self-involved, and professionally unmoored, she has a streak of poor impulse control that leads her into situations variously hilarious, awkward, painful, and disastrous. Through a series of flashbacks, Akhavan walks us back through the medium highs and major lows of Shirin’s defunct relationship, while tracking her floundering present-day attempts to wobble back to standing. Akhavan’s first feature, Appropriate Behavior has a comic looseness that occasionally verges on shapelessness, but the stray bits are entertaining too. June 27, 7pm, Castro. (Lynn Rapoport)

Of Girls and Horses (Monika Treut, Germany) A semi-delinquent teenager named Alex (Ceci Chuh) is sent away to work on a horse farm as a sort of last-ditch effort to shift her onto a more salutary path. Under the care of thirtysomething Nina (Vanida Karun), who is taking time apart from urban life in Hamburg, where her girlfriend lives, Alex comes to fall under the quiet spell of the horses, and when another young girl, Kathy (Alissa Wilms), shows up to vacation at the farm with her horse, Alex falls for her as well. Director Monika Treut (1999’s Gendernauts) favors long, lyrical shots of horses grazing or gazing soulfully into the lens, of Nina and Kathy cantering over flat green expanses of countryside, and of Alex forking hay into the stalls. A few small dramas take place, but Of Girls and Horses is more of a sketch than a story, and whether it holds your interest may depend on how many Marguerite Henry horse stories you consumed in your youth. June 27, 9:15pm, Roxie. (Rapoport)

Futuro Beach (Karim Ainouz, Brazil) When two German men globe-trotting on their motorcycles go for a dip off the Brazilian coast, they’re pulled under by the current — only Konrad (Clemens Schick) is saved by local lifeguard Donato (Wagner Moura), his companion lost. The two men console one another with sex. Then in the first of several disorienting jumps forward in time here, suddenly Donato has moved to Europe in order to continue their relationship, leaving his old life (including a dependent mother and younger brother) behind. There are further narrative leaps ahead — director Karim Ainouz (2002’s Madame Satã) is all about bold gestures here, but his visual and sonic assertiveness don’t necessarily fill the blanks in narrative and character development. The resulting exercise in style will leave you either dazzled or emotionally untouched. June 27, 9:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

Cupcakes (Eytan Fox, Israel, 2013) After a run of politically tinged features, Eytan Fox (2002’s Yossi & Jagger, 2004’s Walk on Water) goes the Almodóvar-lite route with this flyweight comedy about a Eurovision-style song contest. Gay Ofer (Ofer Shechter) and various girlfriends who all live in the same Tel Aviv apartment building decide to enter the Universong competition, becoming Israel’s official entry with improbable ease despite never having performed publicly before. Their mild travails (fighting the creative inference of professional handlers, Ofer’s attempts to drag his boyfriend out of the closet) fill time pleasantly enough before the inevitable triumphant telecast climax. This candy-colored fluff, its mainstreamed camp sensibility predictably reflected in corny vintage hits (“Love Will Keep Us Together,” “You Light Up My Life”), is aptly named — it’s as colorful, easily digested, and about as nutritious as a tray of cupcakes. June 28, 8:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

I Feel Like Disco (Axel Ranisch, Germany, 2013) When housewife Monika (Christina Grobe) suffers a stroke and falls into a coma she may never come out of, her chubby teenage son Flori (Frithjof Gawenda) and junior high swim coach husband Hanno (Heiko Pinkowski) are forced to depend on each other without mom as a buffer. Things tentatively look up when Flori develops an unlikely friendship — and possibly something more — with dad’s star diver, Romanian émigré Radu (Robert Alexander Baer). Axel Ranisch’s gentle seriocomedy doesn’t make much of an impression for a while, springing few surprises (despite occasional deadpan fantasy sequences) along its moderately amusing path. But as father and son struggle to rise to the occasion of their shared crisis, we grow to like them more — and likewise this ultimately quite disarming feature. June 29, 7pm, Castro. (Harvey) *

Frameline 38, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, runs June 19-29 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St, SF; Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; and Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College, Berk. For tickets (most shows $10-15) and schedule, visit www.frameline.org. For even more Frameline 38 short takes, visit www.sfbg.com.

This Week’s Picks: May 28 – June 3, 2014

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WEDNESDAY 21

 

Brody Dalle

There is a serious deficit of female fierceness in punk rock at the moment. The music industry as a whole is a boys’ club, and it’s incredibly difficult for women to make a name for themselves in rock. Not only has Brody Dalle done this, she’s done it three times over, fronting beloved LA punk bands the Distillers and Spinnerette, and now as a solo artist, with her new record Diploid Love. She’s an inspiration in many ways — as a formidable frontperson, gifted musician, badass artist, and mother — and now, over 15 years since the Distillers began writing and performing, her work is tighter than ever. Diploid Love is a departure from the straightforward punk aesthetic of the Distillers and the pure rock ‘n’ roll of Spinnerette — the songs range from ballads and torch songs to angry rockers, all of them solid and heartfelt. Dalle’s versatility is impressive, but I’m happy to say that through it all she manages to keep her trademarked sonic sneer that made us fall in love with her to begin with. (Haley Zaremba)

$14, 8pm

Slim’s

333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slimspresents.com

 

 

‘Milk’

On May 21, 1979, Dan White was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to just seven years in jail for assassinating Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Thirty-five years ago today, the city took to the streets in outrage over the lenient sentence of a murderer. The White Night riots began with a march down Castro Street, continued into violent protests at City Hall and finished with police retaliation, tear gas, vandalization, and injury. Needless to say, Harvey Milk lived on as a hero of the gay rights movement in San Francisco and around the country. In honor of this anniversary, the Castro Theatre is celebrating Milk’s legacy with a special screening of Gus Van Sant’s Academy Award-winning Milk, starring Sean Penn as our favorite gay rights activist. The film chronicles the last eight years of Milk’s life, and how he changed this city for the better. (Laura B. Childs)

5:30pm and 8pm, $11

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6350

www.castrotheatre.com

 

THURSDAY 22

 

 

The Acro-Cats

If you attended either the Roxie’s or Oakland’s cat video festival a couple weeks ago and have been in feline withdrawal ever since, have no fear — the cat circus is here. Yes, it’s the Acro-Cats, an all-kitty circus troupe, complete with a cat rock band, that’s touring the country. Feats of derring-do will include cats jumping through hoops, cats jumping on tightropes, cats riding on skateboards, cats balancing on balls…you get the idea. They also arrive in a “Cat Car.” Founder Samantha Martin has taken in over a dozen stray or orphaned cats and found homes for 130 more in her lifetime; a percentage of ticket sales will go to kitty rescue programs. Sounds like a purrr-fect evening to me. (Emma Silvers)

Through Sun/25, 8:30pm, $24

The Southside Theatre at Fort Mason Center, SF

www.circuscats.com

 

 

Black Flag

Legendary punk band Black Flag blazed the path for underground music in the United States during the 1970s and ’80s with its rigorous work ethic, groundbreaking recordings, and relentless touring that built a network and foundation for independent artists that still exists today. Recently resurrected by Greg Ginn, the founder-guitarist-primary songwriter and sole continuous member, the band released its first new record in nearly two decades last year, and is once again hitting the road and ripping through the new tunes along with old favorites like “TV Party,” “Six Pack” and “Rise Above.” (Sean McCourt)

With HOR, Cinema Cinema and Violence Creeps

8pm, $20-$25

Brick and Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782

www.brickandmortarmusic.com

 

 

Rock ‘n’ roll history: ‘American Jukebox’

“Plug into this jukebox and see the face and figures behind the greatest American Music,” says the co-founder of City Lights Bookstore, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, about American Jukebox. For Christopher Felver’s newest photography book, 240 photographs from tours and encounters with musicians over the past 25 years have been compiled into a photographic journey chronicling the heritage of American music and capturing its lively spirit. Scattered between playlists, autographed lyrics, record sleeves, and anecdotes are portraits of musicians caught in action on stage or posed under Felver’s lens. From Doc Watson to John Cage and Sonny Rollins to Patti Smith, American Jukebox celebrates the vitality of the music industry and its rich history. The photographer will appear in person to read and sign books. (Childs)

7pm, free

Books Inc. Bookstore Opera Plaza

601 Van Ness, SF

(415) 776-1111

www.booksinc.net

 

FRIDAY 23

 

The Avengers

One of the best bands to come out of the San Francisco punk scene in the late 1970s, the Avengers mixed impassioned politics and social commentary into their potent blend of dynamic and invigorated music. Fronted by singer Penelope Houston, they secured themselves a place in history when they opened for the Sex Pistols’ final gig at Winterland in January of ’78 and threatened to steal the show. Though they lasted only a couple of years before they broke up, the group made a lasting impression — and now, 35 years later, Houston and original guitarist Greg Ingraham are back and better than ever. (McCourt)

With Kicker and California

9pm, $15

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157

www.thechapelsf.com

 

 

Rocketship

They might not have ever achieved widespread mainstream success, but the Sacramento-based band Rocketship had enough of a devoted following in the ’90s that news of their reunion for this year’s Popfest caused more than a little ripple of excitement among indie-pop lovers. This Slumberland Records showcase, part of the little indie-fest-that-could’s special weekend of bringing fuzz- and grunge-pop favorites from the ’90s and aughts back together, has a pretty stellar lineup from start to finish — you’re sure to see some cardigan-sporting superfans out in full force. (Emma Silvers)

With The Mantles, Bouracer, and The Softies

8pm, $18-$20

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, Sf

www.rickshawstop.com

 

SATURDAY 24

“The Hop”

Looking for a blast from the past party for this holiday weekend? Then check out Handsome Hawk Valentine’s “The Hop,” which will feature rockabilly bands including guitar slinger extraordinaire Deke Dickerson and his Ecco-Fonics and Kay Marie, along with Sin Sisters Burlesque. Slick back that pomp or put on those stilettos and get gone — but if you don’t have time before you get there, don’t worry: You can get in on some free retro hairstyling and photos, and then hoot and holler for the Bettie Page Clothing “Rockabilly Prom King and Queen” contest before you dance the night away. (McCourt)

9pm, $12

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788

www.elbo.com

 

 

International Beer Festival

In the 30 years since the first International Beer Festival, a lot has changed. It all began with a selection of five beers (Pabst being one of the highlights) to now over 100 international and local craft brewers. Expect local brews from SF staples and Bay Area bites from local gems like the O-inducing Pizza Orgasmica. For over three decades, this beer festival has served as the perfect excuse to drink for a good cause — two birds, one stone — since the festival is entirely organized and staffed by parents of Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School students. The proceeds are donated to Tel-Hi’s preschool, which will fund the school’s programs for the entire year. Now that’s drinking responsibly. (Childs)

7pm, $75

Festival Pavilion

Fort Mason Center, SF

www.sfbeerfest.com


SUNDAY 25

 

‘Grease’ Sing-A-Long

Whether you’re more of a fast-talkin’, gum-smackin’ Pink Lady or a dead ringer for Olivia Newton-John’s good girl Sandy, your stylistic choices will be welcome at this Castro Theatre tradition. Get ready for “Summer Lovin’,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “Beauty School Dropout,” and boatloads more overt sexual innuendo — a lot of which sounds pretty damn un-PC by today’s standards (“Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight? Wait, what?!”) — than you probably noticed when you and your friends were all obsessed with this movie and crushing hard on John Travolta back at theater camp. The good news: Frankie Avalon was a teen-dream idol for a reason, Stockard Channing’s Rizzo is still the coolest of them all, and your hair goop is safe here. (Silvers)

2:30pm and 7pm, $16

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6350

www.castrotheatre.com

 

MONDAY 26

 

Perfect Pussy

One of the buzziest bands of 2014, frenetic Syracuse-based punk rockers Perfect Pussy didn’t need the shock-value band name to make headlines — but it hasn’t hurt. The hype around the five-piece reached a fever pitch sometime around SXSW, when it became clear that vocalist Meredith Graves’ unusually confessional, literate writing (for noise punk) and take-no-bullshit delivery translated into a seriously mind-screwing live show, music blog darlings or no. She’s also been pretty articulate about feminism in interviews. In short: probably not a flash in the pan, and well worth seeing live. (Silvers)  

With Potty Mouth, Wild Moth, Crabapple

8pm, $10-$12, all ages

Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell, SF

www.rickshawstop.com

 

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