Valentine's Day

A heart in San Francisco


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. 


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

Feinstein’s at the Nikko

222 Mason, SF


Sundance part 10: Happy Valentine’s Day!


Four memorable movies about frisky females from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

1) Desiree Akhavan wrote, directed, and stars (with deadpan aplomb) in Appropriate Behavior (US/UK), a tremendously personal story about growing up as a bisexual woman in a Persian family in New York. 

2) David Wnendt’s Wetlands (Germany) knocks the ball out of the park, adapting German author Charlotte Roche’s 2008 raunchfest. Lead actress Carla Juri immerses herself in the role of Helen as deeply as the character sticks her fingers into every orifice of her body. While perhaps attempting to attack too many issues from the original text, the film lives up to its scandalous reputation; it sent many audience members into fits of confusion for its graphic sexuality and obsessive behavior in regards to bodily fluids. 

3) Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child (US) gave comedian Jenny Slate more than enough material to chomp on when she’s dumped, fired, and impregnated all in time for Valentine’s Day. This classic indie ditty knows what it wants and grabs it with both hands. Buy advance tix when this comes your way: it’s clearly this year’s Juno (2007), but, you know, without the backlash. 

4) Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard (US) stars Shailene Woodley — of The Spectacular Now (2013) and The Descendants (2011), and about to break huge in Divergent. Writer-director Araki (an indie legend for films like 1995’s The Doom Generation) returns to the contemplative maturity he explored in Mysterious Skin (2004). This time, he takes on a young woman dealing with the disappearance of her mother. 

The melancholy soundtrack by Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie gives the film a Twin Peaks ambiance (never a bad thing), plus there’s the added bonus of Gabourey Sidibe as the main character’s hilarious BFF. Araki hasn’t lost his unique clunkiness that keeps him at the level of festival favorite, but White Bird may be his breakthrough (again) at last. You could do a lot worse than this. 

Next week: a look at Sundance’s Native Forum, and reports from the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Horse Feathers, Bowerbirds, Fruit Bats, Marissa Nadler, Maps & Atlases, Mark Kozelek, and more


Devon Reed is a San Francisco songwriter who also happens to be super-passionate about his volunteer work at 826 Valencia, everyone’s favorite Dave Eggers-founded, pirate store-fronted, kids’ literacy nonprofit in the Mission. A little over a year ago, he had the thought: What can I do that would combine the philanthropic and creative sides of my life?

The result is You Be My Heart, an album of 17 songs (almost all of them love songs of some kind) written by Reed, recorded by artists from around the country that he simply liked and decided to approach — including an impressive amount of indie rock royalty, like Bowerbirds, Horse Feathers, Fruit Bats, Maps & Atlases, Marissa Nadler, and Mark Kozelek. Proceeds from the album benefit 826 Valencia.

“I generally approached artists whose work was literate, wordy or melodic, or all three, since I tend to write dense, structured songs,” says Reed. “I also gravitated toward musicians who have a good-natured or folky streak in their work, since I thought that would give a good representation of the feeling of 826.” With the exception of Ghost and Gale, a local dreamfolk duo, he didn’t know any of the artists personally before he started the project. He simply asked bands to participate, and if they said yes, handed songs off to them for reinterpretation.

“I was mostly surprised, pleasantly, by things like a pedal steel solo in Marissa Nadler’s track ‘Half as Much,’ or Bowerbirds adding some real dramatic elements to the bridge of ‘Seven Wonders,’ — little changes that weren’t in my original demos but which nonetheless added something significant to the final versions,” says Reed of his reactions to the bands’ work. “Hearing each of the recordings for the first time was like unwrapping one present after another.”

Below, check out a video Valentine from a handful of the participating artists, as well a track from Bowerbirds. They’re both pretty. Just listen. For the children.

Save your Valentine’s Day date, order a bike-delivered condom


So your Valentine’s Day date is going great, way better than expected, and it’s looking like some hot sex might be where this is headed. But, d’oh, you forgot the condom! What to do? Well, San Francisco-based condom manufacturer L. is now launching a new project to “save your date,” as they say: a condom delivery service.

That’s right, starting on Valentine’s Day, L will have a bike messenger deliver one of its high-quality, socially conscious, sustainably produced love gloves anywhere in San Francisco that you need it, within one hour, for just $5. That, my fellow lovers of lovings, is quite a deal.

“We are rethinking condoms in many ways,” company founder and CEO Talia Frenkel tells the Guardian.

She started the company after working as a photojournalist and Red Cross worker in sub-Saharan Africa covering the AIDS crisis, an experience that lead her to create a condom company that delivers one free condom to Africa for every condom purchased here. Frenkel has also has tryied to innovate with the materials the company uses and the way it markets and distributes the condoms.

That led to her latest idea: “What about how we actually deliver it? More and more, we are living in an on-demand culture.”

So she partnered with bike messenger companies in San Francisco and Los Angeles and voila, condom deliveries. Or as Frenkel put it, “The idea is how do we save people’s dates.”
To order yours, call 213-935-0843, order via the company’s website, or use the cell phone app that is coming soon.  



This Week’s Picks: February 12 – 18, 2014



When The Landscape Is Quiet Again: North Dakota’s Oil Boom

In a land far, far away, the greedy hands of oilmongers are ripping apart Sarah Christianson’s home state. “Almost every local person I spoke with out there expressed some version of this sentiment: ‘I’m so glad so-and-so is dead, so they don’t have to see what’s happened to this place,'” says the photographer. Over the past year, Christianson documented the consequences of North Dakota’s newest oil boom: oil wells built on her parent’s mineral acres, drilling rigs planted on desolate horizons, natural gas flare pits disrupting untouched valleys. Her latest project, “When the Landscape is Quiet Again” hosted by SF Camerawork through April 19, examines the lasting repercussions of North Dakota’s 1973 oil boom, the new damages being inflicted today and the dichotomous effects on this economically depressed region. Opening reception will be held the following day at 6pm. (Laura B. Childs)



1011 Market, 2nd floor, SF



Are you a two-fisted drinker? Think you can keep up with an eight-armed party animal? Tonight’s your chance to do exactly that, and drink like a fish — literally! Head down to the waterfront tonight for “Octopalooza,” an SF Beer Week event celebrating cephalopods that will allow people to eat, drink and dance, all under the water. Featuring beers from San Francisco’s Pacific Brewing Laboratory (with labels such as “Squid Ink” and “Nautilus”) the fete will also include food from Pier 39 restaurants, octopus talks, squid dissections, squid ink block printing and a silent disco. Price of admission includes four drink tickets. (Sean McCourt)

6:30-9:30pm, $35

Aquarium of the Bay

Pier 39, SF.

(415) 623-5300


Breakfast: A History

Many modern Americans might have struggled with breakfast in the mid-1800’s, according to author Heather Arndt Anderson: “Bacon and eggs, pancake with syrup, and hot coffee were now considered as ‘injurious’ to one’s health as masturbation.” Anderson explains in her book Breakfast: A History how Americans’ healthy living attitudes at that time spurred the development of granola as a popular food. Anderson’s origin stories and accessible anthropological analysis showcase how the early day cuisine from different eras shape what we eat today. “Breakfast” also explores how culture, linguistics, religion and mass media elevated the morning meal’s status to the most important meal of the day. (Kevin Lee)


Omnivore Books

3885 Cesar Chavez, SF




Valentine’s Day Gay Romance from Cleis Press

Don’t mind the fogged-up windows at Books Inc. in the Castro on Wednesday night. Cleis Press has a steamy evening in store for you! This pre-Valentine’s Day book reading will celebrate the best parts of gay romance with tales of first times, young love, and longtime commitments. The independent queer publishing company has lined up three celebrated gay erotica authors for a night of hot-and-heavy prose followed by a book signing. Rob Rosen will share a titillating excerpt from one of his recent erotic novels, while Felice Picano and Lewis DeSimone will read from Best Gay Romance 2014, a sexy and lustful anthology that tackles all matters of the heart, soul, and bedroom. (Laura B. Childs)

7:30pm, free

Books Inc. The Castro

2275 Market, SF



Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

Hometown hero Thao Nguyen has been very busy of late, touring her band’s newest album We the Common, writing and recording short films with the likes of Ira Glass for Funny or Die, shooting music videos (and getting shut down by the SFPD) on the new Bay Bridge, and volunteering frequently for the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down’s music, a folk-rock blend, is simultaneously intimate and socially conscious, with her most recent work featuring themes of community and gratitude. Nguyen has been playing San Francisco shows semi-frequently for years, but this night will see her headlining the beloved and historied Fillmore for the first time, so this gig is sure to be electric. (Haley Zaremba)

With Sonny and the Sunsets

9pm, $20

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-3000


CCR Headcleaner

Does your ideal Valentine’s Day date entail seeing a mixture of psych-infused sludge rock and girl-dominated punk bands, all for thecost of $5? If yes, then consider your plans made. CCR Headcleaner, Quaaludes and Mane are throwing a bash during everybody’s favorite Hallmark holiday at Hemlock Tavern. Local raucous rockers CCR Headcleaner recently made waves with its split EP alongside Ty Segall’s stoner garage rock band, Fuzz, for the “Less Artists More Condos” 7″ series. Playing with CCR Headcleaner is Quaaludes, a San Francisco punk girl band that draws influences from the likes of grunge and riot grrrl. Opening is ’80s goth-tinged post-punk girl band, Mane. Though each band draws from different influences, each band brings an unfiltered, raw quality to its performance. So grab your partner, sweetie, S.O. – or whatever you call them – and march on over to the Hemlock for a grimy punk show. (Erin Dage)

With Quaaludes, Mane

9pm, $5

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923


Hubba Hubba Revue

Looking for a Valentine’s event that’s sure to blow all the others away? Slip into the world of scandalous speakeasies, flirtatious flappers and gun-toting gangsters tonight when Bay Area burlesque group Hubba Hubba Revue presents a special “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” themed show. Enjoy bootlegged beverages while watching a bevy of beauties from around the world perform on stage, including Lilly Tiger from Berlin and Fever Blister from LA — expect spats to be stripped, and fedoras to be flung — all giving a racy take on romance from the roaring twenties. (Sean McCourt)

9pm, $15-$30

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF

(415) 626-1409


Company C Contemporary Ballet

Some 12 years ago, Company C Contemporary Ballet started modestly with student performers; it now has a fine group of professional dancers and an infrastructure that supports it. After this season they’ll change to a “project-based” format that is less financially demanding and artistically more flexible. Artistic Director Charles Anderson has always had a knack for programming his own pieces in conjunction with intriguing works by other. That’s not likely to change. His is and will remain a ballet company featuring choreography that showcases 21st century dance. Among two of Anderson’s works, this program features Charles Moulton’s ingenious Nine Person Precision Ball Passing; Susan Jaffe’s Weather — who knew that the great ABT Ballerina choreographed? — and Yuri Zhukov’s expanded Railroad Joint. (Rita Felciano)

Feb. 13 and 14, 8pm. $25-48

Feb. 15, 6pm Gala. Feb. 16, 3pm

YBCA, LAM Research Center Theater, SF

(415) 978-2787



Myron & E

The Stones Throw record label is sort of the indie Motown of the 21st century, and their latest output, Myron and E, has instantly become some of the coolest cats on the LA-based cadre of vinyl evangelists. The deliciously soulful duo will be bringing its spunky horns, soothing rhythms, and hypnotic vocals to the Independent in support of their debut LP Broadway. The lead single “If I Gave You My Love” showcases the duo’s one-two punch of Barry White-esque vocals on the chorus, surrounded by peppy falsetto. Myron and E got together in the Bay after Myron escaped from LA, where he was working on the sketch comedy show “In Living Color.” If there ever was an occasion to bust out your special bowtie and fancy dancing shoes, it’s this show. (George McIntire)

9pm, $20 adv, $22 door

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421




February 15 is the date that many people will join in one area for their common love of BARF (Bay Area Record Label Fair). Vomit word-play aside, here are the details: local organizations Father/Daughter Records and Professional Fans have come together to spearhead the first annual event honoring record labels across the Bay Area. Labels such as Polyvinyl, Castle Face, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records, Slumberland, and many more will be selling their music all under one roof for such an occasion. To sweeten the deal, uber-talented bands representing local labels such as “difficult” punks Twin Steps, pop-punk sister duo Dog Party, power-pop sensations Cocktails, and psych-rocker Al Lover will be performing at the gig! And the best part about this event? There’s no need to cough up cash to get in. (Erin Dage)

With Twin Steps, Dog Party, Cocktails, Al Lover

12pm, Free

Thee Parkside

1600 17th St, SF

(415) 252-1330


John Talabot at Icee Hot

After slow simmering yet heavy hitting releases like ‘Sunshine,’ John Talabot released his debut ƒIN in 2012 to crossover attention. Add in a single live performance with collaborator Pional leading to touring with The xx, the only question would be what 2013 bring. The answer: an equally lauded entry into DJ-Kicks mix series, with Talabot taking his ability to sustain an emotional moment in time — dark, melancholic, tender, whatever — and extended it into a career-up to-here defining set. It’s perhaps the best entry yet into his sound, as much forward looking (including new songs “Without You” and “Siderall”) as tied to the past, with obscurities like Jurgen Paape’s remix of “Kron” by Sillikron reaching back to nights spent as a windowlicking trainspotter in Barcelona clubs, notebook in hand. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Galcher Lustwerk, Ghosts on Tape, Shawn Reynaldo, DJ Will

10pm-4am, $5-15 presale

Public Works

161 Erie, SF

(415) 932-0955



East Bay Comic Con

You don’t have to go all the way down to San Diego this year to get your comic book and pop culture fix — just check out East Bay Comic Con, a brand new event that will feature a host of comic book vendors along with several special guests including Richard Kiel (who played “Jaws,” the towering villain with metal teeth in two James Bond films) and John Stanley (author and host of KTVU’s classic TV show “Creature Features”). James O’Barr, the creator of The Crow, will also be on hand, and will kick off the party with a screening of the film based on his comic the night before. (Sean McCourt)

Movie screening and Q&A

7pm Sat/15, Free for first 350 fans

Brenden Theater

1985 Willow Pass Rd., Concord

East Bay Comic Con

10am-4:30pm, $5 (children 8 and under free)

Concord Hilton 1970 Diamond Blvd., Concord



“Committed Cinema: Tony Buba” Braddock, Penn., got its big-screen moment last year with the release of Out of the Furnace, Scott Cooper’s occasionally overwrought tale of two brothers battling grim destinies in the crumbling steel town. As it turns out, documentarian Tony Buba has been lensing his blue-collar hometown for decades, and the filmmaker dubbed “a national treasure” by the Anthology Film Archives is coming to Berkeley to share his work and converse with USF education professor Rick Ayers. Tonight, “The Braddock Chronicles” compiles shorts from 1972-85. More shorts precede screenings of narrative Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy (1988), and his most recent doc, 2013’s We Are Alive! The Fight to Save Braddock Hospital, on consecutive nights. (Cheryl Eddy)

Feb 18-20, 7pm, $5.50-$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berk.

Rep Clock: February 12 – 18, 2014


Schedules are for Wed/12-Tue/18 except where noted. Director and year are given when available. Double and triple features marked with a •. All times pm unless otherwise specified.

ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS 992 Valencia, SF; $7-12. “Sistah Sinema: A Queer Women of Color Valentine,” short films, Fri, 8. “Small Press Traffic: Douglas Kearney, Claudia Rankine, Normal Cole,” reading, Sun, 5.

BALBOA THEATRE 3630 Balboa, SF; $7.50-10. “Popcorn Palace:” The Muppet Movie (Frawley, 1979), Sat, 10am. Matinee for kids.

BERKELEY FELLOWSHIP OF UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS 1924 Cedar, Berk; $5-10. Rosa Luxemburg (von Trotta, 1986), Thu, 7.

CASTRO 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120, $8.50-11. •Fargo (Coen and Coen, 1996), Wed, 7, and The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen and Coen, 2001), Wed, 8:55. •Age of Consent (Powell, 1969), Thu, 6:30, and Lolita (Kubrick, 1962), Thu, 8:30. “Marc Huestis presents:” The Color Purple (Spielberg, 1985), Valentine’s Day Celebration with Oscar nominee Margaret Avery (“Shug”) in person, Fri, 7:30 (gala), 8:45 (film only). This event, $11-35; advance tickets at Annie (Huston, 1982), presented sing-along style, Sat-Sun, 1. This event, $10-16; advance tickets at •Miami Blues (Armitage, 1989), Sat, 6, and Scarface (De Palma, 1983), Sat, 8. •Baraka (Fricke, 1992), Sun, 5:05, 9, and Samsara (Fricke and Magidson, 2011), Sun, 7. •The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lawrence, 2013), Mon, 2:30, 8, and The Hunger Games (Ross, 2012), Mon, 5:20.

CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (415) 454-1222, $6.50-$10.75. times. “Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014,” call for dates and times. Gloria (Lelio, 2013), call for dates and times. The Past (Farhadi, 2013), call for dates and times. The New Public (Gunther, 2013), Wed, 7. Merrily We Roll Along, recorded live at West End London’s Harold Pinter Theatre, Sun, 7; Feb 23, 1; Feb 28, 7. “Mostly British Film Festival,” Feb 18-20. Visit for schedule.

CLAY 2261 Fillmore, SF; $10. “Midnight Movies:” Harold and Maude (Ashby, 1971), Fri-Sun, midnight.

DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL 201 Van Ness, SF; $25-80. “A Symphonic Night at the Movies:” “A Night at the Oscars,” famous clips and movie music with the SF Symphony, Sat. 8.

EXPLORATORIUM Pier 15, SF; Free with museum admission ($19-25). “Resonance: The Freddy McGuire Show,” with video artist Anne McGuire and collagist Wobbly, Thu, 7. “Saturday Cinema:” “Lovesick Cinema,” short films, Sat, 1, 2, 3.

MECHANICS’ INSTITUTE 57 Post, SF; $10. “CinemaLit Film Series: Villains We Love:” No Way to Treat a Lady (Smight, 1968), Fri, 6.

NEW PARKWAY 474 24th St, Oakl; $10. The Motherhood Archives (Lusztig, 2013), Tue, 7. With filmmaker Irene Lusztig in person.

PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249, $5.50-9.50. “Film 50: History of Cinema:” Singin’ in the Rain (Donen and Kelly, 1952), with lecture by Emily Carpenter, Wed, 3:10. “African Film Festival 2014:” “Between Cultures: Recent African Shorts,” Wed, 7. “Against the Law: The Crime Films of Anthony Mann:” T-Men (1948), Thu, 7; Raw Deal (1948), Fri, 8:50. “Funny Ha-Ha: The Genius of American Comedy, 1930-1959:” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, 1953), Fri, 7. “The Brilliance of Satyajit Ray:” The Big City (1963), Sat, 5:45. “Jean-Luc Godard: Expect Everything from Cinema:” Contempt (1963), Sat, 8:20. “Committed Cinema: Tony Buba:” “The Braddock Chronicles” (1972-85), Tue, 7.

ROXIE 3117 and 3125 16th St, SF; (415) 863-1087, $6.50-11. SF IndieFest, through Feb 20. For program info, visit

TANNERY 708 Gilman, Berk; Donations accepted. “Berkeley Underground Film Society:” “LOOP Presents:” “Soundies!”, cinematic jukebox of rare musical films, Sat, 7:30; Take the Money and Run (Allen, 1969), Sun, 7:30.

VOGUE 3290 Sacramento, SF; $12.50. “Mostly British Film Festival,” 25 classic and new films from the UK, Ireland, Australia, and India, Feb 13-20.

YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS 701 Mission, SF; $8-10. “2013 British Arrow Awards,” award-winning commercials, Thu-Sat, 4, 6, 8; Sun, 2, 4, 6. *


Film Listings: February 12 -18, 2014


Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Kimberly Chun, Dennis Harvey, Lynn Rapoport, Sam Stander, and Sara Maria Vizcarrondo. For rep house showtimes, see Rep Clock.


About Last Night First remake of the week: a do-over of the 1986 ensemble rom-com, based (like the earlier film) on a David Mamet play. This version stars Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, and Joy Bryant. (1:40)

Beijing Love Story Writer-director-star Chen Sicheng adapts his 2012 Chinese TV series, adding movie stars Carina Lau and Tony Leung Ka-fai to the cast to up the big-screen wattage. The film follows an array of couples, starting with Chen and real-life wife Shen Yan as a young couple forced to make some hard choices after an unplanned pregnancy. “What’s love? It’s like a ghost. Everyone’s heard of it, nobody’s seen it,” the reluctant father-to-be’s cynical friend tells him. Said friend has been hitched for years; the film’s next storyline follows what happens when his wife finds out he’s been cheating (as it turns out, she has some secrets of her own). At one point, the action shifts from Beijing to Greece (for the Lau-Leung segment), before returning to the city for a teenage love story involving a cello prodigy who wants to compete on TV, and a boy who can “see auras,” among other fanciful talents. Finally, an elderly man embarks on a series of blind dates, looking for a second chance at love, with a twist that’s obvious to anyone who’s ever seen a rom-com before. By the time this flowery Valentine’s card of a movie reaches its melodramatic conclusion, it’s abundantly clear that Chen knows his target audience — see: the film’s multiple Titanic (1997) references — and that he’s a huge fan of the romance genre himself. Well, ’tis the season. (2:02) Metreon. (Eddy)

Endless Love Second remake of the week: a do-over of Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation of Scott Spencer’s young-adult-love-gone-awry novel. (1:44) Shattuck.

Like Father, Like Son A yuppie Tokyo couple are raising their only child in workaholic dad’s image, applying the pressure to excel at an early age. Imagine their distress when the hospital phones with some unpleasant news: It has only just been learned that a nurse mixed up their baby with another, with the result that both families have been raising the “wrong” children these six years. Polite, forced interaction with the other clan — a larger nuclear unit as warm, disorganized, and financially hapless as the first is formal, regimented and upwardly mobile — reveals that both sides have something to learn about parenting. This latest from Japanese master Hirokazu Koreeda (1998’s After Life, 2004’s Nobody Knows, 2008’s Still Walking) is, as usual, low-key, beautifully observed, and in the end deeply moving. (2:01) Shattuck, Opera Plaza. (Harvey)

Lovers of Eternity Other Cinema’s latest season opens with something truly special: a new Kuchar Brothers movie. Well, not exactly “new” — that would be difficult, as SF’s own beloved George is with us no more — but one that, incredibly, has never been seen on the West Coast before. Lovers of Eternity (1964) is a half hour color “camp treasure” recently transferred to 16mm from a sole surviving 8mm print. No clue what the cast or content is, but having been made when the Bronx bros were 22 years old, just before they stopped directing as a team, how could it not be genius? The bill will also include Mike Kuchar in person presenting his 1966 The Secret of Wendel Samson, starring Pop artist Red Grooms, George, and Kuchar staples including Donna Kerness and Bob Cowan; plus his brand-new Soulmates. There will also be miscellany including “an orgy of erotic romps” and “psychedelic smut.” Valentine’s Day was for lovers; at this Sat/15 event, get retro-sleazy. More info at Artists’ Television Access. (Harvey)

RoboCop Truly, there was no need to remake 1987’s RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven’s smart, biting sci-fi classic that deploys heaps of stealth satire beneath its ultraviolent imagery. But the inevitable do-over is here, and while it doesn’t improve on what came before, it’s not a total lost cause, either. Thank Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, whose thrilling Elite Squad films touch on similar themes of corruption (within police, political, and media realms), and some inspired casting, including Samuel L. Jackson as the uber-conservative host of a futuristic talk show. Though the suit that restores life to fallen Detroit cop Alex Murphy is, naturally, a CG wonder, the guy inside the armor — played by The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman — is less dynamic. In fact, none of the characters, even those portrayed by actors far more lively than Kinnaman (Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley), are developed beyond the bare minimum required to serve RoboCop’s plot, a mixed-message glob of dirty cops, money-grubbing corporations, the military-industrial complex, and a few too many “Is he a man…or a machine?” moments. But in its favor: Though it’s PG-13 (boo), it’s also shot in 2D (yay). (1:50) Presidio. (Eddy)

Tim’s Vermeer See “Masterpiece Theater.” (1:20) Embarcadero.

Winter’s Tale Akiva Goldsman (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind) directs Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, and Jennifer Connelly in this adaptation of Mark Halprin’s supernatural romance. (1:58) Four Star, Presidio.


American Hustle David O. Russell’s American Hustle is like a lot of things you’ve seen before — put in a blender, so the results are too smooth to feel blatantly derivative, though here and there you taste a little Boogie Nights (1997), Goodfellas (1990), or whatever. Loosely based on the Abscam FBI sting-scandal of the late 1970s and early ’80s (an opening title snarks “Some of this actually happened”), Hustle is a screwball crime caper almost entirely populated by petty schemers with big ideas almost certain to blow up in their faces. It’s love, or something, at first sight for Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who meet at a Long Island party circa 1977 and instantly fall for each other — or rather for the idealized selves they’ve both strained to concoct. He’s a none-too-classy but savvy operator who’s built up a mini-empire of variably legal businesses; she’s a nobody from nowhere who crawled upward and gave herself a bombshell makeover. The hiccup in this slightly tacky yet perfect match is Irving’s neglected, crazy wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who’s not about to let him go. She’s their main problem until they meet Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious FBI agent who entraps the two while posing as a client. Their only way out of a long prison haul, he says, is to cooperate in an elaborate Atlantic City redevelopment scheme he’s concocted to bring down a slew of Mafioso and presumably corrupt politicians, hustling a beloved Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) in the process. Russell’s filmmaking is at a peak of populist confidence it would have been hard to imagine before 2010’s The Fighter, and the casting here is perfect down to the smallest roles. But beyond all clever plotting, amusing period trappings, and general high energy, the film’s ace is its four leads, who ingeniously juggle the caricatured surfaces and pathetic depths of self-identified “winners” primarily driven by profound insecurity. (2:17) Four Star, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, Sundance Kabuki. (Harvey)

August: Osage County Considering the relative infrequency of theater-to-film translations today, it’s a bit of a surprise that Tracy Letts had two movies made from his plays before he even got to Broadway. Bug and Killer Joe proved a snug fit for director William Friedkin (in 2006 and 2011, respectively), but both plays were too outré for the kind of mainstream success accorded 2007’s August: Osage County, which won the Pulitzer, ran 18 months on Broadway, and toured the nation. As a result, August was destined — perhaps doomed — to be a big movie, the kind that shoehorns a distracting array of stars into an ensemble piece, playing jes’ plain folk. But what seemed bracingly rude as well as somewhat traditional under the proscenium lights just looks like a lot of reheated Country Gothic hash, and the possibility of profundity you might’ve been willing to consider before is now completely off the menu. If you haven’t seen August before (or even if you have), there may be sufficient fun watching stellar actors chew the scenery with varying degrees of panache — Meryl Streep (who else) as gorgon matriarch Violet Weston; Sam Shepard as her long-suffering spouse; Julia Roberts as pissed-off prodigal daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts), etc. You know the beats: Late-night confessions, drunken hijinks, disastrous dinners, secrets (infidelity, etc.) spilling out everywhere like loose change from moth-eaten trousers. The film’s success story, I suppose, is Roberts: She seems very comfortable with her character’s bitter anger, and the four-letter words tumble past those jumbo lips like familiar friends. On the downside, there’s Streep, who’s a wizard and a wonder as usual yet also in that mode supporting the naysayers’ view that such conspicuous technique prevents our getting lost in her characters. If Streep can do anything, then logic decrees that includes being miscast. (2:10) Metreon, Sundance Kabuki. (Harvey)

Dallas Buyers Club Dallas Buyers Club is the first all-US feature from Jean-Marc Vallée. He first made a splash in 2005 with C.R.A.Z.Y., which seemed an archetype of the flashy, coming-of-age themed debut feature. Vallée has evolved beyond flashiness, or maybe since C.R.A.Z.Y. he just hasn’t had a subject that seemed to call for it. Which is not to say Dallas is entirely sober — its characters partake from the gamut of altering substances, over-the-counter and otherwise. But this is a movie about AIDS, so the purely recreational good times must eventually crash to an end. Which they do pretty quickly. We first meet Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) in 1986, a Texas good ol’ boy endlessly chasing skirts and partying nonstop. Not feeling quite right, he visits a doctor, who informs him that he is HIV-positive. His response is “I ain’t no faggot, motherfucker” — and increased partying that he barely survives. Afterward, he pulls himself together enough to research his options, and bribes a hospital attendant into raiding its trial supply of AZT for him. But Ron also discovers the hard way what many first-generation AIDS patients did — that AZT is itself toxic. He ends up in a Mexican clinic run by a disgraced American physician (Griffin Dunne) who recommends a regime consisting mostly of vitamins and herbal treatments. Ron realizes a commercial opportunity, and finds a business partner in willowy cross-dresser Rayon (Jared Leto). When the authorities keep cracking down on their trade, savvy Ron takes a cue from gay activists in Manhattan and creates a law evading “buyers club” in which members pay monthly dues rather than paying directly for pharmaceutical goods. It’s a tale that the scenarists (Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack) and director steep in deep Texan atmospherics, and while it takes itself seriously when and where it ought, Dallas Buyers Club is a movie whose frequent, entertaining jauntiness is based in that most American value: get-rich-quick entrepreneurship. (1:58) Embarcadero, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio. (Harvey)

Devil’s Due (1:29) Metreon.

Frozen (1:48) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

Gloria The titular figure in Sebastian Lelio’s film is a Santiago divorcee and white collar worker (Paulina Garcia) pushing 60, living alone in a condo apartment — well, almost alone, since like Inside Llewyn Davis, this movie involves the frequent, unwanted company of somebody else’s cat. (That somebody is an upstairs neighbor whose solo wailings against cruel fate disturb her sleep.) Her two children are grown up and preoccupied with their adult lives. Not quite ready for the glue factory yet, Gloria often goes to a disco for the “older crowd,” dancing by herself if she has to, but still hoping for some romantic prospects. She gets them in the form of Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), who’s more recently divorced but gratifyingly infatuated with her. Unfortunately, he’s also let his daughters and ex-wife remain ominously dependent on him, not just financially but in every emotional crisis that affects their apparently crisis-filled lives. The extent to which Gloria lets him into her life is not reciprocated, and she becomes increasingly aware how distant her second-place priority status is whenever Rodolfo’s other loved ones snap their fingers. There’s not a lot of plot but plenty of incident and insight to this character study, a portrait of a “spinster” that neither slathers on the sentimental uplift or piles on melodramatic victimizations. Instead, Gloria is memorably, satisfyingly just right. (1:50) Embarcadero, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

Gravity “Life in space is impossible,” begins Gravity, the latest from Alfonso Cuarón (2006’s Children of Men). Egghead Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is well aware of her precarious situation after a mangled satellite slams into her ship, then proceeds to demolition-derby everything (including the International Space Station) in its path. It’s not long before she’s utterly, terrifyingly alone, and forced to unearth near-superhuman reserves of physical and mental strength to survive. Bullock’s performance would be enough to recommend Gravity, but there’s more to praise, like the film’s tense pacing, spare-yet-layered script (Cuarón co-wrote with his son, Jonás), and spectacular 3D photography — not to mention George Clooney’s warm supporting turn as a career astronaut who loves country music almost as much as he loves telling stories about his misadventures. (1:31) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Eddy)

The Great Beauty The latest from Paolo Sorrentino (2008’s Il Divo) arrives as a high-profile contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, already annointed a masterpiece in some quarters, and duly announcing itself as such in nearly every grandiose, aesthetically engorged moment. Yes, it seems to say, you are in the presence of this auteur’s masterpiece. But it’s somebody else’s, too. The problem isn’t just that Fellini got there first, but that there’s room for doubt whether Sorrentino’s homage actually builds on or simply imitates its model. La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 1/2 (1963) are themselves swaying, jerry-built monuments, exhileratingly messy and debatably profound. But nothing quite like them had been seen before, and they did define a time of cultural upheaval — when traditional ways of life were being plowed under by a loud, moneyed, heedless modernity that for a while chose Rome as its global capital. Sorrentino announces his intention to out-Fellini Fellini in an opening sequence so strenuously flamboyant it’s like a never-ending pirouette performed by a prima dancer with a hernia. There’s statuary, a women’s choral ensemble, an on-screen audience applauding the director’s baffled muse Toni Servillo, standing in for Marcello Mastroianni — all this and more in manic tracking shots and frantic intercutting, as if sheer speed alone could supply contemporary relevancy. Eventually The Great Beauty calms down a bit, but still its reason for being remains vague behind the heavy curtain of “style.” (2:22) Opera Plaza. (Harvey)

Her Morose and lonely after a failed marriage, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) drifts through an appealingly futuristic Los Angeles (more skyscrapers, less smog) to his job at a place so hipster-twee it probably will exist someday:, where he dictates flowery missives to a computer program that scrawls them onto paper for paying customers. Theodore’s scripting of dialogue between happy couples, as most of his clients seem to be, only enhances his sadness, though he’s got friends who care about him (in particular, Amy Adams as Amy, a frumpy college chum) and he appears to have zero money woes, since his letter-writing gig funds a fancy apartment equipped with a sweet video-game system. Anyway, women are what gives Theodore trouble — and maybe by extension, writer-director Spike Jonze? — so he seeks out the ultimate gal pal: Samantha, an operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the year’s best disembodied performance. Thus begins a most unusual relationship, but not so unusual; Theodore’s friends don’t take any issue with the fact that his new love is a machine. Hey, in Her‘s world, everyone’s deeply involved with their chatty, helpful, caring, always-available OS — why wouldn’t Theo take it to the next level? Inevitably, of course, complications arise. If Her‘s romantic arc feels rather predictable, the film acquits itself in other ways, including boundlessly clever production-design touches that imagine a world with technology that’s (mostly) believably evolved from what exists today. Also, the pants they wear in the future? Must be seen to be believed. (2:00) Four Star, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Eddy)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Just when you’d managed to wipe 2012’s unwieldy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from your mind, here comes its sequel — and it’s actually good! Yes, it’s too long (Peter Jackson wouldn’t have it any other way); arachnophobes (and maybe small children) will have trouble with the creepy, giant-spider battle; and Orlando Bloom, reprising his Lord of the Rings role as Legolas the elf, has been CG’d to the point of looking like he’s carved out of plastic. But there’s much more to enjoy this time around, with a quicker pace (no long, drawn-out dinner parties); winning performances by Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Ian McKellan (Gandalf); and Benedict Cumberbatch (as the petulent voice of Smaug the dragon); and more shape to the quest, as the crew of dwarves seeks to reclaim their homeland, and Gandalf pokes into a deeper evil that’s starting to overtake Middle-earth. (We all know how that ends.) In addition to Cumberbatch, the cast now includes Lost‘s Evangeline Lilly as elf Tauriel, who doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original story, but whose lady-warrior presence is a welcome one; and Luke Evans as Bard, a human poised to play a key role in defeating Smaug in next year’s trilogy-ender, There and Back Again. (2:36) Metreon. (Eddy)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Before succumbing to the hot and heavy action inside the arena (intensely directed by Francis Lawrence) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire force-feeds you a world of heinous concept fashions that’d make Lady Gaga laugh. But that’s ok, because the second film about one girl’s epic struggle to change the world of Panem may be even more exciting than the first. Suzanne Collins’ YA novel The Hunger Games was an over-literal metaphor for junior high social survival and the glory of Catching Fire is that it depicts what comes after you reach the cool kids’ table. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) inspired so much hope among the 12 districts she now faces pressures from President Snow (a portentous Donald Sutherland) and the fanatical press of Capital City (Stanley Tucci with big teeth and Toby Jones with big hair). After she’s forced to fake a romance with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the two watch with horror as they’re faced with a new Hunger Game: for returning victors, many of whom are too old to run. Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright are fun as brainy wackjobs and Jena Malone is hilariously Amazonian as a serial axe grinder still screaming like an eighth grader. Inside the arena, alliances and rivalries shift but the winner’s circle could survive to see another revolution; to save this city, they may have to burn it down. (2:26) Metreon. (Vizcarrondo)

I, Frankenstein (1:33) Metreon.

Inside Llewyn Davis In the Coen Brothers’ latest, Oscar Isaac as the titular character is well on his way to becoming persona non grata in 1961 NYC — particularly in the Greenwich Village folk music scene he’s an ornery part of. He’s broke, running out of couches to crash on, has recorded a couple records that have gone nowhere, and now finds out he’s impregnated the wife (Carey Mulligan) and musical partner of one among the few friends (Justin Timberlake) he has left. She’s furious with herself over this predicament, but even more furious at him. This ambling, anecdotal tale finds Llewyn running into one exasperating hurdle after another as he burns his last remaining bridges, not just in Manhattan but on a road trip to Chicago undertaken with an overbearing jazz musician (John Goodman) and his enigmatic driver (Garrett Hedlund) to see a club impresario (F. Murray Abraham). This small, muted, droll Coens exercise is perfectly handled in terms of performance and atmosphere, with pleasures aplenty in its small plot surprises, myriad humorous idiosyncrasies, and T. Bone Burnett’s sweetened folk arrangements. But whether it actually has anything to say about its milieu (a hugely important Petri dish for later ’60s political and musical developments), or adds up to anything more profound than an beautifully executed shaggy-dog story, will be a matter of personal taste — or perhaps of multiple viewings. (1:45) Sundance Kabuki. (Harvey)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Throwback Terror Thursday, anyone? If the early Bourne entries leapt ahead of then-current surveillance technology in their paranoia-inducing ability to Find-Replace-Eliminate international villains wherever they were in the world, then Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit flails in the opposite direction — toward a nonsensical, flag-waving mixture of Cold War and War on Terror phobias. So when covert mucky-muck Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) solemnly warns that if mild-mannered former Marine and secret CIA analyst Jack Ryan stumbles, the US is in danger of … another Great Depression, you just have to blink, Malcolm Gladwell-style. Um, didn’t we just do that? And is this movie that out of touch? It doesn’t help that director Kenneth Branagh casts himself as the sleek, camp, and illin’ Russian baddie Viktor Cherevin, who’s styled like a ’90s club tsar in formfitting black clothing with a sheen that screams “Can this dance-floor sadist buy you another cosmo?” He’s intended to pass for something resembling sex — and soul — in Shadow Recruit‘s odd, determinedly clueless universe. That leaves a colorless, blank Chris Pine with the thankless task of rescuing whiney physician love Cathy (Keira Knightley) from baddie clutches. Pine’s no Alec Baldwin, lacking the latter’s wit and anger management issues, or even Ben Affleck, who has also succumbed to blank, beefcake posturing on occasion. Let’s return this franchise to its box, firmly relegated to the shadows. (1:45) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Chun)

Labor Day Sweet little home repairs, quickie car tune-ups, sensual pie-making, and sexed-up chili cookery — Labor Day seems to be taking its chick-flick cues from Porn For Women, Cambridge Women’s Pornography Cooperative’s puckish gift-booklet that strives to capture women’s real desires: namely, for vacuuming, folded laundry, and patient listening from their chosen hunks of beefcake. Let’s call it domestic close encounters of the most pragmatic, and maybe most realistic, kind. But that seems to sail over the heads of all concerned with Labor Day. Working with Joyce Maynard’s novel, director-screenwriter Jason Reitman largely dispenses with the wit that washes through Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009) and instead chooses to peer at his actors through the seriously overheated, poetically impressionistic prism of Terrence Malick … if Malick were tricked into making a Nicholas Sparks movie. Single mom Adele (Kate Winslet) is down in the dumps over multiple miscarriages and her husband’s (Clark Gregg) departure. Son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) becomes her caretaker of sorts — thus, when escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin) forces the mother-and-son team to give him a ride and a hideout, it’s both a blessing and a curse, especially because the hardened tough guy turns out to be a compulsively domestic, hardworking ubermensch of a Marlboro Man, able to bake up a peach pie and teach Henry to throw a baseball, all within the course of a long Labor Day weekend. Hapless Adele is helpless to resist him, particularly after some light bondage and plenty of manly nurturing. Ultimately this masochistic fantasy about the ultimate, if forbidden, family man — and the delights of the Stockholm Syndrome — is much harder to swallow than a spoonful of homemade chili, despite its strong cast. (1:51) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

The Lego Movie (1:41) Balboa, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center.

Lone Survivor Peter Berg (2012’s Battleship, 2007’s The Kingdom) may officially be structuring his directing career around muscular tails of bad-assery. This true story follows a team of Navy SEALs on a mission to find a Taliban group leader in an Afghani mountain village. Before we meet the actors playing our real-life action heroes we see training footage of actual SEALs being put through their paces; it’s physical hardship structured to separate the tourists from the lifers. The only proven action star in the group is Mark Wahlberg — as Marcus Luttrell, who wrote the film’s source-material book. His funky bunch is made of heartthrobs and sensitive types: Taylor Kitsch (TV’s Friday Night Lights); Ben Foster, who last portrayed William S. Burroughs in 2013’s Kill Your Darlings but made his name as an officer breaking bad news gently to war widows in 2009’s The Messenger; and Emile Hirsch, who wandered into the wilderness in 2007’s Into the Wild. We know from the outset who the lone survivors won’t be, but the film still manages to convey tension and suspense, and its relentlessness is stunning. Foster throws himself off a cliff, bounces off rocks, and gets caught in a tree — then runs to his also-bloody brothers to report, “That sucked.” (Yesterday I got a paper cut and tweeted about it.) But the takeaway from this brutal battle between the Taliban and America’s Real Heroes is that the man who lived to tell the tale also offers an olive branch to the other side — this survivor had help from the non-Taliban locals, a last-act detail that makes Lone Survivor this Oscar season’s nugget of political kumbaya. (2:01) Metreon. (Vizcarrondo)

The Monuments Men The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” goes both ways. On paper, The Monuments Men — inspired by the men who recovered art stolen by the Nazis during World War II, and directed by George Clooney, who co-wrote and stars alongside a sparkling ensemble cast (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh “Earl of Grantham” Bonneville, and Bill Fucking Murray) — rules. Onscreen, not so much. After they’re recruited to join the cause, the characters fan out across France and Germany following various leads, a structural choice that results in the film’s number one problem: it can’t settle on a tone. Men can’t decide if it wants to be a sentimental war movie (as in an overlong sequence in which Murray’s character weeps at the sound of his daughter’s recorded voice singing “White Christmas”); a tragic war movie (some of those marquee names die, y’all); a suspenseful war movie (as the men sneak into dangerous territory with Michelangelo on their minds); or a slapstick war comedy (look out for that land mine!) The only consistent element is that the villains are all one-note — and didn’t Inglourious Basterds (2009) teach us that nothing elevates a 21st century-made World War II flick like an eccentric bad guy? There’s one perfectly executed scene, when reluctant partners Balaban and Murray discover a trove of priceless paintings hidden in plain sight. One scene, out of a two-hour movie, that really works. The rest is a stitched-together pile of earnest intentions that suggests a complete lack of coherent vision. Still love you, Clooney, but you can do better — and this incredible true story deserved way better. (1:58) Balboa, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Eddy)

Nebraska Alexander Payne may be unique at this point in that he’s in a position of being able to make nothing but small, human, and humorous films with major-studio money on his own terms. It’s hazardous to make too much of a movie like Nebraska, because it is small — despite the wide Great Plains landscapes shot in a wide screen format — and shouldn’t be entered into with overinflated or otherwise wrong-headed expectations. Still, a certain gratitude is called for. Nebraska marks the first time Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor weren’t involved in the script, and the first one since their 1996 Citizen Ruth that isn’t based on someone else’s novel. (Hitherto little-known Bob Nelson’s original screenplay apparently first came to Payne’s notice a decade ago, but getting put off in favor of other projects.) It could easily have been a novel, though, as the things it does very well (internal thought, sense of place, character nuance) and the things it doesn’t much bother with (plot, action, dialogue) are more in line with literary fiction than commercial cinema. Elderly Woody T. Grant (Bruce Dern) keeps being found grimly trudging through snow and whatnot on the outskirts of Billings, Mont., bound for Lincoln, Neb. Brain fuzzed by age and booze, he’s convinced he’s won a million dollars and needs to collect it him there, though eventually it’s clear that something bigger than reality — or senility, even — is compelling him to make this trek. Long-suffering younger son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him in order to simply put the matter to rest. This fool’s mission acquires a whole extended family-full of other fools when father and son detour to the former’s podunk farming hometown. Nebraska has no moments so funny or dramatic they’d look outstanding in excerpt; low-key as they were, 2009’s Sideways and 2011’s The Descendants had bigger set pieces and narrative stakes. But like those movies, this one just ambles along until you realize you’re completely hooked, all positive emotional responses on full alert. (1:55) Opera Plaza. (Harvey)

The Nut Job (1:26) Metreon.

“Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animated” Five nominees — plus a trio of “highly commended” additional selections — fill this program. If you saw Frozen in the theater, you’ve seen Get a Horse!, starring old-timey Mickey Mouse and some very modern moviemaking techniques. There’s also Room on the Broom, based on a children’s book about a kindly witch who’s a little too generous when it comes to befriending outcast animals (much to the annoyance of her original companion, a persnickety cat). Simon Pegg narrates, and Gillian Anderson voices the red-headed witch; listen also for Mike Leigh regulars Sally Hawkins and Timothy Spall. Japanese Possessions is based on even older source material: a spooky legend that discarded household objects can gain the power to cause mischief. A good-natured fix-it man ducks into an abandoned house during a rainstorm, only to be confronted with playful parasols, cackling kimono fabric, and a dragon constructed out of kitchen junk. The most artistically striking nominee is Feral, a dialogue-free, impressionistic tale of a foundling who resists attempts to civilize him. But my top pick is another dialogue-free entry: Mr. Hublot, the steampunky tale of an inventor whose regimented life is thrown into disarray when he adopts a stray robot dog, which soon grows into a comically enormous companion. It’s cute without being cloying, and the universe it creates around its characters is cleverly detailed, right down to the pictures on Hublot’s walls. Embarcadero. (Eddy)

“Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Live Action” With the exception of one entry — wryly comedic The Voorman Problem, starring Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman as a prison doctor who has a most unsettling encounter with an inmate who believes he’s a god — children are a unifying theme among this year’s live-action nominees. Finnish Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, the shortest in the bunch, follows a cheerfully sloppy family’s frantic morning as they scramble to get themselves to a wedding. Danish Helium skews a little sentimental in its tale of a hospital janitor who makes up stories about a fanciful afterlife (way more fun than heaven) for the benefit of a sickly young patient. Spanish That Wasn’t Me focuses on a different kind of youth entirely: a child soldier in an unnamed African nation, whose brutal encounter with a pair of European doctors leads him down an unexpected path. Though it feels more like a sequence lifted from a longer film rather than a self-contained short, French Just Before Losing Everything is the probably the strongest contender here. The tale of a woman (Léa Drucker) who decides to take her two children and leave her dangerously abusive husband, it unfolds with real-time suspense as she visits her supermarket job one last time to deal with mundane stuff (collecting her last paycheck, turning in her uniform) before the trio can flee to safety. If they gave out Oscars for short-film acting, Drucker would be tough to beat; her performance balances steely determination and extreme fear in equally hefty doses. Embarcadero. (Eddy)

“Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Documentary (presented in two separata programs)” Opera Plaza.

The Past Splits in country, culture, and a harder-to-pinpoint sense of morality mark The Past, the latest film by Asghar Farhadi, the first Iranian moviemaker to win an Oscar (for 2011’s A Separation.) At the center of The Past‘s onion layers is a seemingly simple divorce of a binational couple, but that act becomes more complicated — and startlingly compelling — in Farhadi’s capable, caring hands. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) has returned to Paris from Tehran, where he’s been living for the past four years, at the request of French wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo of 2011’s The Artist). She wants to legalize their estrangement so she can marry her current boyfriend, Samir (Tahar Rahim of 2009’s A Prophet), whose wife is in a coma. But she isn’t beyond giving out mixed messages by urging Ahmad to stay with her, and her daughters by various fathers, rather than at a hotel — and begging him to talk to teen Lucie (Pauline Burlet), who seems to despise Samir. The warm, nurturing Ahmad falls into his old routine in Marie’s far-from-picturesque neighborhood, visiting a café owned by fellow Iranian immigrants and easily taking over childcare duties for the overwhelmed Marie, as he tries to find out what’s happening with Lucie, who’s holding onto a secret that could threaten Marie’s efforts to move on. The players here are all wonderful, in particular the sad-faced, humane Mosaffa. We never really find out what severed his relationship with Marie, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. We care about, and end up fearing for, all of Farhadi’s everyday characters, who are observed with a tender and unsentimental understanding that US filmmakers could learn from. The effect, when he finally racks focus on the forgotten member of this triangle (or quadrilateral?), is heartbreaking. (2:10) Smith Rafael. (Chun)

Philomena Judi Dench gives this twist on a real-life scandal heart, soul, and a nuanced, everyday heft. Her ideal, ironic foil is Steve Coogan, playing an upper-crusty irreverent snob of an investigative journalist. Judging by her tidy exterior, Dench’s title character is a perfectly ordinary Irish working-class senior, but she’s haunted by the past, which comes tumbling out one day to her daughter: As an unwed teenager, she gave birth to a son at a convent. She was forced to work there, unpaid; as supposed penance, the baby was essentially sold to a rich American couple against her consent. Her yarn reaches disgraced reporter Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), who initially turns his nose up at the tale’s piddling “human interest” angle, but slowly gets drawn in by the unexpected twists and turns of the story — and likely the possibility of taking down some evil nuns — as well as seemingly naive Philomena herself, with her delight in trash culture, frank talk about sex, and simple desire to see her son and know that he thought, once in a while, of her. It turns out Philomena’s own sad narrative has as many improbable turnarounds as one of the cheesy romance novels she favors, and though this unexpected twosome’s quest for the truth is strenuously reworked to conform to the contours of buddy movie-road trip arc that we’re all too familiar with, director Stephen Frears’ warm, light-handed take on the gentle class struggles going on between the writer and his subject about who’s in control of the story makes up for Philomena‘s determined quest for mass appeal. (1:35) Embarcadero, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

Ride Along By sheer dint of his ability to push his verbosity and non-threatening physicality into that nerd zone between smart and clueless, intelligent and irritating, Kevin Hart may be poised to become Hollywood’s new comedy MVP. In the case of Ride Along, it helps that Ice Cube has comic talents, too — proven in the Friday movies as well as in 2012’s 21 Jump Street — as the straight man who can actually scowl and smile at the same time. Together, in Ride Along, they bring the featherweight pleasures of Rush Hour-style odd-couple chortles. Hart is Ben, a gamer geek and school security guard shooting to become the most wrinkly student at the police academy. He looks up to hardened, street-smart cop James (Cube), brother of his new fiancée, Angela (Tika Sumpter). Naturally, instead of simply blessing the nuptials, the tough guy decides to haze the shut-in, disabusing him of any illusions he might have of being his equal. More-than-equal talents like Laurence Fishburne and John Leguizamo are pretty much wasted here — apart from Fishburne’s ultra lite impression of Matrix man Morpheus — but if you don’t expect much more than the chuckles eked out of Ride Along‘s commercials, you won’t be too disappointed by this nontaxing journey. (1:40) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Chun)

Saving Mr. Banks Having promised his daughters that he would make a movie of their beloved Mary Poppins books, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has laid polite siege to author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) for over 20 years. Now, in the early 1960s, she has finally consented to discuss the matter in Los Angeles — albeit with great reluctance, and only because royalty payments have dried up to the point where she might have to sell her London home. Bristling at being called “Pam” and everything else in this sunny SoCal and relentlessly cheery Mouse House environ, the acidic English spinster regards her creation as sacred. The least proposed changes earn her horrified dismissal, and the very notion of having Mary and company “prancing and chirping” out songs amid cartoon elements is taken as blasphemy. This clash of titans could have made for a barbed comedy with satirical elements, but god forbid this actual Disney production should get so cheeky. Instead, we get the formulaically dramatized tale of a shrew duly tamed by all-American enterprise, with flashbacks to the inevitable past traumas (involving Colin Farrell as a beloved but alcoholic ne’er-do-well father) that require healing of Travers’ wounded inner child by the magic of the Magic Kingdom. If you thought 2004’s Finding Neverland was contrived feel-good stuff, you’ll really choke on the spoons full of sugar force-fed here. (2:06) Metreon. (Harvey)

The Square Like the single lit candle at the very start of The Square — a flicker of hope amid the darkness of Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship — the initial street scenes of the leader’s Feb. 11, 2011, announcement that he was stepping down launch Jehane Noujaim’s documentary on a euphoric note. It’s a lot to take in: the evocative shots of Tahrir Square, the graffiti on the streets, the movement’s troubadours, and the faces of the activists she follows — the youthful Ahmed Hassan, British-reared Kite Runner (2007) actor-turned-citizen journalist Khalid Abdalla, and Muslim Brotherhood acolyte Magdy Ashour, among them. Yet that first glimmer of joy and unity among the diverse individuals who toppled a dictatorship was only the very beginning of a journey — which the Egyptian American Noujaim does a remarkable job documenting, in all its twists, turns, multiple protests, and voices. Unflinching albeit even-handed footage of the turnabouts, hypocrisies, and injustices committed by the Brotherhood, powers-that-be, the army, and the police during the many actions occurring between 2011 and the 2013 removal of Mohammed Morsi will stay with you, including the sight of a tank plowing down protestors with murderous force and soldiers firing live rounds at activists armed only with stones. “We found ourselves loving each other without realizing it,” says Hassan of those heady first days, and Noujaim brings you right there and to their aftermath, beautifully capturing ordinary people coming together, eating, joking, arguing, feeling empowered and discouraged, forming unlikely friendships, setting up makeshift hospitals on the street, and risking everything, in this powerful document of an unfolding real-life epic. (1:44) Marina. (Chun)

Stranger by the Lake Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is an attractive young French guy spending his summer days hanging at the local gay beach, where he strikes up a platonic friendship with chunky older loner Henri (Patrick d’Assumcao). Still, the latter is obviously hurt when Franck practically gets whiplash neck swiveling at the sight of Michel (Christophe Paou), an old-school gay fantasy figure — think Sam Elliott in 1976’s Lifeguard, complete with Marlboro Man ‘stache and twinkling baby blues. No one else seems to be paying attention when Franck sees his lust object frolicking in the surf with an apparent boyfriend, one that doesn’t surface again after some playful “dunking” gets rather less playful. Eventually the police come around in the form of Inspector Damroder (Jerome Chappatte), but Franck stays mum — he isn’t sure what exactly he saw. Or maybe it’s that he’s quite sure he’s happy how things turned out, now that sex-on-wheels Michel is his sorta kinda boyfriend. You have to suspend considerable disbelief to accept that our protagonist would risk potentially serious danger for what seems pretty much a glorified fuck-buddy situation. But Alain Guiraudie’s meticulously schematic thriller- which limits all action to the terrain between parking lot and shore, keeping us almost wholly ignorant of the characters’ regular lives — repays that leap with an absorbing, ingenious structural rigor. Stranger is Hitchcockian, all right, even if the “Master of Suspense” might applaud its technique while blushing at its blunt homoeroticism. (1:37) Clay. (Harvey)

That Awkward Moment When these bro-mancers call each other “idiots,” which they do repeatedly, it’s awkward all right, because that descriptor hits all too close to home. Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) are douchey book-marketing boy geniuses, with all the ego and fratty attitude needed to dispense bad advice and push doctor friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), whose wife recently broke it off after an affair with her lawyer, into an agreement to play the field — no serious dating allowed. The pretext: Anything to avoid, yup, that awkward moment when the lady has the temerity to ask, “So — where is this going?” How fortuitous that Jason should run into the smartest, cutest author in NYC (Imogen Poots), all sharp-tongued charisma and sparkling Emma Stone-y cat eyes; that Daniel would get embroiled with his Charlotte Rampling-like wing woman (Mackenzie Davis); and Mikey would edge back into bed with his ex. That’s the worst — or best — these tepid lotharios can muster. The education of these numbskulls when it comes to love and lust aspires to the much-edgier self-criticism of Girls — but despite the presence of Fruitvale Station (2013) breakout Jordan and the likable Poots, first-time director Tom Gormican’s screenplay lets them down. (1:34) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Chun)

12 Years a Slave Pop culture’s engagement with slavery has always been uneasy. Landmark 1977 miniseries Roots set ratings records, but the prestigious production capped off a decade that had seen some more questionable endeavors, including 1975 exploitation flick Mandingo — often cited by Quentin Tarantino as one of his favorite films; it was a clear influence on his 2012 revenge fantasy Django Unchained, which approached its subject matter in a manner that paid homage to the Westerns it riffed on: with guns blazing. By contrast, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is nuanced and steeped in realism. Though it does contain scenes of violence (deliberately captured in long takes by regular McQueen collaborator Sean Bobbitt, whose cinematography is one of the film’s many stylistic achievements), the film emphasizes the horrors of “the peculiar institution” by repeatedly showing how accepted and ingrained it was. Slave is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, an African American man who was sold into slavery in 1841 and survived to pen a wrenching account of his experiences. He’s portrayed here by the powerful Chiwetel Ejiofor. Other standout performances come courtesy of McQueen favorite Michael Fassbender (as Epps, a plantation owner who exacerbates what’s clearly an unwell mind with copious amounts of booze) and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, as a slave who attracts Epps’ cruel attentions. (2:14) Embarcadero. (Eddy)

Vampire Academy (1:45) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

The Wolf of Wall Street Three hours long and breathless from start to finish, Martin Scorsese’s tale of greed, stock-market fraud, and epic drug consumption has a lot going on — and the whole thing hinges on a bravado, breakneck performance by latter-day Scorsese muse Leonardo DiCaprio. As real-life sleaze Jordan Belfort (upon whose memoir the film is based), he distills all of his golden DiCaprio-ness into a loathsome yet maddeningly likable character who figures out early in his career that being rich is way better than being poor, and that being fucked-up is, likewise, much preferable to being sober. The film also boasts keen supporting turns from Jonah Hill (as Belfort’s crass, corrupt second-in-command), Matthew McConaughey (who has what amounts to a cameo — albeit a supremely memorable one — as Belfort’s coke-worshiping mentor), Jean Dujardin (as a slick Swiss banker), and newcomer Margot Robbie (as Belfort’s cunning trophy wife). But this is primarily the Leo and Marty Show, and is easily their most entertaining episode to date. Still, don’t look for an Oscar sweep: Scorsese just hauled huge for 2011’s Hugo, and DiCaprio’s flashy turn will likely be passed over by voters more keen on honoring subtler work in a shorter film. (2:59) Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki, Vogue. (Eddy) *


Events: February 12 – 18, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


Black History Month programs San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, aboard the Balclutha, Hyde St Pier, and in the Visitor Center, 499 Jefferson, SF; Daily throughout Feb (9:30am-5pm in the Visitor Center, free): “African Americans in the Maritime Trades: A Photographic Exhibition.” Sat/15-Sun/16 (3pm in the Visitor Center, free): “The Saga of Captain William Shorey,” slide lecture. Sun/16 and Feb 23 (2:15pm aboard the Balclutha, $5): “The Great Migration in Alaska: African Americans, the Alaska Packers Association, and the Politics of Race at Sea, 1896-1929,” interactive program. Feb 22 (1-1:45pm aboard the Balclutha, $5): “Chanteys: The African American and Caribbean Connection,” musical program.

“Darwin Day Celebration” Revolution Books, 2425 Channing, Berk; 7pm, free. Presentations and videos on the topic “Evolution: What it Means for Science and the Struggle to Radically Change the World.”

Habitot Children’s Museum Valentine Play Date Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge, Berk; Children with special needs and their families are invited to this free afternoon of hands-on, safe, and accessible fun at the museum.

Cecile Pineda Latino Hispanic Community Room, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF; 6:30pm, free. The Neustadt International Prize for Literature nominee, also a noted anti-war activist, reads from her award-winning first novel, Face.

San Francisco Middle School Science Fair Randall Museum, 199 Museum Wy, SF; On display through Feb 21; museum hours Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm. Free. Check out all the exhibits in the 32nd annual fair, with participants hailing from 30 local public and private schools. The 200 projects on display are chosen from 4,000 total entries, with prizes going to the top three winners in each grade. Sat/15, 10am-2pm, visit the “Science Fair Fest,” celebrating the fair and engaging in interactive science experiments.


Falu Bakrania Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The author reads from Bhangra and Asian Underground: South Asian Music and the Politics of Belonging in Britain.

Eileen Cronin Book Passage, 1 Ferry Bldg, SF; 6pm, free. The author reads from Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience.

“Curator’s Talk with Professor Al Camarillo” California Historical Society, 678 Mission, SF; 6-8pm, $5. The curator and Stanford university prof discusses the exhibit “Juana Briones y Su California: Pionera, Fundadora, Curandera,” as well as the life and legacy of its subject.

“Ricky Vincent: Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band” Humanist Hall, 390 27th St, Oakl; 7:30pm, $15. With hip-hop historian Davey D, Marcus Books proprietor Blanche Richardson, original Black Panthers, and others.

“Valentine’s Day from Cleis Press” Books Inc., 2275 Market, SF; 7:30pm, free. The veteran LGBT publisher visits the indie bookseller for a night of reading and romance, with authors Felice Picano, Lewis DeSimone, and Rob Rosen, plus the releases of the Best Gay Romance 2014 and Best Gay Erotica 2014 anthologies.


Mass wedding Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, Berk; 5pm, free. Any and all couples (queer and straight, as long as you have your IDs and a valid marriage license) can get hitched at this mass wedding to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the end of Prop 8 and DOMA; three couples will win a mini honeymoon package for dinner, hotel, theater tickets, and more Berkeley-centric gifts. Yes, there will be cake.


Chinese New Year Spring Festival Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny, Third Flr, SF; 11am-3pm, free. This year’s theme, “Old School/New School,” is embodied by performances by Starr King Elementary School students and Pacific Wushu, as well as China Dance Theater, traditional lion dancing, calligraphy art activities, and more. Make sure to visit the exhibit Between Modern and Contemporary: Fong Chung-ray, highlighting the work of the abstract art pioneer.

“Oakland Art Murmur’s Third Saturday Guided Gallery District Tour: Developing a Critical Eye” Meet at Manna Gallery, 473 25th St, Oakl; 2-4pm, free. Free guided walking tour of several galleries in Uptown Oakland.

“Valentine’s Day Weekend at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach” Playland-Not-at-the-Beach, 10979 San Pablo, El Cerrito; Sat/15-Mon/17, 10am-5pm. $10-15. Special Valentine’s-themed games and prizes in addition to all of the arcade’s usual attractions: pinball, amusement devices, penny arcades, and more.


“Ex Postal Facto Lectures” Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF; 1-4:30pm, free. Correspondence art is the topic of this lecture series, with panels entitled “The History of West Coast Mail Art” and “Artistamps and Their Makers: Seeing the World in Miniature,” plus a reception and “passport stamping.” Participants include artists Lowell Darling, Leslie Caldera, Carl Chew, and Anna Banana, as well as James Cline, James Felter, Harley, and Ginny Lloyd.


“Capp Street Project’s 30th Birthday Party” CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 350 Kansas, SF; 8pm, free. Celebrate the groundbreaking visual-arts residency program Capp Street Project with 1980s jams, a display of custom-crafted piñatas by Capp Street alum, and more.

Peter Mountford Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The author reads from The Dismal Science and discusses his work with Peter Orner. *


The Flaming Lips save Valentine’s Day


It doesn’t matter if you’re single, dating, or attached at the hip to your spouse/live-in partner(s)/[insert questionable pet name here] — Valentine’s Day has always presented a veritable Hallmark-sponsored landmine field of ways to screw up, disappoint your loved ones, and/or generally feel terrible about yourself. Until now.

As per the best press release in my inbox this morning: Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne will be selling a limited-edition, 12-inch, 20th anniversary reissue of the band’s deliciously scruffy first EP on a handful of select “Record Store Tour” dates on the East Coast next week, and — speaking of delicious — said EP comes packaged with a life-sized, anatomically correct, “hand-crafted, custom-made chocolate skull.” But that’s not all! The skull also contains “a special Gold Coin” that gains the bearer entry to any Flaming Lips show in the world. It’s pretty logical, really. Willy Wonka + (even more) hallucinogens + the ability to just inform your marketing team that you want life-sized, edible skulls to be part of your thing now = Wayne Coyne.

Unfortunately, this little tour will only take our lovably demented hero through a handful of currently snowy cities and nowhere near SF, so if you want to get your hands on one of these bad boys, you’ll need to call an East Coast-based friend and wheedle a bit. Tell them it’s for a special someone. Because nothing says “I love you” like using the money you could have spent on a fancy dinner to ship anatomically correct, promotional chocolate body parts cross-country.

“Record Store Tour” dates to convince your friends to attend for you:
02-08 New York, NY – Other Music (11 a.m.)
02-08 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade (4 p.m.)
02-09 Boston, MA – Newbury Comics/Newbury St. Location (1 p.m.)
02-10 Philadelphia, PA – a.k.a music (5 p.m.)
02-11 Baltimore, MD – Sound Garden (5 p.m.)

Ignore less


CAREERS AND ED Often called the first feminist, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz could well be your guiding spirit heading into this bright new year. Born in 1651 in colonial Mexico, Sor Juana defied societal expectations about women at the time to study herself into becoming one of the smartest people in New Spain. She became a nun rather than marry, and eventually amassed one of the largest libraries in the Americas.

One of Sor Juana’s enduring catch phrases was “I don’t study to know more, but to ignore less,” a prettily humble bon mot from a woman who constantly had to defend her right to learn. Sadly, threats of censure by the church slowed her educational roll — but nonetheless, her unlikely influence on the fight for women’s rights is still honored today.

Will you ignore less in the new year? Surely there are fewer obstacles in your way than Sor Juana’s. Here are some excellent ways to engage with the world around you in 2014.



So you say you’re a boor? For all the menfolk — or anyone, really — boggled by feminism, this monthly book club may be the ticket. Held at Noisebridge, the Mission’s tech learning center (check its calendar for amazing, mainly free classes and meetups), the club will start with bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody and feature conversations about how to be the best ally possible. All gender identities welcome.

Second Wednesdays starting Wed/8, 7pm, free. Noisebridge, 2169 Mission, SF.



The stand-up school with the most working comedians on staff of any similar institution in the country wants to get you in front of an exposed brick wall talking about your boyfriend’s crazy roommate.

Wednesdays Jan. 8-Feb. 12, 6pm, $239-279. SF Comedy College, 442 Post, Fifth Fl., SF.



Instructor Tika Morgan explores the hip-hop, dancehall, Cuban salsa, and other influences that create the pounding rhythms of reggaeton.

Wednesdays, 8-9:30pm, $13. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF.



Two-step, skiffle, country swing, and waltz your way through these inclusive country-western lessons and dance parties run by community advocates Sundance Association.

Thursdays 5:30pm, Sundays 7pm, $5. Sundance Saloon, 550 Barneveld, SF.



Learn about qigong, the Chinese chi-balancing practice that involves breathing, other physical movements, and mental exercises. This free class is taught by Effie Chow, a qigong grandmaster who founded her East West Academy of Healing Arts here in 1973, and has served on White House advisory boards concerning alternative medicine.

Fri/10, 7-9pm, free. Polish Club, 3040 22nd St., SF.



Support your local community college through its battle to retain its accreditation by enrolling in one of its class offerings — there’s no charge for non-credit courses (though you may have to buy books and materials). This class examines the hidden and explicit messages sent out through mass media, and helps students pinpoint how these cues affect the decisions that they and other members of society make.

Fridays Fri/10-May 23, 8am-12:50pm, free. City College of San Francisco, 1125 Valencia, SF.



Start at the Aquatic Center next to Fisherman’s Wharf where you’ll learn safety and equipment basics, then head down with this SF Rec and Park class to Lake Merced’s scenic bird estuary to get down on some core-strengthening, stand-up paddle boarding action. Bring your own wetsuit, kiddies — it gets cold on those waters!

Sat/11, 1-4pm, free. Aquatic Park, Beach and Hyde, SF.



To do anything these days, you need a website. To have a website, you need a web designer. So basically, you may need to sign up for one of the Bay Area Video Coalition’s intro courses on dynamic layouts and client interfaces so that you can continue living your life as a functional citizen in 2014.

Sat/11-Sun/12, 10am-6pm, $595. Bay Area Video Coalition, 2727 Mariposa, SF.



With 51 species of this lovely, placid bloom sprinkling the premises, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is the perfect place to learn about the majesty of the magnolia. The garden offers daytime walks if you’re scared of the dark, but we think the nocturnal stroll sounds divine.

Jan. 16, 6-8pm, $20. Register in advance. SF Botanical Garden, Ninth Ave. and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF.



Sure the price tag is steep for this class on raising buds in bright indoor light, but you’ll be supporting your green thumb and your local pot movement institution, which has surfed the tsunami of federal persecution and will live to blow clouds right through legalization (we reckon).

Thursdays Jan. 16-March 20, 10:30am-1pm, $1,195. Oaksterdam University, 1734 Telegraph, Oakl.



Accessing the subconscious’s potential for healing is the name of the game in this extremely mellow yoga class, during which you’ll be put into a trance-like state through a hybrid method developed by a Reiki, yoga, and hypnotherapy professional. The dream state is said to be highly beneficial for psychic health -– and sounds hella fun.

Jan. 18, 2:30-5:45, $40-50. Yoga Tree Telegraph, 2807 Telegraph, Berk.



Each month La Urbana, the chic new taqueria on Divisadero, hosts fancy mezcal tastings. But you’re not just getting your drink on: A different producer of the agave-based spirit comes in each time to present a signature mezcal alongside tales of its production. Educated boozery, this is it.

5-6pm, $10-15. La Urbana, 661 Divisadero, SF.



Valentine’s Day (sorry for any unwanted reminders) is on its effusive, heart-shaped way, giving you the perfect excuse for you to drop in on this class with Sin Sisters Burlesque co-founder Balla Fire to learn how to swish, conceal, and reveal with the best of them for your sweetheart.

Jan. 21, 7-9pm, $30. Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission, SF.



Does paying $40 to learn how to parse affordable wines make sense? Depends on how many bottles of Cab Sauv you’re consuming — and one would think that after partaking in this one-off seminar with Bar Tartine’s old wine director Vinny Eng, that tally will increase.

Jan. 22, 7-9pm, $40. 18 Reasons, 3674 18th St. SF.



A full weekend of learning about ways to cook fish from around the globe will go on at this friendly North Beach cooking school (which tends to book up its workshops early, so book now). On the menu: black cod poached in five-spice broth, brodo di pesce, and much more.

Feb. 1-2, 10am-3pm, $385. Tante Marie’s Cooking School, 271 Francisco, SF.



Do you have a staring problem? Fix your gaze on this 10-session course including anatomy tips, representational tricks, and a focus on the art of portraiture.

Thursdays, Feb. 6-April 10, 6:30-9:30pm, $360. California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF.



If the only thing you can depend on in this wacky 2014 is yourself, it’s time to hone those financial security skills. This free class is held once a month at the LGBT Community Center, and should give you a couple things to think about when it comes to money management.

Feb. 11, 6:30-8:30pm, free. LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market, SF.



In addition to a more long-running courses and a by-donation, student-staffed herbal health clinic that is open to the public, Berkeley’s Ohlone Herbal Center offers practical classes in Western herbalism for regular folks. Your loved ones will thank you for brushing up with this one — it teaches preventative anti-cold and flu measures, and home remedies for when you inevitably catch something. Yes, tea is provided during classtime.

Feb. 12, 7-9:30pm, free. Register at Ohlone Herbal Center, 1250 Addison, Berk.



If you are looking for educational opportunites as to changing the face of culture, look no further than this public lecture hosted by the California Institute of Integral Studies. For two hours, Orange is the New Black breakout star Laverne Cox will discuss her journey to becoming the most visible black transwoman on television (not to mention the first ever to produce and star in her own program with VH1’s “TRANSForm Me”). The talk won’t be lacking in looks-ahead to the important activism that still remains for Cox and her allies.

March 19, 7-9pm, $25-75. Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes, SF.



You will finally be able to get that organic farmstand delivery service to sponsor your yearly watermelon seed-spitting contest (or whatever) after you take this crash course on getting money to hold events. The secrets to obtaining event sponsorships are divulged during this one-day class: how to pitch potential partners, going market rates, and more, all in a group discussion-centric format.

April 26, 9am-5pm, $300. San Francisco State University Downtown Campus, 835 Market, SF.


Best of the Bay 2013: BEST BARLEYWINE BLAST


Although it’s been absorbed to an extent by SF Beer Week, Toronado’s annual Barleywine Festival has been around much longer (20 years as of last February), and it eschews the exuberant trappings of most of its festival kin to focus strictly on what’s most essential — the booze. As strong as wine but brewed as a beer, barleywines fall beyond stouts, doppelbocks, and tripels on the strong beer spectrum, and are best savored slowly and with a degree of reverence, which Toronado facilitates with generous, inexpensive sample pours of over 50 varieties from around the world. And, dear hearts, the festival always falls on the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day, making it the perfect destination (or distraction) for the lovers and loners alike.

547 Haight, SF, (415) 863-2276,

So SoMa


SEX The tech-y, day lit factory space of high design sex toy manufacturers Crave ( is located at Folsom and Eighth Street, so of course the innovative, pronged vibrator that industrial designer Ti Chang is showing me doubles as a USB storage device.

“I can’t imagine a better city in the United States to do this,” Chang tells me, ushering me past the way-cool 3-D printer, laser engraver, and laser cutter the company uses to build its line of pricey vibrators (besides motors and batteries — difficult to source affordably from this country — the vibes are made and assembled right there in the SoMa space.)

Crave’s full line-up. Please note vibrating nipple clamp lariat necklace (top)

Assembly line. Bottom left, a contraption meant to test the vibes under water pressure

Chang launched the Crave line on Valentine’s Day with business partner Michael Topolovac after a wildly successful crowdfunding venture, accomplished without the help of Kickstarter, which eschews sex-related campaigns. They hosted a “build a vibe” workshop that allowed customers to see just how “safe and lovely it is when these [toys] come together,” she says.

The line is beautiful, made to appeal to women put off by more vulgar devices. The “Duet” vibrator features two prongs meant to surround the clitoris, and can deliver a powerful, silent range of vibrations. It’s USB rechargeable, and its base comes in stainless steel or plated with 24 karat gold, in the case of the model that also houses 16GB of data storage. (“That’s for the uber jet setter,” jokes Chang.)

I can’t remember what this machine does. Shapes metal?

Crave’s resident teddybear

Chang’s designs are so gorgeous you want to show them off — and you can. Crave’s “Foreplay” jewelry line (which is made in China) doubles as accessories. The “Droplet Necklace” is a lariat design featuring two graceful silver weights that can be affixed to your nipples, and set to vibrate.

Titillated? Crave is one of the local businesses hosting a factory tour through SFMade Week — go see how pleasure is built.


May 9, 4-5pm, free

1234 Folsom, SF


“Porn 2.0: Creating Adult Content for Online Consumption” Wed/1, 7pm, $10. Feelmore510, 1703 Telegraph, Oakl. Roxxie Cyber teaches you about the best way to convert that sex tape to rock-hard… dollars.

“I Masturbate” Through May 31. Opening reception: Fri/3, 7-10pm, free. Center for Sex and Culture, 1359 Mission, SF. Down for a gallery show of positively sexy people masturbating? Of course you are! As bonus, photographer Shilo McCabe is willing to wager more displays of this nature are key to improving society’s openness about our sexuality. Now you’re perving with a purpose!

Thong Protest Sat/4, noon-2pm, free. Jane Warner Plaza, Market and Castro, SF. Toe the line of legality at this demonstration against the recent nudity ban, where thongs, jockstraps, socks-on-your-cock are the recommended dress code.

Punting for Peru


CHEAP EATS First time she touched a football it was a wonky, bouncing punt, and she plucked it up and ran it back 180 yards to the five-yard line. I say 180 yards because there was a lot of zigging and zagging involved. Coach’s grillfriend Zeezee is a professional surfer, and ever since that punt return (October), I have had newfound respect for the athleticism of professional surfers. Not to mention which, a bouncing punt is the hardest kind of football to pick up cleanly.

So . . . nice hands!

Her dad down San Diego way teaches surfing, as far as I know, and music. He made a cajon, which is that Peruvian box drum that you sit on while you play. I’ve seen Zeezee play the cajon, and she played the kaboodle out of it. In fact, ever since then I have had a newfound respect for punt returners. As musicians, I mean.

Anyway, Zeezee lives in S.F. now, so we get to have her for a full season this Spring, so long as she doesn’t get a job. That’s right: If you are looking for a rad-ass surfing teacher with great hands and cajones, look away. Please. We need her. Sunday mornings, at least.

For Hedgehog’s birthday I bought a cajon from Zeezee’s dad. It’s beautiful enough to be furniture, and Hedgehog has been spending a lot of time on it. She uses her hands, uses brushes, wears her washboard . . . Somehow I knew she would know what to do with a beautiful box.

But there is something about February makes me mad. Maybe because you never really quite get your money’s worth, rentwise. I don’t know. Or Valentine’s Day, which bugged me this year very literally. One of my cute little charges got sent home from school on account of lice, and me and her mom had to pick through her and her sister’s hair looking for and yanking out nits.

Then their mom went through my hair and found one there, too, so I had to sit on the edge of the tub just like them and get sprayed and combed and just all around humiliated. All on account of one lousy nit, yuk yuk.

And also, yuck.

So that was how I spent my Valentine’s evening: at the laundromat, washing our clothes and towels and bedding and everything, while the lovers passed two-by-two on their way to Delfina.

My own lover was in New Orleans, out with her single work friends. I called her, I was so depressed, and she sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me — wisely leaving out the verses. The day before she had sent me flowers with the sweetest little note attached. I forget what it said, but I read it again that night once everything was finally folded and put away, and I went to bed.

Her birthday is the real holiday, and she was back for that, like I said, slapping out straightforward 4/4 rhythms, as she ain’t Peruvian. She’s rock’n’roll. But for dinner we went to her favorite restaurant (and mine), Limon Rotisserie — not even thinking that it completed the Peruvian circle.

Next morning I woke up a little later than usual, threw on some clothes, sprayed my hair down with tea tree oil, and risked life and limb and driving record only to get to work two hours early. I had forgot (as usual) to look at my work calendar.

And this is where Olivia’s comes in. Olivia’s Brunch and Fine Dining. In Bernal Heights, down from Holly Park on Mission. Instead of driving all the way back home, during rush hour no less, I decided to kill two hours with two eggs.

Huevos Rancheros!

Good ones! With pinto beans, avocado slices, ranchero sauce, a corn tortilla underneath, and a whole damn quesadilla on top. Note: That’s two meals in one. Yeppers, Olivia puts the unch back in brunch. Which wasn’t exactly what I needed, since it was still pre-9am. But it did help kill the time.

There was no one else in the place to talk to. Just Mona Lisa, a painting of a mounted deer head, a charging elephant, and a very crooked picture of our lord and savior Jesus Christ pulling some crazed dude out of a pretty turbulent sea. Either that or pushing him back in. No no, he’s got him by the arm. See? They don’t call Him lord and savior for nothing.

Nice place. Good food for under 10 bucks. Boom, back to work.


Mon-Sat 8am-2pm, 5-9pm; Sun 8am-3pm

3771 Mission St., SF

(415) 970-0375


Beer & wine


Love for women flows through the streets of San Francisco


Can you feel the love, San Francisco? Cuz it’s flowing through the streets right now, taking many forms on this unusually busy and politically active Valentine’s Day, with a strong theme of protecting the interests of women.

As I write these words, hundreds of SEIU Local 1021 members – many clad in Cupid-inspired costumes – are rallying outside the San Francisco Department of Human Resources office at 1 South Van Ness. They’re calling for the city not to slash the salaries of 43 different city job classifications that are disproportionately staffed by women and minorities (check my story in this week’s paper for details on that issue).

Meanwhile, over in Dolores Park, members of the Mission Rising collective are massing up amid live bands and other festivities and preparing to dance their way through way through the Mission this afternoon en route to join us with the One Billion Rising movement protesting violence against women and girls in all its many forms. Check the One Billion Rising website for live feeds from about 200 events around the world.

The biggest local manifestation of that global event will start at 4pm outside of City Hall, with speakers and a massive flash mob dance party at 5:30pm (as the Guardian’s Rebecca Bowe reported yesterday, the One Billion Rising event will even include a flash mob dance party within San Francisco County Jail, as well as an event at 3pm in Union Square focused on migrant women).

Or if you prefer your flash mob madness to be politics-free, there’s always the annual Valentine’s Day Pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza at 5:30pm, which is always a feather-filled good time. However you choose to spend your day, do it with love.

Bowled over


CHEAP EATS It started when our friend Stringbean texted that their mom and pop were going to New Orleans, where should they tell them to eat? Hedgehog was preparing a long, thorough, annotated email response while I texted back one word: Bacchanal. And then we both looked at each other and started to cry.

The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were tough — even tougher than the two days after. I actually listen to sports talk radio, see, on my way to and from work, and all anyone was talking about, even more than football, see, was po’ boys, etouffe, jambalaya, and gumbo.

And even when they weren’t, they were talking about Hurricanes and Pimm’s Cups and how many everybody had and then-what-happened. Until I even started to miss that side of it — which I never much participated in anyway.

Almost by accident, on Super Bowl Sunday morning, we had brunch at the Front Porch, and I’m trying not to say “new favorite restaurant” anymore; but sweet baby Jesus the shrimp and grits!

Poor Hedgehog is still kicking herself for going with chicken and waffles. Chawing on her fingers, rending her garments, and thrashing in her sleep . . . you would think she called for a fade route on fourth-and-goal at the five, or something.

“We get to go back,” I keep telling her, over me-made chicken and other anti-depressants. “Possibly as soon as next weekend!”

But I do see her point. It was one of the wonkiest mal-orders in Meal History. She’s gluten-free, and so are shrimp and grits. Whereas waffles are not. San Francisco A.G. (Anno Gravy’s) is not a fried chickeny town. It’s just not, and probably never will be. I can go on and on: she wasn’t hungry. We’d just had breakfast and were going after brunch to Binko’s Super Bowl party, where there would be giant vats of chili gurgling on the stove.

She even asked me if she should order the chicken and waffles and do you know what I said? I said, “No!”

But she audibilized at the line-of-scrimmage and the rest is mystery.

Possibly she was distracted by the radiance of our brunching companion, Lalalala “Happy” Valentina, one of my favorite people to sit around a campfire with, although we haven’t sat around one for several years. Her dad played pro baseball. Made it briefly to the majors, I forget who with, and Hedgehog gets flustered around the progeny of ex-major-league-baseball players.

So there was that.

Luckily, I kept my own wits about me and ordered what Hedgehog should have ordered: shrimp and grits. So good. So so so so . . . whereas the fried chicken was just so so. I mean, sustainable, free-range, vegetarian, home-schooled chicken, no doubt, but that is exactly why we will never be a fried chickeny town. We care too much.

Even I do.

But at least it was fried to-order. You know because they warn you it takes 25 minutes. Fine. Hedgehog and Happy had a lot to talk about. For a long time they’ve both been on the nuts-and-boltsy end of making TV and picters, and both have big, good, sometimes somewhat similar ideas about writing and producing. One gets the feeling if they put their big good heads together, either amazing things or lawsuits will happen.

I’m telling you: best shrimp and grits I’ve had this side of Luke. Fluffy and flavorful, with a poached egg nestled into the top of it. As you read this, I’m realizing just now, writing it, Hedgehog will be eating at Luke without me. It’s already in our calendar: Happy Valentine’s Day, dang it. She’ll be in New Orleans, working for a week, and I’ll be here haunting the Front Porch.

Beignets, fried okra, gumbo, red beans and rice, even po’ boys . . . all of it’s at least a little overpriced, but what I love is the atmosphere is down-to-earth. The front porch itself. The checkered floor, wooden tables, what Happy’s li’l son calls “the chocolate bar ceiling” . . . Wait, there’s nothing down-to-earth about a chocolate bar ceiling. Or any other kind, come to think of it.

I just can’t believe it took me this long to get there.


Dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:30-10:30pm; Sun., 5-10pm; Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 10am-2:30pm

65A 29th St., SF

(415) 695-7800


Full bar


On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for listings, see Picks.


“Art, Money Politics: Making it as an Artist” Pro Arts, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakl. 6pm, free. Supporting yourself as an artist can be hard. Head over to this panel discussion and get some advice from digital artist Camille Utterback, multimedia artist and designer Favianna Rodriguez, and muralist Eduardo Pineda. They’ll share tips on how to make a living in a creative field, bring your hope, dreams, and of course, questions.

“Waypost: Unconventional Travel Stories” Stanza Coffee Bar, 3126 16th St., SF. 7-8:30pm, free. A blacked-out Vegas weekend can be a good time but if you’re looking to go somewhere that stimulates a… different side of your spirit on your next vacation you might find the inspiration you’ve been looking for at this series of storytellers reflecting on the meaningful swirls of journeys they’ve taken. If you can’t make it to the event in person, no sweat — you can still participate via Google Hangout.


One Billion Rising performance ritual Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakl. 7-8:30pm, $10-100 donation suggested. Free for youth under 17. Dedicate your Valentine’s Day to a good cause this year at this fundraiser for International Development Exchange (IDEX), an organization working to empower impoverished women across the globe. The evening will be a mix of spirituality, politics, and performances (flash mob, anyone?) from local groups such as Youth Speaks and Mission Dance Brigade.

Dogpatch Wine Works date night Dogpatch Wine Works, 2455 Third St., SF. 6-8pm, $40. Few things spell out romance quite like wine and chocolate. Stroll around Dogpatch Wine Works’ tasting room sipping on some vino and snacking on locally-crafted Recchiuti chocolate. After your palette is satisfied you can tour the 15,000-square foot working winery.

“Returning Cupid’s Fire” Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, SF. 7-9pm, $10. Valentine-less and planning on having a night in with Ben and Jerry? Change of plans. San Francisco comedians Ivan Hernandez, Colleen Watson, and Mike Capozzola feel your pain and will be performing anti-Valentine’s Day themed stand-up routines tonight. Refreshments will be served.

Tout Sweet Pâtisserie tasting Tout Sweet Pâtisserie in Macy’s Union Square, 170 O’Farrell, third floor, SF. (415) 385-1679, 7-8:30pm, $55 per person. Reservations recommended. Yigit Pura, chef and owner of this sweet shop, is celebrating V-Day with a three-course dessert menu featuring a rotating selection of seasonal offerings, each paired with local artisanal wine and beer. If you already have some sweet Valentine’s Day plans don’t fret, Pura has more tastings scheduled for March 14 and April 11.

Hella Vegan Eats V-Day pop-up dinner Dear Mom, 2700 16th St., SF. 5pm-midnight, free. The Oakland–based traveling food vendor will be in the city to once again take over Mission bar Dear Mom. We are hoping their doughnut burger with secret sauce will be on tonight’s menu <3 <3

Valentine’s Day at the Armory The Armory, 1800 Mission, SF. 7:30 and 9:30, $55. Start the evening off on the upper floor of the porn palace, then head to a workshop led by porn starlet Rain DeGrey that focuses on teaching couples how to make fantasies reality. Afterward, enjoy specialty cocktails and aphrodisiac-themed appetizers at the luxe Armory Club across the street.


SFIndieFest Roller Disco Party Women’s Building, 3543 18th St., SF. 8pm-midnight, $10. Grab your striped socks and short-shorts because the ’70s are back tonight at this fundraiser for film festival organization SF IndieFest. If your skating skills are rusty, don’t sweat. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes, not for slickest moves.

46th California International Antiquarian Book Fair Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., SF. Through February 17. 3-8pm, $25 for a weekend pass, $15 for a Saturday and Sunday pass. The world’s largest rare book fair returns to San Francisco this weekend. You will find one-of-a-kind pieces such as sketches by John Lennon, the first edition of the Federalist Papers, and a Mark Twain autographed manuscript. Before you try to snatch up a John Lennon original, be warned — treasures as fine as these can cost you a pretty penny (up to $362,000 to be exact).


“Opera on Tap” Café Royale, 800 Post, SF. 8pm, free. Nonprofit organization Opera on Tap wants to prove that opera can be awesome — and not just for those who can afford the cushiony box seats. In Café Royale’s intimate and relaxed space, this group will bust out some popular and some more esoteric pieces for an all-new kind of operatic experience.

Family Lunar New Year Celebration San Francisco Botanical Garden, SF. 9-11:30am, free. In celebration of the Year of the Snake and the abundance of magnolias blooming in the gardens, lion and folk dancers will be performing today. While watching the SF Sunset Recreation Center Dance Troupe bust some moves you can pot a plant or make lanterns using magnolia petals.


Urban bicycling workshop San Francisco Jewish Community Center, 3200 California, SF. 10am-2pm, free. RSVP required. The San Francisco Bike Collation wants you to bike and bike safe — which is why it offers a range of course on everything from urban cycling to how to bike safely with your family. Today’s topic: traffic 101. Beginners welcome, and participants don’t need to bring a bike (though one may be helpful after the class when it comes to putting your newfound knowledge into action.)


Literary salon with Rosie Schaap and Robin Ekiss Tosca Café, 242 Columbus, SF. 7-8pm, $5-10 donation suggested. In Rosie Schaap’s memoir Drinking with Men she shares her unending quest for the perfect local haunt, which took her everywhere from LA to Dublin to Manhattan. Robin Ekiss writes the “Drink” column for the NY Times, and is the founder of the Ladies Liquor Union, the first fully female intemperance league for ladies who love books and booze. If you too consider yourself a cocktail connoisseur with a literary edge, head over Tosca Café to hear what the two have to say at this Litquake event.