Johnny Ray Huston

Toronto International Film Festival: Viggo, we love you, yeah yeah yeah


Celebrity sightings? Michelle Devereaux just spotted God at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival:


Toronto, Wednesday, 12:09am: I have just left the Ryerson Theatre, where I fear I have contracted a serious case of Viggomania — a condition characterized by fever, light-headedness, and general idiocy when Ultimate Man Viggo Mortensen is in the vicinity. And he happens to be in town for the premiere of Alatriste, a swashbuckling Spanish-language adventure epic he stars in as titular anti-hero Diego Alatriste, a 17th-century Spanish mercenary.

American lie


One of the many refreshing aspects of Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated is that it doesn’t focus on an obvious topic. Documentaries have begun reaching more viewers in recent years, but few take on the many-fangled foibles of the Bush era in an imaginative manner. Dick’s new film does, in addition to providing a lesson about the intersection between film history and American history, a convergence that isn’t as petty or easily dismissed as one might think. This is a smartly comedic private-eye movie with a feminist, even lesbian sensibility. It’s just dressed up in doc clothes.
Leaving aside Dick’s last name, in This Film Is Not Yet Rated the real private dick is Becky Altringer, a PI the director hires to spy on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) — to reach inside its seemingly impenetrable gated fortress and help reveal its inner workings. Taking a cue from Michael Moore, Dick foregrounds Altringer, a woman normal enough to admit that she gets a thrill (necessary amid the waiting and drudgery that make up most of her day) out of spying on people who don’t know she’s watching them. It also sets her portrait against the entitled eccentricity of the MPAA’s oft Republican and rich members, who discriminate against the likes of Altringer on a daily basis in the name of their own supposed normalcy. Needless to say, they’re a pretty kooky bunch.
Dick’s strongest subtext is female pleasure. Here is a filmmaker who has read his Laura Mulvey yet somehow not wound up with a starchy collar. Considering his past work on subjects such as artist and masochist Bob Flanagan, it isn’t a stretch to say that a Bay Area brand of feminism informs Dick’s latest work, which devotes a lot of time to female (and often queer) filmmakers whose visions of sexuality have made the MPAA uncomfortable. Sitting before a movie poster that spells out her attitude toward recently retired MPAA president Jack Valenti, a Peppermint Patty–rasping Kimberly Peirce tells how the ratings board was much more threatened by a close-up of Chloë Sevigny’s face in orgasmic bliss from lesbian oral sex than it was by, say, Boys Don’t Cry’s protagonist getting a bullet in the head. Mary Harron is even more perceptive in her discussion of the organization and its reaction to her American Psycho. A scene in which the killer literally chomps cannibalistically on a woman’s crotch bothered them less than an orgy scene.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated moves rather quickly through the Hays Code clampdown, a very conservative period in Hollywood. But it does take the necessary time to dig into the ascent of Lyndon B. Johnson underling Lew Wasserman. His influence lingers: for decades under the Wasserman-appointed Valenti’s command, the MPAA has worked in tandem with the major studios to squash individuality and independence. Bearing the IFC and Netflix stamps of approval, Dick’s movie arrives at a time when home video receipts dwarf theatrical box office numbers, and thus the ratings system (outside of Blockbuster country) might not matter as much as it once did. But right now is better than never when it comes to tarnishing a corrupt institution’s legacy.SFBG
Opens Fri/15
See film listings for theaters and showtimes

The Kirby grip: A talk with director of This Film is Not Yet Rated


While briefly in San Francisco during an intense media tour promoting his much-buzzed doc This Film is Not Yet Rated, filmmaker Kirby Dick sat down with Jonathan L. Knapp to discuss the process of challenging a powerful institution, John Waters, chasing Jack Valenti, and media conglomeration.


Guardian: Thank you for taking time to meet with me; you seem to be doing an insane amount of press for this movie.
Kirby Dick: Actually, I find that the press outside of New York and LA do far more interesting interviews, so I’m happy to be here.

Toronto International Film Festival: Consider this


Michelle Devereaux is in Toronto. Here’s her first report:

“I’m hearing Oscar buzz!” a giddy audience member shouted after the second public TIFF screening of For Your Consideration Tuesday afternoon, kicking off a 10-minute-plus Q&A with the cast and director Christopher Guest. She was being ironic — the film-within-the-film is a little indie that receives tons of Oscar speculation — but who knows? She might not be too far off base.


Toronto International Film Festival: Bright lights, and the heart of theater darkness



Author and critic B. Ruby Rich (who programmed TIFF’s 2002 runaway hit and award winner Whale Rider) checks in with her first report from the fest:

Back from the country


At the end of our transatlantic phone conversation, I tell Vashti Bunyan to have a good night, and she tells me to have a good day. She’s relaxed at home in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her friend Jenny Wright — whom the first track on the new album Lookaftering (Dicristina Stair) is dedicated to — is staying for a visit. “We really haven’t seen each other at all over the last 30 years,” Bunyan says when I first ask about Wright, not knowing that she’s in fact sitting nearby. “She just happens to be staying with me right now! That’s really, really lovely.”
Reunions that span over 30 years — and ones that are really, really lovely — are something Bunyan’s devoted admirers fully understand. Defined by the forest flute-and-vocal duet of its singular title track, her first and for a long time only full-length recording, the Joe Boyd–produced 1970 Just Another Diamond Day (Dicristina Stair), is the rare kind of cult recording that deserves its cherished status. In essence, it’s an aural document of a horse-drawn journey to the Isle of Skye — a trip that she recently made once again for a film project by Kieran Evans, who first directed her in the real-life role of a native Londoner in Saint Etienne’s 2003 film Finisterre. “We went up to the Hebrides to film the end,” she says in a warm, soft-spoken tone of voice not unrelated to her singing. “It’s been quite a revelation to see all those places and have to think about that time again.”
Even Bunyan’s fans can’t be blamed for mistakenly thinking that she’s still living the magic-tinged pastoral life conjured by Just Another Diamond Day, her famed collaboration with members of Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band. The cover of Bunyan’s Lookaftering features a profile of a regal-looking hare (“You call it a jackrabbit, don’t you?” she says) painted by her daughter, the artist Whyn Lewis. It begins with the Wright-inspired composition “Lately,” which down to its very title suggests little has changed in Bunyan’s world of sound except some subtle alterations for the better: the new album’s pace is a bit more relaxed, the already unique dedication to exploring thought and feeling even deeper.
Lookaftering’s most gorgeous melody might be the one within “Hidden.” “I wrote it for my boyfriend,” Bunyan says when asked about the song’s roots. “When I showed it to him, he was quite upset by it, and I couldn’t understand why. I thought it was a very loving and tender song, but he thought it meant he didn’t understand me or I didn’t understand him. But now, whenever I sing that song — and I usually start the show with it — I think he’s really pleased.”
Some of that pleasure is partly thanks to Devendra Banhart, who is only the most dedicated and high profile of Bunyan’s current-day admirers, who also include Animal Collective and Piano Magic. “I was so frightened of performing live,” she admits when asked about her return to the public eye (if it is indeed that, considering her reclusive nature the first time around). “I couldn’t even record an answering machine message. I asked Devendra how he could do it, and he said, ‘You just have to do it — there’s no other way. You have to do it until it becomes normal.’ After 10 shows or so I realized that my knees weren’t shaking anymore and I was actually enjoying it. I’m so grateful to Devendra for just saying the truth — you do what frightens you until you aren’t frightened anymore.”
For Bunyan, both the advice and support from Banhart and his associates have been a revelation. As a young artist she felt an unspoken bond with French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy (“She was the only person with whom I felt any kinship at all”) and oft silently bristled against the patriarchal aspects of Svengali Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones, and the overall competitiveness of her then-peers from swinging London. “Fancy ball gowns were the things they wanted to put me in — no way!” she remembers with a laugh. “When I started out at 18 or 19, the recording process was fascinating to me. But because of the way things were then, a shy girl could never get access to the actual production method.”
Today, Bunyan’s using her home computer to perform mirror-perfect duets across the ocean with Banhart and to make her own music without interference. The descendant of John Bunyan (“I was never made to read Pilgrim’s Progress when I was young — thank goodness, because I would have rebelled”) has even discovered a certain rhythmic and lyrical connection within the writing of her famed family member. She’s also made peace with her traveling past: “Back in the time [Loog Oldham and I] were working together, I think we hardly exchanged two words. But now there’s so much to talk about, and he’s so helpful and wise and just brilliant to remember things with.”
The shy country girl of musical myth is a city woman with grown kids now — and all the wiser for it. “I was talking with Jenny Wright about that just today,” Bunyan says. “In a small community you can go a certain kind of mad, really — I think human beings need lots and lots of different kinds of people to relate to and communicate with, and they finally find their own way.”
“I did desperately turn my back on the world and go off with a horse and wagon,” she says. “But I didn’t stay there!” SFBG
Thurs/7, 9 p.m.
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
$20–$24 ($39.95 with dinner)
(415) 885-0750
For the complete interview with Vashti Bunyan, visit Noise at

Vashti’s progress: More than just another diamond night in San Francisco


Vashti Bunyan is giving a concert at Great American Music Hall this week. To give an idea of how rare this event is, Bunyan has played fewer shows here than she has released albums, and she’s released exactly two long song collections: 1970’s justifiably adored Just Another Diamond Day and last year’s equally exquisite Lookaftering. With a little help from a calling card, I spoke with Bunyan recently about her not-so-hidden current bond with Devendra Banhart, her rather more secret past kinship with Francoise Hardy, the artistic leanings and pilgrim’s progress of the Bunyan family bloodline, the making of a Diamond Day movie, the cruelty beneath Swinging London’s fun, the wonders of home recording, and some friendly coincidences.


Guardian: I just ran up a hill to buy a calling card. How are you?
Vashti Bunyan: I’m fine. I’m comfortably at home at Edinburgh, [Scotland].

G: Have you been living in the same place for many years?
VB: Yes, we’ve been here for 12 years, which is the longest I’ve been anywhere in my life. I keep thinking, “Maybe it’s time to go?” But yes, I’m back in the city after many years of country living.

The Wow of Joao: A talk with Two Drifters director Joao Pedro Rodrigues


“People are crazy here, no?,” director Joao Pedro Rodrigues half-asks over the phone from LA, where he’s making a brief visit to promote Two Drifters (aka Odete), which opens in the Bay Area this week. His words bring to mind a certain observation by a Hollywood starlet that then became a Rex Reed book title. But in Rodrigues’s case the remark might partly be inspired by the star of Two Drifters – the person whose apartment he’s visiting, Ana Cristina de Oliveira, who has since gone on to a role in Michael Mann’s Miami Vice remake. De Oliveira plays a volatile character in Two Drifters, and some swear words delivered loudly by her bring this interview to an abrupt end.


Guardian: You’ve used the same bold red font for title credit in both of your features. Can you tell me a bit about deciding that?
Joao Pedro Rodrigues: I like it. I like red, it’s like blood. It’s like something that’s inside you.

Fall Arts Intro: Autumn leaves


La-di-dah di-dah-di-dum, ’tis autumn, and after reaching a decision with birdielike precision, the birds have made a beeline for the south. Yet nonfeathered friends of the Bay Area might also have to fly in order to cover all the art openings, concerts, stage shows, movies, and more in store over the next few months. Lyrical nostalgia aside, we’re doing our best to help you fall forward, rather than backward — these pages showcase the highlights (and also target some weak and wack spots) of the coming season.
As autumn leaves start to fall (somewhere with trees), we thought the time was ideal to check back in on 2004 Goldie winner Keegan McHargue. It’s fitting that the Mission-based McHargue will be part of a show in Paris this fall — his work charts colors beyond the reds and golds of Johnny Mercer’s and Jacques Prevert’s wildest transatlantic-and-romantic imaginings. (Johnny Ray Huston)

When the lights go down


› a& All opening dates subject to change, ’cause that’s how Hollywood rolls. The Protector and Jet Li’s Fearless Tony Jaa’s been trumpeted as “the future of martial arts” (and rightly so — did you see Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior? Holy scalp-cracking!); Jet Li’s said Fearless will be his last martial arts picture. Torch. Passed. (Sept. 8 and 22) This Film Is Not Yet Rated Kirby Dick’s doc about the creativity-smiting Motion Picture Association of America mixes Michael Moore–like first-person investigative work with feminist First Amendment points. And it’s funny. (Sept. 15) All the King’s Men Could’ve been an Oscar grubber in 2005, when this remake was originally slated for release. Now, who knows? The oft-nominated cast includes Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, and Anthony Hopkins. (Sept. 22) Feast Project Greenlight winner — a sure sign of doom? — John “Son of Clu” Gulager debuts his horror film about tavern dwellers fighting off flesh eaters. Henry Rollins has a role. (Sept. 22–23 midnight screenings) Jackass: Number Two Oh, shut up. You know you loved the first one. (Sept. 22) The Science of Sleep The title won’t win viewers, and the ad campaign and trailers aren’t much better, but Michel Gondry’s follow-up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is like a darker b-side of that film, with adorable Gael García Bernal in a not-sweet role and daughter-of-Serge Charlotte Gainsbourg dealing with him. (Sept. 22) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning A prequel to the (so unnecessary) remake of the best goddamn movie of all time. Will this be good headcheese or real good headcheese? (Oct. 4) Shortbus Loved at Cannes and hyped for its sexual candor, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig follow-up looks like a major turnoff, at least going by the trailer. Of course, trailers aren’t features. Will a cameo by Justin Bond as Kiki cancel out the possible deadly air of self-satisfaction? (Oct. 6) Old Joy A big favorite at Sundance this year, the second film by Kelly Reichardt — whose River of Grass is a little-known gem — features Will Oldham in a starring role. (Oct. 20) Babel Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams), Cate Blanchett, and Gael García Bernal are always worth a peek; they cancel out the tiredness of Brad Pitt at any rate. (Oct. 27) The Bridge Eric Steel’s controversial and ethically dubious documentary about suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge gets a theatrical release. Curiously, recently listed a codirector. (Oct. 27) Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Nicole Kidman as the photographer — the fact that the former looks and seems nothing like the latter matters little, we’re assured, because this is not a biopic but a speculation about three days in Arbus’s life. (November) Iraq in Fragments James Longley’s impressionistic and unembedded documentary isn’t “narrator-less,” as Entertainment Weekly claims. It is poetic and visually dazzling and provocative — perhaps problematic — because of it. (Nov. 10) Volver Pedro Almodóvar departs from masculine melodrama to reunite with Penélope Cruz and more excitingly, Carmen Maura; word is this riffs off Mildred Pierce the same way that Bad Education riffed off Vertigo. (Nov. 10 or 22) Casino Royale Daniel Craig as Bond. But nobody, and I mean nobody, better be trying to do “The Look of Love” — we all know it belongs to Dusty. (Nov. 17) Fuck A jazzy documentary about the most versatile and satisfying word in the English language. (Nov. 17) Tenacious D in “The Pick of Destiny” Will it be the greatest film in the world — or just a tribute? (Nov. 17) Bobby Emilio Estevez makes his directorial debut with this Altmanesque movie about Bobby Kennedy, played by Elijah Wood in a bad wig. Will it be a subtextual tribute to the Ambassador Hotel? Also, will the curse of Lindsay Lohan (who costars) continue? (Nov. 22) The Nativity Story Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) takes on the Blessed Virgin (Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle-Hughes). Nah, it won’t be controversial … (Dec. 1) Apocalypto … and neither will Mel Gibson’s all-Mayan adventure, sugar tits. (Dec. 8) The Pursuit of Happyness Remember when they built the fake BART station in Dolores Park? This is why. (Dec. 15) Charlotte’s Web Starring Dakota Fanning, with Julia Roberts as the voice of the spider. Will Charlotte urge us to join America Online? Why can’t they leave the classics alone? (Dec. 20) Rocky Balboa Sylvester Stallone wrote, directed, stars, punches things, and has a montage. Montage! (Dec. 22) Dreamgirls The (very) early Oscar favorite. And I’m telling you, Beyoncé’s not going to the Oscars unless she’s up for a statuette rather than delivering them. We’ll see … (Dec. 25) The Good German Steven Soderbergh directs a black-and-white George Clooney in this 1940s drama. Swoon. (Dec. 25) SFBG

Yay Area five-oh


“Before Vanishing: Syrian Short Cinema” A series devoted to films from Syria kicks off with a shorts program that includes work by Oussama Mohammed. (Sept. 7, PFA; see below)
The Mechanical Man The PFA’s vast and expansive series devoted to “The Mechanical Age” includes André Deed’s 1921 science fiction vision of a female crime leader and a robot run amok. The screening features live piano by Juliet Rosenberg. (Sept. 7, PFA)
“Cinemayaat, the Arab Film Festival” This year’s festival opens with the Lebanon-Sweden coproduction Zozo and also includes the US-Palestine documentary Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority, which looks at events before and after Israel’s 1948 occupation of Palestine.
Sept. 8–17. Various venues. (415) 863-1087,
“Global Lens” The traveling fest includes some highly lauded films, such as Stolen Life by Li Shaohong, one of the female directors within China’s Fifth Generation.
Sept. 8–Oct. 4. Various venues. (415) 221-8184,
“MadCat Women’s International Film Festival” MadCat turns 10 this year, and its programming and venues are even more varied. Not to mention deep — literally. 3-D filmmaking by Zoe Beloff and Viewmaster magic courtesy of Greta Snider are just some of the treats in store.
Sept. 12–27. Various venues. (415) 436-9523,
The Pirate The many forms and facets of piracy comprise another PFA fall series; this entry brings a swashbuckling Gene Kelly and Judy Garland as Manuela, directed by then-husband Vincente Minnelli. (Sept. 13, PFA)
“A Conversation with Ali Kazimi” and Shooting Indians Documentarian Kazimi discusses his work before a screening of his critical look at Edward S. Curtis’s photography. (Sept. 14, PFA)
“The Word and the Image: The Films of Peter Whitehead” The swinging ’60s hit the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as curator Joel Shepard presents the first-ever US retrospective dedicated to the director of Tonight Let’s All Make Love in London. Includes proto–music videos made for Nico, Jimi Hendrix, and others. Smashing! (Sept. 14–28, YBCA; see below)
Edmond Stuart Gordon of Re-Aminator infamy makes a jump from horror into drama — not so surprising, since he’s a friend of David Mamet. Willam H. Macy adds another sad sack to his résumé. (Sept. 15–21, Roxie; see below)
Anxious Animation Other Cinema hosts a celebration for the release of a DVD devoted to local animators Lewis Klahr, Janie Geiser, and others. Expect some work inspired by hellfire prognosticator Jack Chick!
Sept. 16. Other Cinema, 992 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-3890,
Kingdom of the Spiders Eight-legged freaks versus two-legged freak William Shatner. I will say no more.
Sept. 17. Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF. (415) 401-7987,
Landscape Suicide No other living director looks at the American landscape with the direct intent of James Benning; here, he examines two murder cases. (Sept. 19, PFA)
La Promesse and Je Pense à Vous Tracking the brutal coming-of-age of scooter-riding Jérémie Renier, 1997’s La Promesse made the name of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, but Je Pense is a rarely screened earlier work. (Sept. 22, PFA)
Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied Billed as the first authoritative doc about the man who invented electric blues, this plays with Always for Pleasure, a look at New Orleans by the one and only Les Blank. (Sept. 22–26, Roxie)
Rosetta and Falsch The Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta made a splash at Cannes in 1999; Falsch is their surprisingly experimental and nonnaturalistic 1987 debut feature. (Sept. 23, PFA)
loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies A reunion tour movie. (Sept. 29–Oct. 5, Roxie)
American Blackout Ian Inaba’s doc about voter fraud made waves and gathered praise at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival; it gets screened at various houses, followed by a Tosca after-party, in this SF360 citywide event.
Sept. 30. Tosca Café, 242 Columbus, SF. (415) 561-5000,
Them! “Film in the Fog” turns five, as the SF Film Society unleashes giant mutant ants in the Presidio.
Sept. 30. Main Post Theatre, 99 Moraga, SF. (415) 561-5500,
“Zombie-Rama” Before Bob Clark made Black Christmas, Porky’s, and A Christmas Story, he made Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. The ending is as scary as the title is funny.
Oct. 5. Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park, Oakl. (510) 814-2400,
“Swinging Scandinavia: How Nordic Sex Cinema Conquered the World” Jack Stevenson presents a “Totally Uncensored” clip show about the scandalous impact of Scandinavian cinema on uptight US mores and also screens some rare cousins of I Am Curious (Yellow). (Oct. 5 and 7, YBCA)
“Mill Valley Film Festival” Why go to Toronto when many of the fall’s biggest Hollywood and international releases come to Mill Valley? The festival turns 29 this year.
Oct. 5–15, 2006. Various venues. (415) 383-5256,
“Fighting the Walking Dead” Jesse Ficks brings They Live to the Castro Theatre. Thank you, Jesse. (Oct. 6, Castro; see below)
Phantom of the Paradise Forget the buildup for director Brian de Palma’s Black Dahlia and get ready for a Paul Williams weekend. This is screening while Williams is performing at the Plush Room.
Oct. 6. Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-1124,
Calvaire Belgium makes horror movies too. This one is billed as a cross between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance — a crossbreeding combo that’s popular these days. (Oct. 6–12, Roxie)
Black Girl Tragic and so sharp-eyed that its images can cut you, Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 film is the masterpiece the white caps of the French new wave never thought to make. It kicks off a series devoted to the director. (Oct. 7, PFA)
“Animal Charm’s Golden Digest and Brian Boyce” Boyce is the genius behind America’s Biggest Dick, starring Dick Cheney as Scarface. Animal Charm have made some of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.
Oct. 7. Other Cinema, 992 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-3890,
Madame X, an Absolute Ruler Feminist director Ulrike Ottinger envisions a Madame X much different from Lana Turner’s — hers is a pirate. (Oct. 11, PFA)
“The Horrifying 1980s … in 3-D” Molly Ringwald (in Spacehunter), a killer shark (in Jaws 3-D), and Jason (in Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D) vie for dominance in this “Midnites for Maniacs” three-dimensional triple bill. (Oct. 13, Castro)
“Dual System 3-D Series” This program leans toward creature features, from Creature from the Black Lagoon to the ape astronaut of Robot Monster to Cat-Women on the Moon. (Oct. 14–19, Castro)
“Early Baillie and the Canyon CinemaNews Years” This program calls attention to great looks at this city by Baillie (whom Apichatpong Weerasethakul cites as a major influence) and also highlights the importance of Canyon Cinema. (Oct. 15, YBCA)
“War and Video Games” NY-based film critic Ed Halter presents a lecture based on From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games, his new book. (Oct. 17, PFA)
Santo Domingo Blues The Red Vic premieres a doc about bachata and the form’s “supreme king of bitterness,” Luis Vargas.
Oct. 18–19. Red Vic, 1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994,
“Monster-Rama” The Devil-ettes, live and in person, and Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women, on the screen, thanks to Will “the Thrill” Viharo.
Oct. 19. Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park, Oakl. (510) 814-2400,
“Spinning Up, Slowing Down”: Industry Celebrates the Machine” Local film archivist Rick Prelinger presents six short films that epitomize the United States’ machine mania, including one in which mechanical puppets demonstrate free enterprise. (Oct. 19, PFA)
The Last Movie Hmmm, part two: OK, let’s see here, Dennis Hopper’s 1971 film gets a screening after he personally strikes a new print … (Oct. 20–21, YBCA)
What Is It? and “The Very First Crispin Glover Film Festival in the World” … and on the same weekend, Hopper’s River’s Edge costar Glover gets a freak hero’s welcome at the Castro. Sounds like they might cross paths. (Oct. 20–22, Castro)
I Like Killing Flies And I completely fucking love Matt Mahurin’s documentary about the Greenwich Village restaurant Shopsin’s, possibly the most characterful, funny, and poignant documentary I’ve seen in the last few years. (Oct. 20–26, Roxie)
“Miranda July Live” Want to be part of the process that will produce Miranda July’s next film? If so, you can collaborate with her in this multimedia presentation about love, obsession, and heartbreak.
Oct. 23–24. Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida, SF. (415) 552-1990,
The Case of the Grinning Cat This 2004 film by Chris Marker receives a Bay Area premiere, screening with Junkopia, his 1981 look at a public art project in Emeryville. (Oct. 27, PFA)
The Monster Squad The folks (including Peaches Christ) behind the Late Night Picture Show say that this 1987 flick is the most underrated monster movie ever.
Oct. 27–28. Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-1124,
Neighborhood Watch Résumés don’t get any better than Graeme Whifler’s — after all, he helped write the screenplay to Dr. Giggles. His rancid directorial debut brings the grindhouse gag factor to the Pacific Film Archive. (Oct. 29, PFA)
“Grindhouse Double Feature” See The Beyond with an audience of Lucio Fulci maniacs. (Oct. 30, Castro)
“Hara Kazuo” Joel Shepard programs a series devoted to Kazuo, including his 1969 film tracing the protest efforts of Okuzaki Kenzó, who slung marbles at Emperor Hirohito. (November, YBCA)
“International Latino Film Festival” This growing fest reaches a decade and counting — expect some celebrations.
Nov. 3–19. Various venues. (415) 454-4039,
Vegas in Space Midnight Mass makes a rare fall appearance as Peaches Christ brings back Philip Ford’s 1991 local drag science fiction gem.
Nov. 11. Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-1124,
“As the Great Earth Rolls On: A Frank O’Hara Birthday Tribute” The birthday of the man who wrote “The Day Lady Died” is celebrated. Includes The Last Clean Shirt, O’Hara’s great collaboration with Alfred Leslie.
Nov. 17. California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 552-1990,
Sites and Silences A shout-out to A.C. Thompson for his work with Trevor Paglen on the well-titled Torture Taxi, which helped generate this multimedia presentation by Paglen. (Nov. 19, YBCA)
“Kihachiro Kawamoto” One of cinema’s ultimate puppet masters receives a retrospective. (December, YBCA)
“Silent Songs: Three Films by Nathaniel Dorsky” The SF-based poet of silent film (and essayist behind the excellent book Devotional Cinema) screens a trio of new works. (Dec. 10, YBCA)
429 Castro, SF
(415) 621-6120
2575 Bancroft, Berk.
(510) 642-5249
3317 16th St., SF
(415) 863-1087
Screening room, 701 Mission, SF
(415) 978-2787\ SFBG

Discs, man


› a& SEPT. 5 Criss Angel, Criss Angel: Mindfreak (Koch) Tell us this recording by TV’s erect-nippled goth heat-throb and full-tilt-boogie cheesenheimer is only an illusion. Audioslave, Revelations (Epic) Their politics check out, though an unboring album will be a revelation. Beyoncé, B’Day (Music World Music/Sony Urban Music/Columbia) The result of a two-week break for artistic freedom, but a Clive Davis overseer might have helped — she sounds like a stressed-out laser on the leadoff single. Grizzly Bear, Yellow House (Warp) Inspired sounds with bite by Brooklyn DIYer Edward Droste, whose queerific perspective brings a burly new hue to his moniker. Iron Maiden, A Matter of Life and Death (Columbia) Count on the barbed Bruce Dickinson to come with confrontation on this wartime studio outing. The Rapture, Pieces of the People We Love (Strummer/Universal UK) Danger Mouse coproduces the new piece from dance punk ex–San Franciskies. Tony Joe White, Uncovered (Swamp/Sanctuary) The original blue-eyed soulster gives it another poke, accompanied by Eric Clapton and Michael “Yah Mo B There” McDonald. SEPT. 12 Basement Jaxx, Crazy Itch Radio (XL) Still all they’re jacked up to be? Black Keys, Magic Potion (Nonesuch) The rock duo ain’t dead. Merle Haggard, Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard (Capitol/EMI) Go back to the origins of the Bakersfield sound and travel through “Okie from Muskogee” all the way up to the anti–Iraq War present. Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye (Domino) Whether you compare them to old New Order or current Booka Shade, their follow-up to 2004’s Last Exit is already garnering raves. Jordan Knight, Love Songs (Trans Continental/Element 1/EMI) Love Handles might be a better title, though at least Brigitte Nielsen isn’t a guest vocalist. Deborah Gibson does have a cameo. Mars Volta, Amputechture (Universal) Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez may bring it live, but can they pull off another concept album? Pigeon John, Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party (Quannum Projects) He claims to be dating your sister. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive) He and Timbaland use Beastie Boys– or Mark E. Smith–like crackly megaphone vocal effects on the first single; the album title seems both very ’90s and very OutKast wannabe. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope) David Bowie and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino bake it up for the increasingly dance-pop Brooklynites. Xiu Xiu, The Air Force (5RC) An army of three hones a pop attack, with backup from producer Greg Saunier of Deerhoof. Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) Fighting words and lengthy psych jams from the indie softniks. SEPT. 19 Clay Aiken, A Thousand Different Ways (RCA) The long wait for the Claymates is over. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Koch) They were twisting tongues long before Twista. Who’s your favorite: Layzie or Bizzy or Wish or Flesh or Krayzie? Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Then the Letting Go (Drag City) Does this title refer to shaving — or inhibitions? Chingy, Hoodstar (Slot-A-Lot/Capitol) I once saw a bunch of people at 16th and Mission dancing around a boom box blaring “Holiday Inn.” DJ Shadow, The Outsider (Universal) The North Bay’s Josh Davis comes out of the shadows, hepped to the hyph of guests Keak Da Sneak and Turf Talk. But ditch that Urb stylist. Fergie, The Dutchess (Will.I.Am/A&M/Interscope) And you thought pop music couldn’t be more heinous than the Black Eyed Peas? The microwaved hollabacks of the atrocious “London Bridge” are here to prove you wrong. Hidden Cameras, Awoo (Arts & Crafts) Peekaboo, I see you. Kasabian, Empire (RCA) The band named after Linda Kasabian testify on their own behalf with a new album. Jesse McCartney, Right Where You Want Me (Hollywood) Past his TRL sell-by date? We shall see. Mos Def, Tru3 Magic (Geffen) Somewhere between his first solo album and his second, Mos Def started to act like he knew he was cute. Here’s hoping he thinks of music as his true love rather than a step on the road to Hollywood. Pere Ubu, Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil) But at least a few women still love Ubu. Misogyny evidently rules for the post-punk belligerents. Bobby Valentino, Special Occasion (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam) Ludacris’s R&B man speeds up enough to record a sophomore album. Zutons, Tired of Hanging Around (Deltasonic) The Liverpool antsy-rockin’ roots trendoids try their luck on this side of the puddle. SEPT. 22 Thermals, The Body, the Blood, the Machine (Sub Pop) PPP (post-pop-punk) protesting a purely protestant panorama. SEPT. 26 Emily Haines, Knives Don’t Have Your Back (Last Gang) Unsheathe ’em? A Metric cutie ventures out alone. Janet Jackson, 20 Y.O. (Virgin) And acting it. Sean Lennon, Friendly Fire (Capitol) Son of John returns with help from Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda. Ludacris, Release Therapy (Disturbing Tha Peace) If the first single, “Money Maker,” is anything to go by, Luda better watch out, because he’s skating dangerously close to Hammer-like lame flossin’. Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah (Universal) Good news: guest appearance by Bryan Ferry. Bad news: cameo by Elton John. Either way, there’s no justice when they are more popular than the Ark. Sparklehorse, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (Astralwerks) Get a stomachful of Tom Waits alongside sound-alike Mark Linkous. Mario Vazquez, Mario Vazquez (Arista) Question: What is better than a beauty-school dropout? Answer: An American Idol dropout — especially one who has been spotted at la Escuelita. He gets bonus points for having the cutest messed-up teeth. Wolf Eyes, Human Animal (Sub Pop) Bagging some inhuman noise. OCT. 3 Beck, The Information (Interscope) Nigel Godrich does the knob twist and fader jive on this new dispatch from “Loser” man. Tim Buckley, The Best of Tim Buckley (Rhino/Elektra) Further proof that “Song to the Siren” is eternal. Decemberists, The Crane Wife (Capitol) Colin Meloy is still finding inspiration in the most unexpected crannies: here, in a Japanese folk tale. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant) Someone can’t help waving a flag. Jet, Shine On (Atlantic) Substitute “Music” for “Money” in the title of the first single, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.” The Killers, Sam’s Town (Island) Bet they don’t bargain-shop at Sam’s Club. Gladys Knight, Before Me (Verve) Still sounding great while some of her contemporaries rasp and squawk, she covers legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone. Lady Sovereign, Public Warning (Def Jam) After “9 to 5” (not a Dolly Parton cover), she drops her debut. Will she hit it big or wind up MIA? Monica, The Makings of Me (J) Add a little bit of Twista, some T.I. for extra heat, a touch of Missy, and Dem Franchize Boys, and you’ve got the makings of a Monica album. Robin Thicke, The Evolution of Robin Thicke (Star Trak/Interscope) Move over, Jon B, and make way for the son of Alan Thicke. OCT. 10 Blood Brothers, Young Machetes (V2) Fugazi player Guy Picciotto and Sleater-Kinney producer John Goodmanson get Bloody. Melvins, A Senile Animal (Ipecac) We didn’t use the s-word first. Robert Pollard, Normal Happiness (Merge) Is there happiness after a decade-plus beer haze? Young Jeezy, The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 (Def Jam) The Snowman has recorded 62 tracks for this opus. OCT. 17 Badly Drawn Boy, Born in the UK (XL/Astralwerks) Could BDB have a Broooce fixation? Diddy, Press Play (Bad Boy/Warner) If Danity Kane are anything to go by, it’s officially past time to press eject when it comes to Mr. Combs. Jeremy Enigk, World Waits (Lewis Hollow/Reincarnate/Sony BMG) One wonders how God figures in the latest by the Sunny Day Real Estate and Fire Theft chief. Fantasia, TBA (J) Following in the footsteps of greats such as Patty Duke and Joan Rivers, she recently starred in a TV movie about her own life. Fat Joe, Me Myself and I (Terror Squad) He’s big enough to refer to himself at least three different ways. Frankie J, Priceless (Columbia) Having even survived a cover of Extreme’s “More than Words,” the li’l guy returns to sing more sweet-verging-on-extremely-saccharine nothings. JoJo, The High Road (Blackground/Universal) The li’l pop dynamo and Xtina-to-be with Lindsay Lohan–like looks has sung for our current president, which seems more like visiting an inferno than taking the titular route. Nina Simone, Remixed and Reimagined (RCA/Legacy) More modern folks start fussing with Dr. Nina. Snoop Dogg, Blue Carpet Treatment (Doggystyle/Geffen) Stevie Wonder, the Game, and R. Kelly hop a soul plane. Squarepusher, Hello Everything (Warp) More spastic jazz-dappled emanations from Tom Jenkinson. OCT. 24 Brooke Hogan, Undiscovered (SoBe Entertainment/SMC) The daughter of Hulk Hogan puts all those dark-haired and dark-skinned girls in their place in her first video — after all, no one is more soulful than a putf8um blond. A surefire sign of the apocalypse or just another day in Bush-era pop culture? The Jam, Direction Reaction Creation (Polydor UK) Paul Weller and pals get the big box-set treatment they deserve. John Legend, Once Again (C) Ever heard “My Cherie Amour”? Apparently the billion people who bought the clumsy and far-more-prosaic “Ordinary People” haven’t. The Who, Endless Wire (Polydor) And then there were two. The first studio album since 1982 includes Greg Lake, partially filling in for the deceased John Entwistle, and Ringo spawn Zak Starkey, cospotting the late Keith Moon. OCT. 31 The Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury (J) Famlay and friends return, but what will it be like now that the producer who hit it big with them — a certain Pharrell — is so over-overexposed? Barry Manilow, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties (Arista) Will he cover “Gimme Shelter”? The mind boggles. Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose (Virgin) Breathe easy — the legal tussle between the Loaf and Jim Steinman over the title phrase is through. Paul Wall, Get Money, Stay True (Atlantic) The Houston metal mouth gabs again. NOV. 7 The Game, The Doctor’s Advocate (Geffen) Not that Dre needs one, even if everyone and their moms wonder what the hell happened to the long-awaited and eventually cancelled Rehab. Lucinda Williams, The Knowing (Lost Highway) Bill Frisell and Dylan sidekick Tony Garnier guest on the latest disc by the proud princess of rasp. NOV. 14 Marques Houston, Veteran (T.U.G./Universal) No longer “Naked,” he returns for 106th and Park duty wearing his stripes. Maroon 5, TBA (Octone/J) You have been warned. Joanne Newsom, Ys (Drag City) The sprite of the harp, produced by pigfucker Steve Albini. DEC. 19 Akon, Konvicted (SRC/Universal) Will we want to shoot up or shoot ourselves when Eminem appears on Senegalese ex-“kon” Aliaune Thiam’s “Smack That”? SFBG

This ain’t no Artforum


KIMBERLY CHUN 1. “Binh Danh” Questions of history, identity, and collective and individual memory are probed via the Stanford MFA graduate’s spectral “chlorophyll prints,” created through a process he invented in which found photos are reproduced on the surface of fragile leaves. Sept. 7–Oct. 14. Haines Gallery, 49 Geary, SF. (415) 397-8114, 2. “Counter Culture” Several generations of hipsters, freaks, and freethinkers have been documented by Bay Area photographer Larry Keenan, who snapped Brian Jones, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, and countless beautiful people back in the day. The onetime Concord High School art teacher’s work appeared in the Whitney’s “Beat Culture and the New America: 1950–1965.” Sept. 6–30. Micaela Gallery, 333 Hayes, SF. (415) 551-8118, 3. “Howard Finster: Image + Words = God” The late REM album art poster boy and ironclad, gilded-winged folk art visionary made more than 46,000 images limned with text during his lifetime — quite a feat, since he began to paint “sacred art” in 1976 under orders of an angelic vision. Expect works on loan from the collection of local artist and Finster friend Eleanor Dickinson. Nov. 11, 2006–May 13, 2007. California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park (near 34th Ave. and Clement), SF. (415) 863-3330, 4. “Home Ec: New Work by Sarah Applebaum, Elide Endreson, Sherry Koyama, Christina La Sala, Julia Petho, and Allen Stickel” What qualifies as women’s work when the faces of celebrity fry cooks tend toward the studly and knitting has acquired a cool cachet? Local artists such as California College of the Arts faculty member La Sala and the Lab staffer Koyama explore the seismic shifts in home economics. Sept. 8–28. Michelle O’Connor Gallery, 2111 Mission, SF. (415) 990-7148 5. “Packard Jennings: Lottery Ticket” Those forever dreaming about what they’d do if they won the lottery will get an unexpected bonus when they lay their money down at select stores in four SF districts: a faux scratcher created by Jennings, hiding an unusual local treasure in the community. Nov. 1, 2006–Jan. 31, 2007. Southern Exposure, 2901 Mission, SF. (415) 863-2141, 6. “Charles Linder: Crazy Horse” Horses — broken, thieved, and gimped out — are the leitmotif when the SF artist transforms a target-practice 1965 Mustang into a gallery thoroughbred … of sorts. Sept. 8–Oct. 14. Gallery 16, 501 Third St., SF. (415) 626-7495, 7. “Particulate Matter” For the Mills College Art Museum’s new wing, Guardian critic Glen Helfand curates a debut exhibit composed of many parts and informed by political consciousness. LA artist Karl Haendel, known for dramatic installations of drawings culled from media images, makes his Bay Area debut, as does German photographer Florian Maier-Aichen, who exhibits digitally enhanced and tension-wracked landscapes. Sept. 9–Dec. 10. 5000 MacArthur, Oakl. (510) 430-2164, 8. “Perfectly Good; Friendly Fire” No dumping on artists-in-residence Noah Wilson and Kim Weller. The former photographs rediscovered found objects; the latter dreams up a 3-D installation of life-size Archie Comics icons for this teenage — and industrial — wasteland. Sept. 22–23. SF Recycling and Disposal, 503 Tunnel, SF. (415) 330-1415, 9. “Donald Urquhart: No Axe to Grind” Camp icons like Dors, Dusty, and Davis, refigured as “Aubrey Beardsley doodles through high school algebra” scrawls, are part of the London artist’s past as a King’s Cross club owner. Sept. 9–30. Jack Hanley Gallery, 395 Valencia, SF. (415) 522-1623, 10. “We All Live Paper Nest: The Paper Nest Project” Paper hoarders celebrate the messes they call nests, those baby blankets of ephemera that they turn to for security, inspiration, and creativity. Curators Tan Khanh Cao and D. Scott Miller make a seven-foot-diameter paper nest shot through with meaning, while writers and musicians such as Kwan Booth of Black Futurist Movement and Walter Kitundu perform at the Sept. 16 reception. Sept. 15–17. Luggage Store Annex, 509 Ellis, SF. SFBG



1. “Prophets of Deceit” As assorted “powers” turn the fear factor up ever higher, you don’t need to be Mel Gibson (phew) to see that an exhibition looking at apocalyptic cults — especially governmentally sanctioned ones — is a timely idea. San Francisco end-times expert Craig Baldwin and others take on messianic ideologies.
Sept. 12–Nov. 11. CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, Logan Galleries, 1111 Eighth St., SF. 1-800-447-1278,
2. “Wallace Berman” and “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle” A spring event at SF Art Institute whet my appetite for these shows, which gather the projects of artist, filmmaker, and publisher Berman, an undersung figure whose influence has laced the cosmic wonder of many neofolkies, whether or not they know it.
“Wallace Berman”: Sept. 6–Oct. 28. 871 Fine Arts, 49 Geary, suite 235, SF. (415) 543-5155. “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle”: Oct. 18–Dec. 10. Berkeley Art Museum Galleries, 2626 Bancroft, Berk. (510) 642-0808,
3. “Neopopular Demand: Recent Works by Fahamu Pecou” Fahamu Pecou is the shit. Peep his Web site and you will agree.
Sept. 20–Oct. 24. Michael Martin Galleries, 101 Townsend, suite 207, SF. (415) 541-1530,
4. “Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics” Taking pages from Juan Carlos Mena and O Reyes’s book of the same name, the Yerba Buena Center hosts a show devoted to comic book, flyer, poster, and street imagery; a music video sideshow promises work by Assume Vivid Astro Focus, which can be like acid (without brain-frying side effects).
Nov. 18, 2006–March 4, 2007. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787,
5. “New Work: Phil Collins” They are music videos, but they aren’t made by the man behind “Sussudio.” Turner Prize finalist Collins taps into the spirit of Morrissey rather than Peter Gabriel’s follically challenged replacement. His video installation dünya dinlemiyor (the world won’t listen) features kids in Istanbul performing karaoke versions of songs from a certain 1987 Smiths compilation.
Sept. 16, 2006–Jan. 21, 2007. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000,
6. “Visionary Output: Work by Creative Growth Artists” Recent Guardian Local Artist William Scott is one of a dozen people featured in this show devoted to the great, Oakland-based Creative Growth.
Sept. 7–Oct. 14. Rena Bransten Gallery, 77 Geary, SF. (415) 982-3292,
7. “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” California has long been a front line and dropping-off point for visionaries, a place where people have brought new ideas about community to life (and sometimes to death). Taking its name from an essay by Philip K. Dick, this 12-person show scopes the state’s future and the state of the future, mixing work by local artists with real-life attempts at space colonizing and urban agriculture.
Nov. 28, 2006–Feb. 24, 2007. CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. 1-800-447-1278,
8. “Making Sense of Sound” Another wave of sound installations continues to overtake museums and galleries, and the Exploratorium is an ideal site for sonic exploration; this exhibition, featuring 40 new interactive exhibits, promises to be a must-see, I mean must-hear. It’ll all kick off with the arrival and ringing of a cast-iron bell driven cross-country by composer Brenda Hutchinson.
Oct. 21, 2006–Dec. 31, 2007. Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF. (415) EXP-LORE,
9. “Kala Fellowship Exhibition, Part II” Kala’s first installment included strong work by Liz Hickok and others. The second installment features Miriam Dym, Gary Nakamoto, Sasha Petrenko, and Tracey Snelling.
Sept. 7–Oct. 14. Kala Art Institute Galley, 1060 Heinz, Berk. (510) 549-2977,
10. “Ghosts in the Machine” The new SF Camerawork space — directly above the Cartoon Art Museum — will open with this group show of eight international artists that relates haunting to cultural estrangement. Dinh Q. Lê’s “grass mats” constructed with stills from films such as The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now are one example.
Oct. 5–Nov. 18. 657 Mission, SF. (415) 863-1001, SFBG

Seven up!


› a& Andromache Berkeley company Central Works remounts its 1994 production of Racine’s gripping 17th-century account of the Trojan War aftermath. Though the company likes to emphasize its collaboratively written projects, director Gary Graves’s adaptation of the play, which follows the trail of unrequited love leading to the enigmatic Andromache, was one of the first shows that brought the company critical attention. Oct. 14–Nov. 19. Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk. (510) 558-1381, Colorado After producing a successful run of Killing My Lobster member Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s first play, Hunter Gatherers, at the Thick House this past summer, Impact Theater takes on another piece by the up-and-coming dramaturge. Again the central theme is everyone’s favorite human trait: jealousy. This time a teen beauty queen disappears the day before the big pageant and everyone in her family is a suspect. Sept. 14–Oct. 21. La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk. (510) 464-4468, The God of Hell Entering its 40th year this season, the Magic Theatre celebrates with the latest play by the company’s erstwhile playwright-in-residence, Sam Shepard. The God of Hell is Shepard’s indictment of the Bush administration; he wrote it in 2004 with hope that Dubya wouldn’t see a second term. Amy Glazer directs this piece about a Midwestern couple whose lives are disrupted by an odd visit from a traveling salesman hawking patriotic goods. Sept. 23–Oct. 22. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, building D, Buchanan at Marina, SF. (415) 441-8822, Passing Strange Berkeley Rep enters uncharted territory with this not-quite musical conceived and written by Stew (with music cowritten by longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald), a singer-songwriter whose solo songcraft and controversial band the Negro Problem have received acclaim from the New York Times and Village Voice. With a live band to accompany Stew and his cast, the show follows the African American on a journey from his native Los Angeles and the church community he’s raised in to an alternative life in Amsterdam and Berlin, as Stew searches for an authentic self amid people who pass for something they’re not. Oct. 20–Dec. 3. Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Thrust Stage), 2025 Addison, Berk. (510) 647-2949, “Pinteresque” The Oxford English Dictionary does indeed have an entry for the titular term: “Of or reutf8g to Harold Pinter; resembling or characteristic of his plays…. Pinter’s plays are typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses.” Eastenders Repertory Company and some aspiring playwrights tap into and respond to those qualities with this program, which features Pinter’s The Lover and short pieces inspired by that work. Four years ago the company struck gold with a similar idea applied to Tennessee Williams, just one of its many inventive one-act programming ideas. See its take on Pinter, and then grab a pint, er. Sept. 13–Oct. 8. Eureka Theatre Company, 215 Jackson, SF. (510) 568-4118, “SF Fringe Festival” If you can spare an hour, then get to a Fringe show. Now in its 15th year of rounding up improv troupes, comedy groups, soloists, and multimedia acts from the frontiers of the theater world, the festival delivers 40 original performances in 200 shows over 12 days. This year features Best of SF Fringe 2002 RIPE Theatre putting on a handful of new shorts, Boxcar Players doing improv on the Mexican Bus, someone rolling a boulder up Powell for 20 minutes, and a group from India performing from the Kama Sutra (oh my). Maybe you can spare two hours. Sept. 6–17. For information go to Tings Dey Happen Dat dey do, and Dan Hoyle (the son of Geoff Hoyle but a lot more than that as well) has made a show about them — specifically, the things that happened in 2005 when he went to Nigeria on a Fulbright scholarship. Malaria and militant karaoke are two of the experiences Hoyle had, along with some educational ones that give him added insight into the United States’ oil-hungry policies. Hoyle may be young, but he’s an old hand at one-man shows by this point; Tings Dey Happen follows in the Marsh- and self-directed footsteps of his previous performances, Circumnavigator and Florida 2004: The Big Bummer. Only the Almighty might know why tings dey happen the way them happen — but Hoyle probably has some clues as well. Dec. 14, 2006–Jan. 27, 2007. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF. (415) 826-5750, SFBG

The jump off


Underground Sam Green’s documentary The Weather Underground helped spark David Dorfman Dance’s ambitious new 50-minute piece about activism and terrorism, but Dorman’s own experiences growing up in ’60s Chicago during the Days of Rage are an even bigger influence. Dorfman and Green will also discuss Green’s film in a related event.
Sept. 21 and 23. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787,
“Kathak at the Crossroads” Working with companies in India and Boston, Chitresh Das Dance Company has put together perhaps the biggest event ever dedicated to Kathak in this country. No better figure than the energetic, veteran Das could be at the helm of such an undertaking.
Sept. 28–30. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 333-9000,
Tarantella, Tarantula The local Artship Dance/Theater, led by Slobodan Dan Paich, explores the tarantella, a dance used to ward off the poison of a tarantula bite in particular and malaises of the heart in general. This premiere is paired with a visual art exhibit based on Artship’s years of research on the subject.
Sept. 28–Oct. 8. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834,
King Arthur Mark Morris collaborates with the English National Opera and takes on Henry Purcell’s semiopera, giving it a vaudevillian spin, with costume design by Isaac Mizrahi. Productions in England have already been lavishly praised.
Sept. 30–Oct. 7. Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft and Telegraph, Berk. (510) 642-9988,
The Live Billboard Project Site-specific specialist (and Guardian Goldie winner) Jo Kreiter knows how to create a dynamic, innovative image. This time she’s doing so at the wild intersection of 24th and Mission streets (near Dance Mission, no doubt). A 10th anniversary production by Kreiter’s Flyaway company, Live Billboard Project will feature her signature aerial choreography.
Oct. 4–8. 24th St. and Mission, SF. (415) 333-8302,
The Miles Davis Suite Savage Jazz Dance Company and Miles Davis is a match made in dance heaven — or whatever sphere Davis’s music reaches and thus wherever Reginald Savage’s choreography manages to follow it. If any choreographer is well suited to the late, great Davis, it’s Savage — the real question is what compositions and recordings Savage will mine.
Oct. 12–15. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834,
Daughters of Haumea Patrick Makuakane and Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu pay tribute to the women of ancient Hawaii. Both hula kahiko and hula mua will figure in Goldie winner Makuakane’s adaptation of a new book by Lucia Tarallo Jensen that is devoted to fisherwoman, female warriors, and high priestesses.
Oct. 21–29. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF. (415) 392-4400,
Kagemi — Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors The visual splendor within the title only hints at what the classical-, modern-, and Butoh-trained Sankai Juku company might present in this performance; raves for the mind-bending talents of artistic director Ushio Amagatsu, and the still photos alone make this event a must-see.
Nov. 14–15. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787,
“San Francisco Hip-Hop Dance Fest” You can count on Micaya to not only showcase the best hip-hop dance in the Bay Area but also to bring some of the world’s best hip-hop troupes to Bay Area stages. This year Flo-Ology, Soulsector, Funkanometry SF, and Loose Change will be representing the Bay Area, and Sanrancune/O’Trip House will be traveling all the way from Paris.
Nov. 17–19. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF. (415) 392-4400,
Dimi (Women’s Sorrow) The all-female, Ivory Coast–based Compagnie Tché Tché is renowned for pushing dance into realms that are both visually awe-inducing and physically explosive. This piece, overseen by artistic director Beatrice Kombé, entwines the stories of four dancers.
Dec. 1–2. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787, SFBG

To the Moondog, Ma!


Lately, I can’t stop listening to Moondog. Louis Thomas Hardin was often-to-always homeless, which is another way of saying the world belonged to him.


Blinded by a dynamite cap at the age of 16, Moondog traveled between the sounds of different countries and discovered some imaginary ones of his own — the type of exotic places where Jack Smith probably wished he could escort Maria Montez.



“It just ain’t a kegger without Church Mouse.” So says someone at a rager in Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines’s controversial Seventeen, and almost 25 years since the movie was first suppressed, my favorite line of movie dialogue in 2006 has arrived. Seventeen isn’t Not Your Average Teen Movie, nor is it your average teen movie. It might be the best movie about teenage life I’ve seen — one that walks high school hallways more convincingly than Frederick Wiseman (let alone Gus Van Sant), and one that makes some of Larry Clark’s underage adventures (certainly his explorations of race) seem trifling.
Complete with a freckled Bobby Brady look-alike chugalugging beer, DeMott and Kreines’s direct-cinema study of students in Muncie, Ind., incited the wrath of Xerox, a corporate sponsor that canceled the film from PBS broadcast and then went on to target it (helped by dronelike journalists) with an effective smear campaign. Basically, Seventeen’s sin was to cut too far into life as it really was (still is?) in the Midwest.
Viewed today, period details in this documentary are 200 proof. In comparison, Hollywood nostalgia is tame and bogus. The filmmakers’ portrait of what they call “high girlishness and boyishness” (emphasis on the high) comes loaded with feathered hair, ’fros, Dorothy Hamill cuts, thin gold necklaces, and jerseys with iron-on letters. The soundtrack is split, with the black kids listening to Smokey Robinson (the magnificent “Being with You”) and Ronald Isley and the white kids largely rocking out to the dreams and nightmares of AOR (where rock ’n’ roll never forgets and you don’t have to live like a refugee if you hold on to me against the wind).
The tension between these sounds matches the human interaction in DeMott and Kreines’s movie, which among other story threads follows a white girl, Lynn Massie, as her romance with a black boy inspires bigots to put a burning cross on her front yard. Critic Armond White once observed that Massie’s life is “the best Debra Winger role that Debra Winger never played,” and if there can be a Searching for Debra Winger, then Massie’s fate also deserves some speculation, because it’s impossible to walk out of Seventeen without wondering what happened to all these teens — and their babies. (Johnny Ray Huston)
Tues/22, 7:30 p.m.
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft, Berk.
(510) 642-0808



In its almost 27 minutes, Samantha Reynolds’s Back to Life doesn’t break down the history of taxidermy, but it does prod, stumble, and finesse its way into some memorably off-kilter portraiture, not to mention insight about mortality. Her decision to be on camera initially might seem amateurish (especially after the movie’s opening animation), but as a surrogate viewer, she achieves an uncomfortable intimacy with her subjects. And her subjects are something else. They include one taxidermist who is simply continuing the family business and another whose creative memento mori urges are directly connected to family horror: a father who shot himself and an uncle who committed matricide, for starters. “I put it in her hands before I pushed the button,” the latter taxidermist says, referring to the book I’m OK, You’re OK and another relative, both now in powder form in a glass bottle on her mantle.
There are no Norman Bates types in this doc, just bereaved pet owners, artists dealing with their lot in life, and businesspeople doing their job — a job that just happens to involve sawing off the legs and heads of dead pets to make molds, a task that Reynolds herself joins in on with a grimace. Back to Life is just one of the many byways available in the varied programming of “SF Shorts” — the first San Francisco International Festival of Short Films. Even better is Kim Romano’s Muriel, a profile of a 67-year-old woman in Key West who tosses off one-liners that Woody Allen would covet; Romano has a gift for funny and even poignant framing, and there are more vivid characters in her 19-minute movie than you’d find in a full day of Sundance drama features. Overseen by a jury that includes filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, the seven programs include sections devoted to documentary and comedy. Festival directors James Kenney and Michael Coyne took in over 900 entries before choosing 56. That last number includes a movie by Melissa Joan Hart, a.k.a. the director formerly known as Sabrina the teenage witch. (Johnny Ray Huston)
See Film listings for venues
and showtimes
(877) 714-7668

It’s (not) easy being Green Gartside


Yeah, so what that Sasha Frere-Jones has praised him in the New Yorker, and the New York Times is loving him, too. There’s still at least one Scritti Politti maniac on the Guardian premises, and I wanna know what he thinks about White Bread, Black Beer.


Mary, Mary, quite contrary – and often brilliant



The one and only Mary Woronov is a novelist, a memoirist, and the kind of movie star who is too sexy, too campy, and much too smart for contemporary Hollywood (Rob Zombie excepted).

Woronov is coming to town this weekend for Midnight Mass and a screening of the great, underrated Death Race 2000. I recently spoke with her, and she had sharp and funny things to say about loving Playhouse of the Ridiculous, hating Warhol, loving and hating Picasso, despising the Bush era, and channeling Joan Crawford.


Guardian: Were the other Warhol superstars afraid of you and Ondine?
Mary Woronov: People were very intimidated by Ondine. People were mystified by me, not intimidated. For one thing, I didn’t have sex. For another, I acted like a guy, merely as a counterbalance to the transvestites and the female energy that was there. I was not one of the girls who wanted to be a star, I was a really good actress. I did theater and I ‘got’ the theater world, so I was different from the desperation of the other girls who thought Warhol was somehow going to make them a star. That’s what he was selling, fame for 24 hours. That was not my plan, and I never got hooked.

Take that, bitches!


Pharrell, for one, can only look up at her: The #1 album this week, debuting at the top of the Billboard Top 200, is LeToya by ex-Destiny’s Child member LeToya, aka LeToya Luckett. Say her name!


She’s looking kinda “If Your Girl Only Knew”-era Aaliyah here, but I won’t hate. After all, her former bandmate knows a thing or two about ripping off the one and only Babygirl.

If it isn’t too early, here’s my September 12, 2006 wish: Mario Vazquez, please kick Justin Timberlake‘s ass right off the #1 spot.

After the gold rush


Lay up nearer, brother, nearer
For my limbs are growing cold
— “The Dying Californian”
A man’s last testimony to his brother before perishing at sea, “The Dying Californian” is a mid-19th-century tune that documents the dark side of the Gold Rush. The early 21st-century group the Dying Californian takes its name from the song, which brothers and bandmates Nathan and Andrew Dalton first heard when their sister played an arrangement of it for their family.
“My brother and I were raised listening to the same music and singing together,” Nathan Dalton says, as a candle casts a flickering light across his face while we drink beers in a booth at the back of the Attic on 24th Street. “We somehow know who is going to do the harmony and who is going to do the melody.”
It’s twilight. The Impressions mourn an ex who loves somebody else and Maxine Brown cries out “Oh No, Not My Baby” as Dalton breaks down the basics of his kin’s musical background: piano and guitar lessons, a father into George Jones and Merle Haggard, an older sister with three degrees in music, and a shared love of family acts ranging from the Carter Family (“Sara Carter isn’t putting on some diva act”) to the Carpenters. “They get a bad rap,” he says of the latter. “You really have to listen to [Karen’s] voice.”
Listen to Dalton’s voice on the Dying Californian’s 2003 album for Turn Records, We Are the Birds That Stay, and especially on an upcoming 12-song follow-up for the same label, and you’ll conclude that Karen Carpenter–lover Mark Eitzel has a worthy heir apparent. Not since American Music Club released California in 1988 has a band tapped so potently into a type of sound that tastes good with liquor but can also make you drunk with melancholy even if you’re on the straight and narrow.
“On the new record,” says Dalton, “I’d changed the lyrics of ‘Blur Just the Same,’ but Liam [Nelson, the group’s producer and extra guitarist] stopped the recording and told me the old lyrics resonated with him so much.” Dalton switched back to his original words, and the result is a great yet understated lament — one with a bridge that takes the type of blurred-photo imagery that horror movies use for jolts and instead makes the ghostliness tearfully sad. It’s one of more than a few moments on the record with a spiritual underpinning — the Dalton brothers know their share of hymns.
“The first band that blew me away and made me feel like ‘That’s what I want to do’ is early R.E.M.,” Dalton says as the bar grows darker. “There’s something spooky about Murmur and Reckoning and Chronic Town. I’ve always been attracted to haunting music like that.” The brothers have flipped roles somewhat since their years with the punk-inflected Troubleman Unlimited band Nuzzle. Nathan plays guitar and sings melody on the Dying Californian’s recordings, while brother Andrew plays keyboards and harmonizes. They’re joined by Nelson, bassist Simon Fabela, and drummer Ricardo Reano. While they excel at ballads, the new, as-yet-untitled, record’s “Second Shadow” proves the group can also unleash a cage-shaking rave-up.
Framed by the Dalton brothers’ “oh-oh” harmonies, the Dying Californian’s upcoming collection builds upon the rustic handsomeness of We Are the Birds That Stay, which features cover art by filmmakers José Luis Rodríguez and Cathy Begien. Over the past few years, the Dying Californian’s music has been a fixture of the movies Begien shows at the Edinburgh Castle’s Film Night. “God bless Cathy,” says Dalton. “We’ve been friends since our college days. It was strange seeing the video she made for our song ‘Madrugada’ [at the Edinburgh]. My voice was booming and I was sitting in the audience watching their reaction. That movie she made about her family [Relative Distance] must be so tough to watch with a crowd — she’s gutsy.”
Dalton moved from soundtracking Begien’s movies to also starring in one, Separated by Death. He played — surprise, surprise — a ghost. “I know [Cathy’s] work, know her, and know what she likes,” says Dalton. “She can convey this feeling to me that I put into music…. She wants to do a whole [feature-length] musical. We can do it.”
Dalton has lived in California most of his life, long enough — and far and wide enough — to know that “most people in Northern California have definite opinions about LA, and people in LA are just kind of oblivious.” I tell him that a friend of mine once made this observation to me after a stereotypical Mission hipster threw attitude at him upon hearing he was moving back to LA. “That’s why LA wins,” Dalton agrees with a laugh. “It says, ‘What? You hate us!?’”
The Dying Californian’s leader can also break down the individual qualities of the state’s major cities — the isolation of Santa Cruz, where most of his friends have moved from, or the quiet darkness of Berkeley, where he lives now with his wife and 16-month-old son. That domesticity and Dalton’s new surroundings spurred the recording of a meditative acoustic solo album, Byss and Abyss, released on the fledgling label Sap Moon. “Maybe it has something to do with desperation,” he says as we look at Byss and Abyss’s cover and insert artwork, which was inspired by a book about alchemy and mysticism. “People can fool themselves into thinking an ordinary object is gold.”
Of course, music has an alchemical quality as well, and if it results in fool’s gold, at least it’s a foolish pleasure. “The best art can seem better than gold,” Dalton agrees. “Sometimes I feel like one of these guys who made all the symbols or a tinkerer, but with my four-track.” SFBG
With Lady Hawk
and Magnolia Electric Company
Fri/4, 10 p.m.
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
(415) 621-4455

If you live to be a hundred you will never be as smart as me!


“I believe that you are a mother who is pretty desperate.
Not only are you not a very nice person, you’re also a slob.
You’re a hustler.
What happened in April?
And you were incarcerated for 3 years’ time, is that right?
Of course!
Why don’t ya pay attention?!”

Nothing makes listening to my voice mail more enjoyable than when N and C prank me using a Judge Judy soundboard.


Except maybe when I get a similar call from (remember her?) Miss Cleo.