Travel

TIFF happens, part three! Plus top films of the fest

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Read Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' first and second reports from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Dial M For Murder 3D Remastered (Alfred Hitchcock, US) The digitally remastered re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's only 3D production was introduced by none other than film historian David Bordwell, whose introductory textbooks Film Art (1979) and Film History (1994) have shaped countless film students. After an insightful Hitchcock introduction that left me feeling as if I had downloaded an entire book to my central nervous system in only 12 minutes, the 4K, 3D digital restoration began.

What was most exciting about this often-dismissed Hitchcock flick (aside from the highly effective 3D itself) was recognizing how incorrect critics in 1954 had been when they complained about how pathetic the 3D was utilized. Re-evaluating Dial M For Murder in the present 3D age, it is overwhelmingly clear that Hitchcock understood the complexity of his technique; instead of overusing the "in your face" gimmick he directed his attention toward utilizing the depth of the sets and perfectly placed props near the camera. Fifty-eight years later, even one of Hitchcock's "lesser" films (even according to himself) is still paving the road for future films and filmmakers.

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TIFF happens, part two!

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Read Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' first report from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival here.

In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) This highly enjoyable Éric Rohmer-esque vehicle for Isabelle Huppert continues Hong's tradition as being the Korean Woody Allen by making a highly personal comedies. Huppert is masterful bouncing in and out of each random-yet-interconnected sequence, but Yu Jun-sang steals the show as the local lifeguard who hilariously channels Roberto Benigni (circa Jim Jarmusch's 1986 Down By Law). It's one of the funniest comic performances of 2012.

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Gimme shelter

Negotiating crisis and 'Turbulence' at Portland, Ore.'s TBA Festival

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The word "challenging" gets thrown around a lot in the art world. Everyone wants to be considered challenging. So much so, it starts to sound like a byword for its opposite. A plea to "like" on Facebook. That sort of thing. In truth, few pieces of theater, dance, or performance actually live up to the meaning of this over-used phrase by unsettling basic assumptions about our relation to the work itself and its social and institutional contexts.Read more »

TIFF happens! Toronto fest picks, part one

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This year's Toronto International Film Festival showcased 289 films. I attended 32. Mark down any titles that sound interesting, because this upcoming year is gonna be one to remember.

Outrage Beyond (Takeshi Kitano, Japan) The sequel to Takeshi Kitano's return-to-gangster-form Outrage (2010) sports the same no-nonsense editing that matches extreme violence with perfectly primed pauses. Kitano's knack for offbeat crime films began almost 25 years ago with his nasty neo-noir classic Violent Cop (1989). Since then, he's found a perfect blend of humor and artistry over the years, with such masterpieces as Sonatine (1993) and Hana-Bi (1997). Even his more eccentric deliveries, such as the sentimental Kikujiro (1999) and Brother (2000) —  his American crossover, co-starring Omar Epps — have the power to make fans out of first-time Takeshi viewers. Outrage Beyond methodically introduces (then destroys) main characters, creates tons of twists and turns that mangle the melodrama, and will either hypnotize you to all its inverted genre glory or leave you completely cold, confused, and unaffected. Either way, Takeshi is his own boss and I will watch everything he touches.

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The Performant: PortlanD.I.Y.

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The Performant puts a bird on it

There’re a lot of ways to while away 72 hours in Portland, Oregon, so I shrewdly place myself in the hands of a capable buddy who knows the ropes and we embark on a whirlwind bicycling tour of the five quadrants, from Sellwood to St Johns (yes, there are five quadrants, not four, go figure). We don’t really have a focus, and you could easily spend 72 hours just crawling from coffeeshop to bookstore to food cart to brewpub. While there’s plenty of all of the above on our itinerary, the theme that soon reveals itself during our pedal-powered perambulations is Portland’s obvious fervor for the DIY life, extending even to their entertainment options. Here’re a few of my favorite examples.

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Appetite: Southern taste adventures in Louisville, KY

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Kentucky: land of bourbon, the Derby and Mint Juleps. I’m ever delighted to return to the South, although I’m connected to some areas more than others (ah, New Orleans, my love). I recently spent a week in Louisville, on the judging panel for ADI’s (American Distilling Institute) annual awards. It was an honor to judge with key spirits and cocktail industry folk, spending days tasting (blind, of course) through the latest in a broad range of small US craft spirits – winners here.

In my off time, I roamed Louisville, from downtown to Bardstown Road. Louisville is a small city, not exactly visually beautiful or dense like other US cities, but its distinctly Kentuckian treasures do unfold. The historic Brown Hotel was my home base, its player piano welcoming me with strains of Gershwin and old world elegance in the beautiful lobby.

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Appetite: Spring weekend in Los Angeles yields intriguing tastes

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I recently returned to my old SoCal stomping grounds for yet another long weekend. This time I stayed at funky, restored motel, The Farmer’s Daughter, gazing over a pool filled with giant rubber duckies, the hotel’s birds greeting me each morning in the lobby. Colorful and quirky, the hotel (with welcoming, engaging staff) is a worthwhile home base, ideally located across the street from the original LA Farmers Market. You won’t find farmers here, rather, it’s a permanent, open air mall of food purveyors.

Though not always gourmet, a few newcomers add foodie cred to the market. However, I hope to never see the demise of old school diners, pie shops and vendors selling unnaturally bright red popcorn and the like – it’s a charming slice of LA history.

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Free Berlin: 3 city summer destinations for when you're broke and German

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It was 2pm by the time I stumbled out of Berghain and rode my bike home along the Spree-side still-standing section of the Berlin Wall, veering between the tourists snapping away at its murals. Hopefully they got a good shot of the bleary-eyed girl in the see-through dress. (Tag me!) Luckily, once you've steered clear of the hordes there is plenty of fun to be had in Berlin that had nothing to do with techno church and tawdry dark rooms. Here's four of my favorite free spots in the city to check out when the clubs close, from naked lakes to repurposed airport tarmacs and abandoned Ferris wheels. Read more »

Wall down, joints up

A journey through Berlin's burgeoning weed scene
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The tallest structure in Germany is a sky needle with a majestic ball sitting well up its length. Due to some vagaries of the physics of light and the shiny, Epcot-like nature of this ball, Berlin's Fernsehturm (a.k.a., television tower) casts the shadow of a cross over the city, much to the consternation of its East German builders.Read more »

Movement Detroit day one: Sweetest Kiss-Over (or, I Feel French)

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Not much gets better than dancing with 33,000 people in downtown Detroit at the fantastic 12th annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival, aka Movement, to the techno music that was invented here.

The first day of three, a bit stormy weatherwise but warm and squiggly on the musical front, saw the five stages brimming with choice DJ segues like Greg Wilson into Todd Terje, David Squillace into Seth Troxler with Guy Gerber, SBTRKT into Roni Size, Derrick Carter into Lil Louis -- and the triumph (for me, and native Detroiters) of last night, young techno keepers of the flame Kyle Hall and Jay Daniel, playing a smooth classics timewarp set, into quintessential DJ's DJ Mike Huckaby, who took us all the way into wiggy jazziness.

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