Month: July 2017

IN THEATERS (SF) – “Endless Poetry”

Endless Poetry (2017; Dir.: Alejandro Jodorowsky)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 21, at the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

Full disclosure: I have not seen Jodorowsky’s 2014 comeback film The Dance of Reality, the spiritual successor to this semi-autobiographical fantasy, so feel free to disregard my take on Endless Poetry accordingly.  That previous film covered Jodorowsky’s youth in Chile, while this fever dream follow-up examines his coming-of-age, his separation from his family, and his immersion in a world of outrageous bohemian artists and poets.  As should be expected from Jodorowsky, the film practically swoons with magi-delic realism, vicious satire and fourth-wall perversions, and he clearly feels liberated by the intimacy and logistics of digital cinema.  The mix of vulgarity and spirituality, of affectionate freak show and savage political theater, is pure Jodorowsky, and you can feel his restless invention swirling through every scene: the mother sings all of her dialogue; “invisible” stagehands rearrange the scenery; Alejandro (played by Adan Jodorowsky, the director’s son) ages from boy to man overnight; a midget dressed as Hitler declares “war on high prices.”  Of course, there is an inescapable narcissism at the heart of the project, and enthusiasm for Endless Poetry will vary based on pre-existing enthusiasm for Jodorowsky and his works.  It gets a little tiresome at two hours, but the energy and invention emanating from behind the camera, as well as a welcome streak of absurdist physical comedy, are enough to hold your interest throughout.

IN THEATERS (SF) – “Harold and Lillian”

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2017; Dir.: Daniel Raim)

GRADE : C+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 21 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, the Rialto Elmood in Berkeley, the Rialto Sebastopol in Sebastopol and the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

When Andy Warhol opined that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” he forgot to mention that even those that never achieve fame will still get kid-glove documentaries made about them.  The latest over-inflated trifle is this cutesy “love story” about storyboard artist/production designer Harold Michelson and movie researcher Lillian Michelson, a married couple that put their thumbprints on a number of Hollywood classics.  A film about their respective processes, an examination of the way that minor contributors make a mark on another person’s work, could have been fascinating, but writer-director Raim seems content to equate Harold and Lillian’s contributions with authorship, which is insane.  It’s an easy watch, and there is the occasional intriguing glimpse into the inner workings of a long-lasting Hollywood marriage, but Lillian’s open refusal to discuss difficult aspects of her past limits any potential for insight, and makes you wonder why this movie even exists.  Crazy thought: if the subject of your soft-pedaling documentary refuses to talk about her own life, you probably don’t have enough material for a feature.

The Barnesyard’s Sacto/SF Power Rankings (July 21-27, 2017)

Click the links to read Daniel’s reviews.

* = playing in SF Bay Area only

OFFICIALLY BUMPED

*1) Your Name.
*2) A Ghost Story
*3) Get Out
*4) Kedi
*5) Dawson City: Frozen Time
6) Dunkirk
*7) The Little Hours
8) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
*9) Endless Poetry
10) Spider-Man: Homecoming
11) Maudie

MIXED-POSITIVE

12) War for the Planet of the Apes
*13) Lady Macbeth
14) The Beguiled
15) Cars 3
*16) Alien: Covenant
*17) Beatriz at Dinner

MIXED-NEGATIVE

18) The Big Sick
19) Wonder Woman
20) The Hero
*21) Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

OFFICIALLY DUMPED

22) Transformers: The Last Knight
23) The Mummy
*24) Letters from Baghdad
25) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
26) Everything, Everything
27) Baywatch

HAVEN’T SEEN

Baby Driver
*The Bad Batch
The Boss Baby
*The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s…
*City of Ghosts
Despicable Me 3
Girls Trip
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
The House
*It Comes at Night
*Lost in Paris
*Marie Curie
*Moka
*Moscow Never Sleeps
*Our Time Will Come
*Pop Aye
Valerian and the City…
Wish Upon

These rankings are updated every Thursday, and are only intended to reflect the opinion of Daniel Barnes. All films playing in Sacramento area theaters are listed, as well as most films playing exclusively in the S.F. Bay Area.  Repertory showings are excluded, because they are obviously the superior option wherever available.  Underlined films are on my catchup list.

The Barnesyard’s Sacto/SF Power Rankings (July 14-20, 2017)

Click the links to read Daniel’s reviews.

* = playing in SF Bay Area only

OFFICIALLY BUMPED

*1) A Ghost Story
*2) Dawson City: Frozen Time
*3) The Little Hours
4) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
5) Spider-Man: Homecoming
6) Maudie

MIXED-POSITIVE

7) War for the Planet of the Apes
8) The Beguiled
9) Cars 3
*10) The Women’s Balcony
*11) Beatriz at Dinner

MIXED-NEGATIVE

12) The Big Sick
13) Wonder Woman
14) The Hero

OFFICIALLY DUMPED

15) Transformers: The Last Knight
*16) The Mummy
*17) The Wedding Plan
*18) Letters from Baghdad
19) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
20) Everything, Everything
21) Baywatch

HAVEN’T SEEN

All Eyez on Me
Baby Driver
*Battle Scars
The Boss Baby
*The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
*Churchill
*City of Ghosts
Despicable Me 3
47 Meters Down
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
The House
*The Last Dalai Lama?
*Lost in Paris
*Manifesto
Megan Leavey
*Moka
*Our Time Will Come
*Pop Aye
Wish Upon

These rankings are updated every Thursday, and are only intended to reflect the opinion of Daniel Barnes. All films playing in Sacramento area theaters are listed, as well as most films playing exclusively in the S.F. Bay Area.  Repertory showings are excluded, because they are obviously the superior option.  Underlined films are on my catchup list.

IN THEATERS (SF) – “Dawson City: Frozen Time”

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2017; Dir.: Bill Morrison)

GRADE: B+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 14, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

A stunning work of curation from documentary filmmaker Morrison, a story of fortune, folly, film and fire preserved in permafrost.  When the Yukon Gold Rush struck in the last 1890’s, the remote Alaskan town of Dawson City boomed to a population of over 40,000, and numerous theaters sprang up to entertain idle stampeders.  Dawson City’s population dwindled when the gold rush skipped town, but enough residents remained to support a couple of silent movie houses.  The outpost became the last stop along the theatrical exhibition trail, often receiving films years after their release, and the studios refused to pay to have the highly flammable nitrate prints shipped back.  Instead, discarded film stock was dumped under an ice hockey rink and forgotten for decades, when the treasure trove was unearthed during renovation and hundreds of presumed lost silent movies were found.  Morrison does dramatic justice to the Dawson City story, a rise-and-fall epic that weaves in enough turn-of-the-century celebrities to satisfy E.L. Doctorow, without overindulging in precious recreations.  Many assemblage documentaries of this sort strike me as obtusely opportunistic and reductive (e.g., it was the 1930’s, so insert any random shot of jitterbugging flappers), but Morrison creates something wistfully beautiful from the material, and his respect for both cinema and history shines through.

The Barnesyard’s Sacto/SF Now Playing Power Rankings (July 7-13, 2017)

Click the links to read Daniel’s reviews.

* = playing in SF Bay Area only

OFFICIALLY BUMPED

*1) Your Name
*2) Get Out
*3) Kedi
*4) The Little Hours
*5) Harmonium
*6) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
7) Spider-Man: Homecoming
*8) Maudie

MIXED-POSITIVE

9) The Beguiled
10) Cars 3
*11) I, Daniel Blake

12) Alien: Covenant
*13) The Women’s Balcony
14) Beatriz at Dinner

MIXED-NEGATIVE

15) The Big Sick
*16) The Ornithologist
17) Wonder Woman
18) The Hero

OFFICIALLY DUMPED

19) Transformers: The Last Knight
*20) Paris Can Wait
21) The Mummy
*22) The Wedding Plan
*23) Letters from Baghdad
24) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
25) Everything, Everything
26) The Book of Henry
27) Baywatch

HAVEN’T SEEN

All Eyez on Me
Baby Driver
*The Bad Batch
The Boss Baby
*Churchill
Despicable Me 3
47 Meters Down
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
The House
*It Comes at Night
*Manifesto
Megan Leavey
*Moka
*Our Time Will Come
Rough Night
*13 Minutes

These rankings are updated every Thursday, and are only intended to reflect the opinion of Daniel Barnes. All films playing in Sacramento area theaters are listed, as well as most films playing exclusively in the S.F. Bay Area.  Repertory showings are excluded, because they are obviously the superior option.  Underlined films are on my catchup list.