SFIFF Review: ‘Infinity Baby’ Is a Hilarious and Absurdist Allegory Grounded by Pressing Sociopolitical Issues

2017 San Francisco International Film Festival: “Infinity Baby” is writer Onur Tukel and director Bob Byington’s vision of a “not-so-distant” Orwellian future in which abortion is illegal and stem cell research on fetuses has no government regulation. The title has several meanings: it refers to the company within the story that ties each character together, the […]

Film Review: ‘Your Name’ Finds Beauty in the Body Switch Trope

Body swapping movies have often been the major plot point in the dopiest of comedies. Leave it to Makoto Shinkai’s latest anime offering to find the beating heart behind the tired premise. “Your Name” is much more “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” for teenagers rather than a classier “Freaky Friday.” Two teenagers – a […]

SFIFF Review: ‘Lost City of Z’ Is a Visually and Narratively Poetic Throwback to Classic Filmmaking

2017 San Francisco International Film Festival: Writer and director James Gray‘s (“The Immigrant,” “Two Lovers,” “We Own the Night”) “Lost City of Z” continues his knack for old-fashioned filmmaking, both in its themes and the style in which his film was shot. Gray has used 35mm film on every single one of his films, and he […]

Film Review: Medical Drama ‘Heal the Living’ Is a Half-Hearted Tearjerker

Images of a heart provide a pivotal moment in the narrative of “Heal the Living,” a tragic drama from director Katell Quillévéré. And indeed, the film’s “heart is in the right place,” showcasing the perseverance of humanity in the aftermath of an accident. But despite its best intentions, there’s something lacking in this wandering multi-narrative […]

SFIFF Review: ‘Marjorie Prime’ Explores the Ethical Issues of Applying Emerging AI Technologies

2017 San Francisco International Film Festival: Every once in a while, a barely science fiction-drama blend gem will come along, subtly exploring large issues. “Marjorie Prime” is one of those films. A popular subject of early sci-fi films, virtual and augmented reality technology now exists in the world we live in, albeit in its early stages of […]

SFIFF Review: ‘Landline’ Is Another Gem From Auteur Gillian Robespierre

2017 San Francisco International Film Festival: “Landline” is writer and director Gillian Robespierre’s highly anticipated follow-up to her critically well-received directorial debut, “Obvious Child.” Robespierre keeps the artistic integrity of her first feature with the same creative team behind “Obvious Child,” with Elisabeth Holm returning as a co-screenwriter and Jenny Slate (who burst onto the silver […]

Film Review: ‘Truman’ Is an Underwhelming Contemplation of Mortality

Winner of five Goya Awards in 2016 (including the trifecta of Best Film, Director and Screenplay) Cesc Gay‘s “Truman” confronts one of the most difficult facts of life. Namely, death becomes the central theme throughout this gentle drama, which stars Ricardo Darin in a role that will feel familiar to any audience. “Truman” bears witness […]

Film Review: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Is an Average Techno-Thriller That Adds Insult to Whitewashing Injury

Rupert Sanders’ live-action adaptation of Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” anime masterpiece offers enhanced visuals but reduced intelligence. Retrofitted with a straightforward narrative and “commercial” face for its cybernetic protagonist, this iteration is a wet dream for American video game/anime-loving “dude bros” and a middle finger to the rest. Make no mistake, as much […]

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Film Review: ‘The Most Hated Woman in America’ Doesn’t Inspire Much Feeling

Melissa Leo is a force of nature. She’s powerful, commanding and hard to control. In her Oscar-winning role as hard-edged boxing matriarch Alice in “The Fighter,” Leo chewed up enough scenery to upstage A-list actors at the top of their game, such as Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. That director, David O. Russell, […]