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Thompson on Hollywood

SFIFF 54 Day Eight: The Redemption of General Butt Naked, Sound of Noise, Pink Saris, Master Critic

San Francisco cinephile Meredith Brody continues to cut a swath through the SFIFF programme: Cheerful way to start the day: watching a famed “General” of the unbelievably brutal 14-year Liberian civil war, known as General Butt Naked for the attire (or lack thereof) of himself and his followers, metamorphize – or is it re-brand? – into Joshua Milton Biahyi, an evangelic preacher seeking forgiveness for his unspeakable crimes. I’m not much fonder of organized (or disorganized) religion than I am of war – noting in passing that many wars are fought on religious grounds. I’m repulsed by both of the General’s incarnations. What I think he’s mostly seeking is airtime, not redemption as in the movie’s title The Redemption of General Butt Naked. He’s playing to the cameras that I kind of wish were not following him around, despite the effectiveness and skill of the filmmakers. Even his mea culpa before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which might recommend his later prosecution for war crimes, smacks of hunger for the spotlight –“I Was Responsible for 20,000 Deaths” – longer time on the 15-minute clock. Once a patholgical narcissist, always a pathological narcissist.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • April 30, 2011 5:49 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Seven: A Useful Life, Oliver Stone Tribute, The Last Buffalo Hunt, Attenberg

Meredith Brody's diary entry for SDIFF day seven: The film-going day begins with inserting a DVD into the player, which I guess means staying rather than going. It’s A Useful Life, a film directed by a former employee of the Cinemateca Uruguaya, Federico Veiroj, about a longtime employee of the Cinemateca Uruguaya in Montevideo (which occasions a notation in the opening credits that the movie does not reflect the actual Cinemateca Uruguaya in any way shape or form). Said rather sad-sackish employee (played by an Uruguayan film critic with the young/old face of an obsessive) has spent a quarter-century doing all that’s necessary in showing films to the public – programming, introducing, talking on the radio, even repairing a seat in the theater.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • April 29, 2011 6:43 AM
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Summer Preview: Must-Sees on Big Screen, Skippable, Must-to-Avoid

Summer Preview: Must-Sees on Big Screen, Skippable, Must-to-Avoid
The summer is upon us, with a plethora of viewing choices, many of them utterly avoidable. I lay out the summer movie landscape.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 28, 2011 9:46 AM
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  • 7 Comments

Cave of Forgotten Dreams' Herzog Likes All-Purpose Title for All His Films: Gazing into the Abyss

In this AV Club Cave of Forgotten Dreams Q & A, director Werner Herzog admits that the title Gazing into the Abyss would work for just about any of his films. It's true. Here's our exclusive clip from Cave.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 27, 2011 11:09 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Five: Time Travel, from Cave of Forgotten Dreams to Children of the Princess of Cleves

Meredith Brody reports on the latest festival screenings from San Francisco:The Frenchwoman who introduced Children of the Princess of Cleves gave us an invaluable bit of information that cast the film in an interesting light. President Nicolas Sarkozy said that reading the required “Princess of Cleves,” published in 1678, made no sense for a high school student who would be working as a cashier in two years. Many in France were incensed by the comment, big surprise -- as am I – wasn’t Sarkozy, despite a wealthy background, posited as “l’homme du people” when he ran for President? Here’s real-time news: when I Google Sarkozy, the news pops up that he and Carla Bruni are expecting their first child together – posted 13 minutes ago! I also learn that Sarkozy was a mediocre student, and had to go to a crammer to pass his baccalaureate, the exam that determines whether or not you can go on to college.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • April 27, 2011 3:02 AM
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Trailer Watch: HBO Doc Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour

Pop sensation Lady Gaga -- No. 12 on the Time 100 poll -- talks fame in this excerpt from upcoming HBO documentary (Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden, May 7), in which she shows her human side. Of her fans, she says: "I just want to be a queen for them and sometimes I don't feel like one":
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 25, 2011 5:51 AM
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Trailer Watch: Life In A Day Releases July 24, Will Tug Your Heartstrings

Check out the new trailer for Life In A Day, which premiered at Sundance in January (and simultaneously on YouTube). The documentary, directed by Kevin Macdonald, produced by Ridley Scott and shot by people all over the world on July 24, 2010, is not to be missed. National Georgraphic is releasing the film, fittingly, on July 24. Here is Anne Thompson's review:
  • By Sophia Savage and Anne Thompson
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  • April 25, 2011 5:14 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Two: Movies Directed by Women, Miss Representation, The Good Life, Meek's Cutoff

San Francisco TOH corespondent Meredith Brody continues her daily diary from the The San Francisco International Film Festival:If you’re one of the all-access-pass members of a film festival audience, intent on seeing as many movies during its brief annual flowering as possible, one of your main goals is avoiding the fate of the woman who sat in front of me on opening night.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • April 23, 2011 8:37 AM
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Sebastian Junger's Tribute to Tim Hetherington, Video Diary

Sebastian Junger's Tribute to Tim Hetherington, Video Diary
As much as I admired Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist who bled to death Wednesday in Misrata, Libya, struck by a mortar, I also respect his confrere and comrade, Restrepo co-director Sebastian Junger, who is a fine writer. Check out this Vanity Fair tribute piece (below) he wrote to Hetherington. It made me cry, yet again.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 21, 2011 10:35 AM
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Honoring Tim Hetherington & Chris Hondros: Their Work, Coverage, Restrepo Clips

A soldier resting at Restrepo bunker in Afghanistan, named the World Press Photo of the Year for 2007.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 21, 2011 5:39 AM
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