Montage Of Kurt Cobain

Brett Morgen’s new documentary portrait of the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain promises to sacrifice traditional biographical structure in favor of emotional truth. For folks who aren’t Kurt Cobain fans, Marielle Heller’s adaptation of Phoebe Glockner’s graphic novel offers a cheerful look at sex with an underage minor. By contrast, the anti-heroines of Fort Tilden are the unwitting butts of their own shortcomings.

But the under-the-radar must-catch opening of the weekend goes to director Xavier Dolan’s accessible entry into genre fiction. It took two years to finally be distributed in America and only one small S.F. theater AFAIK is currently screening the film.

Brothers…Blood Against Blood

Karan Malhotra remakes the 2011 boxing film Warrior in this action drama. Two estranged brothers’ paths cross once again when they both enter a mixed martial arts tournament. Of course, old wounds from the brothers’ shared past are opened up and they wind up facing off against each other. So far no reviews are available, which is an ominous sign in itself.

Opens August 14 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Cop Car

Two boys find an abandoned police cruiser and decide to take it for a joy ride. Unfortunately for them, their activities come to the attention of a sheriff (Kevin Bacon) who knows about that particular cop car. Said sheriff also displays behavior that makes people want to seek protection from him, especially given his love of openly using heavy-duty firepower.

Opens August 14 at the Rialto Elmwood

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

First-time director Marielle Heller helms this acclaimed adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel. In 1976 San Francisco, the haze of the hippie era is slowly giving way to the ongoing Patty Hearst trial and the arrival of punk rock. But for young Minnie Guetze, she’s wrapped up in such adolescent anxieties as her changing body and her fear of not being attractive to the opposite sex. Having a physically absent father and a mother (Kristen Wiig) concerned with preserving her own youth doesn’t help. But Minnie’s life changes when the teenager scores the sexual attentions of Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard) aka the man dating Minnie’s mother.

Opens August 14 at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Clay Theatre

Fort Tilden

The SXSW narrative feature winner charts the comic misadventures of two entitled and privileged 20-something women. Harper is a self-proclaimed artist; her friend Allie is trying to get her Peace Corps paperwork together. Both women take a so-called day off after two cute guys invite them for an afternoon together at the titular beach. However, their journey is complicated by their frequent short-sightedness and their not knowing how to reach said beach.

Opens August 14 at the AMC Metreon 16

Go Away Mr. Tumor

The lesser-known graphic story adaptation of the week comes from director Han Yan, who adapts Xiong Dun’s autobiographical cartoon series. When the cartoonist learns she has a malignant tumor, she decides to tell the dark story of her fight against the tumor with optimism and humor. The resulting story becomes an Internet sensation.

Opens August 14 at the AMC Metreon 16

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Roger Allers (The Lion King) adapts the famed Labanese poet’s book in an animated feature which showcases the work of such animators as Nina Paley, Tomm Moore, and Bill Plympton. In a Mediterranean seaside village, Kamila (Salma Hayek) has two big jobs in her life: keeping the house of exiled poet Mustafa (Liam Neeson) clean and keeping her free-spirited daughter Almitra (Quvenzhane Wallis) out of trouble. The trio embarks on a journey whose terminus is Mustafa’s original home. But the local authorities fear Mustafa’s words will spark rebellion against them.

Opens August 14 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas

Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck

Does director Brett Morgen’s (The Kid Stays in The Picture) new documentary offer “the truth” about the late Nirvana frontman? Certainly thanks to Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain, Morgen had access to Cobain’s paintings, lyric sheets, and old audio recordings. But he also transforms this original source material into a new and expressive tribute to Cobain.

Opens August 14 at the Rialto Elmwood and the Roxie Theatre

People Places Things

Graphic novelist Will Henry (Jemaine Clement) finds his life going into “suck and dive” mode after accidentally catching his wife cheating on him. As he struggles to be a single father and a college teacher (and fails at both), Henry’s frustrations and loneliness begin to gnaw away at him. It takes a student’s challenge to the cartoonist to seek out new people, places, and things that sparks a way forward in life for Henry.

Opens August 14 at the Roxie Theatre


Dutch music video director Sam de Jong writes and directs this feature film set on the gritty streets of contemporary Amsterdam. Dutch-Moroccan teen Ayoub tries to be the “man of the house” since his dad is a junkie. But he also wants the clothes and bling needed to impress the beautiful Laura, a bad guy’s girlfriend. Opportunity arrives courtesy of a coked-out and decked-out “businessman,” but Ayoub soon finds himself confronting both what it means to be a man and to have status.

Opens August 14 at the Roxie Theatre

Tom At The Farm

Xavier Dolan’s 2013 Venice FIPRESCI prize-winner finally gets American theatrical distribution. In this psychological thriller, Tom (Dolan) travels to the family farm of his dead lover Guillaume to pay his respects. Agathe, Guillaume’s mother, turns out to be unaware that her late son was gay and is in fact expecting the arrival of Guillaume’s girlfriend. Frances does know younger brother Guillaume was gay. But is Frances’ hostility towards Tom an attempt to conceal his own less-than-heterosexual feelings?

Opens August 14 at the 4-Star Theatre

To The Fore

Veteran Hong Kong crime film director Dante Lam delivers a 180-degree turn from his usual noirish tales with this inspiring tale of three young men breaking into the world of professional bicycle racing. As the three young men engage in races that take them from Mongolia to Italy, personal and professional crises threaten to undermine their friendships and careers. The visual choreography for the races is said to be superb even if the drama is not.

Opens August 14 at the AMC Metreon 16

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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