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New George Clooney Film Gets Wide Release, Bad Reviews

The new film directed by George Clooney has several things going for it. There’s a great cast and a Coen Brothers script. But despite wide release, this George Clooney project is pretty much DOA.

For those who want a worthwhile film even if it lacks the George Clooney imprimatur, there are plenty of alternatives. Agnes Varda’s new co-directed documentary road trip is an utter delight. A French AIDS drama does a better job of blending politics and passion than the new George Clooney project. A new documentary about Jane Goodall uses recently rediscovered footage.

There’s definitely no George Clooney star-power in a documentary about rats. But there is an amazing blend of nature and racism study.

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

Robin Campillo’s exuberant drama takes viewers to 1990s Paris and the depths of the AIDS crisis. The Paris branch of ACT-UP search for new ways to break through the indifference of the government and Big Pharma regarding AIDS deaths. That sense of urgency leads these activists to do such things as throwing fake blood around posh corporate office furnishings. Meanwhile, shy newcomer Nathan gets his world shaken up by flamboyant radical militant Sean. Winner of several awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the film is also France’s Academy Award entry.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Faces Places

Legendary French New Wave director Agnes Varda goes on a road trip through the French countryside with Banksy-level street artist JR. Traveling together in JR’s customized van (it has a giant camera and customized printer), they invite everyday people from the farms and the docks to have their photographs taken and pasted on walls like a large mural. The film winds up being a wonderful celebration of art and life.

Now at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Halloween Pussy Trap Kill Kill

Amber Stardust is part of the retro riot grrl band Kill Pussy Kill. On Halloween, the band and some hangers-on set out for their biggest show to date. But along the way, they upset the maniac known as the Mastermind (voiced by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine). He retaliates by trapping them in his Hell House. To escape from each of the house’s booby-trapped rooms, one of his captives must die. Are the Kill Pussy Kill members willing to kill to reach freedom?

Now at the 4-Star Theatre

Jane

Director Brett Morgen’s new documentary is a portrait of legendary primatologist Jane Goodall. Using 140 hours of recently discovered and perfectly preserved footage shot by wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick, Morgen shows how Goodall made her groundbreaking discoveries regarding chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania. Her discoveries are all the more remarkable given that Goodall used to be an untrained 26-year-old secretary. But she persisted in her work in the face of professional academic sexism.

Now at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Heart surgeon Steven (Colin Farrell) has an ideal family life with his happy marriage to Anna (Nicole Kidman) and two children. Now teenager Martin has been added to the family. The boy’s father died under Steven’s knife, and the surgeon tries to be the teenager’s mentor. Soon mysterious illnesses start striking down Steven’s family. Could Martin be connected to these illnesses? Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ film derives its title from the tragedy Iphigenia.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, and the Embarcadero Center Cinemas,

Maya Dardel

Writer Maya Dardel (Lena Olin) announces during an NPR interview that she plans to kill herself. Before she does so, she wants to find a (male) heir and executor to take over her life and work. But as the writer interviews applicants, it’s not clear if her aim is humiliation of these men or just getting in a last one-night stand. Finally, the applicant list has been whittled down to two. What’s Dardel’s endgame in playing these two men off against each other?

Now at the Roxie Theatre

The Paris Opera

Jean-Stephane Bron’s documentary portrays life behind the scenes of this great performing arts venue. Crises and logistical problems constantly occur before the curtain rises. The comic dramas captured here include a frantic search for a replacement lead opera singer and actors’ less than enthusiastic reaction at sharing the stage with a live bull.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Rat Film

Theo Anthony’s first documentary begins by looking at the city of Baltimore and its rat problem. But this experimental film essay also brings in the city’s history of racist urban planning, rat poisons, and home loan guidelines, among other unexpected subjects. Ultimately, the rats and the racism get tied together with a truism about the link between rat infestation and economic inequality.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Seven Sundays

A lonely father is told by his doctor that he has only seven weeks left to live. The news prompts his four very busy adult children to make time to visit the patriarch on the last remaining Sundays of his life.

Now at the Century 20 Daly City and the Century at Tanforan

Suburbicon

Suburbicon is a whites-only 1950s suburb that goes into social meltdown when the black Myers family moves in. The residents plot ways to drive the Myers out. Except for Gardener Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family, who have other concerns. A home invasion that leaves Lodge’s wife (Julianne Moore) dead turns out to be connected to an insurance fraud scheme that gets more and more twisted. George Clooney directs this film from a Coen Brothers script.

Now at the AMC Bay Street 16, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the AMC Metreon 16, the AMC Van Ness 14, the Balboa Theatre, the Century 20 Daly City, the Century at Tanforan, the Century San Francisco Centre 9, the CineArts Sequoia, the Grand Lake Theater, the Redwood Downtown 20, the Regal Jack London Stadium 9, and the UA Berkeley 7

White Sun

Chandra has returned to his backwater Nepalese village to help bury his father. However, burial efforts are complicated by lingering resentments over the country’s civil war and the increasingly absurd insistence on tradition by the village elders. It soon becomes unclear whether either political change will come to Nepal or even if the body of Chandra’s father will be properly sent off.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre

Wonderstruck

Rose and Ben are two 12-year-old children who live fifty years apart. But both of them are deaf and both are obsessed by an adult figure (a movie star (Julianne Moore) for Rose, the father he never knew for Ben). Both children make sojourns to New York City to find their important adults. Their search paths will intersect with such things as a meteor and a mysterious Cabinet of Curiosities. Director Todd Haynes puts Brian Selznick’s book on the big screen.

Now at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 and the Guild Theatre, and the Shattuck Cinemas

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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