Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
There’s plenty to go gaga over in ‘Babies’
It took director Thomas Balmès four years to give birth to Babies—talk about labor pains—so here’s hoping local audiences consider the new film a bundle of joy. Chance are they will.
The engaging documentary (HHH1/2 out of four), which opens Friday at The Nick, chronicles the offspring of four couples from different parts of the world, tracking a year of their baby’s life—from birth to first steps. There’s a boy from Mongolia, a girl from Namibia and a feisty gal from Tokyo. Best of all is San Francisco’s Hattie Bradshaw.
Naturally, her parents, Frazer Bradshaw and Susie Wise, couldn’t be more proud. Bradshaw is a cinematographer. He actually shot a good portion of Hattie’s footage whenever Balmès was in other parts of the globe filming the other babies. Wise teaches “design thinking” at Stanford.
Australian brothers craft a punchy noir debut
Film noir is alive and thriving in Australia. The proof is in The Square, an edgy thriller from the appropriately named Edgerton brothers, director Nash and co-writer/co-star Joel, whose raw, invigorating morality play captures the spirit of noir in all its gritty intensity—then ratchets the whole thing up that one outrageous step further. Twisty, smart, epic in its themes, but absolutely life-sized and credible in its characterizations, this is the kind of fast and furious thrill ride Quentin Tarantino can only dream of making.
Undersea kingdoms explored in poetic eco-doc 'Oceans'
A few years ago, French documentary filmmaker Jacques Perrin astonished the world with Winged Migration, an extraordinary you-are-there look at bird life in which cameras seemed to soar in the air alongside geese, gulls, and other migrating flocks. Perrin now sets the bar for wildlife documentaries, so it's no surprse it took him and his intrepid team some seven years to complete filming for his new release, Oceans. Although this time Perrin's cameras delve deep—often straight to the sandy bottom—of the world's seven seas, Oceans too soars in its own poetic way. Particularly when sea creatures huge and small are performing lazy aerial ballets in the vastness of blue aquatic space.
THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS
The engrossing story of the brainy Rand Corp. employee who smuggled out the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times is told by filmmakers Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith in this lively, coherent and informative Oscar-nominated documentary. Fri., May 14, 2:15 p.m., at the Del Mar.
New leadership preserves intrepid, independent vision in Santa Cruz Film Festival IX
One-woman human dynamo Jane Sullivan may be out of the picture, but the show will go on next week for the ninth annual Santa Cruz Film Festival. While Sullivan enjoys a much-deserved sabbatical, the festival's intrepid board of directors has risen to the challenge of producing SCFF IX, which begins Thursday, May 6, and runs through Sunday, May 15. Under the guidance of a newly created leadership team made up of longtime board members and festival veterans, SCFF IX will feature 133 films from 33 countries (40 of them locally produced) at multiple venues around town, along with a full slate of panels, workshops, parties, live music, gala receptions, and a demonstration of extreme hula-hooping.
Vibrant Latino culture, family drama, explode in 'La Mission'
It may be Benjamin Bratt's name above the title, but the Latino community in San Francisco's Mission District is the real star of La Mission. As viewed through the camera eye of writer-director Peter Bratt (the star's older brother), the Mission is an E-Ticket ride of cultural vitality: vibrant, colorful murals sprawl across every wall, Aztec dance troupes and Mariachi bands are out performing on the street at all hours, and a sleek parade of extravagantly restored, airbrushed and detailed lowrider cars prowls the neighborhood seemingly every night, winding up with a fiesta of music and dancing. Every interior is painted in vivid, sun-drenched colors and decorated with altars and family photos.
Watch out for The Eclipse, an unusual and affecting hybrid of a movie from Irish filmmaker Conor McPherson. A finely limned character drama about a lonely widower and father slowly coming to terms with life, death, and grief, the tone is part magic realism, and part lyrical Irish folk ballad. It's certainly not what you'd call a thriller in any conventional sense. And yet it contains two or three of the most frightening, jump-out-of-your-skin shock moments you'll see in the movies all year. The story is set in the rugged, starkly beautiful coastal hamlet of Cobh, in County Cork, during an annual literary festival. The wonderful Ciaran Hinds play Michael Farr, a local woodshop teacher who has dabbled in story-writing and volunteers at the festival every year as a driver, ferrying visiting literati to and from events.