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Horoscope for Friday, 10/28/16 by Christopher Renstrom

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 05:01:00 UT

ARIES. (March 19 - April 18): You know all about being the lightning rod of controversy, which is why you want to avoid the brewing storm. It's somebody else's turn to get zapped.

Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Gimme Danger’ plugs in to Stooges’ raw power

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 23:46:54 UT

In 1969, Jim Jarmusch got his hands on the Stooges’ self-titled debut album, and the 16-year-old future filmmaker from Ohio was hooked. The attraction never wavered, so Jarmusch said he eagerly accepted Pop’s invitation four decades later to make a film about the band. Or, as he declares early in the film, which opens Friday, Nov. 4, in the Bay Area, “We are ... interrogating Jim Osterberg about the Stooges — the greatest rock ’n’ roll band ever.” The film chronicles the band’s rise from the outskirts of Detroit to dissolution amid drugs and commercial indifference — but not before releasing sonic blasts that would inspire hordes of fans and bands, including the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Red Hot Chili Peppers. [...] there’s the Stooges’ resurrection in the 2000s, when Pop said they reunified to “finish up the job” with new music, triumphant tours and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The singer, who grew up near the college town of Ann Arbor, had long thought the story of his pioneering, proto-punk band deserved to be told on film. Pop, who in person and on film candidly discusses his earlier appetite for drugs and the band’s propensity for self-sabotage, said he was still “shocked” to see “Gimme Danger” start with the band’s 1970s demise and then move backward and forward from there. Jarmusch calls it an “emotional decision” to structure the film the way he did, because hindsight offers the chance to view the Stooges’ early failure far differently.

21 scary movies you can stream online for free right now

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:43:39 UT

This year, Halloween is on a Monday, so, movie time?

An inauspicious debut for new LevyDance director

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:25:51 UT

LevyDance, one of the more spirited modern dance troupes around, entered a new phase of its history at Z Space on Wednesday, Oct. 26, with the premiere of “Alone Together,” directed by the company’s recently appointed executive artistic director, Garance Marneur. Through a mist, you enter an oval performance space, ringed with enormous curved screens. Missing among Marneur’s professional credits is choreographer, and that was obvious; there seems no valid artistic reason for planning this in an oval space, a configuration more suited to Olympic races than to dance. The projections range from bubbles to melting glaciers to elevators and escalators to abstract shapes, which do provide a pleasant environment but to my eyes bore little relationship with the choreography (so much for the vaunted immersion). Fred Defaye’s electronic score, generated during the performance, broods but offers sufficient rhythmic impetus for the dancers. The dancers seem committed and finely rehearsed, but where is that stylistic signature one discerns in the dances of major choreographers? The fierceness of attack can be unremitting; I thought Reigen would exhaust herself before it was over, and there was too much running around the perimeter by all the dancers.

In ‘Being 17,’ the best thing is the setting

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:24:41 UT

[...] the result is a beautiful void, a structureless emptiness buoyed by some good scenes and performances. The shots of the hills and vistas covered in snow or mist, or radiant in the spring light, are quite beautiful and confer an aura of importance on everything that might be taking place between the characters. Thomas works hard on his family’s tiny farm and comes from less prosperous circumstances than Damien, and so, in the movie’s peculiar moral scheme, this seems to justify every weird, angry thing he might do. Sandrine Kiberlain, one of France’s finest actresses, plays Damien’s mother, the village doctor, who is married to a career army pilot who’s away half the time. Techine and Sciamma devise a series of incidents that hint in a variety of directions, some of which pan out, some of which feel random. Ultimately, there’s a sense of just one thing after another, linked only by an overarching aura of portent that the characters themselves seem to be complicit in. [...] as always in a Techine movie, there are entire sections that arrest attention, and there’s even something to be said for the meandering structure, in that it creates a lived-in quality, as though we’re just hanging out with the characters without any expectation that they’ll entertain us. Mick LaSalle is The San Francisco Chronicle’s movie critic.

‘Moonlight’ is a sprawling story from America’s depths

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:24:15 UT

The fragility and preciousness of the spirit, the odds that are stacked against sensitivity, the distortions that can be inflicted on the soul — these are familiar subjects and sources of passion in literature and film. In “Moonlight,” the story of a young man who grows up in a terrible place, they find fresh and renewed expression. Jenkins’ first film, “Medicine for Melancholy,” about a man and a woman in the 24 hours after a one-night stand, showed a rare ability to convey a directorial consciousness through external means. There was a feeling of suppressed romanticism, a sense of life and possibility alive in the world that the characters were missing. There’s no hint of hope here except in the filmmaking itself, which is restless and energetic and, in that way, exudes a kind of belief. Fortunately, Chiron is rescued and befriended by an appealing and powerful man, Juan (Mahershala Ali), who works in the city but has a beautiful home in the suburbs. Naomie Harris, who plays Chiron’s crack-addicted mother, offers us the terrifying spectacle of a small-scale monster, someone worse for not being entirely evil and thus not dismissable. Chiron comes home from school each day to a mother who is domineering, charming, selfish, sometimes maudlin and affectionate, then suddenly brow-beating or enraged. In one scene, Jenkins films the mother yelling at her son with the words completely submerged under the soundtrack. At one point, we see the high school bully in a long shot that follows him, from the waist up, as he quickly walks through the schoolyard and the cafeteria. It’s the kind of shot you’d see of a lion in a nature documentary, the exuberant search for prey. The two other waves of “Moonlight” show Chiron as a high school student and as a young adult.

‘Inferno’ is like a vacation — a brain vacation

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:23:47 UT

The movie presents us with a series of popular destinations, all of which are photographed exquisitely, and over and over we find ourselves thinking, “Oh, I’ve been there! I remember that!” Or “That looks great, I have to go there.” [...] as we’re admiring the sights, people are shooting at Tom Hanks. [...] if you put monetary considerations aside (which is a little like pushing a gorilla to the side), the movie almost qualifies as an act of collective altruism: Director Ron Howard and a talented cast set out to entertain — and succeed — all the while knowing that their reputations are not exactly going to be enhanced by this enterprise. The movie begins the festivities by throwing us into a surefire situation. A nice young doctor (Felicity Jones) tells him that his head was grazed by a bullet, that someone tried to kill him, and that the trauma has resulted in a temporary state of amnesia. Next thing you know, an assassin shows up at the hospital, and the doctor is pushing a very tired, disoriented symbols professor down the stairs, out the door and into the cab. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, he wants to kill half the people on the planet. Not only are private assassins in pursuit, but so are the Italian police, members of an elite security firm and emissaries of the World Health Organization. Shifts in plot and character reversals arrive with a will of their own, and it becomes entertaining just to watch the actors try to find logical justifications for the utter nonsense coming out of their mouths. Brown tosses garbage out of a speeding car, and each time, the actors catch it and arrange it beautifully before it hits the ground. The movie wants us to believe that a Swiss WHO doctor is Langdon’s great love, and of course that makes sense, not because Langdon would ever meet such a woman, but because we saw the same actress — Knudsen — with Hanks in “Hologram for the King.” [...] if that were to happen, you’d want costume designer Julian Day picking out your clothes.

18th ‘Animation Show’ takes things seriously

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:23:22 UT

[...] the animated shorts coalesce well as a group, with an overarching existential vibe. There’s less frivolity and more self-searching than the typical animation show — allowing the viewer to leave the theater with a pensive vibe. Credit the curation of Ron Diamond, the longtime “Animation Show of Shows” producer, who used Kickstarter to help fund this year’s show and makes wise decisions throughout the 16-entry presentation. With two of the more esoteric selections, “Boygen” and “About a Mother,” he allows the animators to explain their intentions before or after the short. A brief oral-sex scene involving puppets in the primal comedy “Manoman” probably cemented this year’s longer presentation as a leave-the-kids-at-home affair. Highlights include “Stems,” a clever and engaging short with voice-over by director Ainslie Hendersen, whose words are a moving love letter to stop-motion animation. “Pearl” by Patrick Osborne features a Richard Linklater/“Boyhood”-style parenting story set to music — which was originally filmed as a virtual-reality experience. There are misses — at least three shorts could have easily been trimmed, with only positive effect.

‘Handmaiden’s’ lush, erotic fever dream

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:08:14 UT

Park made his name internationally in the 2000s with three films that came to be known as the Vengeance Trilogy, including the cult favorite “Oldboy.” Soonhee (Kim Tae-ri), a young member of a criminal gang, is sent to work as a handmaiden at the mansion of the Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). Soonhee’s real job is to pave the way for the gang’s chief, the Count (Ha Jung-woo), a handsome forger and con man who aims to marry Hideko and make off with her fortune. Hideko is a hothouse flower completely under the thumb of her Korean uncle (Cho Jin-woong), an arrogant voluptuary who forces her to read Sadean pornography for the pleasure of his aristocratic pals. The novel’s theme of class warfare gets an extra twist here as it is complicated by the gulf between the Japanese and Korean characters. [...] Park is so insistent that we bear in mind this historical antagonism that the movie provides different colors of English subtitles for the Korean and Japanese dialogue — though some subtleties, of course, will be lost on nonnative speakers. Between the eroticism and the luscious visual textures throughout, director essentially puts the audience in the position of the sybarites who pant over Hideki’s readings. [...] “The Handmaiden” registers as a glorious vision that’s been inflated — with wonderfully perfumed air, but still inflated — beyond its limits.

A critical look at S.F.’s ‘sharing economy’

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:07:49 UT

San Francisco political junkies will swoon over “Company Town,” a documentary that takes roundhouse swings at the city’s new and highly touted “sharing economy” and the big-time players behind it, such as Airbnb. The film, from Berkeley documentarians Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow, raises many pointed questions about the fundamental fairness of changes wrought by the triumph of high tech, suggesting that a city once renowned for oddballs and iconoclasts has been transformed into a moneybags operation. The film personifies the dispute by focusing on the expensive 2015 Board of Supervisors race between incumbent Julie Christensen and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who ultimately won. Christensen, seen here as an affable sort and a seeming moderate, had been appointed to the board by Mayor Ed Lee, an enthusiastic booster of San Francisco’s high-tech transformation. Running to replace her as supervisor for District Three — including North Beach, Nob Hill, Chinatown and the Union Square area — the outspoken Peskin is a longtime gadfly of city politics, and no friend to the sharing economy. Among them are school principal and Chinatown activist Jeffrey Kwong, Examiner columnist Joe Rodriguez (who has much to say about the new economy’s impact on the Mission District) and David Talbot, author and founder of (and a former journalist at the Hearst-owned Examiner). Kaufman and Snitow are veterans, having produced and directed documentaries on hot-button issues like “Blacks and Jews,” “Between Two Worlds” and “Thirst.”

‘We Are X’: soulful documentary of Japanese heavy metal band

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 19:36:15 UT

A misfit child scarred by his father’s suicide, Yoshiki, trained in classical music, grew up to become a David Bowie-like man who fell to Earth. Stephen Kijak’s documentary “We Are X” is a broad but surprisingly personal portrait of Yoshiki and his band, X Japan, which formed in 1982, broke up in 1997 and re-formed in 2007. The band began a push into the U.S. market about five years ago, and interviews include American friends and fans such as Kiss front man Gene Simmons and Marilyn Manson. The film is a rush, all right, but it’s also a soulful look at Yoshiki, who although rarely without his dark glasses, still seems very revealing. Yoshiki’s pain is the overarching theme of the documentary, and not just emotional pain. Yoshiki claims to be in constant physical agony, with carpal tunnel syndrome (for much of the documentary, his wrist is wrapped up) and back and neck pain from his all-out drumming style. In one scene in the documentary, he visits a physical therapist in the U.S. Yet there seems to be no trace of a true personal life, not in this documentary and not in a brief surf around the Internet (he has never been married and has no children, apparently).

‘Aquarius’: Sonia Braga electric as woman on verge of eviction

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:18:33 UT

‘Aquarius’: Sonia Braga electric as woman on verge of eviction The plot of “Aquarius” may sound pedestrian — a 65-year-old widow fighting real estate developers to stay in her home — but this Brazilian movie is a fascinating character study and a poetic meditation about how a place plays into our psyche. Most of all, it’s a worthy showcase for actress Sonia Braga, who seems to have been waiting for this role all her life. Braga (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”) portrays Clara, a woman on the verge of eviction, with an electric mix of intelligence, stubbornness, sensuality, tenderness and reflection. Braga came to international stardom as a bombshell in the 1970s, and her allure is still quite evident. “Aquarius” has a lot of things on its mind, and sometimes the plot machinations in the last third seem a tad heavy-handed, almost as if they’re being piled upon a delicate character sketch. [...] even then, there are strong scenes, particularly when Clara tangles with a developer over issues of race and class, and when Clara delivers her final comeuppance to her tormentors.

Recommendations from Books Inc.

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:13:46 UT

Recommendations of recent books from the staffs of a rotating list of Northern California independent bookstores. Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki, by Martin Cate: Mix yourself a tall, frosty Hurricane and flip through the pages of this labor of love by the owner of San Francisco’s best rum bar. In this fascinating and cogent book, Duckworth illuminates the power of persistence: how it works and how to harness it, and how to learn smarter. An American Place, by Jean Stein: A unique look at Los Angeles today, focusing on oral histories from a diverse range of people. Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, by Max Porter: A stunning debut novel. City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin: A perfect conclusion to the “Passage” trilogy, this final book is the most ambitious of the saga in terms of the time covered, the scope of the story and literary reach. Great characters and an engaging story of folks striving to survive one of the nation’s most turbulent eras.

Recommended reading, Oct. 30

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:12:16 UT

Television A Biography Thomson has written an enthralling and very necessary book about a complex medium. Nonstop Metropolis University of California Press; 224 pages; $49.95 hardcover; $29.95 paperback Solnit’s third in a series of atlases devoted to great American cities is both an exquisite piece of art and an insightful portrait of a wonderful, maddening place. Ecco; 528 pages; $26.99 Boyle uses the Biosphere 2 experiment in the 1990s as a springboard for a novel about science, sex and the difficulty of maintaining balance, be it ecological or psychological. In Dermansky’s melancholy but sharply witty novel, a young woman arrives in San Francisco for a funeral and experiences the strange duality of visiting a place she once lived.

A selection of first sentences from new books, Oct. 30

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:07:56 UT

My ma used to tell me stories about my da. “The Trespasser,” a novel by Tana French Without a moon, small islands disappeared and Venice sank into the dark. “The Girl From Venice,” a novel by Martin Cruz Smith It was there when he woke up. “A Gambler’s Anatomy,” a novel by Jonathan Lethem