Documentary

Keys of life

Jimi Hendrix and Nick Cave feature in two very different movies

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The music biopic is a tricky beast. Very few directors are able to compellingly compress true-life tales into films that actually have some interest beyond "Hey, that famous/infamous thing you already knew about happened like this!" — though superior performances (recent Oscar-winning examples: 2004's Ray, 2005's Walk the Line) can help buoy the results. Far rarer are more artistically daring films that unfold more like docu-dramas than glossovers, like Control (2007) and Sid and Nancy (1986).Read more »

High fly

A baseball legend comes to life in 'No No: A Dockumentary'

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Cruel stories of youth

'Rich Hill' and 'Me and You' offer very different (but equally compelling) coming-of-age tales

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Richard Linklater's Boyhood is so popular that by now it's acquired the seemingly inevitable backlash against such overwhelming critical support — god forbid "the critics," that mysterious, possibly secret-handshaking Masonic elite, should tell anyone what to think. It's a lucky movie that invites hostility by being so widely (and, admittedly, a bit hyperbolically) considered a masterpiece. Whatever your parade, someone will always be dying to rain on it.Read more »

Rise up singing

'Alive Inside' charts one man's quest to bring music to patients with memory loss

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM A remarkably effective — and remarkably simple — form of music therapy pioneered by New York social worker Dan Cohen finds a strong advocate in filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, whose documentary Alive Inside benefits greatly from its awesomely cinematic results. The doc sprang from a 2011 YouTube video, "Man In Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music from His Era," a six-minute clip that went viral after a Reddit post. (It's since garnered nearly 1.5 million views.)Read more »

What she sees

Truth, tears, and staple-gun battles: San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's female-centric films

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Blurry portrait

'Llyn Foulkes One Man Band' takes on an inscrutable artist

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Frameline leftovers: Audience Award-winning Barney Frank doc 'Compared to What'

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Pride's Pink Saturday offered a dynamic final morning of the massive 38th annual Frameline, the world’s largest film festival devoted to LGBT films. Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank, a doc that gives an intimate look into the private and political life of the recently retired iconic Congressman, screened to a packed and cheering crowd at the Castro Theater.

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Inspiring doc 'Keeper of the Beat: A Woman's Journey into the Heart of Drumming' airs on KQED

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“I would get the comment ‘Gosh, you play really good for a girl,’” Barbara Borden admits in the introduction of Keeper of the Beat, which chronicles her lifelong passion for drumming. The documentary, by San Francisco's David L. Brown, airs Sun/6 on KQED

The Always brand's empowering #LikeAGirl ad campaign made the rounds on the internet this week, but Borden’s musical sojourn, discouraged for a female at the time, is decidedly more inspiring (especially since it’s delivered by a badass drummer and not a corporation). 

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Puff piece

Music-manager doc 'Supermensch' doth gush too much

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Sometimes a movie can only be called a gift — a gift intended for somebody other than the viewer. Clearly a film is a vanity project if its primary intent seems to flatter its maker. But what about when it's a love letter from one rich, entitled celebrity to another? Then the vanity grows complicated, not least by the fact that we're expected to pay for the privilege of watching one ass kiss another.Read more »

Home brew

New docs probe where the heart is — and isn't

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cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM Jose Antonio Vargas' grandparents — who raised him in Mountain View after he was smuggled into America at age 12 from the Philippines — expected him to grow up, blend in, and live a perfectly ordinary life in his new country. He'd work a "menial job," as both of them had, and eventually legalize his immigration status by marrying an American woman.Read more »