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SFIFF: On Target



It’s been a fun week at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Last night, at the Kabuki Theater, JC and I saw a great dystopian Russian film called Target, from director Alexander Zeldovich and writer Vladimir Sorokin. The SFIFF description is really accurate, so I won’t repeat it. Read it. You can also watch the trailer.


We were a bit concerned that the 10 p.m. start time might be a poor choice of screening for a 154-minute film, but despite its length, Target moved along with engrossing and eminently stylish focus. Inevitable comparisons to Tarkovskiy will arise, and though there’s both a Solaris-like infection of perception going on, as well as a damaged marital relationship at the core of the story, it feels more energetic. If a gorgeously shot, darkly quirky, long, increasingly violent and sexually extreme exploration of politics, socioeconomics, and vanity sounds like something you’d enjoy, I highly recommend it. It’s like Tarkovsky directed the bastard script of Paul Verhoeven‘s one-night stand with David Cronenberg. But peppier.


In other festival highlights, earlier this week we caught the live event Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) with Buster Keaton Shorts, which also featured Bay Area guitarist Ava Mendoza. The program played at the historic Castro Theatre.

Castro Theatre

Band and Film

There was a bit too much Fatty Arbuckle in the shorts for me, but Keaton was consistently great—funny, acrobatic, and bouncing with energy. As for the music, it sped, lurched, swelled, pinged, spun, volleyed, and frolicked perfectly to the orchestrated visual chaos.

And of course, the theater itself is always a treat. Crazy lines, though. Yes, that is the concessions queue winding all the way up the stairs.

Concession Line

Love the details


Mid-week, we also caught Double Steps, an odd schizophrenic mix of art, biographical fable, reality, and fiction. I felt like I was watching two movies at once. It didn’t work for me.

The Loneliest Planet, however, was excellent, with a strong, believable, and fragile relationship between its two lead actors. Lovely cinematography, as well. I expect that this one will make it to theaters, given that it stars Gael García Bernal. This one’s for fans of slowly developed character drama, with a particular focus on how one split-second action can alter the course of a relationship.

This week, I’ll be seeing Land of Oblivion, about which I’ve heard very good things, and Wuthering Heights, which could probably go either way.


From → Movies

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