'Heart of a Dog'

In Laurie Anderson's new documentary, Heart of a Dog, Anderson approaches the subject of grief Read More

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One reason to herald Brooklyn as one of the best films of 2015 is that it makes such an eloquent argument in favor of the classic movie studio style, while not being a slavish pastiche of the way movies were once made. In Atonement (2007), Saoirse Ronan was Briony, the child with the piercing eyes, born to stealthily observe and to grow up to be a writer. Ronan is 21 now, in bloom and key to the beauty of director John Crowley's adaptation of Colm Toibin's novel. Her Eilis is a determined, intelligent Irish girl of 1951 who immigrates to New York with the help of a priest named Father Flood (Jim Broadbent). » Read More

'Heart of a Dog'

Laurie Anderson is a writer, filmmaker and musician. But above all, she is a performance artist. As such, in her new documentary, Heart of a Dog, Anderson approaches the subject of grief just as she approaches every subject she's ever tackled: by sidling up on what she has to say. "I want to tell you a story about a story," she says, describing what a tale-teller leaves out-when codifying memory, when choosing a detail, or when leaving the most painful matters out, either by design or amnesia. Here, she narrates her nested stories through clouds of on-screen images. » Read More

'All Things Must Pass'

Colin Hanks' fast, thoroughly pleasing documentary All Things Must Pass opens with two dates. In 1999, Tower Records was a billion dollar business. By 2005, it was bankrupt. Like Amazon, and like the other Internet companies that replaced these record and bookstores that once stood everywhere from Tokyo to New York, Tower Records prided itself on its eclecticism. But Tower's founder, the aged but still lively Russ Solomon, seemed to really mean it when it came to informality. One salesman recalls that his only training was being told by his manager: "Everything in the store is $3.88. I'm going to lunch." » Read More

'Our Brand Is Crisis'

Snit-raddled and recovering from a meltdown, Sandra Bullock's Jane is literally in the wilderness. Over the titles we hear a political campaign ad-style montage of news readers and unidentified voices, speaking about her epic failure. Jane has lost the election she was shepherding, and her consolation prize was a stint in Betty Ford. » Read More

'Chasing Shadows'

This fall, Warren Miller Entertainment releases Chasing Shadows, the 66th edition of its annual winter sports film. The ride returns with numerous Bay Area stops, including a screening of Chasing Shadows at Campbell Heritage Theater on Nov. 13. This year's installment of the winter sports film series celebrates why skiers and snowboarders commit themselves every winter to a passion that's guaranteed to melt away every spring. And, as always, Warren Miller's annual film tradition marks the beginning of colder weather, winter exploration and cinematography that reignites the excitement for winter sports. » Read More

'Rock The Kasbah'

Barry Levinson may be the first to do a comedy about Afghanistan, just as he was the first to do a mainstream comedy about Vietnam (in Good Morning, Vietnam). Rock the Kasbah has a line about Afghanistan looking "like Aspen, only during wartime." This movie looks like a comedy, only strangely dry. Levinson shot in Morocco. The desert backdrop suits Bill Murray, who uses the space and silence as a frame for his slow, quiet reaction to trouble. » Read More

'Steve Jobs'

It had the most interesting approach to the life and legend of Steve Jobs. Thus the eponymous Aaron Sorkin/Danny Boyle film turns out to be the most disappointing of the three Jobs films released in the last 14 months. Steve Jobs' structure is tantalizing. If Nixon had six crises, Jobs (Michael Fassbender) has three, in this dramatic triptych acted out in real-time, and in authentic-to-the-era cinematography. » Read More

'Bridge of Spies'

It's one of his his very best films, but the true story Bridge of Spies has the typical problem of Stephen Spielberg films. What would be a quick word to the wise in a more subtle director's scene has to be repeated, heightened in closeup, underscored with the strains of John Williams (or Thomas Newman, in this case). » Read More

Silicon Valley Film Festivals

In honor of the UN's Millennium Development Goals-an ambitious slate of housecleaning projects for both the rich and poor countries of the world-the theme of the Oct. 16-26 United Nations Association Film Festival is "Running Out of Time." The UNAFF, inarguably the most eclectic documentary festival in our area, and arguably the most important, heralds a scad of film fests throughout October. » Read More

'The Walk'

When viewed in IMAX and 3D, The Walk is positively lethal. Technical wizard Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) directs material treated in James Marsh's 2008 documentary Man on Wire-the true account of the French acrobat Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the World Trade Center's twin towers. This ultimate high-wire act, performed 110 stories up, was a free, illegal show for the morning crowds. » Read More

'The Martian'

Epic and yet surprisingly playful, Ridley Scott's adaptation of Mountain View author Andy Weir's best seller, The Martian, contrasts the vastness of space with the intimacy of a DIY podcast. It begins with a Martian tempest imperiling the Ares III mission. Astronaut Mark Watney is speared by flying debris. He's presumed dead by his fellow crew members on the Hermes as they hastily evacuate the red planet. » Read More

Goodnight, Mommy

We're told that fairy tales help us reconcile children to truths they cannot bear: the good mommy who loves us and the bad mommy who scolds us have to be two different people. Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz's glacial, oblique Hansel and Hansel story Goodnight, Mommy (Ich Seh, Ich Seh) concerns a pair of nine-year-old Austrian twins (Lukas and Elias Schwarz). The boys are so identical that when they fight, their noses bleed in the exact same spot. » Read More

Diamond in the Rough Film Festival

The reincarnation of Joan of Arc once walked the streets of San Jose, and even had a regular radio show on KKUP. Premiering at the first Diamond in the Rough Film Festival at BlueLight Cinemas in Cupertino, The Ambassador of God is a documentary concerning the radio psychic and lecturer, Brother Anthony Penera. The co-director (with Francesca Stonum) is Diamond in the Rough festival founder, Mark Schwab. » Read More

Review: 'Pawn Sacrifice'

Like the Johnny Depp-starring Black Mass, Pawn Sacrifice is a monomaniacal character study, which is supposed to leave one in awe of the lead actor's focus. Similar to Depp's portrayal of Whitey Bulger's ghoulish solitude, Tobey Maguire plays Bobby Fischer, a 1970s chess champion, buckling under the weight of his burgeoning celebrity and teetering on the verge of madness. » Read More

Review: 'East Side Sushi'

The locally made comedy, East Side Sushi by Anthony Lucero, a hit at this year's Cinequest, isn't just a fish out of water story-it's a fish out of water, chopped into pieces and rolled into sticky rice story. The film follows Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres), a single mother living with her kindly dad (Rodrigo Duarte Clark) and daughter Lydia, as she runs through a number of laborer jobs. She scrubs the floors at a gym, scrubs luxury automobiles at a car wash and tends a fruit cart. » Read More