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Film Picks

[whitespace] Picks by Karen Reardanz (KR) and Richard von Busack (RvB)

The Last Woman of Shang (1965)
June 6, 10 & 12 at the Four Star Theater

Yueh Feng's opulent epic about an 11th-century woman (Lin Dai) who connives her way into marriage with the emperor to avenge her father's death. The Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong, who produced the film, sought to copy Western blockbusters--observe how their recent Mighty Peking Man was meant to trounce the 1977 King Kong at the box office. You could say that The Last Woman of Shang was their answer to Cleopatra, with all of the costumes, sex and sacrifice that entails. The film plays as part of a festival of new and vintage Asian films. Also part of the festival is the recommended Death on a Full Moon Day (1997; screens June 9-10), a story of an old man's stubborn refusal to accept the death of his son. This intense film from Sri Lanka is reminiscent of the best of Satyajit Ray. (RvB)

San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
June 17-27 at the Castro, Victoria and Roxie theaters

The 23rd annual festival includes dozens of shorts and features. Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan will present his autobiographical documentary Hold You Tight (June 20 at the Castro). The opener is trick (June 17 at the Castro), in which director Jim Hall chronicles a pair of male lovers seeking a place to tryst--and being interrupted wherever they settle. In Canada's Better Than Chocolate (June 18 at the Castro), Kim, a lesbian bookstore clerk, falls hard for an artist. Sons of Hercules (June 19 and 21 at the Victoria) studies muscleman movies. MGM film archivist John Kirk analyzes some of the 150 sword and sandal movies that came pouring out of Italy like plastic madonnas between 1957 and 1965. (RvB)

June 11 at 7pm at the Bay Area Video Coalition, 2727 Mariposa, San Francisco; $5 donation

A teen flick is a teen flick is not necessarily a teen flick. Short on Dawson's Creek speak, long on intelligence and humor that is both sharp and biting, 420 offers a glimpse into the day in the life of a Santa Cruz teen. The product of a troubled single-parent household (mom has a weakness for tequila, bad men and cocaine), protagonist Marcus bides his time ditching school, hanging with his drug-dealing buddies and ripping bong loads. But at the center of this film is a strong message that neither preaches nor condemns, and 420 takes teens seriously, providing them a realistic voice to match their overwhelming wits. Santa Cruz filmmaker Benjamin Morgan shows tremendous promise. Shot entirely in black-and-white High-8 video. (KR)

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From the June 7, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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