SF International

review peaches does herself

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our coverage of SFIFF, and we repost it now as the film opens today at the Quad Cinemas with a national rollout to follow. It seems like the appetite for widely-loved trans/glam/camp musical/rock operas can take a new one about once every two decades. Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in the late ‘70s, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the end of the 90s (even if it wasn’t made into a film until 2001). With Peaches Does Herself, electroclash musician and performance artist Peaches is gunning for an early next spot. The career retrospective/genesis story of the “electro-artist persona Peaches,” Peaches Does Herself is told with the help of trans porn star Danni Daniels, veteran stripper Sandy Kane, and the Fatherfucker dance troupe. It’s a high-energy, transgressive, genial revue with barely a word of dialogue. As the title’s double-entendre suggests, it does risk being a little too self-regarding, solipsistic, or — excuse me — masturbatory to transcend its subject and resonate with a new generation of genderqueer kids looking for a new musical soundtrack to sing along to. But who knows? Peaches and company create an appealing vision of a world where people ardently give zero fucks about gender in order to sing, dance, and dry-hump with abandon, which might be just what it takes to join the trans/glam musical/rock opera pantheon.

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Soderbergh

Yesterday, indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg (who’s truly pulled himself up from his bootstraps) tweeted out, “Soderbergh’s own output over the last few years proves, to me at least, how open the system is and how possible it is to make great stuff.” That felt a little odd. Steven Soderbergh‘s latest bout of prolificness is genuinely impressive, but after struggling with the studio process and ultimately, for one example, taking his Liberace biopic to HBO, would Soderbergh himself agree with Swanberg’s optimistic sentiment? That’s difficult to say, especially given how Soderbergh rose to prominence, but he’s at least given us an idea about how he feels about the studio system as it currently stands in 2013. It isn’t pretty. It’s eloquent. His full State of Cinema Address from the San Francisco International Film Festival is a must-listen (see below), but here are the 10 things wrong with Hollywood extracted from his amazing, fist-pumpingly laudable speech.

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review sofias last ambulance

Sofia’s Last Ambulance opens with the camera advancing toward an open door. Men in work clothes stare through the fourth wall and step aside as the screen moves past them. It takes a second to realize that the steady camerawork is not there to be ignored, as is normally the case in a well-produced feature film; instead, the camera’s point of view is the premise of the whole movie. With lenses affixed to the titular ambulance, we roll ahead on four wheels — we see what the mechanical infrastructure sees. The film is all about infrastructure. In particular, it follows the bumpy circuits of a troika of EMS workers in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It’s a formally dispassionate but loving portrait of three admirable people, tired to the bone, who over the course of two years go about their impossible task of tending to the sick and the injured with an equally broken emergency response system.

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