San Francisco International Film Festival

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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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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SFIFF

Who knew the longest-running film festival in America is presented in San Francisco – shimmering gifts of spring opening at some of our best movie houses? Only fitting, since San Francisco has always been a filmmaker’s dream city. Every major festival except Cannes pivots on a driving force pushing from behind. Ironically the San Francisco International Film Festival attracts major support from the French government and its media arm TV5 Monde, along with the local annex of French banking titan BNP Paribas Group. The French love us, what can I say? We love them back. Fresh off a 2012 season that saw Sundance-acclaimed features make their debut here, SFIFF 2013 hints at a more understated outcome, but there are highlights:

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Two more films at this year’s SFIFF… one is a kick-ass martial arts historical epic starring the always lovable Donnie Yen, and the other is a drama about a Japanese woman who can’t speak English trying to understand and communicate in Southern California. Martial arts skills probably would helped.

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The San Francisco International Film Festival began last night with the opening night screening of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film, Micmacs, and runs through May 6th. The films and special presentations are playing across multiple theaters throughout the city, and they represent works from hundreds of film-makers from all around the world.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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