Projections - Page 2

A long list of short takes on SFIFF 57, in chronological order

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A teen fights for her rights in Ethiopian drama Difret.
Photo courtesty San Francisco Film Society

Blind Dates (Levan Koguashvili, Georgia, 2013) This rather wonderful deadpan comedy from Georgia (the former Soviet territory, not Jimmy Carter's home) revolves around two best friends, male schoolteachers looking for love on the mutual brink of 40. Doleful-looking history prof Sandro (Andro Sakhvarelidze) and robust soccer coach Iva (Archil Kikodze) seem hapless and thwarted at every turn, yet simultaneously oblivious to scads of available women around them. The gentle, rueful tenor sneaks up on you, delivering some big laughs and narrative surprises as well as a very soulful sum impact. One of this year's SFIFF sleepers (with no US distribution in sight), this droll yet bighearted gem is not to be missed. Fri/25, 9pm, Kabuki; Sun/27, 8:15pm, PFA; Tue/29, 6:30pm, New People. (Harvey)

Child of God (James Franco, US, 2013) You may not know that SFIFF It Guy James Franco has directed nearly two dozen shorts, documentaries, and features since 2005, in addition to his acting and miscellaneous multimedia dabblings. Don't worry: You haven't missed much. But this adaptation of a 1973 Cormac McCarthy novel is a great leap forward from his prior efforts, most of which felt like pretentious grad school thesis films. Scott Haze is startlingly good as Lester Ballard, a Tennessee hillbilly whose lack of conventional home, family, social instincts, or behavioral restraint gets him perpetually in trouble with the law — trouble that takes a macabre turn when he finds a dead woman's body. The story's shock value might easily have played as exploitative or ludicrous, but Franco hits the right tenor of mad intensity to reflect Lester's near-feral state, in which acts that might appall any "civilized" mindset make perfect sense to him. Fri/25, 9:30pm, Kabuki; Mon/28, 3:45pm, New People. (Harvey)

The Double (Richard Ayoade, UK, 2013) Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is a lowly clerk who gets nothing but indifference and scorn both at work and in his pitiful private life. Things slip even more insidiously beyond his control with the arrival of James (Eisenberg again), his exact doppelgänger — though no one else seems to notice that — and a climber as ruthlessly efficient as Simon is hapless. Not only does he steal his look-alike's ideas in a rapid rise to the top, he seems to take great pleasure in kicking Simon further downward. Applying a Kafkaesque gloss to Dostoyevsky's novella, with stylistic hat-tips to the Coens and Terry Gilliam, Richard Ayoade's second feature is very different from his prior Submarine (2010) in all ways but one: It, too, is both overwhelmed and rendered fascinating by an excess of high directorial "style" whose self-consciousness infuses every frame and puts quote marks around every emotion. As a result, The Double is a striking objet d'art you'll either love or hate — or enjoy aesthetically while being annoyed by its sacrifice of depth for a showoff surface. Sat/26, 1pm, Kabuki; Tue/29, 9:15pm, Kabuki. (Harvey)

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