A Handful of Must-sees at San Francisco’s 57th International Film Festival

SFIFF55_GoboStill trying to choose which films to see at this year’s International Film Festival? Well, perhaps I can help.

Regardless of where your particular tastes in cinema may lie, this festival will usually have at least one film catered just for you. Sadly, if your catered cup of tea happens to be animated features, tough noogies. Other than the animated block of shorts you’re shit out of luck when it comes to cinematic animation. Oh well, I guess you’ll have to get satisfy your animated jones elsewhere. Anyway, animated film or not, one can take solace in knowing there are still a fair amount of films to look forward to this year. Let’s get down to it shall we? Follow the jump to see 8 films that I have deemed absolute cant-be-miss essentials.

This year’s International Film Festival takes place from Thursday April 24th through Thursday, May 8th

Borgman
(Director – Alex van Warmerdam)

Borgman_01Based on several keywords appealing strongly to my genre-loving sensibilities seen scattered throughout Michelle Devereaux‘s write up in this year’s guide I can’t help but wonder why this film was curiously omitted from the Late Night Screenings section. “psychopathic scam artists”, “absurdism”, “stark violence”, “disturbing”, “devastating”, “an alarmingly large number of corpses” and my personal favorite, “a hatchet-wielding priest”. I could give a shit what the actual plot is, I’ll be damned if I’m missing this one.

Showtimes for Borgman:
Wednesday, April 30th 9:00pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Monday, May 5th 9:00pm (New People Cinema)

Boyhood
(Director – Richard Linklater)

Boyhood_01Yeah, expectations are high for this one all right. Love or hate his films (I lean towards the former), one things for sure, the ambition of director Richard Linklater can not be denied. The latest from the man who brought us the excellent decades spanning Before trilogy (Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight) is a project 12 years in the making. Using all the same actors, Linklater crafted a fictional coming-of-age tale by meeting up with his cast and filming them once a year for 12 consecutive years. In the hands of a non-proven director this premise would seem first and foremost gimmicky, but from the proven talents of the man who has given us such one-of-a-kind works as Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and the aforementioned Before trilogy I’m expecting to be rightfully awed by what could most likely turn out to be one of the most epic coming-of-age films ever. I have no reason to think otherwise.

Showtimes for Boyhood:
Friday, May 2nd 7:00pm (Castro Theatre)

Frank
(Director – Lenny Abrahamson)

FRANK_01You see that man in the above picture with the big cartoon-sized head? That’s Michael Fassbinder. Yep, the same Michael Fassbinder who most recently was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. Here he plays an eccentric musician in a comedy where apparently he never takes off that mask. Having already shown that he can play an android to astonishing effect, as he did in Prometheus, I can’t wait to see how he tackles a role where his face is never seen. That alone is reason enough for me to be excited for this film. Now, the fact that Maggie Gyllenhaal co-stars is just icing on the cake.

Showtimes for Frank:
Saturday, April 26th 9:15pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Monday, April 28th 4:00pm (Sundance Kabuki)

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
(Director – David Zellner)

KumikoTheTreasureHunter_02I know absolutely nothing about any of the actors and filmmakers involved in this fictional movie. What I do know is that the plot has something to do with some woman’s quest to find the stash of money buried by Steve Buscemi‘s character in the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film Fargo. Fact; anything involving the Coen Brothers, either directly, or in this case, indirectly, automatically gets my interest. What can I say, I’m easy like that.

Showtimes for kumiko, the Treasure Hunter:
Thursday, May 1st 8:45pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Saturday, May 3rd 2:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Sunday, May 4th 12:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)

Night Moves
(Director – Kelly Reichardt)

NightMoves_03I know nothing about this film, nor do I have to in order for me to have this on my can’t-miss list. What I do know is the name of the director, and that alone is enough for me to grab a ticket to this film.

Every year this festival manages to show at least three films from directors who hold reputations for producing strong, consistent, and must-see cinema. This year is no different. If you haven’t already seen Wendy & Lucy (2008) and/or Meek’s Cutoff (2010) do yourself a favor and check out one –  if not both – of them as soon as humanly possible. Perhaps then you’ll understand why anything Kelly Reichardt crafts automatically makes my must-see list.

Showtimes for Night Moves:
Wednesday, May 7th 9:00 (Sundance Kabuki)
Thursday, May 8th 7:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)

Our Sunhi
(Director – Hong Sang-soo)

OUR_SUNHI_03Just like Kelly Reichardt‘s new film (see above), once again I have no idea, nor do I particularly care about anything regarding the plot of Hong Sang-soo‘s latest. As of yet I have only seen one film from this highly prolific filmmaker; 2012’s In Another Country. It just so happens that that one film is proudly sitting atop my current best of the decade list. So yeah, my anticipation and expectations are quite high for this one.

Showtimes for Our Sunhi:
Saturday, April 26th 9:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Sunday, April 27th 1:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Saturday, May 3rd 5:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)

The Sacrament
(Director Ti West)

SACRAMENT_01Of all the films playing in this year’s Late Night program, Ti West‘s horror film about two journalists who set out to document their friend’s search to find his missing sister easily stands out as the can’t miss of the bunch. The task of trying to lower any expectations I may have so as to avoid any potential disappointment is not going to be easy for this one. After all, this is a movie from the same man responsible for the original slow-burning 2009 modern day masterpiece, House of the Devil.

Showtimes for The Sacrament:
Saturday, April 26th 11:45pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Monday, April 28th 9:00pm (Sundance Kabuki)

A Story of Children and Film
(Director Mark Cousins)

AStoryOfChildrenAndFilm_02Those of you who have seen Mark Cousin‘s comprehensive and highly romanticized 15 part series The Story of Film: An Odyssey should already know why I’m looking forward to seeing this. I’m expecting the equivalent of a masterclass on the eponymous subject matter, albeit one with that lovely Scottish-narrated voice that I have now come to embrace as the voice of my own personal cinematic inner-dialogue.

Showtimes for A Story of Children and Film:
Sunday, May 4th 12:30pm (Sundance Kabuki)
Wednesday May 7th 6:45pm (Sundance Kabuki)

For further insightful info on this year’s festival check out fellow blogger Michael Hawley’s always highly informative blog, or San Francisco Film Society’s own festival page.

See ya’ll at the festival

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Categories: Features, San Francisco International Film Festival

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