The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) is underway, and links to my coverage are on my SFFILMFestival page. You can see two of my recommendations, both women-centered films, the topical French drama The Stopover and the Irish self-discovery dramedy A Date with Mad Mary, this weekend at SFFILMFestival.
In theaters this week:
- I liked the gloriously pulpy revenge thriller The Assignment with Michelle Rodriguez, the toughest of the Tough Chicks, playing both the Before and After roles in a hostile gender re-assignment surgery. The Assignment is out, but in few theaters. It’s available now to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
- Bev Powley is very good in the agreeable comedy Carrie Pilby. It’s also available to stream from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
- Kristen Stewart is excellent in Personal Shopper, a murky mess of a movie; don’t bother.
- Song to Song is yet another visually brilliant storytelling failure from auteur Terence Malick.
- Also avoid the horror film The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which is out on video and, UNBELIEVABLY, getting some favorable buzz.
This week’s video pick comes from the program of last year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. The absorbing neo-noir romance Frank & Lola opens with a couple lovemaking for the first time – and right away there’s a glimmer that he’s more invested than she is. Soon we’re spirited from Vegas to Paris and back again in a deadly web of jealousy. I saw Frank & Lola in May 2016 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. I liked it more than most and put it on my Best Movies of 2016. After a brief and tiny theatrical release in December which did not reach the Bay Area, Frank & Lola is now available to stream on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
Easter always triggers television networks to pull out their Biblical epics. If you’re going to watch just one Sword-and-Sandal classic, I recommend going full tilt with Barrabas, broadcast by Turner Classic Movies on April 16. This 1961 cornball stars Anthony Quinn as the Zelig-like title character. The story begins with the thief Barabbas avoiding crucifixion when Pontius Pilate swaps him out for Jesus (this part is actually in the Bible). Because the Crucifixion isn’t enough action for a two hour 17 minute movie, Barabbas is soon sent off as a slave to the salt mines, where he is rescued by a miraculously timely earthquake. He then joins the Roman gladiators, complete with a javelin-firing squad, gets lost in the catacombs and emerges to the Burning of Rome. He has encounters with the Emperor Nero and the Apostle Peter before he converts to Christianity – just in time for the mass crucifixion. Watch for an uncredited Sharon Tate as a patrician in the arena.