• 2015

Year: 2015

“Southpaw”—Left-handed Compliment

The boxing movie genre—Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, The Fighter (see July 11, 2011 review)—is commonly tackled in movies because of its inherent drama and overt conflict between the protagonist, a down-and-out boxer and a champion. “Southpaw” neatly fits into this mold, but the story has some interesting surprises, not just a re-tread of previous boxing blockbusters. Of course, it is a story about how life knocks you down—literally—only to force the protagonist back onto his or her feet. Through Antoine Fuqua’s sensitive direction, excellent dialogue and performances, “Southpaw”...

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“Woman in Gold”—A Glimmer of Retribution

  The movie “Woman In Gold” is based on the remarkable story of the octogenarian Austrian-American woman, Maria Altmann (played by the always sensational Helen Mirren). Maria fights to reclaim the Gustav Klimt masterpiece of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy art collector of Klimt paintings. “Portrait of the Jewess Adele”. More popularly known as “The Woman in Gold”, this masterpiece was the Austrian equivalent of the “Mona Lisa”.     Art repatriation–the return of art looted or stolen from its country of origin or former owners (or their heirs)—is just becoming a political maelstrom....

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“Straight Outta Compton”—A Rap on Censorship and Racism

The critically acclaimed film, “Straight Outta Compton” is an unlikely blockbuster for its “R” rating and timely depiction of the mean streets of Compton, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. Although taking place in the mid-eighties, the clashes with the police resonate today. Chronicling the rise of N.W.A. (”niggaz wit attitude”), this biopic of music pioneers belongs in the company of “Ray”, “Walk the Line”, “8 Mile” and more recently , “Love and Mercy” (see July 12 review) and “Muscle Shoals”(July 19 review). The seminal South L.A. hip-hop group N.W.A is the story of the creation of rap and hip-hop...

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“Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography” at the Getty Center [until September 6]

Light, Paper, Process For anyone who loves photography, “Light, Paper, Process” is mind-blowing. Do you want to know what can be done with a photograph processed the old fashioned way? Before Photoshop? This exhibition features experimental photography from seven artists—Matthew Brandt, Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Lisa Oppenheim, Alison Rossiter, and James Welling—who focus on light sensitivity and chemical processing including smearing emulsion so that the representational is coaxed into the abstract, often dunking the amorphous semi-developed image into different liquids. One photographer...

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AL’s Place—A Favorite New Spot in SF

AL stands for Aaron London, the young energetic chef of Ubuntu fame (renowned for vegetarian food in Napa Valley). This newly opened San Francisco restaurant on the corner of 26th and Valencia is a standout. Beautifully presented, but in a very noisy, but pristine white environs, AL’s Place seats only forty-six diners. All the dishes we ordered—including meat and fish—were standouts. London’s confidence and virtuosity with vegetables is no surprise and is reflected in the unusual combinations of fruit and veggies he dreams up. Seafood is peppered in many main dishes, while other meat...

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“Patrik 1.5”—“The Kid’s All Right”

This Swedish sleeper of a film is entertaining and very moving. Sweden is often thought of as the bright light of liberalism, a model for social justice. And less than a month after the passage of the same-sex marriage decision by the Supreme Court, we may think we are catching up. But “Patrik 1.5” shows us even socially liberal countries have bigotry to overcome. I was fascinated to see the cultural dynamic of a gay couple having to deal with homophobic neighbors as well as a homophobic teenager in a country this viewer associates with more liberal views and open-mindedness. The...

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