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Comment Archives: stories: Movies: Movie Review

Re: “Spark: A Burning Man Story

For this viewer, SPARK! is a stunning achievement and major documentary feature. The film offers one eerie, surreal image after another; multiple camera crews on the ground and in the air capture the gathering by night and day -- bacchanalian revelry, colorful people in elaborate costumes, incredibly designed 100' high buildings, fantasy cars, giant statues and more.

No spectators are allowed at Burning Man, only participants. No cash is permitted; participants earn their keep by what they bring, and by the art they contribute. In 2012, 60,000 people attended the week-long event in the Nevada desert; it happens at the end of August every year.

There are plenty of laughs in SPARK as well. The film follows two ordinary people, young artists who became extraordinary when they took the step of committing themselves to contributing major art pieces to the festival.

The documentary includes footage of the first Burning Man on a San Francisco beach in the 1980's, and shows a Board meeting in crisis mode in 2012. We witness the groundbreaking and construction of the 2012 event on the 'Playa', before moving on to the incredible coverage and stories at Burning Man.

The sheer logistics of coordinating the filming of such a large gathering, and later editing hundreds of hours of footage into a cohesive feature documentary, is an achievement by itself.

SPARK is a truly stunning documentary film -- superb camera work and sound, excellent editing, and two stories about ordinary people who became major contributors to the Burn. Highly recommended.

It's notable that SPARK was made available for home viewing the day after it was released theatrically. This viewer downloaded it on Video on Demand, and after a bit of research, I learned it's also on VOD most cable and satellite networks, and that it can also be watched through iTunes, Roku, Amazon, and Apple TV and other digital outlets. The movie's official website .

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Pat Reynolds on 09/04/2013 at 9:42 AM

Re: “This Must Be the Place

"Let's not stop here very long."

It seems you didn't as half of your piece is a wildly inaccurate synopsis of the first 30 mins of the movie.

Your whole review smells of bored fast-forwarding without even the effort of grasping the details of the plot, let alone the eventual artistic nuances.
Like a lost tourist passing through a country he refused to blend in from the very moment he crossed the border.

I'm not arguing about how good or bad the movie actually is - just stating that reviews like this are unprofessional and a disservice to the readership.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tony L'Ombroso on 07/29/2013 at 5:22 PM

Re: “Crystal Fairy

Crystal Fairy opens tomorrow, Friday, July 19, at the Landmark Cinemas in Berkeley.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 07/18/2013 at 9:30 AM

Re: “Crystal Fairy

So where would one find this film in the Bay Area?

Posted by Brianna Swartz on 07/18/2013 at 8:20 AM

Re: “Fruitvale Station

This review does a gross disservice to a great film!

Before seeing the film -- after reading the review -- I emailed a set of friends as follows:

"Without question, Mehserle was an asshole, if not a monster; he obviously had no viable reason to shoot Oscar Grant. Nonetheless, given this review's description of Grant (whether in real life, or as the film portrays him), I take issue with those who view him as a sympathetic character: an edgy guy who gets into fights, did time in San Quentin, and fathered a child he couldn't afford to support, among other endearing attributes.... Grant was obviously a victim of injustice, but he was not a martyr, and he was certainly no paragon or hero. To me, at least, the review inadvertently makes the point that whatever it means to be "underclass," it certainly doesn't mean being a good or decent person. Unlike (ostensibly) Mehserele, I've known numerous African-Americans (to whom, as an overall grouping, this review does a gross disservice); the ones who are like Oscar Grant (at least as he's described) aren't the sort of people that I'm inclined to like, let alone admire."

Then I saw the film -- a full house for 10:30 pm show at the Grand Lake, about 60% black and 40% white, with a sizable proportion of Latinos among the latter.

All of my above objections prove to be irrelevant to the film, which doesn't ask us to like Grant (let alone see him as some sort of iconic figure or representative of an "underclass), after all -- but which is a sure-fire tear-jerker that doesn't allow one to leave the theater without feeling deep compassion.

I have two problems with the review.'

One of my problem is that the review misses two crucial items. The first of these is that the best-performed character -- a real sleeper, arguably even better than Grant himself -- is his mother, who plays an incredible (and incredibly tough and tricky) supporting role in terms of understanding the African-American family. Secondly, there's a real villain in the film, and it isn't Mehserle! I'll avoid risking a spoiler, and merely note that this involves the fact that one needn't be black to belong to an "underclass," as the film makes abundantly clear.

My other problem is clear and simple, andt (ironically enough) it derives from this last point.

Whether from a sleazy underclass, or from do-goody preachers like the reviewer, I'm sick of hearing from white people who have a stake in believing that "race matters."

The reviewer's own "construction of everyday social reality" evidently demands that he view the film as "essentially a crime story about racial misunderstanding." Such a construction sells the film pitifully short; the story is far more human than that.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 07/15/2013 at 2:23 AM

Re: “Fruitvale Station

"Mistakes are always made in battle." - The police are not supposed to be at war with it's citizens you dumb ass!!! Black people are entitled to the BART Police's protection just as much as any of their lighter-skinned neighbors. He was in a fight. "I can't imagine a single person who would not want the police to wade into this situation and settle it." Excuse me officer, WILL YOU PLEASE GET THAT NIGGA FACE DOWN ON THE PLATFORM AND BLOW HIS FUCKING BRAINS OUT?!? Is that what people are seriously thinking? David Cohen, whoever you are, your ignorance scares the shit out of me. And yeah, I live in Fruitvale, bitch.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by DeWayne Dickerson on 07/12/2013 at 6:25 PM

Re: “Fruitvale Station

If “Fruitvale Station” is a defense for Oscar Grant, and if this movie review is a defense of the movie, then both defenses fail utterly. If you’re going to humanize Oscar Grant, that’s fine. But Coogler’s commentary on Johannes Mehserle completely undermines his moral persuasiveness in humanizing Grant.
Although desperately sought I’m sure, not any single anecdote about Mehserle ever emerged that showed him to be anything less than human, even though was “from Germany” and “lived in Sonoma”. He also was a young man, finding his way. Much of the take home from the trial was that BART training in the use of a Taser, and in handling both a Taser and a gun, was grossly inadequate. There was not a single iota of evidence supporting the contention that Mehserle’s actions were murderous. Nothing contradicted his version in which discharging of his weapon was accidental, and that he had intended to pull the Taser instead. These are the reasons that the jury acquitted him.
As for young toughs of any color “skylarking” on BART and then (surprise!) fighting, this is an assault on the public that cannot be tolerated. I cannot imagine a single person who would not want the police to wade into this situation and settle it. Mistakes are always made in battle. These consequences of the battle remain attached to those who created the situation.

7 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by David Cohen on 07/10/2013 at 10:37 PM

Re: “The Lone Ranger

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 07/06/2013 at 4:38 AM

Re: “California Crude

Clearly a review by a guy who has an axe to grind with DDL or PTA or both. This reviewer looks foolish in retrospect as this movie is clearly heralded by movie buffs as a classic, and this, DDL's 2nd (of 3) Oscar performances, is generally held as his greatest. TWBB is unquestionably a masterpiece - and this reviewers central gripe that he didn't like DDl's accent is so trivial and alone as to seem pathetic.

19 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Mark Polakow on 07/04/2013 at 8:13 AM

Re: “A Hijacking

What about a movie that actually tells a story about the roots of and the WHY there are Somali pirates. Maybe a love story between a Somali Pirate and a Somali woman ie: Somali Pirates of the Arabian Sea.

Posted by Mama Ayanna Mashama on 07/03/2013 at 5:59 PM

Re: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

hey arbed, there are 2 condoms but only one picture. one condom has DNA the other doesn't.

"The same forensic teams found DNA thought to belong to the WikiLeaks boss on another condom, which was submitted by the second alleged victim."…

and moreover, the film does not attempt to litigate the entire case. it simply makes the point that the sweden allegations are a matter to be decided in a court of law in swedem not in the court of public opinion and DEFINATELY not in the court of psychotic Assange supporters which you appear to be becuase you are trolling every review of this film with the same boring post about the DNA.

i doubt you even saw the film, you just read the "transcript" (which by the way ommitted every single on of bradley manning's words which are displayed as text on screen and not spoken- Assange has basically written manning out of the story, which is very telling and very pathetic).

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Harry Harrison on 06/06/2013 at 9:55 AM

Re: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

But seriously.

Why do journalists continue to call Assange "enigmatic?" In every interview I've seen where he is not under attack, he is plainspoken and upfront.
Here's a recent example. (Questions in Spanish, but you don't need Spanish to understand his answers.)

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by EmmaGoldstein on 06/06/2013 at 12:45 AM

Re: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Great Aunt Sophie has returned from Provence, where she has been working on “We Suck Sealtits: The Story Of GibneySqueaks.” She would not reveal how much Disney Movies paid her for the rights to her biography of Alex Gibney.
“Did you interview him?”
“I took him to McDonalds, bought him two Double Quarter Pounders with cheese, bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard, and a chocolate chip mocha frappe. He talked for six hours about Julian Assange spreading his seed. And he wanted to be paid.”

“How much?”

“He said the going rate for an interview was twenty-five dollars. I refused, of course. But I’ve interviewed his mother-in-law, three of his ex-wives, his seventeen-year-old daughter, his lawyer, his psychiatrist, his hairdresser, his dog-sitter, a US Navy SEAL, and the Pope.”

“Gibney has a hairdresser?

“Had. I don’t want to spoil it for you.”

“What’s the deal with the SEAL?”
“He plays Battle Hymn of the Republic on a set of diatonic bicycle horns.”
“How’d you get him to do it?”

“Two hundred and fifty million herring.”

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by EmmaGoldstein on 06/05/2013 at 11:45 PM

Re: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Wikileaks has leaked a full annotated transcript of the film, with links to documentary evidence rebutting many of the claims made in the film. I think in fairness to your readers you should maybe update your article to include it at the bottom, to at least alert your readers that a lot of things in Alex Gibney's film are inaccurate.…

As an example, here's one Wikileaks note that deals with how the Swedish allegations are treated and why Alex Gibney chooses to show a photo of a condom that Assange is accused of "deliberately tearing" from the police forensics file without telling his audience that forensics found no trace of anyone's DNA on it:…

That's either extremely poor research by a film-maker, or biased smear.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Arbed Medhi on 06/05/2013 at 2:13 AM

Re: “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Please help support freedom of the press and freedom of information by sponsoring Julian Assange for the Nobel prize for freedom of the press: Google: "Julian Assange for Nobel prize "Freedom of the Press"" and vote!
PLEASE HELP PROMOTE THIS LINK.If we fail to protect the "Assanges" of the world, we condemn ourselves to tyranny. More than, 500 people, from all over the world, have already voted; be the next to add your voice to freedom of the press!

Posted by Notme Norme on 06/05/2013 at 2:05 AM

Re: “California Crude

I liked TWBB, but I really like this review too. It's useful to read a critical opinion, especially one so culturally informed. The Chinatown comparisons are fascinating, especially with Huston playing a very similar "water tycoon" to Day-Lewis' Plainview.

I had no idea Day-Lewis was channeling John Huston so completely--but watching Huston on YouTube, sure enough, the resemblance is uncanny--especially considering Anderson and Day-Lewis must have hand-picked this persona. It IS worth talking about.

6 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by tybalt on 06/01/2013 at 11:49 AM

Re: “California Crude

This review is ridiculous, you're thoughts are so misplaced. This is a beautifully crafted film with phenomenal performances and i would say that is simply my opinion but according to the likes and dislikes on these comments, I think its safe to say you're in the minority. Oh, and Magnolia was genius.

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Evan Beardsley on 04/18/2013 at 10:10 AM

Re: “The Room


5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Maht Hajj on 04/15/2013 at 7:58 AM

Re: “Hysterical Society

Those who can't do much critic! intellectual or not... in reply to your garbage. One could answer: what pathetically garbagy mind set (It had to be to be able to generate such filth). If I had a choice to be you or Soraya, there is a strong one I'd pick her for her dignity, character and most of all: Innocence! something of which you seem to know nothing whatsoever. This alone voids out whatever you have to let out.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by dawn freligh on 04/01/2013 at 3:21 PM

Re: “Sound City

LOVED this film. So good. Lovers of all things music, film, entertainment, pop culture and history will also love. :)

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Brittany Brave on 03/17/2013 at 6:33 PM

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