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The Ballad of Lefty Brown
Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) spent his life riding Montana’s scenic ranges, in the company of men who would become dime-novel heroes. His own legend burns not so bright. People wonder how the likes of new US Senator Edward Johnson (Peter Fonda), Governor Jimmy Bierce (Jim Caviezel), and lawman Tom Harrah (Tommy Flanagan) could put up with the garrulous, incompetent old coot. But this apparent fool courageously risks his own life to seek justice for a fallen friend, never wavering in his determination even as deadly forces array themselves against him. Pullman, the sophisticated star of Independence Day and Lost Highway, gets in touch with his inner-Walter Brennan to deliver a masterful performance of a man whose hayseed persona masks his true nature. But while this absorbing Western offers a finely-etched character portrait of an underrated cowpoke, it also delivers thrilling, action-packed drama. A superb gallery of supporting characters includes the gorgeous Montana wilde
Fri, Oct 6 7:00 PM
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The Current War
CLOSING NIGHT FILM. In stellar performances that crackle and shine, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, MVFF 2014), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, MVFF 2016), and Nicholas Hoult (Kill Your Friends, MVFF 2015) don the brilliant, larger-than-life personae of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla in this triangular tale of electricity’s trailblazing pioneers. “This is just how boys play,” opines a nonplussed Westinghouse, the more equanimous of the three, as the incendiary Edison creates a buzzworthy public smear campaign against him, while Tesla walks a fine line, creating an alternating current between the two highly-charged poles. In the war for nationwide dominance between two delivery systems-AC (Westinghouse) and DC (Edison)-the stakes are sky-high as competitive bidding for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair draws nigh.
Sun, Oct 15 5:00 PM5:00 PM
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The Deep Sky
Opening a romantic relationship is usually a delicate exercise. Lenora and Arlan, a Bay Area couple who are as cerebral as they are empathic, navigate the decision with enough intentionality to give themselves confidence that if any two people can make non-monogamy work, they can. A chance encounter in the supermarket produce section eventually leads Nina, an enigmatic young woman from Germany, into their lives. She rapidly becomes entwined-emotionally and intellectually as well as sexually-in their relationship. Rather than the casual (and separate) romantic encounters they had envisioned opening themselves up to, Lenora and Arlan begin to imagine life as two nodes of a triad. The film treats its subject matter thoughtfully, without ever verging into tawdriness. Shot on location in Oakland by local filmmaker Frazer Bradshaw, The Deep Sky is a reflective, often quiet rumination on the emotional contours and complexities of love that transcends two people.
Sat, Oct 7 9:15 PM
Mon, Oct 9 8:45 PM
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The Florida Project
The Magic Castle Motel is the tattered safety net for Orlando families verging on homelessness, a world away from Disneyworld’s glittering attractions just across town. But for precocious, six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), the inn and its surrounding neighborhood hold their own enchantment as her gritty, personal amusement park. The little girl runs wild, sometimes dangerously so, and incites her playmates to follow her lead. While Bobby (a terrific, world-weary Willem Dafoe), the hotel’s sympathetic, often exasperated manager scolds her, her wild-child mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) indulges her. She is also about as emotionally mature as her daughter, and acts out without considering consequences. Like filmmaker Sean Baker and co-writer Chris Bergoch’s previous collaboration Tangerine, which focused on transgender women prostitutes in Los Angeles, The Florida Project observes its impoverished characters with understanding and compassion. Prince and Vinaite tug at th
Tue, Oct 10 8:15 PM
Wed, Oct 11 6:00 PM
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Fourth Movement
Rob Nilsson and players from his Direct Action Workshop explore the lives of nocturnal seekers on the edges of the jazz music world. It is opening night at San Franciscos new C Flat Jazz Cluband its election night 2016: the 21st centurys Eve of Destruction. Everything is about to change.Strangers, lovers, wonderers, and wanderers from diverse cultures come together or break apart because of, and in spite of, the uncertain future ahead. Among them are Lou the soulful torch singer; jazz club owner Groove and Nuray, a beautiful Azerbaijani refugee; German Barbara and her errant lover Errol; Italian Valentina; and free-spirited Juliana, with her suite of midnight callers.All are lovingly enveloped by the smoky sounds of Fred Randolphs jazz sextet, evoking the citys deep-rooted jazz history and its current rebel heart. Tear up the charts and reach for the high notes: Fourth Movement fulfills its promise, note for note.
Sat, Oct 7 10:00 PM
Sat, Oct 14 8:45 PM
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Harold and Maude
An unparalleled dark comedy that simultaneously redefined cinema and captured San Francisco’s post-summer-of-love malaise, Harold and Maude is an indelible part of the American zeitgeist. MVFF screens this 1971 cult classic in honor of famed Marin casting director Ann Brebner, who cast the film locally-and nearly played the role of Harold’s mother. Harold (Bud Cort), a quiet and morose young man, has what his mother calls a “sense of the absurd” that manifests itself in an incorrigible desire to fake his suicide in increasingly outlandish ways. While attending one of many funerals, Harold happens upon Maude (Ruth Gordon) casually picnicking at the cemetery. A 79-year-old with a lust for life and a penchant for stealing cars, Maude is daring, impulsive, and political-everything Harold is not. Iconic music from Cat Stevens permeates the soundtrack, and the leads carry the film through their chemistry, resulting in a tragicomic romance that is just as groundbreaking and gratifying
Wed, Oct 11 3:00 PM
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Lady Bird
CLOSING NIGHT FILM/SPOTLIGHT ON GRETA GERWIG. Bumbling through her senior year at a Catholic high school, Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson desperately wants to escape Sacramento for the loftier environs of an East Coast liberal arts college. Played by the always enchanting Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, MVFF 2015) and clad in the compulsory polo shirt and plaid skirt ensemble, the rebellious teenager spends her final semesters hanging out in parking lots and minimarts while navigating the confusing world of college applications and blossoming relationships. Indie darling Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut demonstrates a discernible acumen towards filmmaking and a keen understanding of the high school experience and the complex relationships between a young woman, her family, and her hometown.
Sun, Oct 15 5:00 PM5:00 PM5:00 PM5:00 PM5:00 PM
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Last Flag Flying
CENTERPIECE FILM. Once upon a time in ‘Nam, Doc (Steve Carell), Sal (Bryan Cranston) and Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) were an inseparable trio. Then something horrible went down, one of them took the fall, and they stopped speaking to each other. Decades later, Doc tracks down his fellow vets-Sal’s an alcoholic bar owner; former hellraiser Mueller is now a man of God-to ask for a favor: His only son has just died in combat in Iraq. He needs them to accompany him to identify the body and to join him on one last mission. This sequel to The Last Detail, like Hal Ashby’s 1973 classic, an adaptation of a Darryl Ponsican novel, is a funny, talky, emotionally resonant road movie. But this Richard Linklater masterwork is also a moving, heartbreaking tribute to the bonds forged in warfare and a penetrating, performance-driven actors’ showcase that boldly asks why we fight- and how we as a nation heal from the damage done.
Thu, Oct 12 7:00 PM
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The Light of the Moon
While walking home alone from a party late one night, the life of a confident and successful young Brooklyn-based architect is tragically changed when a stranger sexually assaults her. She seemingly recovers, but the impact of that harrowing experience slowly leaves its imprint, shattering the dynamics of her personal and professional life. Carried by Stephanie Beatriz’s (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Short Term 12) nuanced, authentic performance, The Light of the Moon prefers not to center on the criminal repercussions of the assault; rather, it offers an unflinching and raw portrayal of the invisible wounds that painfully affect a victim’s psyche and subtly strain an intimate relationship following sexual trauma. A timely discussion on rape culture with a noticeable female perspective and sensibility both in content and style, director Jessica M. Thompson’s feature debut is unafraid to question taboos, society’s expectations of womanhood, and uncomfortable issues of guilt
Mon, Oct 9 8:45 PM
Wed, Oct 11 6:00 PM
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