Reviews: SFIFF Top Picks

April 27, 2012, 12:40 a.m.
Reviews: SFIFF Top Picks
Courtesy of The San Francisco Film Society

We’ve been buzzing over the San Francisco International Film Festival and here are a few more of our top picks from the fest, which continues until May 3. No time to make the trek up to the city? Not to worry, these films will all be making their way to a theater near you in the next few months.


Chicken with Plums”

From graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi and writing/directing partner Vincent Paronnaud, the team that brought “Persepolis” to the screen in 2007, comes a new visual masterpiece. Steeped in Satrapi’s family history and infused with magical realism, “Chicken with Plums” is the tragically comic story of Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a gifted musician who loses the will to live after his wife smashes his beloved violin during a quarrel. Set in 1950’s Tehran during Nasser-Ali’s last days, the film frequently travels back and forth through time examining his life and loves, offering insight and explanation into why he chose to leave this world. A sentimental elegy to a talented but troubled artist, the film raises the question of whether one must be unhappy in order to truly succeed in his craft.


Reviews: SFIFF Top Picks
Courtesy of The San Francisco Film Society

Somebody Up There Likes Me”

Bob Byington’s quirky comedy follows Max (Keith Poulson), a mysteriously ageless and dispassionate restaurant server whose budding romance with co-worker Lyla (Jess Weixler) leads to a series of unexpected positive outcomes. Over the course of the next several decades, Max goes from being a dejected divorcee just scraping by to the co-owner of a successful pizza and ice cream business. The characters’ perpetual emotional muteness contrast with the bizarrely improbable situations they find themselves in, resulting in an offbeat and sometimes unsettling tone. But as the narrative slowly and disjointedly unfolds, it reveals a surprisingly heartfelt message true to its title. The film’s soundtrack, featuring original music by Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, is also worthy of note.


The Do-Deca-Pentathlon”

Sibling rivalry reaches new heights in the latest film from filmmaking brothers Mark and Jay Duplass. In 1990, Mark (Steve Zissis) and Jeremy (Mark Kelly) held an exclusive 25-event competition to decide who was the “better” brother. Thirty years later and still at odds with each other they decide to re-match, time has placed only new obstacles in their way. Not only are the brothers spectacularly out of shape, but Mark also now has a wife and young son that prevent him from dropping everything to indulge in random acts of pettiness. Or do they? Just as sure as boys will be boys, “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” is a humorous look at people who just never quite seem to grow up.


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