Media conglomeration issues are very "now." It's the hot topic of the moment, since the Senate seems to have voted in favor of media diversity by overturning the Federal Communications Commission's new rules allowing one guy to control 45 percent of any given area's television and newspaper content. Yay Senate!
But we deserve so much more. How can the wildly varied range of human expression be better encouraged? The FCC doesn't control the movies, thank golly, but there is a similar situation in the motion picture industry: Relatively few people choose what we pay to watch. "Independent Exposure" to the rescue! Microcinema International's presentation is a monthly screening series that focuses on short films and videos of high quality and demonstrating a high level of creativity. The artists whose work is featured at tonight's "Autumnal Edition" are a diverse bunch, including several San Franciscans, an Oaklander, and international contributions from folks out of Finland and Pakistan. The show starts at 8 p.m. at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 864-0660 or visit www.microcinema.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
In Your Face
The photographic print is becoming a thing of the past. In some cases, this is a bad thing. When regular people print out their precious digital memories on crappy inkjet printers, the pages fade. Eventually, it dawns on them that their snapshots aren't nearly as sharp as Grandma's old film pictures from back in the 1990s. It's very sad. But then a photography show comes along and promises giant black-and-white digital giclee (read: high-resolution, art-quality) prints, and that's definitely a good thing. And if the show's subject is the diverse human faces that represent the city, it's even better. "SF Faces(TM)" is the project of three photographers -- Jack B. Huynh, Andy Berry, and Gene X. Hwang -- who love San Francisco in all its glorious variety. Famous people, obscure people, old people, young people: These and many more are on photographic display. A lot of them, organizers hint, might be at tonight's opening. Get a good look at them one way or the other beginning at 8 p.m. at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie (at Mint), S.F. Admission is $10; visit www.startsoma.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Oakland's badass film fest
Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart's famous 1964 definition of pornography -- "I know it when I see it" -- could just as easily apply to film noir. Like porn, noir is notoriously elusive, existing as much in the eye of the beholder as anyplace else. Years after the genre's '40s-'50s heyday, crazed cinephiles still argue about what constitutes a noir picture. What's not in dispute is the genre's enduring spell. Who can resist its signature tableaux of shadow-drenched streets and the ill-fated innocents, femmes fatales, and curdled killers who stumble through them?
Noir's superstars and cityscapes can be savored this week in a form vastly more enticing than DVD or video: on the giant screen at Oakland's Film Noir at the Grand Lake. Twenty-eight luminous 35mm movies play at the two-week blowout, showcasing textbook classics (Touch of Evil), cult faves (Phantom Lady), and happy resurrections (Blast of Silence). This is a cinema of ellipsis, of perverse sex and brutal crimes seen in half-light -- or not at all -- like Cloris Leachman's bare legs kicking as she's tortured by unseen assailants in Kiss Me Deadlyand Thelma Ritter's crusty old stoolie beaten to death off-screen in Pickup on South Street. Noir's pedigree is unassailable -- source material from Hemingway and Chandler, directors like Welles and Fuller -- and the timing couldn't be better: With the war drums beating and the economy in free-fall, the lonesome thoroughfares and scared naifs of noir look all too familiar. The fest be-gins with I Wake Up Screaming at 11:30 a.m. today (and runs through Oct. 9) at the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand (at Lake Park), Oakland. Admission is $5.50-8.50; call (510) 452-3556 or visit www.renaissance-rialto.com.
-- Gary Morris
In college we screened a porno in sexuality class. While sitting in class that day, with the lights low, I had very dry chapped lips, but refused to reach into my pocket for my tube of Chap Stick, afraid of classmates pegging me a pervert. Well, now you, too, can not reach for your lip moisturizers at the "History of Gay Male Porn"film night, including Beefcake!, Daddy and the Muscle Academy, and The Fluffer. The love starts at 4 p.m. at the LGBT Center, 1800 Market (at Octavia), S.F. Suggested donation is $5; call 865-5555 or visit www.sfcenter.org.
-- Brock Keeling
Some people are unintelligibly intelligent, and some people are rock stars. It isn't often that a guy who bench-presses critical theory also has groupies, but Slavoj Zizek does: He's adored by chicks in leather pants and dudes with tattoos. Check out his new book, The Puppet & the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity at 7 p.m. at City Lights Books, 261 Columbus, S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser