Having started his career long before the MTV Age, Neil Young arrived late to the music video party, and since then he's put more energy into making exquisite music than creating visual images. But with the release of Greendale, the full-length feature film and companion album, the singer/songwriter heads into untried territory -- because, as he put it in a recent interview, "Who wants to do the same thing year after year after year?"
Lensed by Young himself -- and featuring some instantly recognizable Bay Area locations -- Greendale resembles a sort of long-form video, with the songs providing a surprisingly affecting audio track. The movie centers on the Green family, characters inspired, Young says, by people he knows and played by his friends and family. The tiny town of Greendale is presented as a microcosm of modern society, with weighty world issues -- war, irresponsible media outlets, fiendish corporations -- reflected painfully in the strife of the family. The film runs March 12-18 at Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is $6.75-9.25; call 267-4893 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com for showtimes.
-- Joyce Slaton
Be the Bomb
The public image of an anarchist seesaws between nonexistent and unenviable -- they're either seen as out-there nutbags or bomb-throwing nihilists. Since as a group anti-authoritarians can't truly be said to give a shit what people think of them, their PR naturally suffers. Yet this insouciance is one of the charming habits that, perhaps ironically, draws people to them. Other endearing habits (generally speaking, that is: Actual anarchists may vary) include knitting, bicycling, and pointing out who, exactly, is doing what, exactly, in arenas such as war profiteering. The most adorable custom of local anarchists is the organization of the Anarchist Book Fair. Now in its ninth year, the fair includes speakers -- Lynn Breedlove, Alexander Cockburn, and Agent Apple of the Biotic Baking Brigade, among others -- plus tons of books and a cafe run by yet another reason to hug a revolutionary, Arizmendi Bakery. The fair begins at 10 a.m. at the County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park near Ninth Ave. and Lincoln, S.F. Admission is free; call 431-8355.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A film fest for the rest of us
While sci fi/fantasy and horror films get plenty of play among cultish fans willing to plunk down $9.25 for a seat, they're still the pimply stepchildren of the movie world. Such pictures don't win awards, don't spark magazine think pieces, and don't often run in festivals. But they do at "Fearless Tales Genre Fest."
A pair of local film pros -- director Michael Davidson and sound designer Jeff Darby -- hatched the fledgling event after noting that sci fi and spooky flicks never seemed to appear on festival schedules. "They look for stuff that's more arty," snorts Davidson. "Fearless Tales" had no such compunctions. The result is a roster of quirky, sublime-sounding features and shorts from directors local and international, obscure and semifamous.
The show's marquee attractions are the U.S. premiere of The Toolbox Murderers, the latest scare pic from Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as well as a screening of underground classic Spider Baby, preceded by a conversation between director Jack Hill (Foxy Brown) and John Stanley, of the late, lamented KTVU show Creature Features. But we really like the sound of the more arcane selections, such as the Australian punks-with-a-video-camera feature Razor Eaters, which Davidson describes as a cross between "Suburbia, A Clockwork Orange, Cops, and classic noir." Prime! "Fearless Tales" starts at 4 p.m. on March 11 (and runs through March 18) at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission to individual screenings is $9.50-25 (festival passes run $32-170); call 863-7576 or visit www.fearlesstales.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
The Bay Area has been an artistic ground zero for decades, but now it may be more so than ever: more galleries, more exhibitions, and more tenacious, post-economic meltdown artists. That's why Epicenter: San Francisco Bay Area Art Now sounds so timely: The new book looks at the wide range of creative production going on right now, right here. Authors Leslie Holzman and Mark Johnstone dish on the local arts scene starting at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th St.), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 238-2200 or visit www.museumca.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
The Long March
Centuries ago, St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland -- luckily, he left the beer. San Franciscans of Irish descent or inclination celebrate this wise choice with an annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. This year marks the 152nd such party, making it one of the oldest parades in America. The march (or stagger) kicks off at noon from 2nd Street and Market and stumbles to City Hall, S.F. Call 675-9885 or visit www.sfstpatricksdayparade.com.
-- Jack Karp