Raise a tall glass as another bombastic Hollywood summer comes to an end, not with a bang but with a bomb: After four months of crassness and carnage, the movie listings at last herald the return of substance and sanity. Leading the charge is veteran East Bay filmmaker Rob Nilsson, a one-man antidote to the plague of celluloid superheroes, sci-fi snoops, and suburban stoners. His métier is the darkness in the center of town, the tough-luck underclass callously dismissed in some circles as urban detritus. Over the last decade, working with a group of mostly unprofessional actors whose commitment to emotional truth would put Brando to shame, Nilsson has crafted nine stunning black-and-white dramas about small-timers scuffling on the streets of San Francisco (and Berkeley and Oakland) for the dwindling crumbs of the American dream. "Rob Nilsson's 9@Night" distills the ethos of independent filmmaking into its purest state through a series of stand-alone tales that etch the nocturnal collision of last-chance dreamers with concrete-and-asphalt reality. This quintessential San Francisco engagement represents the perfect match of venue and program, and a fitting ode to the dying days of the Bush era.
Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2008