Fall Arts 2017: Film and Film Festivals

A Salinger biopic, an adaptation of Stephen King's creepiest clown, and the return of "Art House Theater Day." Time to huddle in a darkened cinema!

Sept. 1

Beach Rats
Directed by Eliza Hittman
Starring Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, and Kate Hodge

Hittman returns to her It Felt Like Love milieu of disaffected Brooklyn youth, this time from the point-of-view of an alienated teenage boy rather than an alienated teenage girl.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, François Truffaut, and Teri Garr

A re-release of arguably the greatest optical-effects picture of the 1970s, and still the only film on which Spielberg has sole screenplay credit.

Sept. 8

Directed by Martin Guigui
Starring Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, and Gina Gershon

Once considered too sensitive a subject for movies, 9/11 is now the title of a Charlie Sheen vehicle. America is officially #Winning again.

Directed by Andrés Muschietti
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, and Sophia Lillis

This picture reportedly only adapts the first half of Stephen King’s 1,138-page opus. It worked for Battlefield Earth!

Sept. 15

American Assassin
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Starring Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien, and Taylor Kitsch
American Sniper appealed to both your patriotism and bloodlust, right? So shut the hell up, pinko.

Rebel in the Rye
Directed by Danny Strong
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Zoey Deutch, and Kevin Spacey

J.D. Salinger just wanted to be left alone, but he’s been dead seven years — so, sure, it’s biopic time.

Sept. 22

Battle of the Sexes
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring Emma Stone, Elisabeth Shue, and Steve Carell

Any resemblance between this telling of Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs and last year’s male-dominance shitshow of an election is … well, painful.

Friend Request
Directed by Simon Verhoeven
Starring Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, and Connor Paolo

The techno-phobic lineage of this story of a demon murdering people via social media can be traced back to at least the 1935 cheapie Murder by Television. It’s not a proud lineage, but it’s a lineage.

Sept. 29

Directed by John Carroll Lynch
Starring Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, and Ron Livingston

Lest you get confused, director John Carroll Lynch is not related to actor David Lynch, and John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky is not related to Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, which is not related to James Mangold’s Logan. Look, our language has limited L-words, OK?

Oct. 6

Bad Grandmas
Directed by Srikant Chellappa
Starring Pam Grier, Florence Henderson, and Judge Reinhold

Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff doesn’t get royalties for every lousy “Bad ____” film since his original, but he really should.

My Little Pony: The Movie
Directed by Jayson Thiessen
Starring Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Ashleigh Ball

Will SF Weekly have things to say about this feature version of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series? Oh, we might.

Oct. 13

Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell

The story of the only Supreme Court justice badass enough to be immortalized in stained glass at Grace Cathedral.

Oct. 20

The War With Grandpa
Directed by Tim Hill
Starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Uma Thurman

Let’s count the red flags: a Robert De Niro comedy (one) from the director of Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (two) and the 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks (three) and Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (fuck all).

Oct. 27

Directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Starring Laura Vandervoort, Tobin Bell, and Callum Keith Rennie

The least shocking thing about this return to the Saw universe is that Saw: The Final Chapter was not, in fact, the final chapter of Saw.

Nov. 10

Murder on the Orient Express
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Starring Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, and Kenneth Branagh

My mom is looking forward to this latest adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, and yours is too. (That’s that what your mom told me last night, anyway.)

Nov. 17

Justice League
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, and Jason Momoa

Marvel hasn’t yet sent film critics the bribes which are required for us to give this film a bad review. So, for now, it looks great and you should totally go see it!

Nov. 22

Death Wish
Directed by Eli Roth
Starring Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Elisabeth Shue

Everything about Eli Roth directing Bruce Willis in a Death Wish remake scripted by the screenwriter of The A-Team sounds wrong. And yet.

Darkest Hour

Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Gary Oldman, Lily James, and Kristin Scott Thomas

Most years have no Winston Churchill films, but this is 2017’s second. See? Things aren’t so  bad after all.

Film Festivals

Japan Film Festival
Sept. 1-10
New People Cinema

Leading up to the J-POP SUMMIT festival, highlights of this year’s Japan Film Festival include the North American premiere of Kaku Arakawa’s documentary Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, which catches up with the famed Studio Ghibli founder since he retired from feature-filmmaking.

California Independent Film Festival
Sept. 7-14
Castro Theatre, New Rheem Theatre in Moraga, and Orinda Theatre in Orinda

Hitting the two-decade mark this year, the California Independent Film Festival features not just the Left Coast indie flicks you might infer from its name, but also mainstream and international fare. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing, which is a phrase you should get used to reading in this article.

Legacy Film Festival on Aging
Sept. 15-17
New People Cinema

In its third year at New People and seventh year overall — the two best prime numbers, which can’t be a coincidence — the Legacy Film Festival on Aging continues to show the best in features and short films about making the best of the way our terribly designed bodies fall apart. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing. (Toldja!)

Cine+Mas SF Latino Film Festival
Sept. 15-30
Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, Roxie Theater, and Mission Cultural Center

A showcase for the work of emerging and established filmmakers from the United States, Mexico, Spain, and elsewhere. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing.

Iranian Film Festival
Sept. 23-24
San Francisco Art Institute

This first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran — one which hastens to point out that they have no affiliation to any political or religious organizations, a disclaimer most other film festivals aren’t required to make, because #MAGA — is a showcase for independent feature and short films made by and/or about Iranians from around the world. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing.

Art House Theater Day
Sept. 24

In its second year, this one-day festival celebrates the art house theater and “the cultural role it plays in a community” — which, yeah, let’s pretend that’s a thing. Neither the lineup nor the participating theaters were available at the time of this writing, but based on last year, it’ll probably involve the Drafthouse and a profitable English-language movie its regulars grew up watching on VHS.

Mill Valley Film Festival
Oct. 5-15
Multiple Marin Moviehouses

It’s all the way on the other side of a bunch of water, but you don’t have to stop at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza anymore, so that’s something. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing, but last year’s films included Arrival, Lion, and La La Land, and you really liked at least one of those.

San Francisco Dance Film Festival
Oct. 19-22
Brava Theater Center

This festival is a platform to present and develop dance-based films, with the goal of not only celebrating the best existing films from around the globe, but to encourage and assist local choreographers and filmmakers to create new dance films. Highlights this year include Adam Sjöberg’s Shake the Dust, a documentary about breakdancing executive-produced by Nas of the Fugees.

United Nations Association Film Festival
Oct. 19-29
San Francisco, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Stanford University

This festival spotlights documentaries from around the world on a variety of vital if wrist-slashy topics. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing, but the theme has been announced as “Respect,” and topics include “climate change, LGBT issues, GMO labeling, and overcrowding in prisons.”

New Italian Cinema
Nov. 8-12
Vogue Theatre

This year’s festival promises to bring both new and veteran Italian directors to Bay Area audiences “who are devoted champions of Italy’s culture and film treasures.” Yep, we sure are! The only film announced at the time of this writing is the World War II drama At War for Love by a director with the awesome name Pierfrancesco Dilibert, but prefers to be known as Pif. Oh, Italia.

San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
Nov. 9-12
Roxie Theater

The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival screens works promoting the visibility of transgender and gender variant people while challenging the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes, which is pretty much the definition of having your work cut out for you. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing.

San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival
Nov. 9-12 and 18
The Castro Theatre and New People Cinema in San Francisco, and the CineArts Theater in Palo Alto

The nonprofit 3rd i Films’ continuing mission: to present diverse images of South Asians while working to creative positive change through film. The lineup wasn’t available at the time of this writing.

Check out more from our Fall Arts 2017 Guide:

From the LED artist who lit up the Salesforce Tower to the collision of Rodin and Klimt, it’s going to be a busy fall.

We’re waiting to see what Hillary Clinton reveals in “What Happened,” but Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Matt Taibbi are high on our list, too.

Trevor Noah is coming to town! And Peaches Christ takes on the 1993 Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus with queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

No Treasure Island Music festival this year, sadly, but there’s a ton of excellent acts swinging through town this fall.

A relative dearth of powerhouse musicals about the Founding Fathers this season means that Bay Area theater has room to breathe again.

24-Decade Party People: Taylor Mac Hit S.F.
Performed in four six-hour segments, Mac’s drag-splosion, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, will be the defining event of the fall.

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