Winter Arts Guide: Film

There's so much more to life than Deadpool getting an Oscar nomination.

As though last week’s inauguration of the Sexual Predator-in-Chief wasn’t bad enough, the fact that freakin’ Deadpool was briefly considered a contender for a Best Picture nomination should go to show how dire 2017 has already become. In spite of the that, here are some of the filmic highlights (and lowlights) we can look forward to.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Jan. 27

Because there’s no way the final Friday of “Fuck You, It’s January!” would slip by without reminding us why this month is where cinema goes to die.

Adding that extra soupçon of fuckyou-itiveness (TM Lin-Manuel Miranda) is the film’s subtitle, which proved to be a lie when the Friday the 13th, Saw, and Lake Placid movies used it, and doesn’t seem any more likely to be true now.

SF IndieFest
Feb. 2-16

In spite of turning 19 this year — hey, you’re not so young anymore, either — IndieFest continues its youthful mission of bringing “some of the most innovative, new independent films and digital programs from around the world” to the screens at the Roxie, Brava, and Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. And there’s also the Big Lebowski Party, which we evidently haven’t outgrown yet.

I Am Not Your Negro
Feb. 3

Raoul Peck’s documentary purports to envision James Baldwin’s barely begun book on the lives of his friends and fellow civil rights icons Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., and to examine the current state of race relations. The picture’s promo material never mentions that Baldwin was also openly gay at a time when that was taboo both within and without the civil rights movement, but hopefully that’ll factor in as well.

John Wick: Chapter 2
Feb. 10

Chad Stahelski’s 2014 John Wick was a pleasantly goofy shoot-’em-up that channeled the honor-among-thieves world-building and the the balletic gunplay that characterize John Woo’s collaborations with Chow Yun-Fat. And while Keanu Reeves can’t match YunFat’s steely charisma — in fairness, only Louis Koo has come close in recent years — it should still be fun to revisit this particular vision of bullet hell.

Noise Pop
Feb. 16-20

Now old enough to rent a car without a hassle, highlights of the cinematic side of the annual festival of music and music-related things includes Ticket to Write, a documentary about the golden age of music print journalism; The Art of Listening, which looks at the science behind the art of recorded music; and L7: Pretend We’re Dead, about the seminal 1990s grunge band.

My Scientology Movie
March 3

Though early buzz has been positive, whether Louis Theroux’s experimental documentary about the cult everyone loves to hate is good or bad is almost beside the point. The real entertainment will come from the sputtering rage of the cult’s inevitable (and inevitably hilarious) smear campaign against Theroux on their @FreedomEthics Twitter account.

March 9-19

At a time when white people in power are working overtime to set back the advancements made by non-white people, the Center for Asian American Media’s annual all-things-media extravaganza CAAMFest presents the world premiere of Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu’s documentary The Chinese Exclusion Act, about the openly racist 1882 law which curbed immigration and prevented Chinese people from becoming U.S. citizens.

Learning from history should help, right?

March 10

With all due respect to Annabelle 2, further evidence that some of the best modern horror movies are being made outside of America comes in the form of Julia Ducournau’s festival-favorite Raw, about a young French vegetarian who falls off the wagon in a big way. And when the MPAA busts out the word “aberrant” — Raw is rated R for “aberrant behavior, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying” — you know a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Ghost in the Shell
March 31

Speaking again of the exclusion of Asian people, this live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s seminal manga from by Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders has been controversial ever since it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would be playing Japanese cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi. And again, it’s by the director of Snow White and the Huntsman, for crying out loud. What could go wrong?

Going in Style
April 7

After the critical and financial failure of his controversially Kickstarter-funded second film Wish I Was Here, actor-director Zach Braff is staying behind the camera for this remake of Martin Brest’s 1979 breakthrough about a trio of senior citizens (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin) who decide to rob a bank. And it probably won’t have a single song by the Shins!

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