The Great Quake of '06 and The Great Film About It

P.O.V. shot from W.S. Van Dyke's San Francisco (1936) which recreates the Great Quake of 1906 and the subsequent fires.

On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 a.m., a 7.8 quake struck the City. Much of the city was destroyed during an era when retro-fitting wasn't an option. Thousands died as buildings collapsed on them. Fires raged for days. Archival photographs recall the magnitude of the devastation: block after block of rubble.

And 30 years after the great quake of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, Hollywood produced a romantic drama about the catastrophic event.

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How Nick Frost Drunk-Emailed His Producer One Time, Then Spent Millions Overcoming Fear of Dance, and Finally Got His Cuban Fury On

Categories: Movies


Perhaps best known in these parts as a fine and plump sidekick to Simon Pegg in Edgar Wright-directed comedies about zombies, cops, and middle-aged pub crawlers, Nick Frost now has a movie very much his own to tout, and naturally it is a romantic comedy about salsa dancing. Frost conceived and produced Cuban Fury as a star vehicle for himself, with help from Rashida Jones as an adorable love interest, Chris O'Dowd as a cocky rival, and Ian McShane as a grizzled dance mentor. Now he's here to talk about it.

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Cult Classics: The Swimmer is a Strange 1960s Drama

Categories: Film, Movies

Hunky Burt Lancaster on The Swimmer's box cover.

Frank Perry's The Swimmer (1968) is a somewhat forgotten film. Acclaimed at the time of it's release, it never found a sizable audience due to it's unusual subject matter. Now, after a few recent showings on TCM, it comes to DVD/Blu Ray courtesy of Grindhouse Releasing.

Frank Perry (1930-95) was a filmmaker who excelled at darkly intense character studies. His David and Lisa (1962) is a highly regarded love story set in a mental institution. Similarly, Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) and Play It As It Lays (1972), are about deeply unhappy people struggling to hold onto their sanity -- the former is set in the wealthy condos of the Upper East Side in New York City, the latter in Hollywood.

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Le Video's Indiegogo Campaign is Live, and Needs Your Help

Categories: Movies


We told you a few weeks ago that Le Video, San Francisco's most robust video store since 1980, is on the verge of closure, and their collection of approximately 80,000 titles may disappear.

The first step to keeping any business alive is of course to give it your business (and please keep doing that in the short-term!), but Le Video needs a bit more cash in order to evolve into a sustainable model, and that's where their Indiegogo campaign comes in.

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5 Movies That Inspired Movies

Categories: Movies


"I think all stories have been around for a few thousand years," George Lucas once said, in an interview about Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.

This week the Criterion Collection released a definitive edition of Kurosawa's film, along with that Lucas interview, in which he also explained its major influence on Star Wars. So if in a few thousand more years we finally comprehend the totality of cinema -- a vast multiverse of remakes, ripoffs, homages and references -- at least some thanks will be due to filmmakers such as these. In their honor, therefore, we present a short list of movies that inspired movies.

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Love and Demons: J.P. Allen is In Love with San Francisco

J.P. Allen
Writer/director J.P. Allen plays Mr. D in Love and Demons

Love and Demons, J.P. Allen's dark, quirky, Woody Allen-ish romantic comedy, is a love letter to San Francisco. The City resident, a dancer turned filmmaker, offers a stylish, sophisticated look at neurotic love by the bay.

An unnamed couple, billed only as Man and Woman (Chris Pflueger, Lucia Frangione) navigate their way through a stormy, dysfunctional relationship as two demons, Mr. D (Allen) and Ms. D (Arnica Skulstad Brown) pull all manner of devilish strings along the way.

The writer/director chatted with SF Weekly about his unusual, wildly original, and ultimately insightful little movie.

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Be Kind, Don't Rewind Le Video: Let's All Help the Video Store Stay Alive

Categories: Movies

Le Video, at 1231 9th Avenue between Irving and Lincoln -- and San Francisco's best video store since opening its doors in 1980 -- is on the verge of closing.

San Francisco is life, life is change, and that means San Francisco changes, especially the stuff that made it so cool when you arrived a decade or two ago. And when I arrived in 1994 to go to film school at SF State, Le Video was just about coolest thing I'd ever seen. (We laugh about the technology now, but the laserdisc selection just blew my mind.)

But that doesn't mean we can't fight the bad changes. And we should all fight to keep Le Video alive in one form or another.

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Big Bad Wolf: Crime and Punishment in the Trailer Park

Big Bad Wolf: DVD Box cover

Originally titled Huff, Paul Morrell's violent new psycho-thriller comes out on DVD today as Big Bad Wolf. The credits claim that the story was inspired by The Three Little Pigs. Though there are thematic similarities between the film and the children's nursery rhyme, Big Bad Wolf is closer in tone to a crime thriller, with elements of slasher classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th added for good measure.

The film's title, and it's marketing campaign misled some to assume that Big Bad Wolf is a werewolf movie. It is not.

Charlie O'Connell, a likable actor best known for his work in lighter fare, gets to show off his acting chops in this movie. As Huff, the stepfather from hell, he screams, laughs maniacally, and kills one person after another (sometimes after torturing them) with a rage-filled glee that's genuinely frightening. O'Connell is superb, and may have opened up his career to all new possibilities with this performance.

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Oscars 2014: A Night of Selfies, Hashtags & Hipsters

Instagram/ @TheEllenShow

It's official. The Oscars have finally crash-landed into the 21st century and the results are record breaking.

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S.F. Film Society Artist in Residence Sebastián Silva on Not Reading Other People's Scripts, Making His Own Film's Evil Twin, and More

Categories: Movies

Photo by Pamela Gentile, courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

"I'm so not a film person," says Chilean director Sebastián Silva, leaning into a couch at FilmHouse in the Fillmore, where for two weeks this month he's the San Francisco Film Society's artist in residence. "It's almost a coincidence that I'm making movies. I still don't know how to talk about cameras or lenses or all that."

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