Arts & Events

New: The Eagle Huntress: A Winning Film that Soars and Scores
Now at the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley

Gar Smith
Saturday November 12, 2016 - 11:06:00 AM

Mongolia is famous for its sweeping deserts, its snowcapped mountains, its vast blue skies, the generosity of its people, the round tents of its nomadic herders (yurt-like structures called "gers"), and the beautiful round faces of its children. But now there's something new to marvel at.

Step aside, Ghengis Kahn, Mongolia has a new hero. Her name is Aisholpan and she's 13 years old. The men in her family have been eagle hunters for 12 generations but Aisholpan is the first female to take up this "manly art." As she is quick to insist: "If a boy can do something, girls can do it as well." And, to the filmmakers'—and filmgoers'—great fortune, she goes on to prove it. In spades.

Bear in mind, we aren't talking parakeets here. Golden eagles are huge creatures weighing up to 15 pounds and equipped with wings that can span six-feet and carry the sharp-taloned predator screaming through the air at 190 miles-per-hour.

Otto Bell's astonishingly beautiful film tells Aisholpan's story with all the big screen magnificence of a Hollywood blockbuster. If this were a Disney film, the upcoming holiday season would be awash with Aisholpan dolls, guaranteed.


New: Theater Reviews:'Our Enemies' & 'Red Demon'

Ken Bullock
Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:46:00 AM

'Our Enemies' by Yussef El Guindi, a Golden Thread production, at Thick House

Golden Thread, the San Francisco-based theater company which is the first American company to focus on plays from or about the Middle East, is inaugurating its celebration of its 20th anniversary by staging the West Coast premiere of Egyptian American playwright Yussef El Guindi's satiric comedy, 'Our Enemies'--and this's the show's last weekend at the Thick House, 1695--18th Street near Connecticut, on Potrero Hill in San Francisco--info at -more-

New: Around & About--Theater: James Keller's 'Queen Lear' in Temescal Next Weekend

Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:55:00 AM

Orson Welles, among others, declared that Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece wouldn't have existed if there had been a Queen Lear ...

Playwright James Keller--a veteran of many productions at the Magic Theatre in the 80s--has continued his prolific career writing plays about the lives of older people, staging them with his troupe Poor Players.

Keller's latest in that vein is in a way like an improvised take off Shakespeare as a contemporary chamber piece, a character study of an aging headstrong woman suffering through a Lear-like loss of autonomy when her daughters confront her with their belief she has dementia and a plan to warehouse her in a care facility, bringing her ire down on them. -more-

Rachel Podger & Philharmonia Baroque Perform Baroque Concertos

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:41:00 PM

Hailed as the “Queen of the Baroque Violin,” English violinist Rachel Podger returned to the Bay Area to lead a series of concerts with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. I caught the Friday evening concert at Herbst Hall in San Francisco. The program chosen by Ms. Podger was an interesting one, featuring some lesser-known works as well as a few chestnuts. Opening the concert was the Ouverture No. 6 in G minor by Francesco Maria Veracini. This, of course, is one of the lesser-known works. Veracini, a native of Florence, performed throughout Europe as a violinist in the early 18th century. Younger than Antonio Vivaldi, Veracini made his reputation as a violin virtuoso. Reportedly, Giuseppe Tartini, himself a great violinist and an influential teacher of violin, once heard Veracini perform and was so taken with Veracini’s style that Tartini sequestered himself in Ancona until he had mastered a new technique. -more-

Movies in the Margin

Gar Smith
Friday November 11, 2016 - 05:06:00 PM

The Notorious Silent Film That Caused an Outcry

In the run-up to the SF Silent Film Festival in December, the folks at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema offered to help the SFSFF celebrate the centennial of the New Mission Theatre by hosting "A SILENT NIGHT at the ALAMO," a selection of silent era classics. The event begins this Saturday, November 12, when the infamous Diary of a Lost Girl (Germany, 1929, 113 minutes) screens at the Alamo from 7-9PM.

G.W. Pabst's 1929 masterpiece stars the luminescent Louise Brooks, who also starred in Pabst's 1928 Pandora's Box. Both films caused a furor upon their release owing to depictions of sexual themes and indictments of bourgeois hypocrisy. But those very qualities have ensured Diary—and its star, Louise Brooks—of a place in cinema history. As Henri Langlois, once wrote in Cinémathèque Française: "There is no Garbo, there is no Dietrich, there is only Louise Brooks."

The film will be accompanied by live music courtesy of The Musical Art Quintet, performing an original score by Sascha Jacobsen. -more-

Women Carry the Day in AIDA at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:43:00 PM

In San Francisco Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Aida, which opened Saturday, November 5, two outstanding women singers, soprano Leah Crocetto as Aida and mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Amneris, overcame the drawbacks of a dismal staging by trendy Los Angeles-based artistic designer Marquis Duriel Lewis, who goes by the pseudonym Retna. Director Francesca Zambello tried to make the best of this ill-conceived staging, and Zambello at least managed to inspire the notoriously statue-like Leah Crocetto to move around a bit and throw herself into a credibly dramatic interpretation of the role of Aida. With her sheer physical bulk, Crocetto’s Aida will never be the paragon of feminine beauty extolled by her lover Radames. But to her credit, Ms. Crocetto, who has never sounded better than here as Aida, also gave her very best dramatic performance thus far in her young career. -more-