July 24--Five more film highlights from the 33rd annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
"Afternoon Delight": This film by San Francisco director Jill Soloway excels at expressing the unhappy malaise afflicting a rich L.A. couple (Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor: both terrific). When they invite a stripper (Juno Temple, suitably street-smart and steamy) into their cushy lives, the bump and grind of everydayness changes and chaos ensues. Soloway is all over the map in her debut, but this well-acted tone-shifter is certain to get a rise out of you. I liked it, problems and all. (6:30 p.m., Aug. 3, the California, followed by a discussion about the film with Soloway at the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley. The film opens in Bay Area theaters in August).
"My Awkward Sexual Adventure": Equally appealing but in a more exuberant puppy dog way, this film is about a lackluster-in-the-sack Jordan (Jonas Chernick, charming) receiving Sex Ed 101 from -- you guessed it -- a stripper! (Emily Hampshire). "Sexual Adventure" is refreshing in its sexual honesty, but a subplot about Jordan's shrewish girlfriend is way overdone and stops the film in its tracks. (And note to writers: Let's put a moratorium on the deployment of strippers.). (9:50 p.m. July 27 at the Castro; 8:45 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Grand Lake, Oakland)
"Gideon's Army": Think your job is tough? Try being a public defender. That's the message of Dawn Porter's gripping documentary about
three lawyers in the South that are committed to providing legal counsel for those who can't afford it. It is fly-on-the-wall observant, with Porter spending most of the time on a pair of cases being handled by two relatively new lawyers. It's a compelling portrait of not just lawyers and the law, but the people they are trying to help. (6:50 p.m. July 26, the Castro; 3:55 p.m., Aug. 10, the Grand Lake)
"In the Shadow": Film noir isn't in vogue like it used to be, but don't tell that to director David Onriceck. With this gorgeously shot political thriller set in 1950s Prague, he's mastered the genre. There's a lot of smoke along with suspicion when a detective (Ivan Trojan) investigates a small-time crime and uncovers some big-time corruption. The acting is top shelf, and the screenplay takes time to flesh out the characters and then deliver an ending that socks us in the gut. Love the dramatic music too. (4:10 p.m., Aug. 3, JCCSF; 8:55 p.m. the California; and 8:10 p.m., Aug. 5, Cinearts).
"Out in the Dark": Michael Mayer's gripping gay romance deservedly took home best first feature honors at this year's Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT film festival. The passionate tale of two lovers -- a Palestinian grad student (Nicholas Jacob) and a lawyer (Michael Aloni) living in Tel Aviv -- is a heartbreaker. Mayer, who also cowrote the screenplay, consistently finds the right tone, making his two leads as appealing and human while the cultural and political forces trying to drive them apart are realistic and uncompromising. "Out in the Dark" doesn't shout out its message, and that is exactly why, in the end, it is so sadly powerful. (9 p.m. July 29, the Castro; 8:55 p.m. Aug. 2, the California; 6:35 p.m. Aug. 8, CineArts, Palo Alto).
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