Pixel Vision

Doo-wop (that thing): talking with the cast of 'Jersey Boys'

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The backstage musical that turned the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons — known for 1960s doo-wop ditties like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and a zillion more; you will recognize all of them — into Broadway gold ascends to the big screen Fri/20 thanks to director Clint Eastwood, a seemingly odd choice until you consider Eastwood's own well-documented love of music. 

Jersey Boys weaves a predictable tale of show biz dreams realized and then nearly dashed, with a gangster element that allows for some Goodfellas-lite action (a pre-fame Joe Pesci is a character here; he was actually from the same 'hood, and was instrumental in the group's formation). With songs recorded live on-set, à la 2012's Les Misérables, there's some spark to the musical numbers, but Eastwood's direction is more solid than spontaneous, with zero surprises (even the big finale, clearly an attempt at a fizzy, feel-good farewell, seems familiar). 

Still, the cast — including 2006 Tony winner John Lloyd Young as Valli, and Christopher Walken as a sympathetic mobster — is likable, with Young in particular turning in a textured performance that speaks to his years of experience with the role. I spoke with Young, Michael Lomenda (who plays original Four Season Nick Massi), and Erich Bergen (as Bob Gaudio, the member who wrote most of the group's hits) when the trio made a recent visit to San Francisco to promote the movie.

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American revolution: Smith Henderson talks 'Fourth of July Creek'

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Smith Henderson is all smiles. His debut novel, Fourth of July Creek, has been receiving rave reviews since its release two weeks ago, has a 100,000 copy pressing from HarperCollins, and was recently called "the best book I’ve read so far this year" by Washington Post critic Ron Charles.

"I was not expecting the Ron Charles thing ... that was amazing," Henderson says, sipping his beer on the outdoor patio of Farley’s East in Oakland. (He'll be reading from the book Tue/17 at San Francisco's Book Passage.) While the degree of success that the book is receiving tickles Henderson, he doesn’t pretend to be shocked that people are enjoying his work. "When people tell me 'I love your book,' I’m happy, but not chagrined. I wrote the book toward my interests, so of course I like my book." Henderson smokes a cigarette as he chuckles. 

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If you even have time to make it to the movies between World Cup matches...

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...read on for our takes on the new flicks of the week. Pssst: lots of good stuff still to come at DocFest, too!

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Who's crashing E3's macho-gamer party? Feminists

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The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo is like Valhalla for male video game nerds, and though many gamer blogs are covering the newest thumb-twiddling doodads, only some are now bringing healthy dose of feminism too.

San Francisco-based media critic Anita Sarkeesian is covering E3 via the Twitter machine with scathing feminist critiques of all the newest game announcements, and a new hashtag is rising up to call out a major videogame developer for not coding women into its games. Read more »

The World Cup is almost here! Where are you gonna watch?

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The World Cup runs June 12-July 13. Will the US make it out of its group? Will Cristiano Ronaldo get past the (alleged) curse upon his injured knee? Will Neymar Jr. debut a new hairstyle in front of the Brazilian home crowd? And where will you go to watch all this happen? Some suggestions below.

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New historical hipster photos showcase big-wheeled bikes from San Francisco to Oakland circa 1880

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Hipsters and bikes are as close as Instagram posts of five dollar cups of organic, free trade, Japanese drip coffee. Historical photos recently posted to the California Historical Society’s Flickr page show cycling clubs of the late 19th-century riding around the Bay Area. Yes this includes Oakland, more than a century before Oakland was cool (just kidding, Oakland was always cool).Read more »

Get some: 'This Is What I Want' fest continues through June 21

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This Is What I Want — the Bay Area’s fifth annual performance festival devoted to performing and investigating desire — seems to want it all this year, with no less than three weeks of far-flung programming. It all started last Sunday with TIWIW’s first-ever film festival, Left Eye/Right Eye, an evening of short subjects curated by San Francisco and Kansas artist Peter Max Lawrence. It continues this weekend with a performance installation and party at the Dollhouse (CounterPULSE’s new space at 80 Turk) for female-identified audience members (a category TIWIW organizers say they’re prepared to interpret liberally), followed by performances through the weekend for the all and sundry.

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TREAT SHEET 2014 (all on one page!)

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TREAT SHEET It's almost summer time: Forget about that diet -- you've got bigger things to worry about than whether you can fit into that bathing suit! Read more »

Cruise into the weekend (oh yes we did) with new flicks!

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Dudes! The (lucky) 13th San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, aka DocFest to those in the know, is underway now, running through June 19 with all kinds of weird and wonderful docs. Check out Dennis Harvey's recommendations here

From the spangly tentacles of Hollywood, we've got Shailene "I Am Not the Poor Man's Jennifer Lawrence" Woodley in a certified tearjerker, and Tom "Still a Big Enough Star to Avoid Being Cast in an Expendables Flick Just Yet" Cruise fighting aliens (and, surprisingly, his own ego). Plus: indie picks, including the latest from Kelly Reichardt and Lukas Moodysson. Read on for more.

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Good green: Lessons from the 4th annual SF Green Film Festival

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I can count on my two hands the days it’s rained in San Francisco this year. You’d have to be living in a cave to not know that our city is having its worst drought in decades.Read more »