400 Screens, 400 Blows is a weekly column that takes an in-depth look at the films playing below the radar, beneath the top ten, and on 400 screens or less.
This week begins the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival. It's the oldest film festival in the world, and one of the largest, though it never gets as much publicity as Cannes or Sundance for two reasons: one is that it doesn't usually have the world premieres of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, and two is that it doesn't choose a "winner." No matter. Each year I choose my own winners, such as the following two.
When Mexican-born Fernando Eimbcke made his directorial debut with the wonderful Duck Season (2004 -- released here in 2006), he immediately earned comparisons to Jim Jarmusch with his black-and-white cinematography, deadpan humor, and a distinct lack of forward momentum in the plot. He probably won't shake that comparison with his second feature, the full-color Lake Tahoe, but it doesn't matter. This film is equally wonderful, and besides, how many good Jarmusch imitators are there?