Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Mill Valley Film Fest's grand finales


Julianne Moore in director Todd Haynes "Wonderstruck." Photo: Courtesy MVFF
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The final four days of the 2017 Mill Valley Film Festival (10/12-15) offer an array of award-season film fare at venues across Marin County. Here's a quick preview of 10 to watch.

"Wonderstruck" Director Todd Haynes spins the parallel tales of a young boy in the Midwest and a young girl in New York 50 years ago as both seek the same mysterious connection. The film reunites Haynes with Julianne Moore, their fourth outing after "Safe," a cautionary fable about a woman poisoned by toxic chemicals (1995); "Far from Heaven," an homage to 50s director Douglas Sirk (2002); and "I'm Not There," in which six actors provide impressions of poet-musician Bob Dylan (2007). (Smith Rafael Film Center, 10/13)

"Lady Bird" This Sacramento-based drama from first-time director Greta Gerwig focuses on a Catholic high school senior, Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), attempting to navigate the confusing world of college applications. (Rafael, 10/15)

"Summer 1993" Spanish director Carla Simon tells a young girl's story as she visits an uncle. Six-year-old Frida's parents have succumbed to AIDS, and the story explores the emotional journey Frida must complete to cope with her grief. In Spanish with English subtitles. (Sequoia, 10/13; Rafael, 10/15)

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" In this darkly comic drama, a grieving mother (Frances McDormand) leases three message boards outside her small town aimed at provoking the police chief (Woody Harrelson) into finding the person who murdered her daughter. Things come to a boil when the chief's deputy (Sam Rockwell), an immature momma's boy, is drawn into the case. Directed by Oscar winner Martin McDonagh. (Larkspur, 10/15)

"The Shape of Water" From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes an otherworldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of 1962 Cold War America. In the hidden high-security government lab where she works, Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in an isolating routine. Everything changes when Elisa and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones. (Rafael, 10/15)

"Call Me by Your Name" Luca Guadagnino's film unfolds over a glorious Northern Italian summer in 1983. An Italian falls for an American student who arrives to live and study with his family. Together they share music, food, and romance. James Ivory and Andre Aciman adapt the latter's novel. With Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg. (Sequoia, 10/12; Larkspur, 10/14)

"The Current War" New docudrama on electricity from filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon provides a thumbnail history lesson on how the lights came on, showing how three inventors – Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) and Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) – brilliantly married technology to human dreams and desires. (Sequoia, 10/15)

"Quest" Filmmaker Santiago Rizzo presents a true story from the streets of 1995 Berkeley. Mills, middle-school kid and burgeoning graffiti artist, is floundering until he meets a sympathetic teacher. (Larkspur, 10/14; Rafael, 10/15)

"Radiance" Japanese director Naomi Kawase's tale unites a woman who describes films for vision-impaired fans and a photographer who's gone blind. In Japanese with English subtitles. (Rafael, 10/13; Sequoia, 10/14)

"Fourth Movement" SF's own indie Rob Nilsson fashions a sound and visual treat celebrating the diverse strands of life in the Tenderloin. (Rafael, 10/14)


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