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Reviews: ‘On the Road’

Under the guidance of director Walter Salles, Jack Kerouac’s monumental beatnik novel “On the Road” finally comes to the screen after spending decades in development. Capturing the transience of youth and search for meaning that defined a generation of Americans coming of age in the mid-20th century, the film takes its time struggling to straddle the line between nostalgic period piece and refreshing meditation on growing up.

Director Tanya Wexler on ‘Hysteria’

You’ve probably heard this story before: An uptight but well-meaning professional slowly but surely falls in love with his boss’ sharp-tongued, fiercely independent daughter. Such is the premise of Tanya Wexler’s newest film, “Hysteria,” starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the reluctant lovers. The catch? Set in Victorian England, Wexler’s uproarious film boasts an unlikely historical backbone that most romantic comedies lack: the invention of the vibrator by Dancy’s character, Dr. Mortimer Granville.

Review: ‘Sound of My Voice’

Zal Batmanglij’s provocative debut feature and Sundance hit “Sound of My Voice” follows a young pair of documentarians seeking to infiltrate an underground cult. Starring indie “it-girl” Brit Marling as the cult’s enigmatic leader, the film’s exploration of the boundaries between knowledge, faith and trust prove that it doesn’t take a big budget to drive a high-concept story.

SFIFF: Author to Auteur

I’m seated across from acclaimed graphic novelist and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi in a smoky (thanks to her) suite in San Francisco’s ritzy Fairmont Hotel. The author of the autobiographical “Persepolis” is every bit an extension of the outspoken, headstrong young heroine portrayed in the books, so I suppose it should be no surprise that our conversation, which began with her latest film “Chicken with Plums,” has gradually migrated into uncharted territory, encompassing death, creativity and, at the moment, the American Dream. Satrapi, as I quickly discover, has an opinion on everything.

Reviews: SFIFF Top Picks

We’ve been buzzing over the San Francisco International Film Festival and here are a few more of our top picks from the fest, which continues until May 3. No time to make the trek up to the city? Not to worry, these films will all be making their way to a theater near you in the next few months.

Review: ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

Feeling more grown-up than their first collaboration, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s newest film “The Five-Year Engagement,” about a near-perfect couple that can’t quite seem to tie the knot, still maintains that delicious mix of awkward realism, raunchy jokes and sentimentality sans cheesiness that made 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” such a hit.