Beginning April 19, the San Francisco International Film Festival will once again bring an eclectic mix of both world cinema’s rising stars and veteran filmmakers to the Bay Area. With 200 films in 41 languages, panels, master classes and more, the 55th edition has something for true cinephiles and casual filmgoers alike. So straight from the programmers themselves, here is your guide to the films and events not to be missed.
“Mirror Mirror,” the first of two Snow White adaptations slated to hit theaters this year, is a sumptuous visual feast featuring all of the typical style of director Tarsem Singh, but little of the substance that made his previous films (“The Fall,” “The Cell”) tick. Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer and Lily Collins star in this lackluster yet occasionally humorous retelling of the classic fairy tale.
In “The Kid with a Bike,” directing duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne present a vivid snapshot of lower-class urban life in their native Belgium through the eyes of the precocious young protagonist. True to the brothers’ naturalistic, documentary style, the film’s simple yet poignant story manages to pack a powerful emotional punch while still leaving many questions unanswered.
Clever, hysterical and surprisingly full of heart, “21 Jump Street” proves that reboots don’t necessarily equal triteness. Inspired by the ‘80s television drama that made Johnny Depp a household name, the movie stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as fledgling cops sent undercover to a local high school in order to bust a deadly new drug operation.
. “Casa de mi Padre,” however, casts him in an entirely different light: as a naïve Mexican cowboy who gets caught in the crossfire between two rival drug lords. Although the film pushes boundaries for its genre, the greatest departure for Ferrell fans will be seeing the comedian act entirely in Spanish.
Will Ferrell portrays a simple-minded Mexican cattle rancher in the Spanish-language “Casa de mi Padre,” a kitschy telenovela-meets-Spaghetti Western written and directed by fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumni Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont.
“The Secret World of Arrietty,” the long-awaited adaptation of Mary Norton’s popular children’s story “The Borrowers” from Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”), finally received its North American release. Directed by newcomer Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, the film is a beautifully hand-drawn and touchingly crafted coming-of-age story.
In his first big screen, post-“Harry Potter” role, Daniel Radcliffe trades wizard robes for Victorian coattails in director James Watkins’ “The Woman in Black.” Adapted from Susan Hill’s gothic novel of the same name, the lackluster thriller thrives on cheap scares, but never quite manages to tap into the pathos of the story about a family’s dark secret.