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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Marlon Brando in The Godfather, playing at the Castro this Sunday.

With the 54th annual Film Festival now a fond memory, it is time to return our focus to the traditional fare currently playing around the city – not just the initial offerings of summer popcorn (Fast Five, Thor) and the indies, but, in this week's case, two of the most beloved American epics ever committed to film.

1. The Godfather: Parts I & II
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: May 8
Why:
Francis Ford Coppola's epic tale of the Corleone crime family should not require any recommendation in this space. If you're among the uninitiated, head to the Castro this Sunday afternoon to witness two of the greatest, most audacious cinematic endeavors ever attempted. Just be sure to temper your expectations when you rent the underappreciated (but very obviously flawed) Part III.

2. Taxi Driver
Where:
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: May 7-9
Why:
Another classic that requires no explanation of its greatness, Martin Scorsese's nightmarish vision of fear and loathing in New York during the post-Vietnam '70s arrives at the Roxie with a striking new 35-milimeter print. Come witness Robert De Niro at the peak of his powers, if only to erase the bitter aftertaste of another Fockers disgrace.

3. Bukowski: Born into This
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 10-11
Why: Featuring Sean Penn, Harry Dean Stanton and Bono, and painstakingly researched for seven years by director John Dullaghan, Born into This traces the legendary writer's extraordinary life, from an abusive childhood through decades of poverty and alcoholism, 14 years as a postal employee, and his eventual celebrity as a poet, novelist and screenwriter (and real-life model) for the movie Barfly.

4. Bill Cunningham New York
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: “We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, paying the ultimate compliment to fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, whose work has been featured in the New York Times for 33 years. But who is Cunningham, the octogenarian-about-town relentlessly searching for the perfect shot? Bill Cunningham New York leaves us with as many questions about Cunningham as answers. That we bother to ask them at all is a tribute to the film’s effectiveness.

5. Win Win
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week
Why: Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) returns to his hometown of New Providence, New Jersey, to capture the compelling trials and often laugbable tribulations of an elderly-law attorney (Paul Giamatti) and his burgeoning friendship with a gifted young wrestler, played by newcomer (and real-life Jersey state champion) Alex Shaffer. It's foolish to make such proclamations in March, but no matter: Win is one of the year's best.

6. Of Gods and Men
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Nominated for 11 César Awards including Best Picture, Xavier Beauvois' historical drama documents the lives of eight French Christian monks who share a monastery in the mountains of North Africa. When Islamic fundamentalists slaughter a crew of foreign workers, the monks refuse to evacuate, soon finding themselves stuck in an increasingly tenuous living situation and resigned to whatever fate brings.

7. True Grit
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 6-7
Why: Those probing Joel and Ethan Coen's latest offering for some deeper meaning, perhaps something in the vein of the poetic nihilism of 2007’s No Country for Old Men, might be disappointed. True Grit is neither a deconstruction nor a reinvention of the Western; it is, rather, a worthy addition to a venerable genre – a classic adventure, a road movie set in the roadless countryside, as much a black comedy as a sly meditation on violence.