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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Julie Andrews stars in The Sound of Music, now playing at the Castro.

Still stuffed from Thursday's annual binge? Try a strictly popcorn diet (minus the artery-clogging globs of movie-theater butter) this weekend at one of the city's indie theaters, where you can choose between some of the year's rumored Oscar contenders (Hugo and The Descendants, both playing at the Sundance Kabuki) or seek out more obscure delights (C. Scott Willis' award-winning documentary The Woodmans, at the Roxie through Monday).

1. The Sing-A-Long Sound of Music

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: All Week
Why: The Castro is alive this week with the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, which returns the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic to the big screen in impressive widescreen, with subtitles to encourage audience participation. As is the custom at the theater's ongoing series of interactive musicals, goody bags will be distributed to all attendees, who can compete in a costume contest by dressing up as their favorite character. Each showing will be preceded by a pre-screening performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein favorites by Castro organist David Hegarty, a.k.a. The Mighty Wurlitzer.

2. The Swell Season
Where:
SFFS-New People Cinema, 1746 Post St., 415-525-8600
When: All Week
Why:
After earning an Oscar for their 2006 musical romance Once, folk singers Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová capitalized on their newfound fame with an impromptu two-year tour. Season, their intimate, black-and-white documentary, finds the couple riding an unexpected wave of popularity and seemingly in love. Here, we're privy to both their on-stage interplay and the quieter moments, away from the spotlight, of intense soul-searching. Deftly balancing these facets of their increasingly complicated, too-public lives, the film paints a poignant story of two suddenly risen stars struggling with the trappings of fame.

3. My Week with Marilyn
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Michelle Williams delivers an impressively convincing, Oscar-caliber performance in Simon Curtis' directorial debut, about the week Marilyn Monroe spent acclimating to the simpler pleasures of British life with Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an assistant on the set of her 1957 romantic comedy The Prince and the Showgirl. Clark – then 23 and, like so many of the men who gravitated toward the sweet, almost childlike starlet, hopelessly smitten with her charms – published his diary of the experience 40 years later. This is his story, slight but skillfully told.

4. Sigur Rós: Inni
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When:
All Week
Why: While Heima (2007) attempted to explain their ethereal sound by putting it in geographical and historical perspective, the Icelandic "post-rock" quartet's second live film focuses purely on performance, artfully and intimately captured by French-Canadian director Vincent Morisset (Arcade Fire’s Miroir Noir). Interweaving archival material from the band’s first decade with sometimes punishingly intense concert footage, Inni is a fascinating glimpse of the group in its most compelling element.

5. Melancholia
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Lars von Trier’s latest sounds like an experiment in self-parody for the Danish director, who, after wallowing in the unrelenting despair of Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves, has exhausted all his options save one: obliterating earth altogether. Yet Melancholia, powered by Kirsten Dunst’s startling, career-best performance as a disaffected bride-to-be who welcomes the world’s end, is never so sentimental as to seem mawkish. More invigorating as a spectacle than a story, von Trier’s melodrama is crisp, engaging, even darkly comical, just never quite transcendent enough.

6. Into the Abyss
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Werner Herzog doesn’t shy away from the gruesome fact of Into the Abyss, about a triple homicide committed by two Texas teenagers – one of whom was executed nine years later for the crime – or the heartbreak they left behind. He has made moving documentaries before, among them Grizzly Man (2005) and last spring’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Abyss ranks with his best. This is vital, mesmerizing cinema, unequivocal in its denunciation of all kinds of murder.

7. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Sean Durkin’s stylish debut, involving a troubled woman (Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) who suffers a meltdown after fleeing an abusive Connecticut commune, earned him this year’s Sundance Directing Award. An alliterative mouthful, Marlene also seems primed to make a star of Jody Lee Lipes (Tiny Furniture), whose stunning cinematography has received early raves.