Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Owen Wilson and Rachel MacAdams star in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, now playing at the Embarcadero.

With IndieFest's Another Hole in the Head Festival now scarring horror enthusiasts at the Roxie, and the 35th annual International LGBT Festival just around the corner, there's no shortage of intriguing options for Bay Area moviegoers in search of an evening's entertainment. Among this week's best:

1
. Midnight in Paris
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Woody Allen's latest romantic comedy, his most engaging since 1996's Everyone Says I Love You, follows a soon-to-be-married couple (Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams) whose misadventures in the City of Love will forever change their perspectives on life and romance. As much a lighthearted farce as a cautionary tale about those whose nostalgic whims blind them to the beauty of the present, Paris may seem a minor entry in Allen's oeuvre, but that takes nothing away from its considerable charms.

2. The Tree of Life
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Terrence Malick's Life traces the spiritual journey of a disillusioned son (played as a restless adult by Sean Penn) struggling to reconcile a troubled relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). In trying to arrive at some deeper understanding of the existential, the director's visual poetry is striking, his narrative as insightful (at times) as it is frustratingly oblique.

3. Vertigo
Where:
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When:
June 8-10
Why:
Set in and around San Francisco and beautifully restored to enrich Robert Burks’ stunning cinematography, Vertigo is neither as tightly plotted as Rear Window nor as masterfully paced as North by Northwest, but it remains one of Hitchcock’s moodiest and most affecting thrillers, a haunting tale of erotic obsession starring the great Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak.

4. Playtime
Where:
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When:
June 6-7
Why:
Jacques Tati’s skillfully choreographed, nearly wordless farces about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production. In it, Tati once again thrusts the clumsy, resolutely old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a bafflingly modernist Paris. With every inch of its super-wide frame a testament to the director's visual ingenuity, the film is a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.

5. Hobo with a Shotgun
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: There’s nothing in Hobo with a Shotgun that you haven’t seen before in Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma pictures and the grindhouse films of the ’70s, save for perhaps better production values and an impressively grizzled Rutger Hauer. As well-constructed geek shows go, it’s got some heart, some laugh-out-loud one-liners and a sense of fun that escalates along with the body count. Is it a meaningful social critique? No, but does it really need to be?

6. Bill Cunningham New York
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: “We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, paying the ultimate compliment to legendary 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.

7. Wayne's World
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: June 7-8
Why: It's party time! Excellent!