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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Joyce McKinney is the uproariously eccentric subject of Errol Morris' new documentary Tabloid, opening this week at the Embarcadero.

With the Silent Film Festival opening today at the Castro and the Jewish Film Festival just around the corner, it's a typically busy summer for Bay Area cinephiles. And if you'd rather avoid the hustle and bustle of the festival crowds, and the massive throng of Muggles lining up to greet Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, no problem – check out any of these indies for a quick cure to your summertime blues.


1
. Tabloid
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: The name Joyce McKinney doesn't mean much in America, but in England, the former Miss Wyoming became a media-created superstar during the late '70s for kidnapping a Mormon missionary, chaining him to a bed and allegedly forcing him into a sexual relationship. McKinney, who retreated from the spotlight only to re-emerge three decades later after her pit bull was cloned by Korean scientists, is the eccentric subject of Errol Morris' new documentary, a hugely entertaining chronicle of the "barking mad" beauty queen and the men she ensnares in her tangled web.

2. Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
Where: AMC Loews Metreon 16, 101 4th St., 415-369-6201
When: All Week
Why: Making his directorial feature debut, Michael Rapaport (True Romance) followed Tribe for two years, capturing a vibrant, warts-and-all portrait of the celebrated hip-hop quartet's rise to stardom and the strife that eventually tore them apart, at least temporarily. Beats celebrates the impact of their legacy, the classic albums they produced, and even the possibility, however remote, that they might one day record together again.

3. Stop Making Sense
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: July 14-15
Why: Jonathan Demme’s landmark concert film, filmed over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater, captures the Talking Heads at the peak of their powers. The sound is crisp and the music brilliant. Even more electrifying than rousing renditions of the band’s best-known hits (“Psycho Killer,” “Once in a Lifetime”) is the frenetic energy of lead singer David Byrne.

4. Poison
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: July 20
Why: Todd Haynes’ audacious feature debut was one of the most controversial of 1991 and a seminal contribution to queer cinema. Inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, Poison interweaves three transgressive tales that build toward a riveting climax. Hero, shot like a faux documentary, tells a bizarre story of suburban patricide and a miraculous flight from justice; Horror, fashioned after a B-movie melodrama, is a gothic tale of a sex experiment gone horrifically awry; and Homo explores the fascinatingly obsessive bond forged between two prison inmates.

5. Page One: Inside the New York Times
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Page One delivers unprecedented access to the Gray Lady's newsroom at a time when the Internet, having surpassed print as our main news source, is accelerating the decline of newspapers and fundamentally transforming the media landscape. Writers including Tim Arango, Brian Stelter and David Carr track the industry's metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay solvent, in an illuminating portrait of journalists struggling to produce extraordinary work under difficult circumstances.

6. The Trip
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: When Steve Coogan is invited to tour the finest restaurants in England's Lake District, he envisions a perfect getaway with his girlfriend (Margo Stilley). When she backs out, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend and source of constant irritation, Rob Brydon. As the comic duo drive each other mad with constant competitions and dueling impressions of Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Al Pacino, they arrive at unexpected realizations about food, the nature of fame and their own lives.

7. Buck
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: "Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will." So says Buck Brannaman, an American cowboy who travels the country for nine months a year helping horses with people problems. Buck, Cindy Meehl's richly textured documentary about an ordinary man who has overcome tremendous odds to lead an extraordinary life, explores both Brannaman's troubled childhood and his successful career as a real-life "horse whisperer."