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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

San Francisco’s Indie Fest ushers in two weeks of startlingly original sci-fi, unrelenting horror and demented fantasy as the sixth Another Hole in the Head film festival kicks off Friday evening at the Roxie. (For a complete schedule of this week's screenings, visit the festival's official site.) For fans of controversial Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike, Another Hole in the Head features not one but two of his most recent thrillers, in addition to an eclectic slate of unusually high-minded documentaries (Monsters from the Id) and sexploitation flicks (Sex Galaxy). And if you'd prefer to keep your head hole-free, there are plenty of worthy alternatives awaiting you at the city's indie theaters.

1. Detective Story
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: June 9
Why: Takashi Miike’s 2007 crime drama finds the famously prolific director returning to his roots, splattering the screen with eviscerated guts but rarely missing an opportunity to work in a well-timed joke. The movie borrows liberally from the classics – notably, Michael Mann’s Manhunter and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho – but rarely feels derivative thanks to Miike’s trademark touches, which include blood-soaked slapstick and flesh-eating maggots.

2. Fados
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week
Why: A featured selection at last year’s International Film Festival, Carlos Saura’s Fados (named after a popular style of Portuguese folk song) is a richly fulfilling celebration of a musical phenomenon born in Lisbon during the early 19th century and since popularized by the likes of Mariza, Carlos do Carmo and Chico Buarque. After a half-century in the film industry, Saura, whose 1980 comedy Mamá Cumple Cien Años earned him a long-overdue Oscar nomination, delivers one of his liveliest efforts here, an unexpected treat for fado aficionados and the uninitiated alike.

3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: June 9
Why: Amy Heckerling’s cynical slice of high-school life, adapted for the screen by first-time scriptwriter Cameron Crowe, is far from the contemporary classic its fans allege it to be, but it does feature a solid cast of future stars – among them, Sean Penn, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Jennifer Jason Leigh – and one character, Penn’s  Jeff Spicoli, who would become a stoner icon for the ages.

4. Departures
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Yôjirô Takita’s Departures chronicles in tenderly sentimental terms the odd, life-affirming journey of an unemployed cellist (Masahiro Motoki) who, through a twist of fate, winds up preparing the deceased for burial. The story, by onetime Iron Chef writer Kundo Koyama, is predictable but satisfying, unfolding with unhurried grace.

5. The Girlfriend Experience
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Steven Soderbergh’s clinical portrait of a high-priced Manhattan escort (played by porn star Sasha Grey) isn’t always pretty – it’s uncomfortable at times, frustratingly inert at others – but it feels true to life and to the less appealing side of human nature. If Grey’s crossover to the mainstream isn’t exactly a revelation, it’s competent enough. But the real credit belongs to Soderbergh, whose latest experiment yields fascinating results.

6. Every Little Step
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Having been performed in 22 countries over the course of four wildly successful decades, A Chorus Line is no ordinary Broadway smash – it’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon. James Stern and Adam Del Deo’s stunning new documentary takes us behind the curtain to meet its creators and the original cast members who brought their vision to life.

7. Crows: Episode Zero
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: June 5, 9 and 11
Why: Based on Hiroshi Takahashi’s comic books, Miike’s Crows is a fast-paced exercise in style, blissfully divorced from reality as it depicts the frenetic, manga-inspired violence that ensues when rival high-school gangs battle for supremacy.