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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

If you’re ready to experience Vertigo – the Hitchcock classic, not the super-friendly bar and dance club on Polk Street – now’s your chance. As always, here’s a list of some of the films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. Vertigo
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: June 3-4

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 love and erotic obsession starring Kim Novak and the late, great Jimmy Stewart.

2. A Wink and a Smile
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 29 - June 2
Why: Ten “ordinary” women – among them, an opera singer, a reporter, a doctor, a taxidermist and a homemaker – jump headfirst into the exotic world of burlesque in this poignant and often funny documentary from first-time filmmaker Deirdre Allen Timmons. Several of the stars, including Miss Indigo Blue, Vera “The Bawdy Body” Lu and The Shanghai Pearl (a.k.a. The Tantalizing Temptress from Taipei) will appear in person after Friday’s 7 p.m. screening.

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

Why: Winner of this year’s Oscar 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 simple twist of fate, winds up preparing the deceased for burial. The story, by onetime Iron Chef writer Kundo Koyama, is predictable, but it unfolds with a satisfying, unhurried grace.

4. 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 glamorous 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 quietly fascinating results.

5. Adventureland
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Those expecting another cheerfully outlandish sex comedy from Superbad director Greg Mottola may be surprised to discover that Adventureland, despite a deliberately misleading ad campaign, is nothing of the sort. It is a far more grounded, even somber affair, populated by thoughtful, unaffected characters whose misadventures seem effortlessly authentic. It’s also one of the year’s best films. Catch it while you still can.

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 absorbing new documentary takes us behind the curtain to meet its creators and the original cast members who brought their vision to life, and to witness intimate, behind-the-scenes moments never before captured on film.

7. Know Your Mushrooms
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Inspired by a conversation with fellow filmmaker and fungi fanatic Jim Jarmusch, Ron Mann pays tribute to the world’s oldest living organisms in this strange and surprisingly engaging documentary, which tracks some of the goofier figures in the underground mushroom community (yes, one exists) and makes a case for them as potential saviors of the planet.