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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Indie Fest is here, the Oscars are just around the corner, and the rainy days of winter are upon us – simply put, it's a good time to be at the movies. As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation at an indie theater near you.

1. The 11th San Francisco Independent Film Festival
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Indie Fest is in full swing at the Roxie, where attendees can choose from an eclectic menu featuring Eddie Chung’s hour-long tribute to Big Lebowski buffs (The Achievers), a documentary about convicted murderer-turned-celebrated-author J.J. Jameson (Killer Poet) and a cheerfully bizarre compilation of Japanese TV bits (Super Happy Fun Monkeybash!) that defies proper description. Check the Roxie’s website for listings and showtimes.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Feb. 10
Why: Before deconstructing the life, death and all-consuming creative ambitions of a neurotic playwright in Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman tested the limits of his seemingly boundless imagination with Eternal Sunshine, a brilliantly crafted and deeply moving tale of post-breakup regret. Kaufman’s collaboration with first-time feature director Michel Gondry is every bit the surreal, dreamlike fantasy one might expect, and the results speak eloquently about the intoxicating power of love and how carelessly it can be taken for granted and lost.

3. Nosferatu the Vampyre
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Feb. 11-12
Why: Werner Herzog’s take on the Dracula legend, a cerebral homage to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film Nosferatu, relies less on sensational scares than on pervasive eerieness and dim lighting to create an atmosphere of unrelenting dread. Herzog’s frequent collaborator (and longtime antagonist) Klaus Kinski stars in the title role as a decaying, world-weary count for whom no amount of eternal rest is likely to clear up the two-ton bags beneath his eyes.

4. Wendy and Lucy
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: A disarmingly intimate portrait of a drifter wandering through the Pacific Northwest in search of her beloved mutt, director Kelly Reichardt’s sophomore effort (after 2006’s Old Joy) is leisurely paced and quietly moving, a portrait of abject solitude carried by star Michelle Williams.

5. Frozen River
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Melissa Leo, onetime star of NBC’s acclaimed cop drama Homicide, delivers a blistering performance as a blue-collar mother of two whose grim determination to stay afloat drives her to smuggle immigrants into upstate New York for cash. It is a haunting turn, rich in deep-rooted despair but nary a shred of self-pity, and well worth a look as Frozen River returns to theaters for the awards-season stretch run.

6. The Class
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Laurent Cantet’s absorbing slice of classroom life (adapted from the novel by François Bégaudeau, who also stars) eschews Dangerous Minds-style melodrama for gritty, high-energy realism.

7. The Wrestler
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week
Why: After nearly two decades spent disfiguring his once-pretty face, suffering embarrassing run-ins with the law and starring sporadically in straight-to-DVD clunkers, Mickey Rourke is suddenly in contention for the first Oscar of his curious career. Here’s your chance to find out the reason.