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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The release of G.I. Joe marks the unofficial end of the summer blockbuster season, meaning it's only a few weeks until the major studios will begin to unveil what they consider the year's strongest awards contenders. Until then, here's a list of the finest films showing this week at an indie theater near you.

1. The Cove
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Put simply, The Cove is a stunning, heartbreaking achievement. Director Louie Psihoyos' documentary bravely exposes the savage slaughter of thousands of dolphins off the coast of Taiji, Japan, where fishermen use sonar emissions to drive their victims into a secluded cul-de-sac and spear them into submission; the sea literally turns red with blood. It's a horror show that unfolds with all the breathtaking suspense of an espionage thriller, and a necessary step toward raising awareness. See it.

2. Double Indemnity
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Aug. 9-10
Why: Billy Wilder’s lurid tale of greed, adultery and murder is film noir at its most riveting. Wilder and co-writer Raymond Chandler’s screenplay plays like a symphony: Fred MacMurray, as a fast-talking insurance agent, and Barbara Stanwyck, as a seductively amoral housewife looking to off her husband, bring out the sharp rhythms in every line. Together, they engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse, constantly feeling each other out and grasping artfully for the upper hand. Sparks fly, and we get to watch.

3. Adam
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Max Mayer's tender drama about the complicated romance that arises between a young man with Asperger syndrome (Hugh Dancy) and his pretty Jewish neighbor (Rose Byrne) is credible, moving and slyly amusing, buoyed by terrific performances from its stars.

4. Thirst
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week
Why: The latest from South Korea’s Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) takes no prisoners – it’s a brutal, exhilaratingly original tale of vampires struggling with their newfound taste for blood. One, a deeply spiritual priest (Song Kang-ho, of The Host) before his unholy conversion, attempts to strike a delicate balance between his beliefs and his after-dark feeding frenzies; his girlfriend (Kim Ok-vin), who makes Lady Macbeth look like a pussycat, has other ideas. Chan-wook’s story, co-written with Chung Seo-kyung, is hardly for the timid, but it’s a thrill to watch unfold.

5. In the Loop
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Armando Iannucci’s scathing political comedy, a consistently hilarious Sundance darling that’s drawn comparisons to Dr. Strangelove and Thank You for Smoking, brings with it an all-star cast featuring Tom Hollander, Steve Coogan, James Gandolfini, Anna Chlumsky and Peter Capaldi of BBC’s Torchwood.

6. Herb & Dorothy
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Audience Award at last year’s Hamptons Film Festival, Herb & Dorothy tells the strange true story of a postal clerk and his librarian wife who, over the course of four-plus decades, used their very modest salaries to acquire one of the world’s most important collections of contemporary art, stuffed lovingly into their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.

7. Up in Smoke
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Aug. 11
Why: Fans of green living would do well to catch Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong’s first (and funniest) on-screen misadventure, without which Harold and Kumar might still be a gleam in some stoner’s eye.