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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

After a surprisingly funny cameo in Todd Phillips' smash comedy The Hangover, "Iron" Mike Tyson returns to the big screen this Sunday for a two-night stand at the Red Vic. Catch him if you can. If not, there are plenty of worthwhile alternatives playing this week at an indie theater near you.

1. Tyson
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Aug. 16-17
Why: Former heavyweight champion turned cautionary tale Mike Tyson has been described as a lot of things – a thief, a rapist, an animal unleashed and, during his professional heyday, the most terrifying fighter on the planet – but rarely has he been presented as sympathetic. That changes in James Toback’s Tyson, in which boxing's reigning anti-hero offers plausible explanations for the animalistic outbursts that have marked his troubled career. His insightful ramblings don’t absolve him of the guilt he claims to feel, but they do create a memorably harrowing portrait of a man tormented by his fears and used by an ever-changing cast of “leeches” and hangers-on.

2. 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.

3. Dead Man
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Aug. 19-20
Why: Johnny Depp plays William Blake – a mild-manned accountant from Cleveland, not the renowned poet he's frequently mistaken for – in Jim Jarmusch's mesmerizing western, a dreamlike and darkly comical meditation on death shot in beautiful black and white by cinematographer Robby Müller.

4. Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
Where:
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When:
All Week
Why:
Featuring an all-star cast of enthusiastic commentators (including Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper and George Miller), Not Quite Hollywood is a loving tribute to Australian cinema of the '70s and '80s – in particular, genre exercises like Mad Max, Alvin Purple and The Man from Hong Kong. Filled with trashy clips and cheerfully vulgar anecdotes about the people who made them, it's the ultimate guilty pleasure for cinephiles with a passion for low-rent schlock.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.