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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

With Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian vying for box-office supremacy this Memorial Day weekend, the cineplex will be alive with the sound of sequels. For those seeking more original fare, here's a list of some of the films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. 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.

2. Rudo y Cursi
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week
Why: Eight years after Y Tu Mamá También effectively launched their international careers, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna reteam for Carlos Cuarón’s slyly amusing tale of two ultra-competitive brothers whose primary interests are limited to playing soccer and drinking beer, though not necessarily in that order.

3. 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 at Opera Plaza while you still can.

4. Treeless Mountain
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Korean-American director So Yong Kim (In Between Days) delivers another minor masterpiece with his touching tale of two girls, Jin and little sister Bin, who set off in search of their mother with little more than a loaded piggy bank and each other.

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

Why: Oscar-nominated documentarian Kirby Dick (Twist of Faith) returns to muckraking form with a blistering exposé of gay politicians attempting to lead secretive lives and promoting homophobic agendas. Dick’s fierce indignation seems justified, his argument convincing, and his willingness to “out” a handful of closeted, mostly Republican lawmakers (including California Congressman David Dreier) comes close to shocking. But most compelling is his film’s central argument – that this very specified form of hypocrisy subverts democracy and marginalizes the freedoms millions of gay Americans hope to enjoy.

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, 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.