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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

This past weekend, I declared it last call for local moviegoers hoping to discover The Most Dangerous Man in America, but what do I know? It's back this week at the Roxie, along with Jennifer Kroot's fascinating new documentary about filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. For those partial to superhero adventures, Kick-Ass arrives at the Sundance Kabuki. And in Peter Bratt’s La Mission, also at the Kabuki, brother Benjamin Bratt (TV’s Law & Order) plays an ex-con struggling to turn his life around after returning to his San Francisco stomping ground.

1. It Came From Kuchar
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: San Francisco underground filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar get their due in Jennifer Kroot's doting documentary, which features revealing testimonials by the cinematic storytellers they influenced, including John Waters and Atom Egoyan. Kroot and George Kuchar, a longtime champion of B-movie sleaze and campy, made-on-the-cheap melodrama, will attend both evening screenings this Saturday at the Roxie, with question-and-answer sessions to follow.

2. The Square
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: As illustrated here, first-time feature director Nash Edgerton and screenwriting brother Joel Edgerton, who also co-stars, are skillful filmmakers who appreciate the power of a lean, bruising narrative fraught with moral ambiguities and, in this case, too-obvious irony. Whether they follow in the hallowed footsteps of Joel and Ethan Coen – the fraternal duo to which they are so often compared, thanks to this noir, Blood Simple-style thriller – remains to be seen, but this much is clear: They're worth watching.

3. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Billed as "the world's first street-art disaster movie" – or, as The New York Times accurately dubbed it, a "prankumentary" – Exit shows what happens when an eccentric French shopkeeper sets out to befriend one of the world's most famous and fiercely reclusive graffiti artists, only to have the camera turned on himself. Rhys Ifans co-stars.

4. The Secret of Kells
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: A surprise but deserving nominee for Best Animated Feature, The Secret of Kells features 75 minutes of wondrously rendered landscapes and richly detailed hand-drawn animation, cruder but no less gorgeous than its 3-D competition at last month's Oscars. The story, a mix of Celtic history and folklore about a medieval manuscript long considered sacred by the Irish, is engaging for moviegoers all ages, but the magic here is most evident in the film's dazzling artistry.

5. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: By leaking the contents of the top-secret Pentagon Papers to the media and forever altering America's perception of the Vietnam War, former Marine and military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, now 78, helped bring on the downfall of the Nixon administration. His story is told here concisely and powerfully by Bay Area documentarians Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, who fondly recall a time when mainstream journalists were less hesitant to challenge White House propaganda.

6. The Ghost Writer
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Roman Polanski's paranoid political thriller, based on a 2007 novel by Robert Harris, is the controversial director’s most compelling work since Chinatown (1974), starring Pierce Brosnan as a disgraced former British prime minister and Ewan McGregor as the writer of his loaded memoirs. The drama that unfolds between them, wrought with deception, recalls vintage Hitchcock as it twists and turns toward its riveting climax.

7. The Big Lebowski
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: April 18-20
Why: So you can die with a smile on your face, without feelin' like the good Lord gypped you. Any questions?