Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Despite no previous acting experience, Katie Jarvis is the heart and troubled soul of Fish Tank, the gripping coming-of-age drama from Andrea Arnold and the most exciting new release in a week also highlighted by the arrival of Storm, Hans-Christian Schmid's thriller about crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, and the on-screen return of Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness.

1. Fish Tank
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Cannes Jury Prize and bolstered by the stunning arrival of newcomer Jarvis, writer-director Arnold’s follow-up to her acclaimed Red Road (2006) follows the misadventures of 15-year-old Mia, who feels flattered by the attentions of her mother’s new boyfriend. Could Connor, played by Michael Fassbender of Inglourious Basterds, rescue her from an unfulfilling home life or prove to be the latest in an escalating series of disappointments?

2. Trimpin: The Sound of Invention
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Jan. 29-31
Why: The Sound of Invention celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of artist and composer Trimpin, for whom building a 60-foot tower of more than 500 self-tuning guitars speaks only in part to his creativity and boundless ambition. First-time solo director Peter Esmonde, part of the creative team behind 1985's Pumping Iron II: The Women, will be in attendance for both Friday screenings.

3. Storm
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Berlin-born director Schmid's latest won the Amnesty International Film Prize, and with good reason: The story of Hannah Maynard (Kerry Fox, of Shallow Grave), a prosecutor leading the charge against a former Yugoslavian National Army commander accused of murdering Bosnian-Muslim civilians, is riveting and uncompromising.

4. A Town Called Panic
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Belgian creative duo Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, whose short-length films about three plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian and Horse became a European TV sensation, bring their cheerfully bizarre vision to the big screen in A Town Called Panic, an audience favorite at the Toronto Film Festival and one of last year's most exhilirating animated adventures.

5. Creation
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Real-life married couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly don't have a catchy nickname – Jennany? Bettifer? P. B. & J.? – but they have a new movie: Creation, in which Bettany (Wimbledon) plays Charles Darwin as a man obsessed with the origin of the species and constantly butting heads with his religious wife (Connelly). Director Jon Amiel, who describes the film as "part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part heart-wrenching love story," seems strangely dispassionate in his approach to Darwin's journey, but Bettany's performance is a winner.

6. The White Ribbon
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Michael Haneke's latest assault comes billed as a children’s story, in the same way that Children of the Corn was a movie for farmers. Set in Germany on the eve of the First World War, his story takes place within the suffocating confines of the director’s own village of the damned, where a series of suspicious accidents threatens the harmony of a seemingly tight-knit Protestant community. As always, he bombards us with images ranging from the vaguely unsettling to the downright appalling, and our discomfort is his reward.

7. The Lovely Bones
Where:
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week
Why: Peter Jackson's colorful adaptation of the bestselling novel by Alice Sebold has already incensed some readers, and understandably so: Those hoping for a strictly faithful take on the story of Susie Salmon, a teenager raped, murdered and set adrift in her own personal purgatory, will not find it here. Yet Bones remains chilling enough, thanks to Stanley Tucci's sinister turn as a calculating predator.