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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... except yours truly, wrapping last-minute presents, watching Iron Chef America reruns, and writing blurbs for the final Indie Theater Roundup of 2009. Please put them to good use (the blurbs, that is) and have a safe, happy holiday.

1. The Bicycle Thief

Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Vittorio De Sica's neorealist classic returns to the big screen 60 years after its U.S. debut, this time with a gorgeous new 35mm print. Screenwriter Cesare Zavattini's timeless story, of a jobless man crestfallen at the loss of his bicycle, has never looked sharper. Catch it while you can during its weeklong run at the Roxie.

2. Crazy Heart
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Best known as The Dude to Lebowski lovers worldwide, Jeff Bridges delivers one of his most memorable performances as Bad Blake, the hard-living country singer stumbling toward a shot at redemption in writer-director Scott Cooper's promising feature debut.

3. Baraka
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Dec. 26-28
Why: Director Ron Fricke (Chronos) traveled to 24 countries, making stops at Mount Everest, Tiananmen Square, the Pyramids of Giza and the Galapagos Islands, during the filming of Baraka, his breathtaking exploration of the world and the life it sustains.

4. Broken Embraces
Where:
Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124; Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Penélope Cruz, who earned an Oscar nomination for her fiery performance in director Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver (2006) and took home the statuette for her supporting role in last year’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, commands the screen here with a presence both authoritative and graceful. Lena, the sought-after beauty she plays in Broken Embraces, may be more vulnerable than some of her most memorable characters – Lena is battered, emotionally and physically – but thanks to Cruz, who projects strength effortlessly, there is no doubting her fortitude.

5. A Single Man
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: An official selection of the Toronto, Tokyo and London film festivals, former fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut, about a homosexual English professor contemplating suicide after the death of his lover, gives Colin Firth (BBC's Pride and Prejudice) what he has long deserved: a richly conceived starring role worthy of his talents.

6. Me and Orson Welles
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Christian McKay, who previously starred in a one-man stage show as the Citizen Kane director both in his prime and his declining years, is a revelation in Richard Linklater's new comedy, with a performance both fearless and mesmerizing. This is a man who has done his homework. He captures Welles’ mannerisms, including his incomparable rumbling baritone, with uncanny precision. But to describe McKay as a master impersonator would be an injustice. He is channeling a prodigious spirit here, and his work should put him in the first rank of Oscar contenders.

7. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Dec. 29-30
Why: Documentarian D. A. Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back) captures David Bowie on the final night of 1973’s Ziggy Stardust tour. ’Nuff said.