Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The San Francisco Film Society's French Cinema Now, a seven-day event featuring the latest offerings from directors Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Claude Chabrol (A Girl Cut in Two), continues through Wednesday at the Clay Theatre. Elsewhere, trick-or-treaters seeking Halloween chills can find them at the Red Vic, where director Jim Isaac and writer Robert Anderson will be presenting their campy horror-comedy Pig Hunt on Friday and Saturday, and the Clay, where the costumed masses can enjoy midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

1. The 400 Blows
Where:
Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When:
Nov. 1
Why: François Truffaut’s 1959 debut, the semi-autobiographical story of a bright, mischievous adolescent who flees his unhappy home and lands in a juvenile detention center, is widely hailed as the film most responsible for the rise of the French New Wave. Yet for all its cultural significance, it remains, at its core, an extraordinarily moving human drama, capturing with poignancy, sadness and subtle humor the uncertainty of a boy yearning for freedom but not yet sure what to do with it.

2. The Horse Boy
Where: Smith Rafael Film Center, 118 4th St., San Rafael, 415-454-1222
When: Oct. 30 - Nov. 4
Why: A featured selection at the Mill Valley Film Festival, The Horse Boy is, at once, heartbreaking, frustrating and powerfully inspirational. Directed by Michael Orion Scott, it follows a Texas couple who try to treat their 2-year-old son’s autism by taking him to Outer Mongolia, where the world’s most vaunted shamans tend to his mysterious disorder. The film documents an extraordinary journey, orchestrated by adoring parents who constantly doubt the wisdom of their choices. It is also a thoughtful contemplation of what it means to be autistic, of the shamanic culture so foreign to the Western world, and of young Rowan’s profound passion for horses. Highly recommended.

3. An Education
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Written by Nick Hornby, who adapted the screenplay from Lynn Barber’s memoir, An Education is the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), an attractive 16-year-old whose conservative parents are dedicated to sending her to Oxford. Their well-laid plans are threatened when Jenny strikes up an alarmingly tight friendship with David (Peter Sarsgaard), a 35-year-old whose decadent lifestyle – he's partial to fancy restaurants, luxury hotels and foreign travel – introduces her to lessons not taught in a traditional classroom.

4. Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
Where:
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When:
All Week
Why: Nothing, not even 2005’s Ong-Bak, which elevated Muay Thai boxing expert Tony Jaa to international stardom, can adequately prepare you for the furious feats of physicality on display in Jaa’s dazzling, self-directed sequel. As in the original, the action is enhanced by camera trickery but otherwise impressively real. Jaa once again performs his own stunts and works without a net, hurling himself fearlessly into harm’s way only to kick, punch and claw his way out with gracefully choreographed ease. The dialogue is sparse and the plot laughably simple, but no matter. For martial-arts enthusiasts, Ong Bak 2 is the year’s most sublime experience.

5. Pig Hunt
Where:
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Oct. 30 - Nov. 3
Why: Faced with the prospect of becoming a 3,000-pound boar’s next meal, most guys would hit the road and never look back. Not John and his buddies from San Francisco, who fancy themselves hunters. Together, they chase the legendary beast known as The Ripper, eventually arriving at Pig Hollow, where a cast of strange, bloodthirsty creatures awaits. Named Best Horror Feature at this year’s Royal Flush Film Festival, director Jim Isaac’s “cinematic punkabilly” is silly, savage fun, and the perfect Halloween treat.

6. Big Fan

Where:
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When:
All Week
Why: Comedian Patton Oswalt stars here as "the world's biggest New York Giants fan" whose life is forever altered by a chance encounter with the team's star linebacker. Screenwriter Robert Siegel, who wrote last year's Mickey Rourke comeback vehicle The Wrestler, makes his directorial debut with this darkly comical character drama, which traces the ironic consequences of one man's obsession with his football idols.

7. Antichrist
Where:
Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Here's a grisly item. Lars von Trier’s latest provocation is, by design, a repulsive, disquieting experience, one filled with images of extreme violence, often perpetrated without any discernible reason. The question is not so much whether you’ll enjoy the film, but whether you have the stomach to tolerate it. It is, however, brutally effective in its attempts to shock.