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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The fourth annual Artists' Television Access Film & Video Festival, a celebration of underground film dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging and established artists from around the world, winds to a close tonight with "Stories We Tell Ourselves," a program featuring Myth Labs, Martha Colburn's fascinating contemplation of Puritanism and the current Methamphetamine epidemic, and Chorus, San Francisco artist Paul Clipson's brilliant collage of lights and sound. The films will be followed by a musical performance by the Los Angeles band Karma McCartney, as well as the announcement of the festival's audience award winner. Tickets can be purchased via Paypal. Elsewhere:

1. Rabbit Fever
Where:
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Oct. 25
Why: Director Amy Do's endearingly amusing feature-length debut follows the annual competition at the National American Rabbit Convention, where more than 20,000 rabbits and their adorably quirky breeders gather to celebrate their common passion. Adults vie for the "Best in Show" title, while teenage attendees contend for "Rabbit King" and "Rabbit Queen" honors. If that makes Rabbit Fever sound like something Christopher Guest might have dreamed up for one of his mockumentaries, that's not far off the mark, though Do, an avowed fan of the competition, clearly has a real affection for her subjects that's sometimes missing from Guest's razor-sharp barbs. An official selection of the San Francisco Documentary Festival, Fever remains an intriguing work in progress, with a special sneak preview scheduled Sunday at the Roxie. It plays with So You Think You Can Dance Dance?, Michael Sage's 14-minute short about the Mississauga Playdium Tournament, where Dance Dance Revolution enthusiasts strut their stuff. For tickets, click here.

2. 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.

3. The Vanished Empire
Where:
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week
Why: Veteran Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov, still a relative unknown to American audiences, assesses the collapse of the Soviet Union in The Vanished Empire, the latest San Francisco Film Society selection to arrive at the Sundance Kabuki. His conclusion, that a younger generation of Russians doomed the empire by failing to appreciate their cultural history and embracing Western culture (as represented here by classic Beatles, Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones albums), is both convincing and elegantly bittersweet.

4. Woodstock
Where:
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Oct. 25-26
Why: Michael Wadleigh's Oscar-winning documentary, released a year after the three-day celebration of peace and music that drew half a million people to Bethel, New York, captures the brilliance of the music and the essence of the moment. An expanded version, unveiled in June to mark the festival's 40th anniversary and arriving at the Red Vic on Sunday, features previously unreleased footage of performances by Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Creedence Clearwater Revival, among others.

5. 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. Producer Nick Gallo and co-star Gino Cafarelli (2006's The Good Shepherd) will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after the 7:10 screening Friday at the Lumiere.

6. Let the Right One In
Where:
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Oct. 28-29
Why: Disgracefully snubbed by Oscar voters in last year’s foreign-film category, Swedish import Let the Right One In is the moving tale of a 12-year-old innocent (newcomer Kåre Hedebrant) whose soul mate, and sole protector from the bullies at school, is a surprisingly tender vampire (Lina Leandersson) – at least, that is, until she bears her fangs.

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.