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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. Brazil
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 6
Why: If ever a movie demanded the big-screen treatment… it’s Blade Runner. But Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is in the conversation. As much an audacious black comedy as a dark, Orwellian fantasy, the former Python’s most universally acclaimed film – I’m still partial to 12 Monkeys – remains a blistering, eccentric indictment of a future dominated by consumerism and government-encouraged paranoia.

2. A Christmas Tale
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 8-9
Why: You’ve seen this kind of family before – dangerously dysfunctional, struggling to keep it together during a tense holiday reunion – but don’t confuse director Arnaud Desplechin’s bruising, two-and-a-half-hour Christmas Tale with The Family Stone. Catherine Deneuve's icy matriarch casts a long shadow, but the movie belongs to Mathieu Amalric, whose frantic portrayal of an unbalanced alcoholic (is there any other kind?) resonates far more than his bland eco-terrorist in last year’s Bond misadventure, Quantum of Solace.

3. Crips and Bloods: Made in America
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Directed by acclaimed documentarian Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys) and produced by former Golden State Warriors star Baron Davis, Crips and Bloods: Made in America traces the origins of gang culture that have turned some of South Central L.A.’s neighborhoods into urban war zones.

4. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Twenty-three years in the making, veteran cinematographer Ellen Kuras’ crushing (but strangely life-affirming) directorial debut tracks one Lao family’s struggle to forge a life in America, years after being abandoned by the U.S. government they supported during the Vietnam War.

5. Gomorrah
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the grand prize at Cannes 2008 and the European Film Award, Matteo Garrone’s fierce crime epic (inspired by Robert Saviano’s bestseller of the same name) depicts the foot soldiers of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate casually slaughtering one another in the name of business. That Garrone chose to present his story in documentary-like fashion, using actors whose performances can only be described as workmanlike, strips the blunt-force drama on screen of any hint of Hollywood-style glamour.

6. The Class
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Laurent Cantet’s absorbing slice of classroom life (adapted from the autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, who also stars) eschews Dangerous Minds-style melodrama for gritty, high-energy realism.

7. Spice World
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: March 6-7
Why: It’s not exactly A Hard Day’s Night – hell, it’s not even Magical Mystery Tour – but those nostalgic for the days before Posh became Mrs. Beckham may delight in the strange cultural artifact that is Spice World. Featuring supporting players including Richard Grant, Alan Cumming and none other than 007 himself (in this case, Roger Moore), the film itself is calculated camp masquerading as a celebration of girl power, but the energy is high and the beats are big and bouncy – in other words, just right for the midnight-movie circuit.