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Indie Theater Roundup: What to See This Week

Spring has arrived, splashing the city with invigorating rays of glorious sunshine. Where better to celebrate than a dark, air-conditioned theater? As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. Labyrinth
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: April 1-2

Why: You’ve seen him parodied on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, now get a look at the real deal. David Bowie, with a bulging codpiece and a bottomless bag of diabolical tricks – to say nothing of his mullet, which defies proper description – ignites the screen as Jareth the Goblin King, the wicked prankster at the center of Jim Henson’s lavish fantasy. Bowie’s synth-heavy musical numbers are pure ’80s, but Henson’s story remains timeless.

 

Here's a clip to get you prepped:

2. The Great Buck Howard
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week

Why: John Malkovich, rarely funnier, plays Howard, a has-been “mentalist” whose glory days on the Carson-hosted Tonight Show seem a distant memory as his song-and-sleight-of-hand act plays to diminishing crowds in second-tier towns. A lesser man might feel the strain, but Howard, whose love of performing is as intense as his oversized ego and caustic temperament, stubbornly carries on. Under the top or over it, Malkovich is a pleasure to watch.

3. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: March 27
Why: Director Stephan Elliott’s tale of two drag queens (Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce) and a haughty, fiercely dignified transsexual (Terence Stamp, brilliant in the unlikeliest of his career-defining roles) sometimes feels a bit too self-consciously outrageous, but it’s heartfelt and, in its headier moments, richly comical.

4. Tokyo!
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Wildly uneven but never uninteresting, Tokyo! is exactly what you might expect from a trinity of filmmakers (French directors Michel Gondry and Leos Carax, joined by Korea’s Bong Joon-ho) who seem to revel in confounding expectations – disjointed and frustratingly problematic at times, inspired and strangely beautiful at others. For those seeking a clean break from the cinematic norm, this surreal triptych might be the weekend’s most welcome arrival.

5. The Jerk
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 31
Why: Remember the last time Steve Martin was funny? Neither do we. But even as the latter-day Clouseau fades into irrelevance, evidence of his gift for gags survives in Carl Reiner’s oft-imitated celebration of stupidity, The Jerk.

6. Sunshine Cleaning
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Crime pays in director Christine Jeffs’ offbeat comedy about a single mom (Amy Adams) and her hopelessly irresponsible sister (Emily Blunt) who look to make a quick buck cleaning up murder scenes. The movie itself is perhaps too sunny for its own good – wringing lighthearted laughs from grim portraits of human desperation is a tricky business – but Adams and Blunt make the most of their partnership with performances that transcend a dubious premise.

7. 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.