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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Yes, it’s finally here. By now, you’ve probably seen the commercials billing The Hurt Locker as the year’s most acclaimed film to date – no exaggeration, given its enviable score on the all-important Tomatometer – and after two weeks in limited release, it opens in the Bay Area today. Along with Food, Inc., it ranks as the very best of the films currently in rotation at an indie theater near you.

1. The Hurt Locker
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Americans have cast their ballots at the polls and the box office, and the message is clear: Our military presence in the Middle East is only slightly less popular than the movies inspired by it. The Hurt Locker may not reverse that trend, which felled recent offerings like Ridley Scott’s underrated Body of Lies and the equally overlooked Rendition, but that takes nothing away from Kathryn Bigelow’s most gripping thriller to date. It’s as emotionally involving an action movie as you’re likely to find this year (much less this summer), but also a tense, forceful meditation on the addictive nature of combat.

2. $9.99
Where:
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Featuring the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia, Tatia Rosenthal’s visually arresting slice of stop-motion animation brings the very short stories of Israeli author Etgar Keret to the screen through a series of interwoven narratives examining the subtle charms and maddening banality of life as we know it.

3. Examined Life
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: July 12-14
Why: What do you get when you ask eight prominent intellectuals (including Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek, University of Chicago law professor Martha Nussbaum and Real Time with Bill Maher regular Cornel West) to contemplate philosophy, politics and the future of our planet? Astra Taylor’s Examined Life, a documentary hailed by the Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy as “illuminating, even moving.” Featured is U.C. Berkeley’s Judith Butler, who uses a stroll through the Mission (accompanied by wheelchair-bound artist Sunaura Taylor) to ruminate on the politics of disability.

4. Sex Positive
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Daryl Wein’s documentary about S&M hustler turned influential AIDS activist Richard Berkowitz – now 53 and living with the disease – is devastating, but also an overdue reminder that H.I.V. has, in recent years, fallen by the wayside in terms of public attention. Meanwhile, infection rates among young gay males continue to rise.

5. 1906: A City and Its People Defying Nature
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: July 10
Why: An official selection of San Francisco’s Frozen Film Festival, 1906 is, surprisingly, the first feature-length documentary to chronicle the earthquake that shook the city to its core, ignited a devastating series of fires, and left more than 3,000 dead. Filmed over a three-year period, director Alon Aranya’s latest follows the lives of the quake’s survivors and features footage of the devastation.

6. Chéri
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Based on two novels by Colette, Chéri finds Michelle Pfeiffer perfectly cast as Lea de Lonval, an aging courtesan beauty whose dalliance with a strapping Lothario 24 years her junior turns, somewhat unexpectedly to both, into a full-fledged romance.

7. Whatever Works
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Woody Allen and Larry David, Brooklyn-born comedians united by shared neuroses, join forces in Allen’s long-anticipated return to the Big Apple. The resulting farce hardly invites comparison to Annie Hall or Manhattan – it’s more an unlikely fairy tale, presided over by David’s spectacularly misanthropic nuclear physicist – but it’s worth a look, especially for those who’ve yet to see David removed from the familiar setting of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.