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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

With Frameline receding into the rearview and the Jewish Film Festival (July 23-Aug. 10) fast approaching, summer remains a busy time for Bay Area cinephiles. As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. Jules and Jim
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: July 5-6
Why: Released in 1962 to near-universal acclaim and international box-office success, François Truffaut’s third feature (after The 400 Blows in 1959 and Shoot the Piano Player the following year) chronicles the enduring friendship of two men – one French, one Austrian – who share everything, including a common muse played by Jeanne Moreau. The ensuing love triangle is fraught with complications and resentments, leading to a tragic end for all three that seems to foreshadow the eventual failure of the free-love movement. If that makes Jules and Jim sound like a brilliantly intuitive period piece, so be it; Truffaut’s masterpiece has aged only in years, and not a day in style or intelligence.

2. 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 surprisingly to both, into a full-fledged romance.

3. Surveillance
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Jennifer Lynch’s tale of Mickey and Mallory types combing the Santa Fe desert for fresh kills is hardly for the squeamish: It’s a taut, twisted crime procedural that veers into some seriously dark territory for a grisly finale that stays with you long after the lights have gone up. Yet for those with the intestinal fortitude to bear witness, it is affecting and largely uncompromising, the kind of movie that plunges you into a nightmare and ratchets up the intensity until you’re grateful for a moment’s respite.

4. 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 comparisons 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.

5. Tetro
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Fans and critics have long awaited a comeback from legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, who will always live to some extent in the shadow of his Godfather trilogy and 1979’s Apocalypse Now. That wait is over: Tetro, his sprawling epic about fathers, sons and the deceptions that bind and divide them, is absorbing, daring and proof that, even now, Coppola’s famous reach does not exceed his creative grasp.

6. Food, Inc.
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835; Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week


Why: Presented with painstaking research and thoughtful, evenhanded commentary from authors and activists including Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and U.C. Berkeley’s Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), Food, Inc. is a dispassionate appeal to common sense for those who would rather understand what they eat than blindly scarf down whatever’s cheapest and quickest. It's also a vital, visually stylish piece of filmmaking that is as informative as it is fascinating, infuriating and, at times, heartbreaking.

7. The Girl From Monaco
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: An assured romantic comedy from How I Killed My Father director Anne Fontaine, The Girl From Monaco follows the amusing (but rarely sitcom-like) exploits of a highly sought-after attorney (Fabrice Luchini) who falls for a younger, irresistible she-devil (Louise Bourgoin) – to the detriment of his current case and the chagrin of his tall, no-nonsense bodyguard (Roschdy Zem).