Hungry for something new? Head to the Roxie this weekend for San Francisco's annual International Festival of Short Films, featuring dozens of cutting-edge documentaries, music videos and animations representing 20 countries. Otherwise, check yourself into the Castro for a week of bona-fide American classics, including:
1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Sept. 9
Jake Gyllenhaal is no stranger to working with mad scientists – or, at least, mad science. It was a decade ago that he played schizophrenic teen Donnie Darko in Richard Kelly’s memorably offbeat feature about wormholes, time travel, a diabolical rabbit and an impending apocalypse.
Now Gyllenhaal, 30, is back on semi-familiar ground, playing Air Force Colonel Colter Stevens, badly wounded in the Middle East but kept alive as the star guinea pig in a top-secret – aren’t they all? – government experiment. The movie is Source Code, the second offering (after 2009’s Moon) from sci-fi surrealist Duncan Jones.
With the city's 13th Independent Film Festival set to kick off next week, now is the time to catch up on all the major players in this year's Oscar sweepstakes, including Best Actor favorite Colin Firth (The King's Speech, playing at the Embarcadero) and Best Actress favorite Natalie Portman, whose tour-de-force performance in Black Swan is currently the featured attraction at the Balboa.
1. The Illusionist
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... except yours truly, wrapping last-minute presents, watching Iron Chef America reruns, and writing blurbs for the final Indie Theater Roundup of 2009. Please put them to good use (the blurbs, that is) and have a safe, happy holiday.
1. The Bicycle Thief
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Duncan Jones wasn’t pleased with the state of contemporary science-fiction cinema. So he did something about it.
Best known as the son of music icon David Bowie, Jones, 38 – a.k.a. Zowie Bowie – has established himself as a director of high-concept commercials and low-budget music videos. Now, the College of Wooster graduate, who grew up filming Star Wars-inspired one-stop animation movies on an eight-millimeter camera with his father, has moved to the big screen with his impressively cerebral feature-length debut, Moon.
With the San Francisco International Film Festival entering its final week, one could be forgiven for rushing to the Sundance Kabuki for last-chance screenings of Tyson, (500) Days of Summer or Paul Solet’s terrifying Grace. If rushing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of attractive alternatives awaiting you at the city’s indie theaters.
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.
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: April 1-2
January is traditionally treated as a dumping ground for Hollywood's most embarrassing blunders and stalest leftovers, but there are still plenty of viable options for those seeking a satisfying night at the movies. Among them: