The weekend forecast calls for cloudy skies and scattered showers, but you can always take refuge at the city's indie theaters, where Peter Jackson's Lovely Bones makes its long-awaited debut and former Saturday Night Live star Chris Rock investigates the lifestyles of the rich and follically fashionable.
January is traditionally a time for Hollywood studios to empty their storage lockers, tossing out the trash (like last winter's Bride Wars) and dusting off movies previously unreleased due to scheduling conflicts. No matter. The city's indie theaters remain a premier destination for cinephiles in search of top-flight documentaries (What's the Matter with Kansas?), cheerfully twisted fantasies (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) and Oscar front-runners like The Hurt Locker and A Serious Man.
Ballads of whiskey, women and heartbreak are a country music cliché, the wistful laments of road-weary troubadours resigned to lives of mistakes and regret.
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) leads just such a life. Some country crooners sing the blues for the money, but Bad is the genuine article. He has walked away from every relationship he's ever known, drunk himself into a stupor more times than he can remember, and fathered a son, now in his 20s, that he's never met. Once he played to packed houses, but when we meet him he's preparing for his latest show – at a bowling alley, with a pickup band – by drowning himself in the hard stuff.
Happy New Year! As you all know, there is no better way to treat a holiday hangover than with an afternoon matinee. (Actually, that's not true. I recommend water, sports drinks that contain electrolytes, saltine crackers and, if possible, a full-body massage. And don't forget a healthy breakfast. Eating, like reading my columns, is fundamental.)
So once you're back on your feet and ready to venture out into the brave new world of 2010, be sure to check out these fine movies, now playing at an indie theater near you.
1. You, the Living
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Jan. 3-4
'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
I’m not sure how much of The Men Who Stare at Goats is true. It’s inspired by Jon Ronson’s book, which documents a time when the U.S. military encouraged a select few in its ranks to hone their psychic abilities, believing, however inaccurately, that the Russians were doing the same. But what transpires in the movie, directed by Grant Heslov (HBO’s Unscripted) and starring George Clooney, is so flagrantly over-the-top it seems like a lunatic riff on the facts.