If your post-holiday plans don't involve football and a tryptophan-induced nap, make your way to Embarcadero Center, where some of this year's strongest Oscar contenders, including 127 Hours and Fair Game, are now playing. Check out the Castro's two-day celebration of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, beginning Saturday. Or update your Netflix queue to include John Hughes' classic Thanksgiving comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Happy Turkey Day!
1. Animal Kingdom
The return of Japanese filmmaking master Akira Kurosawa to the big screen should be reason enough to abandon the beautiful sunshine for nearly three hours. If not, a strong weekend of debuts should sweeten the deal. As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently playing at an indie theater near you.
The Oscars may be over, but the big winners – The Hurt Locker, Crazy Heart and Avatar, as well as acclaimed foreign nominees like The White Ribbon and A Prophet – are still playing at an indie theater near you. Elsewhere, Matt Damon returns as a very Bourne-like soldier hunting nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone.
The creative pairing of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass has yielded two gripping sequels to The Bourne Identity (2002) and now Green Zone, another skillful exercise in breakneck storytelling that finds Greengrass questioning the sincerity of America’s search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
It is 2003, and Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is hunting for Saddam Hussein’s rumored WMDs, but finding little to justify his search, much less America’s occupation of foreign soil.
It begins, of course, with the box, a curious-looking device on which rests a large red button. It arrives on the couple’s doorstep along with a calling card, under the cloak of night. But why?
A stranger arrives at their door the next day with an offer too tempting to ignore. Press the button and collect a million tax-free dollars, in cash. The catch? Someone – comfortingly, another stranger – will die.
Nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, and though there were few surprises in the major categories – one notable exception being The Blind Side, a surprise contender for Best Picture in this year's expanded category – the races should be tighter and less predictable than in years past. The following is a list of the nominees, with the presumed favorite denoted by an asterisk. Conventional wisdom can change in a hurry, though – just ask Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, whose movie was erroneously considered a shoo-in for the top prize that went to Crash in 2006 – before the ceremony's official telecast on Sunday, March 7.
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
Invictus takes its title from a poem by Britain’s William Ernest Henley, first published in 1875, that Nelson Mandela recited while imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in captivity. It is Latin for “unconquered,” an apt summation of Clint Eastwood’s workmanlike drama about the power of sport to promote unity in post-apartheid South Africa.
For those who've never had the pleasure of attending, the Found Footage Festival is a riotous, one-of-a-kind experience, and it's coming to the Red Vic this weekend. Conceived as "a celebration of odd and hilarious videos" by founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, who began collecting obscure footage in 1991 after discovering an embarrassingly simpleminded McDonald's instructional tape for prospective janitors, the festival previously featured commercials gone wrong and a priceless mini-documentary about Corey Haim. This year's edition promises many more must-see missteps. Elsewhere:
If you've never seen Dr. Strangelove or the original Nosferatu, here's your chance – both are returning to the big screen this week in extremely limited engagements. Elsewhere, Roy Andersson's acclaimed comedy You, the Living (currently boasting a perfect score on the Rotten Tomatometer) arrives at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, making this week a fine time to visit the Bay Area's indie theaters.