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Michael Fassbender

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Dreaming of a white Christmas? You're probably out of luck. But for those whose holiday celebrations traditionally involve a trip to the movies – as well as those who've lost their taste for the TBS network's annual 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon – San Francisco's indie theaters are serving up a seasonal concoction of time-honored Hollywood classics and contemporary Oscar hopefuls. Among them:

1. War Horse

Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650; Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa St., 415-221-8184
When: All Week

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

What better way to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas than with two blood-curdling chillers – The Birds and The Shining – playing this weekend at the Castro? Elsewhere, Paul McCartney: The Love We Make, which follows the onetime Beatle around New York in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, arrives Friday at the Roxie Theater.

1. The Birds

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Dec. 16

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Seeking an antidote to the holiday season's traditional tidings of great joy? Director Takeshi Kitano (1997's Fireworks) returns this week at the Lumiere Theatre with Outrage, a bloody, deliriously eccentric gangland drama about rival yakuza clans competing for the favor of their head family in the Japanese underworld. Elsewhere:

1.
Noir City Xmas
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Dec. 14

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

December is here, leaving critics and industry insiders to sort through the year's offerings, separating the contenders from the pretenders in the race for Oscar gold. This weekend brings to the Bay Area a popular dark horse: The Artist, a love letter to the era of silent cinema that could upset expected favorites War Horse, The Descendants and Hugo this February at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

X-Men Claw Their Way Back to the Ranks of the Superhero Elite in 'First Class'

Ah, to be young and a mutant. To be able to read minds, to soar high above the clouds, even to shape-shift into a supermodel one lonely night at the bar. Sounds like a blast? Think again.
 
The genetic anomalies of X-Men: First Class are a conflicted bunch, initially baffled by their superhuman gifts and, ultimately, persecuted because of them. They are feared, reviled and misunderstood, but when the world seems to teeter on the brink of nuclear holocaust, as it did during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, they prove uniquely talented as peacekeepers.
 

Dog Days Ahead: June Movie Preview

Just as winter is the season of Oscar hopefuls, the dog days belong to big-budget popcorn fare – star-studded comedies, explosive adventures and comic-book crusaders bent on saving humanity from imminent destruction. This June will be no different, with a strong crop of contenders mining for box-office gold, including:

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Inspired by the true story of Danny Greene, a onetime labor leader turned gangster who rose to fame during the summer of 1976 as the man Cleveland's Italian mafia couldn't seem to murder, Kill the Irishman arrives at the Century Centre 9 on Market Street today, bringing with it a stellar cast led by Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio and Paul Sorvino. Elsewhere:

1. The Wizard of Oz Sing-Along

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: All Week

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The International Asian American Film Festival heads south to San Jose through March 20, paving the way for next week's return of the Disposable Film Festival, a four-day celebration of do-it-yourself filmmaking kicking off at the Castro on Thursday. Looking for more immediate gratification? Try tonight's debut of The Lincoln Lawyer – a must-see for fans of law, order and Matthew McConaughey's down-home Southern drawl – at the Sundance Kabuki.

1. The Disposable Film Festival's Competitive Shorts Night

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

With roughly 120 films to complement its delectable menu of musical performances and interactive-art exhibits, the 29th International Asian American Film Festival is now underway, through March 20, in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. For tickets, click here. Elsewhere:

1. Dazed and Confused

Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 15-16

Roman Holiday: The Empire's Ninth Legion Meets a Bloody End in 'Centurion'

Inspired by the demise of the Roman Empire’s Ninth Legion, a legendary unit founded by Julius Caesar and thought to have met a bitter end nearly two centuries later in what is now Scotland, Centurion is less grandiose than Zack Snyder’s 300 but every bit as brutal. If the sight of severed limbs leaves you squeamish, you’ve been warned.
 
Those seeking a history lesson would be foolish to consult the latest, bloodiest offering from director Neil Marshall, whose past credits include the crudely effective Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005), his claustrophobic venture into a subterranean abyss populated by flesh-hungry humanoids.

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