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.
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
With Christmas, Kwanzaa and Festivus just a week away, the holiday season is in full swing, the malls are packed with last-minute shoppers, and the city's indie theaters are playing host to some of the year's most satisfying films.
Mateo Blanco, the great Spanish director, is blind. Or is he? We first meet him as he’s luring a beautiful woman into his home to read him the newspaper. What does she look like, he wonders. She tells him, down to the most intimate details. He asks permission to touch her, to feel with his hands what his eyes can’t see. They make love.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, the vicious political satire In the Loop and provocative documentaries like The Cove and Food, Inc., it's already been a terrific year for dedicated moviegoers. Based on the impressively strong selection of films on display at the 34th annual Toronto Film Festival, which drew to a close Sept. 19, there's plenty to look forward to in the months to come.
The Oscars have arrived, and with them the inevitable slew of so-called expert predictions. And though I find myself naturally curious, I must admit that my anticipation of Sunday evening’s ceremony has been subdued by lingering disappointment with some of the nominations. Put simply, my heart’s not entirely in it.
WALL*E should have been earned a nomination for best picture, as should The Wrestler. (A win for either would have suited me just fine.) Woody Allen’s strongest contribution in years was largely overlooked. And Bruce Springsteen, in the midst of a creative surge as strong as any in his career, managed to write a song for a movie (again, The Wrestler) without so much as a hint of recognition. Go figure.
Hyperbole runs rampant in the entertainment industry, but it’s hardly effusive to call Woody Allen a living legend.
At 72, the Brooklyn-born director of Annie Hall and Manhattan has received 21 Oscar nominations during his four-plus decades behind the camera, taking home the statuette three times. He has expanded his canon at the astonishing rate of a movie each year since 1992, and his latest, the remarkable romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona, won an Academy Award nomination for Penélope Cruz. In short, he has earned his place in the fraternity of the finest filmmakers of any era: among them, Fellini, Scorsese and the man Allen once described as “the great cinematic poet of morality,” Ingmar Bergman.
New Year’s Day has come and gone, and by now you’re already too familiar with the films hailed by critics as the cream of last year’s crop, to the extent that the official announcement of nominees for the 81st Academy Awards (due in the wee morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 22) may seem like something of a formality.