The wait is over. After a brief, regrettable hiatus, the Indie Theater Roundup is back, locked and loaded for a long summer, ready with the antidote to the foppish banality of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the calculated naughtiness of The Hangover Part II. So, without further ado:
1. A Place in the Sun
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: May 28
A seemingly interminable slog through the Bangkok underworld, where a familiar scenario plays itself out to the point of exhaustion for three wedding-bound wrecks – searching once more for a misplaced buddy – arrives by way of The Hangover Part II. Whether nostalgia in this case breeds delight or contempt depends on which aspects of the original Hangover (2009) you remember most fondly.
He knows what you’re going to ask, but his lips are sealed. Maybe it’s because he has come to L.A.’s Luxe Hotel to talk about Hesher, the moving, wildly unconventional new drama about a belligerent metalhead who, it turns out, just might be Jesus. Or maybe it’s because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is honoring Christopher Nolan’s gag order. Even that he will not say.
He smiles. He grimaces. He seems quietly exasperated, but the bat is out of the bag: Gordon-Levitt, 30, will play a yet undisclosed role in The Dark Knight Rises, next year’s hotly anticipated return of the Caped Crusader. But today he’s ready to talk only about his chain-smoking, free-spirited headbanger, known only as Hesher.
The best of intentions can’t rescue a relationship that has run its course, a lesson learned through tears, small explosions and passionless embraces by Dean and Cindy, a young married couple watching the embers of their romance turn cold in Blue Valentine.
As is often the case in a union soured by time and subtle estrangements, neither husband nor wife seems eager to admit that their marriage has been reduced to a tenuous living arrangement, maintained mostly for the benefit of their 6-year-old daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka). Dean (Ryan Gosling) pretends not to notice, afraid to ask the hard questions that Cindy’s ambivalence begs.
If Werner Herzog weren’t celebrated enough for his movies, including the 1982 epic Fitzcarraldo and the 2007 documentary Encounters at the End of the World, he would still be the star of his improbable personal history.
He has eaten his shoe on camera, saved Joaquin Phoenix from a car wreck, and taken a bullet from a Los Angeles sniper during a televised interview – though, as the director quickly assured the stunned interviewer, it was “not a significant bullet.” Perhaps less remarkably, the man heralded as a pioneer of the New German Cinema admits he enjoys Baywatch, and likens WrestleMania to ancient Greek drama.
With the 54th annual Film Festival now a fond memory, it is time to return our focus to the traditional fare currently playing around the city – not just the initial offerings of summer popcorn (Fast Five, Thor) and the indies, but, in this week's case, two of the most beloved American epics ever committed to film.
1. The Godfather: Parts I & II
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: May 8
The San Francisco Film Festival closes tonight with Tournée (On Tour), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly star Mathieu Amalric's highly improvised comedy about an American burlesque troupe touring the French countryside. The lights go down on the 54th festival's final feature at 7 p.m. at the Castro, with the annual Closing Night bash following the screening at The Factory on Harrison Street.
"What better finale for the international than a rousing French film that embraces an American phenomenon, merging American exuberance with French élan," said Director of Programming Rachel Rosen of Tour, which, according to Amalric, celebrates the imperfections of burlesque and life.
Although most know Thor from the pages of Marvel comics, as a superhero distinguished by his thunderous hammer and his formidable golden mane – imagine a younger, leaner and more politically correct Dog the Bounty Hunter – the character became legend centuries ago, a central figure in Norse mythology.
There’s nothing in Hobo with a Shotgun that you haven’t seen before in Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma pictures and the grindhouse films of the ’70s, save for perhaps better production values and an impressively grizzled Rutger Hauer.
That’s not to say Jason Eisener’s feature debut, inspired by the fake trailer he contributed to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse during its 2007 Canadian theatrical run, is less than elegant in its simplicity. But there are far better reasons that “elegant” and Eisener’s Shotgun should never appear in the same sentence.
In the five years since An Inconvenient Truth turned former presidential hopeful Al Gore into a celebrity environmentalist and helped make the future of our planet a chief concern in the minds of moviegoers and voters alike, significant progress in the fight against global warming and carbon emissions has proven elusive.
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