If the prospect of watching James Franco play with primates in Rise of the Planet of the Apes isn't enough to get you off the couch this weekend, we've got several worthy alternatives in this week's Indie Theater Roundup, which comes complete with an Easter egg of sorts: a YouTube video of the late Patrick Swayze recalling his least favorite line in Dirty Dancing! Enjoy.
1. The Guard
Summer is slowly winding down, giving Hollywood just a few more weeks to unload the last of its annual sequels, prequels and remakes before Oscar season begins in earnest. The bad news, for some: School will be back in session soon. The good news: August packs a promising lineup of big-screen spectacles, including:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Aug. 5)
The primates: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis
What if there were another planet, seemingly identical to our own, orbiting the same sun, populated by alternate versions of ourselves? That’s the question Mike Cahill and Brit Marling ponder in Another Earth, a quietly engaging drama that sounds, on the surface, like a sci-fi puzzle, one of those Isaac Asimov-inspired brainteasers bound to trip over its own complicated logic.
The 31st Jewish Film Festival remains in San Francisco through the weekend at the Jewish Community Center on California Street, before moving on to exclusive stints at the Roda Theatre in Berkeley and the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. (Additional screenings at the Christopher B. Smith Film Center begin next Friday.) Among the week's highlights:
1. Eichmann's End: Love, Betrayal, Death
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 1
As high-concept adventures go, Cowboys & Aliens is a slick, efficient piece of filmmaking that delivers exactly what its title promises, and never aspires to anything more. It coasts on the rogue appeal of two leading men, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, whose chaps are as leathery as their furrowed brows.
If the goal of every screenwriter – for Cowboys, producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard assembled a small army of them – is to grab our attention in the very first frame, well, mission accomplished. Here, we find a bloodied stranger, unarmed and alone in the Arizona badlands. An elaborate device, possibly alien in nature, clings to his forearm like a parasite.
To say that critics made Kevin Smith’s career might seem to ascribe too much significance to the whims of a vocal but oft-ignored minority. But to hear Smith tell it, it was New York Times writers Janet Maslin and Dave Kehr whose unreserved praise of his modestly budgeted Clerks (1994) helped put the former convenience-store cashier on Hollywood’s map.
Let's all go to the lobby, and have ourselves a... beer?
It could happen. Well past the legal age of consumption, the 102-year-old Roxie Theater has applied for a permanent beer license. Over the past year, the Roxie has used its nonprofit status to obtain day-use permits for on-site alcohol, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that the theater is trying to make beer a permanent addition to its menu.
It's a win-win proposition. Beer sales would honor the spirit of the Roxie's mission statement, to make the theater a place of gathering and celebration; it would also strengthen the theater's long-term business model.
It’s a story as old as the movies themselves, yet Friends with Benefits manages to keep it fresh. Boy meets girl. They forge an immediate friendship, with an easy-to-spot sexual chemistry they try to ignore. Then, almost on a dare, they hop in the sack, vowing not to let it change their relationship. Romance is a complication they would prefer to avoid.
It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see where this is headed. The boy is Dylan (Justin Timberlake), a gifted art director about to move from L.A. to New York, where a dream job at GQ and a laughably luxurious Manhattan apartment await. The girl is Jamie (Mila Kunis), a headhunter who greets him on arrival.
It’s a freeloader’s delight, if you charitably overlook the extravagant cost of room and board: San Diego’s Comic-Con International – founded in 1970 as the Golden State Comic Book Convention, by a fanatical crew of forward-thinking nerds – is a celebration of advertising slyly disguised as something like philanthropy. It is a unique opportunity for toy manufacturers, movie studios and publishing houses to give back to the fans, often in the form of complimentary t-shirts, posters, key chains and other disposable keepsakes.
San Francisco's 31st Jewish Film Festival – the largest of its kind in the world, attracting roughly 30,000 attendees each year for three weeks of top-notch independent cinema – has returned to the Castro. Among this week's highlights:
1. Bobby Fischer Against the World
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: July 23
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