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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

If your idea of recreational bliss includes bowling, driving around and the occasional acid flashback, make your way to the Red Vic this weekend for a cinematic experience of the most transcendent order. And if that’s not your thing, no worries – there are plenty of worthwhile films currently in rotation at an indie theater near you.

1. The Big Lebowski
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: April 17-20
Why: So you can die with a smile on your face, without feelin' like the good Lord gypped you. Any questions?

2. The Black Balloon
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week

Why: There is nothing truly surprising in The Black Balloon, only affecting riffs on a familiar story. Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) is a typical teen, handsome and painfully shy around girls. His brother Charlie (Luke Ford) is autistic, given to violent temper tantrums as difficult to quell as they are to predict. Inspired by her experiences growing up with two autistic brothers, director Elissa Down shows in agonizing but ultimately uplifting detail how Charlie’s autism takes its toll on his parents, who suffer his fits with strained compassion, and Thomas, who bears the burden of playing his brother’s keeper with increasing impatience.

3. Sugar
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Isolation and an early-life epiphany await Miguel “Sugar” Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), a Dominican pitching prospect who comes to question the limited scope of his professional ambition during a minor-league stint in rural Iowa. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (2006’s Half Nelson), Sugar is a moving, unflinchingly honest take on the immigrant experience, infused with an obvious passion for America’s pastime.

4. Sin Nombre
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s feature debut, an award-winning favorite at Sundance, follows an unlikely pair of traveling companions – one a delicate young Honduran woman (Paulina Gaytan), the other an erstwhile gang member (Edgar Flores) trying to outrun his brutal past – as they head for the U.S. border, hoping to live the American Dream. What they find is another story altogether, but Fukunaga infuses their journey with moments of breathtaking beauty and haunting, unforgettable violence.

5. Skills Like This
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week

Why: A popular selection at this year’s Indie Fest, Monty Miranda’s comedy about a struggling playwright turned freewheeling bank robber takes a few wrong turns, but thanks to his likable cast of young, criminally challenged thrill seekers, the biggest payoffs lie more in the journey than the destination.

6. Valentino: The Last Emperor
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: The Last Emperor focuses on the final two years of Valentino Garavani’s tenure as head of the haute-couture empire he built over a stressful near half-century with longtime business manager and confidant Giancarlo Giammetti. If Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary seems to capture the spirit of an era’s end, there’s a reason. “You and I are the only ones left,” German designer Karl Lagerfeld tells Valentino on the eve of his 2007 retirement. “The rest is crap.”



7. Jurassic Park
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: April 17-18
Why: Sure, Michael Crichton’s novel was smarter, scarier and gloriously bereft of Steven Spielberg’s kid-friendly sensibilities. But if you’re feeling nostalgic for the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth – or for one of the earliest and most seamless applications of CGI technology in film history – Jurassic Park is worth a return trip.