Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


Here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation a San Francisco theater near you... not named Friday the 13th, Push or Pink Panther 2.

1. The 11th San Francisco Independent Film Festival
Where:Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Indie Fest is in full swing at the Roxie, where attendees can choose from an eclectic menu featuring animator Bill Plympton’s latest comic fantasia (Idiots and Angels), Jeff Alulis and Ryan Harlin’s chronicle of the second wave of L.A. punk (Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records) and Great Speeches from a Dying World, a collection of riveting, real-life accounts of homelessness in Seattle. Check the Roxie’s website for listings and showtimes.

2. Synecdoche, New York
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Feb. 17-18
Why: Nothing could adequately prepare you for the experience of watching Charlie Kaufman’s tortured and often brilliant tale of an artist paralyzed by his insecurities and haunted by opportunities missed, which is at once agonizing, infuriating and profoundly baffling. Kaufman’s existential musings on life, death and the pursuit of love are sometimes messy and maddeningly self-indulgent, stuffed into a sprawling, surreal narrative that unfolds like a dream, but they are also heartfelt and wickedly funny.

3. Let the Right One In
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Feb. 19
Why: Disgracefully snubbed by Oscar voters in this year’s foreign-film category, Swedish import Let the Right One In is the moving tale of a 12-year-old innocent (newcomer Kåre Hedebrant) whose soul mate, and sole protector from the bullies at school, is a surprisingly tender vampire – at least, that is, until she bears her fangs.

4. Frozen River
Where:Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Melissa Leo, onetime star of NBC’s acclaimed cop drama Homicide, delivers a blistering performance as a blue-collar mother of two whose grim determination to stay afloat drives her to smuggle immigrants into upstate New York for cash. It is a haunting turn, rich in deep-rooted despair but nary a shred of self-pity, and well worth a look as Frozen River returns to theaters for the awards-season stretch run.

5. Annie Hall
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Feb. 13-14
Why: Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Annie Hall may be Woody Allen’s most universally acclaimed film, an amusing but, at the time of its 1977 release, uncharacteristically serious-minded departure from screwball comedies like Sleeper and Bananas. Allen has since written many tales of bittersweet, doomed-to-failure romance, but few as deeply personal or affecting.

6. The Class
Where:Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Laurent Cantet’s absorbing slice of classroom life (adapted from the novel by François Bégaudeau, who also stars) eschews Dangerous Minds-style melodrama for gritty, high-energy realism.

7. Wendy and Lucy
Where:Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: A disarmingly intimate portrait of a drifter wandering through the Pacific Northwest in search of her beloved mutt, director Kelly Reichardt’s sophomore effort (after 2006’s Old Joy) is leisurely paced and quietly moving, a portrait of abject solitude carried by star Michelle Williams.

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