Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


For those who've never had the pleasure of attending, the Found Footage Festival is a riotous, one-of-a-kind experience, and it's coming to the Red Vic this weekend. Conceived as "a celebration of odd and hilarious videos" by founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, who began collecting obscure footage in 1991 after discovering an embarrassingly simpleminded McDonald's instructional tape for prospective janitors, the festival previously featured commercials gone wrong and a priceless mini-documentary about Corey Haim. This year's edition promises many more must-see missteps. Elsewhere:

1. Back to the Future
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Oct. 6
Why: I doubt it necessary to tout the merits of Robert Zemeckis' original time-traveling odyssey, which led to two serviceable sequels (Part III, upon recent review, has aged surprisingly well) en route to becoming a pop-culture staple. But just in case, it's playing for one night only at the Red Vic. Those who missed the '80s would be remiss not to check out Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, the role that made the diminutive Family Ties star a movie icon as well.

2. Oblivion
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week
Why: Documentarian Heddy Honigmann returns to her native Peru to explore “the forgotten city” of Lima, where decades of social, political and economic turbulence have left residents scarred but determined to survive. As captured through a series of lengthy interviews, their experiences are alternately harrowing, bittersweet and depressingly familiar. Tales of poverty and government corruption rule the day, and Honigmann presents them with intelligence and compassion.

3. Soul Power
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Oct. 7-8
Why: Revisited in the Oscar-winning 1996 documentary When We Were Kings, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's epic "Rumble in the Jungle" has only grown in legend during the 35 years since it transpired in Kinshasa, Zaire. But the raucous festivities that preceded it – a three-night music festival featuring the likes of James Brown, B. B. King, the Crusaders and the Spinners – have largely been overlooked, even by Kings. Soul Power brilliantly recaptures the excitement of that musical extravaganza, known as “Zaire ’74,” and serves up rare, candid footage of Ali, fight promoter Don King and writer George Plimpton.

4. Amélie
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: Oct. 3-4
Why: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's adorably original romantic comedy introduced the world to Audrey Tautou, and remains one of this decade's most memorable and oddly influential films. (Where would we be without Travelocity's roving garden gnome, for instance?) You can catch Tautou here, as part of the Clay's After Dark series, or in her latest offering...

5. Coco Before Chanel
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Played by Tautou, who radiated sweetness and warmth in Amélie but has no trouble doing the opposite here, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel would become one of the legendary fashionistas of her era. Yet director Anne Fontaine is more interested in the designer’s formative years, which began, in abject poverty, in an orphanage. The result is a chronicle of ambition pitted against a social system designed to keep women like Chanel in their place. Her legacy is proof of its failure.

6. Inglourious Basterds
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Is Basterds, an audacious spaghetti western-style World War II fantasy, Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, as the movie’s final shot not so subtly suggests? Having seen it three times – his are among the rare films that demand (and reward) repeat viewings – I believe it’s one of them, though there are others, namely Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. This is superior storytelling from one of cinema’s most talented directors.

7. The Informant!
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week
Why: Steven Soderbergh's highly stylized farce is never boring, and the humor resonates more often than not, but watching inept corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) bury himself in ludicrous deceptions is a chore; at some point, his madness becomes maddening. What makes the movie work is Damon’s inspired performance: His manic, unflagging energy is appealing at first, but seems finally like the last recourse of a man desperate to escape the voices in his head.

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