Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


A pair of anti-corporate celebrations of muckraking arrive at the Roxie this week, where The Yes Men Fix the World documents a series of elaborate pranks aimed at exposing hypocrisy and "unmasking global injustice," and Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story takes its final bow before exiting theaters. Elsewhere:

1. The Damned United
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: The Damned United recalls the astonishing downfall of Brian Clough (Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon), whose 44-day tenure as manager of the Leeds United football club sent a formerly championship-caliber team into an embarrassing tailspin. Director Tom Hooper seems fascinated by Clough, a confrontational sort who wastes little time before trying to change his rough-and-tumble squad's style of play (they resist) and alienating his bosses. Given Sheen's sharp performance, once again backed by a cleverly engaging Peter Morgan screenplay, it's hard to disagree.

2. The Men Who Stare at Goats
Where: CinéArts at Empire, 85 West Portal Ave., 415-661-2539
When: All Week
Why: Whether The Men Who Stare at Goats is based in reality is ultimately irrelevant – it’s highly entertaining, however, improbable and very funny. Its characters behave ludicrously, trying to walk through walls (literally) because they’ve been trained to believe they can. When they fail, as so frequently they do, it doesn’t deter them. They’re Jedis, or so they think, and even when the Force eludes them, their belief in it remains amusingly unshaken.

3. District 9
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Nov. 12-14
Why: Director Neill Blomkamp’s allegorical flourishes are unsubtle but effective in District 9, a sometimes brilliant sci-fi concoction that pits the people of Johannesburg against a community of alien refugees who arrive on earth and are quickly scuttled into a shantytown surrounded by barbed wire. When Blomkamp escalates the action, the movie devolves into a prolonged shootout, ideas be damned. After a clever, twist-filled 90 minutes or so, the third act is all auto-pilot.

4. Gentlemen Broncos
Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: The latest from Jared and Jerusha Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) finds the proudly offbeat filmmakers teaming up with Jemaine Clement (HBO's Flight of the Conchords), who co-stars as Ronald Chevalier, a famous fantasy novelist and intolerably pompous hack.

5. An Education
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Written by Nick Hornby, who adapted the screenplay from Lynn Barber’s memoir, An Education is the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), an attractive 16-year-old whose conservative parents are dedicated to sending her to Oxford. Their well-laid plans are threatened when Jenny strikes up an alarmingly tight friendship with David (Peter Sarsgaard), a 35-year-old whose decadent lifestyle – he's partial to fancy restaurants, luxury hotels and foreign travel – introduces her to lessons not taught in a traditional classroom.

6. Moon
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Nov. 9-11
Why: The tale of a solitary lunar employee, played by Frost/Nixon’s Sam Rockwell, whose mission to solve earth’s energy crisis with Helium 3 extracted from the moon’s surface is compromised by his swiftly deteriorating health, Duncan Jones’ debut represents an increasing rarity: a sci-fi fantasy that’s as serious-minded as it is entertaining.

7. Antichrist
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Here's a grisly item. Lars von Trier’s latest provocation is, by design, a repulsive, disquieting experience, one filled with images of extreme violence, often perpetrated without any discernible reason. The question is not so much whether you’ll enjoy the film, but whether you have the stomach to tolerate it. It is, however, brutally effective in its attempts to shock.

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