Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


North America's longest-running celebration of cinema is over, but the city's indie theaters have a cure for your post-festival blues. So if you're disinclined to fight the crowds flocking to this weekend's hottest new release, Iron Man 2, there are plenty of worthy alternatives currently in rotation at a big screen near you.

1. Raging Bull
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 9-10
Why: Robert De Niro delivers one of the most bruising performances of his lately underwhelming career, literally and figuratively, in Martin Scorsese's classic 1980 biography of former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. (A sequel, inspired by LaMotta's early years and starring William Forsythe, is reportedly in the works.) And if that's not enough to lure you to the Red Vic this week, what will?

2. Touching Home
Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
All Week
Why: First-time filmmakers (and Marin County natives) Logan and Noah Miller direct and star opposite four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris (Pollock) in Touching Home, a moving drama about two baseball-obsessed brothers struggling to reconnect with an alcoholic father. The movie is based on actual events documented in the Millers' Chronicle bestseller, Either You’re In or You’re In the Way.

3. The Human Centipede
Where:Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: May 7-8
Why: Dieter Laser, star of the memorably titled Suck My Dick (2001), creates an unforgettable bogeyman in the demented Dr. Heiter, a retired surgeon who mutilates his unwilling patients and joins them together, perversely imitating the form of a centipede, in a grisly operation. Winner of the Best Picture award at last year's Screamfest, Tom Six's latest chiller is, according to its press notes, "guaranteed to shock and divide." You've been warned.

4. The Secret of Kells
Where:Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: A surprise but deserving nominee for Best Animated Feature, The Secret of Kells features 75 minutes of wondrously rendered landscapes and richly detailed hand-drawn animation, cruder but no less gorgeous than its 3-D competition at last month's Oscars. The story, a mix of Celtic history and folklore about a medieval manuscript long considered sacred by the Irish, is engaging for moviegoers all ages, but the magic here is most evident in the film's dazzling artistry.

5. The Runaways
Where:Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: The story of The Runaways – a band of young, born-to-be-wild girls packaged and sold to a world hungry for sexpot rockers – would be compelling enough even if one of them, leather-clad guitarist Joan Jett, didn’t prove herself a star with real staying power. Here, Kristen Stewart plays Jett as the catlike outsider, silently observing but waiting for her moment to pounce. It’s a performance that’s right for the role, understandably deferential to the mesmerizing fury Michael Shannon brings to his role as Kim Fowley, the tyrannical producer behind the music.

6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Where:Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: It's hot. It's sexy. And it's brutal. Niels Arden Oplev's acclaimed mystery, an invigorating adaptation of Stieg Larsson's bestseller, follows a disgraced journalist and a troubled computer hacker investigating the disappearance of an industrialist's niece. The resulting thriller is a tightly constructed showcase for its captivating young star, Noomi Rapace.

7. The Last Station
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 11-12
Why: Michael Hoffman's bittersweet story of Leo and Sofya Tolstoy, whose tempestuous marriage of nearly 50 years unraveled shortly before the author's death, is worth the price of admission for the performances alone. Christopher Plummer plays Leo as a troubled patriarch, bemused by his celebrity and wary of his wife's mercurial ravings; Helen Mirren, as Sofya, is his greatest love and most strident critic. Both earned Oscar nominations, and deservedly so, in Hoffman's exhilirating adaptation of Jay Parini's historically based novel.

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