Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


With Iron Man 2 enjoying almost unprecedent box-office success and Shrek returning to theaters Friday for what's being billed as the final chapter of his fairy-tale saga, the summer of big-budget blockbusters is already in full swing. Elsewhere, the Roxie continues its two-week run of impossibly rare B-noirs through Thursday, May 27, while the James Ivory-directed drama The City of Your Final Destination makes its eagerly anticipated regional debut at the Embarcadero.

1. Please Give
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Oliver Platt and the reliably excellent Catherine Keener star as an Upper West Side couple waiting for their foul-tempered old neighbor (Ann Guilbert, of TV's The Nanny) to die – and coming to terms with their own liberal guilt – in the brutally honest and often engrossing new comedy from Lovely and Amazing director Nicole Holofcener.

2. The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: A handsomely choreographed revival of Korea's so-called "Manchurian Western," Kim Jee-woon's electrifying homage to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly follows the paths blazed by three strangers on a train – a relentless bounty hunter (Jung Woo-sung), a hardened gangster (Lee Byung-hun) and a train robber blessed with nine lives (Song Kang-ho, of The Host) – in search of the same mysterious map. Their adventures are cheerfully far-fetched and, at times, downright confusing, but deliriously thrilling all the same.

3. The Crazies
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 20-22
Why: George Romero, whose Living Dead movies have inspired countless imitations over four-plus decades, directed the original Crazies in 1973, and though Breck Eisner’s remake seems less concerned with social satire than with bloodcurdling chills, Romero’s unsettling paranoia endures. More than 30 years later, the story of a no-nonsense sheriff (Timothy Olyphant, of TV's Justified) cleaning up the carnage as madness grips his fellow Iowans remains slyly thought-provoking, tapping into our fears of anarchy and bioterrorism.

4. The Secret in Their Eyes
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Winner of this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Juan José Campanella's riveting romantic thriller finds a former criminal-court employee (Ricardo Darín, of Nine Queens) revisiting his 1974 investigation into the rape and murder of a recently married beauty. What he discovers speaks to the turbulent climate of his native Argentina in the mid-'70s and the failings of that country's legal system, and ultimately draws him into a complicated but gripping web of intrigue.

5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 25-26
Why: No, it doesn't measure up to Hunter S. Thompson's seminal, semi-autobiographical 1971 novel. But Terry Gilliam's ambitious adaptation, released in 1998 and starring a highly caffeinated Johnny Depp, captures the devil-may-care spirit of Thompson's drug-addled pursuit of the American Dream: It's messy, cringe-inducing and sometimes perilously close to unwatchable, but when it works, it hits with all the impact of an adrenaline shot to the heart.

6. Casino Jack and the United States of Money
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) profiles Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, currently imprisoned for defrauding American Indian tribes and corrupting public officials, in Casino Jack, an exhaustive portrait that follows him from his early days as a fervent supporter of Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign to his 2008 sentencing. His story, we soon learn, is stranger than fiction – outrageous, uproarious and, considering his uncomfortably close ties to the Bush administration, infuriating.

7. La Mission
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Perhaps best known as Det. Rey Curtis, the clean-cut Law & Order homicide investigator, Benjamin Bratt has lately shown off his darker side – first as a recovering junkie turned unorthodox sobriety counselor on A&E’s now-defunct The Cleaner, and here as Che, a mostly reformed ex-con from San Francisco’s Mission District. La Mission, filmed on location and directed by brother Peter Bratt, chronicles Che’s compelling struggle to overcome his demons, and his frustrating reticence to accept his son’s homosexuality.

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