Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week


San Francisco Indiefest's Another Hole in the Head festival keeps the body count rising through Thursday at the Roxie and Viz theaters, while Jean-Luc Godard's remarkable feature debut, Breathless, gets a rousing new restoration, on display this week at the Embarcadero. As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently playing at an indie theater near you.

1. Breathless

Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a brazen Bogart wannabe running from the law in Godard's classic first feature, beautifully restored by Rialto Pictures in honor of the film's 50th anniversary. Written by François Truffaut, Breathless boldly introduced the stylistic hallmarks of the French New Wave, helping reshape cinema forever after.

2. The Girl Who Played With Fire
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: The second installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy – soon to be remade for American audiences by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) – finds Lisbeth, the cyberpunk heroine of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, accused of murdering two journalists investigating the Swedish sex trade. Enter Mikael, her sometime lover, who digs deep into her troubled past to prove her innocence.

3. Stop Making Sense
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: July 29-31

Why: Jonathan Demme’s landmark concert film, filmed over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater, captures the Talking Heads at the peak of their powers. The sound is crisp and the music brilliant. Even more electrifying than rousing renditions of the band’s best-known hits (“Psycho Killer,” “Once in a Lifetime”) is the frenetic energy of lead singer David Byrne.

4. Harold and Maude
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: July 25-28
Why: Far be it from me to understand the appeal of Hal Ashby’s widely adored cult comedy, which straddles an uncomfortable line between precious and creepy. But those who swear by it – you know who you are – will surely be pleased to catch it on the big screen during a four-night run at the Red Vic. Special treats will be distributed on Sunday night in celebration of the theater’s 30th birthday.

5. Restrepo

Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week

Why: America’s military efforts in Afghanistan have inspired their own cinematic subgenre, most prominently highlighted by this year's Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker. But Restrepo, the riveting new documentary from Tim Hetherington and The Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger, brings something unique to the table: a tense, often harrowing depiction of soldiers whose 14-month stay in one of the country’s most dangerous regions illustrates the unforgiving realities of front-line combat.

6. Cyrus
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., 415-929-4650
When: All Week
Why: The performances of John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei feel as intimate as everything else in the delightfully unsettling new comedy Cyrus, perhaps because directors Mark and Jay Duplass entrusted their actors to speak in their own voices – the dialogue is almost entirely improvised. It’s a choice that has served the Duplass brothers well in past productions, and here, with a gifted, exceptionally observant cast, it works again.

7. I Am Love
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Tilda Swinton stars in Luca Guadagnino's seductive Italian drama as a Russian immigrant married into a wealthy Milanese family, awakened, fulfilled and, finally, ruined by her affair with a young chef. Rather than condemn her infidelity, though, Guadagnino seems to celebrate her submission to long-neglected desire; his is an astutely observed portrait of passion in conflict with tradition, and the lengths Swinton's unhappy heroine will go to find the intimacy she craves.

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