Indie Theater Roundup: What to See This Week at The Clay, The Lumiere, The Red Vic and The Roxie


If just-released remakes ofLast House on the Left and Race to Witch Mountain leave you cold, there are plenty of worthwhile alternatives. Here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation a San Francisco indie theater near you.

1. Alien
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: March 13-14
Why: Rivaled but never equaled by James Cameron’s and David Fincher’s higher-octane sequels – even Fincher’s Alien³ remains a worthy if underappreciated effort – Ridley Scott’s 1979 original is a work of near-Hitchcockian brilliance, relentlessly intense and surprisingly cerebral as it pits Sigourney Weaver against the hellacious monster that would help redefine her career.

2. Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: One can be forgiven for not counting The Game – the annual football contest between Harvard and Yale – among 1968’s most memorable events. During a year that witnessed the assassinations of M.L.K. and R.F.K., Nixon’s ascent to the presidency and the escalation of Vietnam War protests, even one of the most exciting games in college sports history might understandably be overlooked. Director Kevin Rafferty (The Atomic Café) makes it the focus of his latest documentary, a captivating tale of heartbreak and joy set against a backdrop of massive social upheaval.

3. Stranger Than Paradise
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: March 17
Why: Jim Jarmusch fans can rejoice as the Red Vic returns two of the director’s signature comedies to the big screen. First, Stranger Than Paradise, his oddly arresting and often hilarious tale of three misfits adrift in America, casually searching for some piece of the capitalist dream and finding only trouble instead…

4. Down By Law
Where:Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
March 18-19
Why: … and then Down By Law, which finds Paradise star John Lurie imprisoned in the Big Easy with cellmates taciturn (Tom Waits) and garrulous (Roberto Benigni), whose starkly contrasting personalities invigorate a quirky narrative that seems slight on the surface but contains a number of subtle delights.

5. Gomorrah
Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the grand prize at Cannes 2008 and the European Film Award, Matteo Garrone’s fierce crime epic (inspired by Robert Saviano’s bestseller of the same name) depicts the foot soldiers of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate casually slaughtering one another in the name of business. That Garrone chose to present his story documentary-style, using actors whose performances can only be described as workmanlike, strips the blunt-force drama on screen of any hint of Hollywood slickness.

6. The Class
Where:Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: All Week
Why: Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Laurent Cantet’s absorbing slice of classroom life (adapted from the novel by François Bégaudeau, who also stars) eschews Dangerous Minds-style melodrama for gritty, high-energy realism.

7. Crips and Bloods: Made in America
Where:Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: All Week
Why: Directed by acclaimed documentarian Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys) and produced by former Golden State Warriors star Baron Davis, Crips and Bloods: Made in America traces the origins of a gang culture that has turned some of South Central L.A.’s neighborhoods into urban war zones.

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