Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

More independence


Sasha Feldman stars in director Eric Stoltz's "Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk." Photo: Courtesy Buck Lewis
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The 20th San Francisco Independent Film Festival continues through Feb. 15 at the Roxie (3117 16th St.), Victoria (2961 16th St.) and 518 Val Pop-Up (518 Valencia).

Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk One-time 80s star Eric Stoltz directs screenwriter Tony DuShane's dire comedy of a teen boy, coming of age during the Reagan years, discovering he enjoys many things his family and his religion frown upon. (Roxie, 2/10, 15)

Funny Ha Ha (2002) Andrew Bujalski achieves an emotional cross-dressing: we see the post-college frustrations that befall nerdy guys through the eyes of a young woman. In the weeks leading up to her 24th birthday, Marnie is subjected to bad temp jobs, denied her first tattoo, rejected by the guy of her dreams, drunkenly kissed by several Mr. Wrongs, clumsily wooed by a guy she humiliates in a one-on-one basketball shootout, and finally, totally unexpectedly, wakes up to find herself in control of her life.

The boy who gets away is Alex, a handsome, skittish computer programmer who competes with Marnie to be the film's Annie Hall. The scenes between Kate Dollenmeyer's Marnie and Christian Rudder's Alex runneth over with nervous body language. He plays with his hair, she stammers and makes bad jokes, they both avoid eye contact. Don't be fooled into thinking that Marnie and Alex are just friends. This non-couple resembles a little-remarked-upon niche of gaydom where a queer boy is hooked on a straight one who isn't exactly not interested. (518 Val, 2/11)

The California No Ned Ehrbar's modern comedy opens with a bewildered married man learning that he's been living in an open relationship. Elliott confesses his problem to a gay male friend, who responds, "As per usual, the homosexual community has been way out in front of this particular trend."

Elliott: "Have you ever been in a relationship long enough for it to become exclusive so it can subsequently become an open relationship?"

"So you just rolled the menage into a hot tub, and it just evolved from there?"

"No, there's no hot tub or any menage."

"Are you two still together?"

"No. We're affectionate roommates on good days." (Roxie, 2/10, 12)

Harmony and Me (2010) Robert Byington's slacker breakup comedy finds a young songwriter embracing his own misery after a bad breakup. Loquacious young Harmony's self-imposed descent into misery serves as a source of annoyance to his stubborn mom and a source of amusement to his eccentric friends. (518 Val, 2/10)

Jimmy and Judy (2006) In the suburbs of Cincinnati, social misfit Jimmy Wright (Edward Furlong) always has his videocamera: at his shrink's, spying on his parents in their bedroom, and watching high-school senior Judy Oaks-Kellen. He rescues Judy from a teacher and students who torment her. Showing her his videotape of revenge kickstarts their friendship, which is soon in an overdrive of romance, sex, and pleasure. In the hands of co-directors Jonathan Schrader and Randall Rubin, "Jimmy and Judy" becomes a hip twist on the classic lovers-on-the-lam adventure. (518 Val, 2/11)

Maze Stephen Burke's drama is based on the true story of an IRA-engineered escape by 38 prisoners from a notorious British prison, the HMP Maze. (Roxie, 2/11, 15)

The Manhattan Front Cathy Lee Crone unearths the long-forgotten tale of how a WWI-era German spy attempted to engineer American entry into the European war by infiltrating America's progressive labor movement. (Roxie, 2/10, 14)

Mindhack In Royce Gorsuch's sci-fi thriller, a genius young man, Mason, hatches a clone of his inner mental state called Finn. The two of them try to keep the technology from falling into the wrong hands. (Roxie, 2/11)

Musclecar Australian Dwayne Labbe tells the story of Aussie lass Bambi and her dream car, which must be fueled with the blood of male chauvinist pigs! (Roxie, 2/10)

Kill Me Please (2016) A Brazilian teenage girl probes unsolved murders, which come with Facebook tributes to the victims. (518 Val, 2/10)

I Am a Knife with Legs (2015) Bennet Jones' tale comes complete with a girlfriend dead in a suicide bombing and a fatwa sworn out against his screen hero. One of IndieFest's best titles. (518 Val, 2/10)

For Now Hannah Barlow directs this SF-centered road-trip drama in which she sets up an audition for kid brother Connor at the San Francisco Ballet. The 79-minute personal film includes a trip up the California coast with her sibling and boyfriend. (Roxie, 2/10, 14)

Cruise Robert D. Siegel, screenwriter of the cult hit "The Wrestler," returns with a 1987-set Queens Blvd. romance between a poor Italian American kid and a damsel who appreciates fast cars and rough surroundings. (Roxie, 2/9)

Ramen Heads Koki Shigeno takes us into the kitchen of one his country's top ramen-producing kitchens for a sublime Japanese movie/food trip. (Roxie, 2/10, 13)

The Misogynists Dylan Baker is a smug Trump backer who's trying to line up drugs and prostitutes with his buddy (Lou Jay Taylor) to celebrate his hero's unexpected triumph on the night of the 2016 election. Writer-director Onur Tukel uses a party-down scenario to mark how the electoral debacle impacts the lives of hungover Trump supporters in a fully-stocked hotel room. With a supporting turn from Christine M. Campbell, this loose-limbed black comedy captures the freaky weirdness of our current moment. (Closing film, Roxie, 2/15)


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