Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Kimberly Chun, Michelle Devereaux, Peter Galvin, Max Goldberg, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Louis Peitzman, Lynn Rapoport, Ben Richardson, and Matt Sussman. For rep house showtimes, see Rep Clock. For first-run showtimes, see Movie Guide at www.sfbg.com. For complete film listings, see www.sfbg.com.
Biutiful See "Que Tristeza." (2:18) California.
*Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster There's an ounce of irony that the Wing Chun master who ended up popularizing martial arts throughout the world by way of his most famous pupil, Bruce Lee, would still be the subject of contention (see dueling biopics like Wong Kar-wai's forthcoming The Grandmasters) and the center of passionate nationalism. In 2008's Ip Man, the modest master (Donnie Yen) pit his considerable skills against the karate of the invading Japanese army, and here, in '50s Hong Kong, he tests his skills against the British colonists' boxing champion. Imperial villainy is painted in broad strokes, but that's the only predictable stumble in this otherwise step-above effort, with its handsome, sepia-toned art direction and its martial arts choreography by Sammo Hung. As 2 opens, the noble Ip Man has survived the tribulations of WWII only to find himself tussling with rival martial arts groups in rough-and-tumble HK in his efforts to start a Wing Chun school. His most formidable opponent is the powerful master Hung Chun-nam (Hung, who threatens to steal scenes from an earnest if adept Yen), until the two are finally brought together by shared Chinese family values in the ugly face of colonial injustice. The focus of this sequel, once pegged to Ip Man and Lee's relationship, shifted when director Wilson Yip and company failed to finalize film rights with the star's descendants, yet much like its near-saintly subject, Ip Man 2 succeeds despite all obstacles. (1:48) Four Star, Shattuck. (Chun)
*Lemmy: 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son Of A Bitch One thing is certain: Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister is a total badass. Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski's adoring portrait is strongest when it captures the legend going about his everyday business: rocking out onstage before thousands; obsessing over a video game at his favorite Sunset Strip hangout, the Rainbow; kicking it at his humble, jam-packed, rent-controlled apartment. The seemingly ageless Lemmy (he's 65!) is a fascinating character, a complete original who does whatever he likes (gambles, collects Nazi memorabilia as an offshoot of his military-history fascination, speed) and doesn't particularly give a fuck what anyone thinks. This lifestyle works only because he is such an inherently cool cat, with a mystifying ability to put away endless amounts of booze and drugs. As such, he's worshiped not just by average-human Motorhead fans, but also a huge array of celebrities, many of whom were apparently lining up to appear in this film. Some participants make sense (Ozzy Osbourne), others (Billy Bob Thornton?) just pad the doc's already overlong running time. Still, despite quite a bit of unnecessary fawning, Lemmy offers an entertaining look at the man behind the myth — and pretty leads one to believe that the myth is, indeed, 100 percent real. (1:57) Roxie. (Eddy)
The Mechanic B-movie bros Jason Statham and Ben Foster play assassins with revenge on the brain. (1:40)
Nenette Veteran French documentarian Nicolas Philibert's latest spends just over an hour gazing into the infinitely weary visage of its title figure, a Bornean orangutan who's spent nearly all of her 40 years as a star resident at the zoo within Paris' Jardin des Plantes. Now very old by the species' standards, she's "had three husbands and wore them all out" — as her longest-running attendant says — along with four babies, one of whom still lives with her. As Nenette can't speak for herself, the director lets humans try to do so while revealing much about themselves, from the institution's multinational visitors (one child regards the doughy, pendulant-breasted subject and says "She's almost as big as Mum!") as well as her professional keepers, who reveal some surprising insights into Nenette's personality. One of the latter waxes philosophic about the "life in captivity" that has left Nenette so inert and seemingly depressed: "she spends her whole life doing nothing. Everything comes to her. She doesn't have to fight or resist or come up with ways to deal with things. She's like a kept woman, a hairy one. A victim of her rarity." In its wry and modest way, Philibert's film ponders the relationship between keepers and kept, wondering if in response to an endless parade of spectator curiosity Nenette might simply be thinking "When are they going to leave me alone?" It is preceded by the director's 11-minute Night Falls on the Menagerie. (1:17) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Harvey)
The Rite Anthony Hopkins plays a priest whose exorcism-y past comes back to haunt him. (1:47) Shattuck.
*Another Year (2:09) Albany, Embarcadero.
Barney's Version (2:12) Embarcadero, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki.
Bhutto (1:51) Opera Plaza.
*Black Swan (1:50) California, Empire, 1000 Van Ness, Piedmont, Presidio, Sundance Kabuki.
*Blue Valentine Sometimes a performance stands out and grabs attention for embodying a particular personality type or emotional state that's instantly familiar yet infrequently explored in much depth at the movies. What's most striking about Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine is the primary focus it lends Michelle Williams' role as the more disgruntled half of a marriage that's on its last legs whether the other half knows that or not. Ryan Gosling has the showier part — his Dean is mercurial, childish, more prone to both anger and delight, a babbler who tries to control situations by motor-mouthing or goofing through them. But Williams' Cindy has reached the point where all his sound and fury can no longer pass as anything but static that must be tuned out as much as possible so that things get done. Things like parenting, going to work, getting the bills paid, and so forth. It's taken a few years for Cindy to realize that she's losing ground in her lifelong battle for self-improvement with every exasperating minute she continues to tolerate him. Williams' bile-swallowing silences and the involuntary recoil that greets Dean's attempts to touch Cindy are the film's central emotional color: that state in which the loyalty, obligation, fear, pity, or whatever has kept you tied to a failing relationship is being whittled away by growing revulsion. Gosling's excellent stab at an underwritten part is at a disadvantage compared to Williams, who just about burns a hole through the screen. (1:53) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Harvey)
Casino Jack (1:48) Opera Plaza.
Country Strong (1:51) 1000 Van Ness.
The Dilemma (1:58) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center.
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance (1:52) Viz Cinema.
The Fighter (1:54) Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki.
*The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2:28) Opera Plaza.
*The Green Hornet (1:29) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki.
*I Love You Phillip Morris (1:38) Lumiere.
*The Illusionist (1:20) Clay, Shattuck, Smith Rafael.
Inside Job (2:00) Lumiere, Shattuck.
The King's Speech (1:58) Albany, Embarcadero, Empire, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, Piedmont, Sundance Kabuki.
No Strings Attached The worst thing about No Strings Attached is its advertising campaign. An eyeroll-worthy tagline — "Can sex friends stay best friends?" distracts from the fact that this is a sharp and satisfying romantic comedy. Perhaps it's not the most likely follow-up to Black Swan (2010), but Natalie Portman is predictably charming, and Ashton Kutcher proves he's leading man material after all. They're aided by an exceptional supporting cast, including indie darlings Greta Gerwig and Olivia Thirlby, and underrated comic actors Lake Bell and Mindy Kaling. No Strings Attached is a welcome return to form from director Ivan Reitman, who gave us classics like Ghostbusters (1984) before tainting his image with Six Days Seven Nights (1998) and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006). There are likely going to be many who will dismiss Reitman's latest out of hand — and with those misleading trailers and posters, it's hard to blame them. But I advise you to give No Strings Attached a chance: at the very least, it'll counter the image of Portman tearing at a stubborn hangnail. (1:50) 1000 Van Ness, Presidio. (Peitzman)
*Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today (1:18) Opera Plaza, Shattuck, Smith Rafael.
127 Hours (1:30) Presidio.
*Rabbit Hole (1:32) Embarcadero.
Season of the Witch (1:38) 1000 Van Ness.
*The Social Network (2:00) Four Star, Shattuck.
Somewhere (1:38) SF Center, Shattuck.
Tangled (1:32) 1000 Van Ness.
Tron: Legacy (2:05) 1000 Van Ness.
*True Grit (1:50) California, Empire, Four Star, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki.
*Two in the Wave Emmanuel Laurent chronicles the hugely influential French nouvelle vague through the lives of its flagship auteurs in Two in the Wave. Raised in hardscrabble poverty, Francois Truffaut made films that reflected an increasingly sentimental yearning for the middle class. Jean-Luc Godard was raised in Swiss bourgeois comfort — yet he gravitated toward a Marxist proletarianism perversely avant-garde in the extreme. Both shared (and fought over) onscreen muse Jean-Pierre Léaud, plucked from Parisian streets to star in Truffaut's 1959 The 400 Blows. One might reasonably conclude from evidence here that Truffaut, dead from a brain tumor in 1984, was the greater artist — or at least humanitarian. Yet coldly intellectual, ever-more-bilious Godard continues into his 80s, last year's abstract Film Socialisme restoring him to rarefied critical if not popular favor. This dual portrait reaches an ingratiating zenith toward its end, when we see surviving interviewee Léaud growing up onscreen, anxious to please twin mentors. The Roxie's weeklong showcase is double-billed with all five films in which the actor played Truffaut alter ego Antoine Doinel, from Blows to 1979's Love on the Run. (1:33) Roxie. (Harvey)
The Way Back Master director Peter Weir returns to the man-versus-nature-and-each-other canvas of his previous film, 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, for this truth-based tale about a multinational crew of gulag escapees during the early days of World War II. Figuring he'd rather take his chances battling the elements (bitter cold, extreme heat, wolves, bounty-hunting natives, would-be cannibals) than face certain death doing back-breaking work in Siberia, Polish prisoner Janusz (Jim Sturgess from 2007's Across the Universe) organizes a breakout. Joining him are a ragtag group, most of whom have been incarcerated for minor offenses that nonetheless rankled the ruling Communists. (One exception: Colin Farrell's heavily tattooed, knife-wielding career criminal.) As the men, including taciturn American Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), slog across treacherous terrain, they lose some of their own numbers, and pick up another fugitive, fragile teenager Irina (Saoirse Ronin). The Way Back is a high-quality production, and certainly one of recent years' most successful attempts at this kind of survivalist epic. But it throws exactly no curveballs (see: Werner Herzog's 2006 Rescue Dawn, similar but far less predictable), and like its characters trudges toward a dutifully noble finish. (2:13) Bridge, Shattuck. (Eddy)<\!s>
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