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Climate Change Deniers and Other Liars

Liars of various stripes, such as professional climate change deniers, are the subjects of several strong films opening this week. A hoaxster parlays a fake desperate past to literary fame. An iconoclastic filmmaker’s professional lies (aka Hollywood films) proved too much for the film industry. College campus authorities lie about rape problems to protect the school’s brand. Fake skepticism protecting powerful American corporate interests weakens public pressure to fight climate change. Watch these films, especially The Hunting Ground and Merchants Of Doubt, and then ask yourself what will you do to help address these problems?

’71

This acclaimed drama is set in 1971 Belfast. Greenhorn British soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is on his unit’s first engagement, back-up for a police search. But when a violent riot occurs, Hook winds up separated from his unit and alone on the Belfast streets. Now he must make his way back to his army barracks, not knowing if the Irish citizens he encounters will help him or try to kill him.

Opens March 13 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Champs

What if your ticket to breaking out of inner-city housing was your ability to hit another man hard? Documentarian Bert Marcus uses the life stories of professional boxers Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins among others as his basis for a discussion of the current meaning of the American Dream in an age of rampant economic inequality.

Opens March 13 at the 4-Star Theatre

The Cult Of JT LeRoy

In the late 1990s, JT LeRoy became a literary phenomenon. A HIV+ teen prostitute and heroin addict, he drew on his hardscrabble life to write works such as Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. The only trouble was LeRoy was a fake. Director Marjorie Sturm was one of those LeRoy intimates who got suckered. This documentary attempts to unravel how LeRoy’s deception happened and what its occurrence says about American culture.

Opens March 13 at the Roxie Theater. Director Sturm appears in person after the Friday and Saturday 7 PM shows.

Futuro Beach

Karim Ainouz (Madame Sata) directs this new film which begins with a tragedy. Futuro Beach lifeguard Donato saves thrill-seeking German tourist Konrad from drowning, but fails to rescue Konrad’s friend. Initial sexual sparks between Donato and Konrad eventually blaze into a passion that causes the lifeguard to leave his obligations behind and move to Berlin with the tourist. Eight years later, Donato’s younger brother makes an unexpected visit to Berlin, and issues left unresolved from years earlier come bubbling back to the surface.

Opens March 13 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas

Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison of Belief

Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney’s new film is drawn from Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name. Gibney’s film examines the Church of Scientology through interviews with eight former Scientology members. Through their experiences, the viewer learns about the controversial church’s practices as well as the allegedly abusive lengths taken in the church’s name. Also threading throughout the film is a look at the church’s origins, including a portrait of Scientology’s founder, science fiction novelist L. Ron Hubbard. Needless to say, Gibney’s film is one of the hot-button films of the week.

Opens March 13 at the Presidio Theatre

The Hunting Ground

Kirby Dick, director of the Academy Award-nominated The Invisible War, turns his eye on America’s college rape culture. This expose looks at how the problem is more than just an occasional bad apple. Not only are rape victims re-victimized but powerful interests at college campuses ensure the perpetrators escape punishment. Get angry, and find out whether your college alma mater is a haven for rapists.

Opens March 13 at the California Theater and the Embarcadero Center Cinema. Director Kirby Dick will appear for post-screening Q & As after select screenings on March 13-15.

Magician: The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles

2015 marks the centenary of the birth of artistic prodigy Orson Welles. His early filmmaking success with Citizen Kane got matched in later years by setbacks, industry-related or otherwise, to such films as The Magnificent Ambersons and Chimes At Midnight. Directed by Oscar-winning director Chuck Workman, the documentary features interviews with Welles spanning half a century as well as commentary by such cinematic luminaries as Jeanne Moreau, Richard Linklater, Walter Murch, and Peter Bogdanovich. One can only speculate if Wes Anderson knew of Welles’ life before making The Royal Tenenbaums.

Opens March 13 at the Shattuck Cinemas

Merchants of Doubt

Food, Inc. director Robert Kenner’s new film introduces viewers to the charismatic spinmeisters and pundits-for-hire who have publicly passed themselves off as scientific authorities. Thanks to their unfortunately successful efforts, public doubt has been established about such dire threats as toxic chemical exposure and climate change. This film is based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

Opens March 13 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema

Treading Water

Mica’s relationship chances suffer from the ultimate body odor issue. Thanks to a rare medical condition, he smells like a fish 24/7. Loneliness seems to be a big part of his future until he meets Laura (Zoe Kravitz), who wants to be his friend. But will Mica’s eccentric parents wind up torpedoing the boy’s one chance for happiness?

Opens March 13 at the 4-Star Theatre

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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