Sundance Premieres Weekend

This weekend’s openings are highlighted by films which generated high buzz at Sundance. The subjects of these films are friendship with a teen cancer patient, the horrors of sleep paralysis, a black nerd from Los Angeles, and an unusual sextet of movie-loving brothers. But make time as well for an under-the-radar non-Sundance dark comedy about surviving Peak Oil by squatting.

The Ark Of Mr. Chow

In this satire on the Chinese educational system’s obsession with academic excellence over overall personal development, a group of bright teenagers are recruited for a special college prAogram for young genuises. The only trouble is, when the genius teens try mingling with their more average college peers, they wind up feeling socially awkward. The director drew from his own experiences in such a class of geniuses.

Opens June 19 at the AMC Metreon 16


This under-the-radar comic gem screened at S.F. Indie Fest. Dirty Fred and Bruho live their plan to live off the land before Peak Oil’s effects hits hard. It involves squatting in off-season vacation homes in the Catskills as long as they can. The stability of their itinerant lifestyle becomes unbalanced after they’re joined by a partying teen and a ready-for-anything young woman. What will happen to their friendship and commitment to their lifestyle?

Opens June 19 at the 4-Star Theatre


This 2015 Sundance comedy sensation gets a welcome theatrical release. Geeky high schooler Malcolm (Shameik Moore) carefully survives in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood while also worrying about everything from the SAT to college applications. An unexpected invitation to an underground party leads to an adventure that may help Malcolm grow into his true identity.

Opens June 19 at the AMC Metreon 16, the AMC Van Ness 14 and the Shattuck Cinemas

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

High-school senior Greg avoids deep emotional relationships as a survival strategy for dealing with the hazards of teenage life. But when Greg’s mom (Connie Britton) pushes Greg to spend time with Rachel, a classmate who’s come down with cancer, he slowly learns about the value of true friendship. Winner of both the Grand jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Opens June 19 at the California Theatre , the Century San Francisco Centre 9, the CineArts at the Empire, and the Guild Theatre

The Nightmare

The new film from Rodney Ascher (Room 237) mixes documentary and horror in equal measure. Its subject is the widespread phenomenon of sleep paralysis, where sufferers find themselves trapped between the sleeping and waking worlds every night. Their bodies literally freeze, but they are awake enough to see and hear everything. Science might be able to explain the physical causes of the sufferers’ paralysis. But how does it explain the sleep paralyzed’s consistent sighting of the shadow men?

Opens June 19 at the Roxie Theater

The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack is the nickname adopted by the homeschooled Angulo Brothers. They live in a Lower East Side apartment, have no acquaintances outside their family, and in fact have pretty much never left their home. What the siblings know of the outside world comes from the movies they’ve watched and obsessed over for years, such as Reservoir Dogs. But after one brother escapes the apartment, all the brothers suddenly yearn to venture out. Director Crystal Moselle’s documentary tells this strange but true story.

Opens June 19 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

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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