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Old Sherlock Holmes

Ian Mc Kellen’s turn as an elderly Sherlock Holmes is probably the art film opening that will be the easiest to see. However, there are a number of strong films that are also worth seeing this weekend. These include a documentary about the Jordan Davis murder, an acclaimed film set during Mexico’s 1999 University Strike, and a dramatization of a psychological experiment in studying prison behavior.

3 And 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

On Black Friday 2012, an argument at a Florida gas station turned deadly. In one car was white middle-aged Michael Dunn. In the other was black teenager Jordan Davis. Dunn complained about Davis’ playing of loud music and tensions escalated. The confrontation ended when Dunn shot 10 times at Davis and his car of unarmed teenagers before speeding away. Davis died on the spot, and his shooter was later arrested. Dunn claimed that he shot in self-defense. Marc Silver’s documentary examines both sides to determine why the tragedy happened, including whether racial prejudice influenced Dunn’s actions.

Opens July 24 at the Presidio Theatre and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Kabir Khan’s simple story of a big-hearted man (Indian superstar Salman Khan) who helps a mute girl return to her home in Pakistan becomes an entertaining way of discussing the Hindu-Muslim issue.

Opens July 24 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

A Borrowed Identity

The new drama from Eran Riklis (the Human Resources Manager) concerns Eyad, a gifted Palestinian-Israeli boy who takes the opportunity to go to a prestigious Jerusalem boarding school. Despite his best efforts, he remains an outsider at the school and in Israeli society. Trouble erupts after Eyad gets into a relationship with the Jewish Naomi. He’s forced to choose which identity he will adopt to be accepted in the future.

Opens July 24 at the Opera Plaza Cinema, the Rafael Film Center and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Do I Sound Gay?

After journalist/director David Thorpe breaks up with his boyfriend, he embarks on a journey to confront his anxiety about “sounding gay.” But as he talks to everyone from acting coaches to such celebrities as George Takei and Dan Savage, he finds himself confronting cultural assumptions and prejudices regarding sexuality and self-esteem.

Opens July 24 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

A Gay Girl In Damascus: The Amina Profile

Syrian-American revolutionary Amina Arraf authored the blog A Gay Girl In Damascus, which gained international attention with the Syrian revolution. Canadian Sandra Bagaria becomes Amina’s online lover until the blogger is supposedly snatched by the Syrian secret police. When an international movement arises to free Amina, signs soon emerge that the blogger is not who she claims to be. Sophie Deraspe documents the incredible tale.

Opens July 24 at the Roxie Theatre

Gueros

It’s 1999, and the National University student strike is on. Drifting college slackers Sombra and Santos aren’t militants, so they try to find ways to kill time during their unexpected vacation. Enter Sombra’s kid brother Tomas, whose unexpected arrival doesn’t fit in with the slackers’ routine. Things change when Tomas discovers unsung folk-rock hero and mutual childhood favorite Epigmenio Cruz is being hospitalized somewhere in Mexico City. The trio’s attempts to find Cruz and pay their last respects to him lead them into travels through several of the city’s invisible frontiers. Alonso Ruizpalacios’ award-winning debut feature pays homage to both the French New Wave and the international New Wave.

Opens July 24 at the Roxie Theatre

Irrational Man

In Woody Allen’s new dramatic comedy, Joaquin Phoenix is emotionally empty philosophy professor Abe Lucas. When he takes a teaching position at a small town college, he becomes involved with two women: fellow professor Rita (Parker Posey) and best student Jill (Emma Stone). Abe and Jill’s accidental overhearing of a stranger’s conversation leads the professor to commit an existential act that rekindles his will to live and changes his life and that of the two women forever.

Opens July 24 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Jian Bing Man (Pancake Man)

There’s conflicting information about this film. Most press descriptions say it’s a hit superhero parody about a poor street vendor gains super-powers from the breakfast crepes he sells. This results in various problems including facing off an evil gweilo (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The AMC Theatre description say it’s the story of TV personality Da Peng’s efforts to make a movie on the cheap after a nightclub scandal gets him blackballed. The filmmaker’s efforts include obtaining the sometimes unwilling participation of various Hong Kong film personalities such as Sandra Ng.

Opens July 24 at the AMC Metreon 16

Mr. Holmes

The titular character is the very elderly and retired private detective Sherlock Holmes (Ian Mc Kellen). While grappling with an unreliable memory, he revisits the unsolved case that sparked his retirement.

Opens July 24 at the Albany Twin, the AMC Metreon 16, the Century at Tanforan, the Clay Theatre, the Guild Theatre, and the Piedmont Theatre

Only You

In this Chinese remake of the Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. comedy, Tang Wei plays a bride-to-be who discovers her husband-to-be’s high school classmate (Liao Fan) has the same name as that of a man predicted years ago by a fortune teller to be her fated lover. Determined to find out if she should not marry her fiance, she flies to Italy to meet this ex-classmate.

Opens July 24 at the AMC Metreon 16

The Stanford Prison Experiment

This Sundance award-winning drama recreates the story of a notorious psychology experiment. In 1971, Stanford university psychology professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) decides to study prison abuse by recruiting two dozen students to play prisoners and guards in a simulated jail. What nobody expects is seeing how quickly these middle-class students devolve into power-mad sadists and submissive victims. The actual Dr. Zimbardo closely advised the makers of this film.

Opens July 24 at the Aquarius Theatre, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, and the Shattuck Cinemas

Unexpected

In Kris Swanberg’s new comedy, science teacher Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) finds her world upended by impending unemployment, an unexpected pregnancy, and a shotgun wedding. To find a kindred soul, Samantha becomes friends with Jasmine (Gail Bean), one of her students who’s also dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. But as their friendship develops, the duo are faced with a choice between motherhood and career.

Opens July 24 at the Rafael Film Center and the Roxie 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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