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Black Panthers And A Severed Leg

The first-ever documentary history of the Black Panthers and a tale of a bizarre court case are highlights of the weekend’s openings. Director Stanley Nelson gives viewers an introduction to the history of the black liberation group The Black Panthers. The producer of The King Of Kong presents a strange but true documentary about two men fighting over legal possession of a severed leg.

Female-fronted films also provide some strong viewing choices. Melanie Laurent directs an acclaimed story of two teenage girls whose co-dependent relationship becomes toxic. Jamie Babbitt brings some dark laughs in relating the misadventures of a single housekeeper who happens to be lesbian and her sex-addict sister. Brit Marling heads the cast of a revisionist feminist Western.

Finally, filmmaker Rahim Bahrani offers a thriller about the foreclosure crisis that’s either a riveting and enraging effort or a creative step backward for the director of Goodbye Solo depending on which critic you rely on.

99 Homes

Rahim Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) dramatizes the foreclosure crisis in this new drama. The time and place is 2010 Orlando, Florida. Construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) and his family get their home foreclosed on by realtor Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). After Nash refuses to take Carver’s “cash for keys” offer, the realtor sees a spark in the younger man and takes him on as an assistant. Nash, lured by Carver’s promises of money and security, soon learns from the realtor the profit in throwing people out of their homes and committing various forms of property fraud.

Opens October 2 at the AMC Metreon 16

Addicted To Fresno

The But I’m A Cheerleader team of director Jamie Babbitt and star Natasha Lyonne re-unite for this dark comedy set in Fresno, California. Martha (Lyonne) is a hotel housekeeper and single lesbian. When sex addict sister Shannon (Judy Greer) comes looking for work, Martha helps her get a job at the hotel. She soon comes to regret her action when Shannon accidentally kills a hotel guest and needs help disposing of the corpse. Blackmail and robbery soon complicates the two sisters’ lives.

Opens October 2 at the Roxie Theatre

The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution

The new documentary from Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders) is amazingly the first documentary dedicated to exploring the Black Panther Party and its legacy. Nelson follows the black liberation group from its high profile response to police persecution of blacks through to American law enforcement efforts to destroy the group through lies, bullets, and/or jail. But the film also discusses the internal friction that helped derail the Panthers.

Opens October 2 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Piedmont Theatre, the Shattuck Cinemas and the Smith Rafael Film Center. Q&A sessions with the director on the film take place on October 2 at the Opera Plaza, October 3 at the Piedmont Theatre, and October 4 at the Smith Rafael Film Center.

Breathe

Small town high-schooler Charlie (Josephine Japy) has parents edging towards divorce. Into her humdrum life comes new glamorous student Sarah (Lou De Laage), who tells everyone she’s been sent to the town because her mother woks for an NGO in now politically unstable Nigeria. The two girls become fast friends, but a seaside holiday starts exposing rifts in their co-dependent relationship. That rift only gets wider when Sarah’s revealed to be somebody else entirely, yet Charlie can’t quit her. Melanie Laurent co-writes and directs this acclaimed adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s YA novel.

Opens October 2 at the 4-Star Theatre and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Etiquette For Mistresses

Chito Rono helms the screen adaptation of Julie Yap-Daza’s best-selling novel. This romantic drama concerns five different sophisticated mistresses, including a politician’s mistress and a chef, who are forced to re-evaluate the customs they live by after one mistress’ lover tells her of his impossible wish to die in his mistress’ arms.

Opens October 2 at the Century at Tanforan

Finders Keepers

One of 2015’s strangest documentaries is this tale of fame, fortune, and a severed foot. Shannon Whisnant buys a grill at a storage unit auction and discovers a severed human leg inside the cooking vessel. He figures he can make a fortune charging people to see his grotesque discovery. However, John Wood, black sheep son of a local businessman, recognizes the severed limb as his and wants to reclaim it. The resulting media frenzy over Whisnant and Wood’s legal struggle reaches all the way to Japan.

Opens October 2 at the Roxie Theatre

Jawani Phir Nahi Ani

In this Pakistani adventure comedy blockbuster, four friends take a stag trip to Bangkok to live it up without their wives. Unfortunately for them, life soon gets very complicated thanks to their encounter with the daughter of a mafia don.

Currently at the AMC Mercado 20

The Keeping Room

Augusta (Brit Marling) maintains a farm in South Carolina in the waning days of the Civil War. One day, she crosses the path of two drunken renegade Northern soldiers intent on committing rape and pillage on any unfortunates they encounter. The farmwoman escapes the soldiers’ attempted assault on her and returns to the safety of the farmhouse she shares with her sister Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) and slave Mad (Muna Otaru). However, the vengeful soldiers track Augusta down to her isolated farmhouse and lay siege. The trio of women are forced to employ their ingenuity to fight for survival against a relentless and unpredictable enemy.

Opens October 2 at the Clay Theatre and the Shattuck Cinemas

Mississippi Grind

The new film from directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Sugar) takes viewers on a road trip through the grungier version of America’s casino circuit. Failed estate agent Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is a gambling addict with a disastrous personal life. His encounters with the charismatic and garrulous Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) lead to Gerry’s believing that the other man is the good luck charm he needs to turn his life around. The duo take a trip to New Orleans so Gerry can take part in a high-stakes poker game ($25,000 to get in on the action). Will good luck favor both men, or will they wind up falling further into a financial hole?

Opens October 2 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Northern Soul

What happens when you bring 1960s-1970s soul music and dance to 1970s northern England? The result is the genre of Northern Soul music. Photographer Elaine Constantine’s debut feature tells the story of this music scene through the tumultuous friendship between shyly rebellious schoolboy John and hot-headed Northern soul scene habitue Matt. The film is anchored by a soundtrack featuring such talents as Frankie Valli, Tobi Legend, and Linda Jones.

Opens October 2 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Partisan

In an isolated compound in an unnamed decaying city, Gregori (Vincent Cassel) leads a cult which trains children to be assassins. Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel) grows up to become a proficient killer at age 11. When new arrival Leo defends a chicken from slaughter, the act sparks the start of a burgeoning sense of conscience in Alexander.

Opens October 2 at the Roxie Theatre

Prophet’s Prey

The new film from documentarian Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) examines the case of Warren Jeffs, ex-leader of the Fundamentalist Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. Jeffs’ branch of the Mormon Church regularly practiced such things as blind obedience to a prophet-leader and drugging women into docile submission. What makes Jeffs’ rule particularly heinous are his regular raping of children and manipulating his followers into submissively sacrificing their wealth to prove their faith. Author Jon Krakauer (Under The Banner Of Heaven: A Story Of Violent Faith) narrates the film.

Opens October 2 at the Presidio Theatre

Saving Mr. Wu

In this crime drama based on a real-life 2004 kidnapping case, Hong Kong actor Mr. Wu (Andy Lau) gets kidnapped by a group of men posing as cops. The kidnappers’ plan to use Wu’s ransom to fund an ambitious robbery suffers a setback when Zhang, the gang’s mentally unstable leader, gets arrested by the cops. Now it’s a battle of wits between Zhang and lead cop Xing to learn the missing actor’s whereabouts.

Opens October 2 at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Century 20 Daly City

Singh Is Bling

Raftaar Singh is a fun-loving, responsibility dodging goofball. When Singh’s father orders his son to work for a friend in Goa, who could have expected Raftaar to become a trusted employee? Life soon gets complicated for Raftaar with a new and important assignment. Through that assignment, the young man will slowly fall in love with the beautiful and mysterious Sara and also find himself on an adventure that will take him all the way to Romania to win Sara’s heart.

Opens Octboer 2 at the AMC Mercado 20 and the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Talvar

Director Meghna Gulzar’s film undertakes a slightly fictionalized dramatic re-telling of the notorious 2008 Aarushi-Hemraj double murder investigation. A 14-year-old teenage girl (Aarushi) and a domestic servant (Hemraj) were found dead under suspicious circumstances. Did Aarushi’s parents bludgeon the duo to death and then slit their throats? Did a trio of Hemraj’s friends commit the murders? The answers to these questions are not helped by the two police investigations, which may have been compromised by political backstabbing and procedural incompetence.

Opens October 2 at the AMC Mercado 20

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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