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Cate Blanchett And Other Oscar Winners

Cate Blanchett stars in one of several films opening this week featuring Oscar winners. Michael Caine and Jane Fonda star in a new film directed by Paolo Sorrentino, of The Great Beauty fame. Last year’s Best Actor winner takes on another real-life person far different from the theoretical scientist he famously portrayed. And Cate Blanchett co-stars with Rooney Mara in bringing a hotly anticipated lesbian romance to the screen.

Cinephiles can also catch a highly praised look at a famed week of conversations between two cinematic giants, as well as a 35 mm presentation of short stop-motion avant-garde animated films by the Quay Brothers.

Bleeding Heart

Jessica Biel is May, a yoga instructor who lives a peaceful and clean life with her boyfriend. May’s equanimity gets thrown badly astray when she discovers she has a long-lost biological sister named Shiva (Zosia Mamet). The newly found sister’s life is the direct opposite of May’s: Shiva does sex work but she’s trapped in an abusive relationship. May’s determination to save Shiva leads her to take some dangerous steps out of her comfort zone.

Opens December 11 at the Roxie Theatre

Blind

This winner of Sundance’s World Cinema Screenwriting Award concerns the plight of Ingrid, a newly-blind woman. The stress of dealing with her predicament gets relieved by her writing very sexy fantasies about what her husband does out of her sight. But when real-life events start becoming part of Ingrid’s fantasies, she finds a way to make peace with her blindness.

Opens December 11 at the Roxie Theatre

Carol

Cate Blanchett stars as the titular "Carol"

Cate Blanchett stars as the titular “Carol”

Todd Haynes (I’m Not There) directs this acclaimed adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt. In 1950s Manhattan, two women from very different worlds meet at a department store counter. The older well-to-do Carol (Cate Blanchett) is trapped in a loveless marriage. The younger Therese (Rooney Mara) is an aspiring photographer who wants a more fulfilling life. Carol and Therese soon fall in love. Carol’s displeased husband (Kyle Chandler) learns of their relationship, and starts challenging Carol’s fitness as a mother.

Opens December 10 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema

The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs Academy Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne in this biopic about one of the pioneers of gender reassignment surgery. In 1920s Copenhagen, Einar (Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) are happily married artists. When Gerda’s model is late for a sitting, Einar dons women’s clothing and finds he likes the sensation of wearing silk stockings. Gerda’s paintings of Lili, Einar’s alter ego, soon become the rage of Danish society. But while people want to meet Lili in person, Gerda fears she’s losing Einar.

Opens December 10 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Hitchcock/Truffaut

Kent Jones’ engrossing documentary recounts the conversations between two famed directors that changed the shape of cinema appreciation. In 1962, French New Wave director Francois Truffaut convinced famed Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock to talk with him for a week about making movies. The book resulting from that conversation, Hitchcock/Truffaut, would become both a seminal tome in cinema appreciation and alter public perception of Hitchcock as being more than just an entertainer. Jones’ film features appreciations of the book from such famed directors as Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and Richard Linklater. But the film’s highlight will probably be recorded excerpts from that weeklong conversation between Hitchcock and Truffaut.

Opens December 11 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

The Quay Brothers On 35 MM: Curated By Christopher Nolan

Stephen and Timothy Quay are twin brothers who sepcialize in making stop-motion animated shorts. Eastern European literature and repressed childhood dreams provide some of the inspiration for the Quays’ mysterious miniature worlds. This shorts program, curated by famed director Christopher Nolan, features three classic Quay shorts: In Absentia, The Comb, and Street Of Crocodiles. In addition, Nolan directs Quay, a behind-the-scenes short about the Quays’ studio.

Opens December 11 at the Roxie Theatre

Youth

The new film from Paolo Sorrentino (Oscar winner The Great Beauty) stars Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as best friends vacationing at a luxurious spa. Fred (Caine) is a retired renowned English conductor/composer. He’s getting pressured from the Queen to come out of retirement. Mick (Keitel) is a veteran American director who wants to make one more great movie. The director hopes to finish his screenplay and get his muse Brenda (Jane Fonda) to star in it. An intriguing character study about life’s passions.

Opens December 11 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9 and the Clay 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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