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Double The Shah Rukh Khan

Ready to see Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan play both an actor and his obsessed fan? That’s the plot of probably the most popular film opening this weekend.

But for those who are not Shah Rukh Khan fans, there are other intriguing cinematic things worth partaking. How about an irreverent look at William Shakespeare’s lost years, filled with intrigue and absurd comedy? Or a new drama from the director of A Separation?

Strangest film of the week honors, though, goes to Tom Sachs’ odd yet winning mix of bricolage and space exploration.

Bill

What happened to William Shakespeare during his mysterious lost years? On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, director Richard Bracewell offers this cinematic answer whose truthiness highly depends on your sense of humor. Failed boy band lute player Bill Shakespeare leaves his wife and children behind to head for London in search of fame and fortune. His medium for success is a great stage play that he’s certain will prove his detractors wrong. What Bill doesn’t know is that he and his play are pawns in Spain’s King Philip II’s heinous plot to steal Queen Elizabeth I’s throne. Swashbuckling, conspiracies, and comedy can all be found in this film which puts the hysteria into history.

Opens April 15 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Fan

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan plays a dual role: Bollywood star Aryan Khanna and Gaurav, a Bollywood-obsessed megafan who changes from Khanna worshipper to sociopath. This will be especially tricky as the Gaurav character is half the age of the Khanna character. But never underestimate the power of prosthetic makeup in making the 50-year-old Shah Rukh Khan look like a 25-year-old version of himself. Before you ask, there are plenty of scenes where the older Shah Rukh Khan character encounters the younger Shah Rukh Khan lookalike.

Opens April 15 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Fireworks Wednesday

The new film from Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, About Elly) is a domestic drama set during the Persian New Year. Rouhi (Taraneh Alidoosti, About Elly) has taken on a temp job as a maid for a well-to-do family. However, cleaning her employer’s home is not the main agenda item. The wife wants Rouhi to spy on her husband, whom she suspects of having an affair with a divorced beautician next door. Over the course of one very eventful day, confrontations and exposed lies sweep up the family, the beautician, and even Rouhi in its wake.

Opens April 15 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

The First Monday In May

Director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times) takes viewers behind the scenes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the creation of one particular exhibit. That exhibit happens to be “China: Through The Looking Glass,” a show of Chinese-inspired Western fashions. Rossi’s all-access camera goes from the museum’s back rooms to the celebrity-studded Met Gala chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Celebrity watchers will catch sightings during the film of pop songstress Rihanna, filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld among others. But underlying all the beautiful clothing and people-watching is the big question of whether fashion can be called art.

Opens April 15 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

New York, New York

Lu Tu is the youngest concierge ever at a Chinese 5-star hotel. His fellow employees like him and his bosses praise his work. When Lu gets tempted by an offer to run a hotel in New York City, suddenly everyone around him wants to find some way to take advantage of the young concierge’s possible move to America.

Opens April 15 at the AMC Metreon 16

Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart

Former Cahiers du Cinema critic Cedric Anger steps behind the camera for this crime drama based on the crime spree of real-life French serial killer Alain Lamare. Franck Neuhart (Guillaume Canet as the Lamare character) stalks and fatally shoots a number of young French women in the winter of 1978-1979. However, Neuhart is also the respected gendarme tasked with bringing this serial killer of women to justice. Anger’s re-telling de-glamorizes crime and uses a period soundtrack featuring such artists as Johnny Thunders and The Velvet Underground.

Opens April 15 at the Roxie Theatre

Sold

Academy- and Emmy Award-winning director Jeffrey D. Brown adapts Patricia McCormick’s acclaimed novel about child sex trafficking. 13-year-old Lakshmi lives in a rural Nepalese village. An arrangement for Lakshmi to work as a domestic servant in Kolkata, India turns out to be a sex trafficking scam. Thanks to debt bondage, the girl is essentially imprisoned in the grotty Indian brothel known as Happiness House. Could a visiting photojournalist (Gillian Anderson) be key to helping Lakshmi escape her terrible predicament?

Opens April 15 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, the Smith Rafael Film Center, and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Director Jeffrey D. Brown will appear in person at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas on April 15 after the 7 PM screening then the Elmwood after April 16’s 4 and 7 PM shows. Brown will also appear in person at the Smith Rafael after April 17’s 4:30 PM show.

A Space Program

The weirdest documentary screening this week comes from contemporary artist Tom Sachs. In it, he constructs an entire DIY Mission to Mars from scratch guided by the concept of bricolage (creation and construction from very limited but available resources). When the mission launches, two female astronauts will head to Mars in search of answers to the question of whether humanity is alone in the universe.

Opens April 15 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Standing Tall

Maloney (Rod Paradot, Cesar for Most Promising Actor) has been making like a rubber ball with the French juvenile court system ever since his birth mother abandoned him at age 6. Soon-to-retire children’s magistrate Florence (Catherine Deneuve) and caseworker Yann (Benoit Magamel, Cesar for Best Supporting Actor) keep an eye on Maloney and try to save him. But when Maloney gets sent to a harsher educational facility, it’s a young girl named Tess who reawakens his sense of hope. Directed by Emanuelle Bercot (On My Way).

Opens April 15 at the Clay Theatre

Theri

In this Indian drama, Joseph Kuruvilla (Bollywood star Vijay) is a former butt-kicker turned mousy father. However, given such things as rapes and male genital removal happening around him, it’s safe to bet that Kuruvilla will return to butt-kicking on behalf of the common folk by the final reel. In fact, it might be safer to spend your movie money elsewhere.

Opens April 15 at the Century 20 Daly City

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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