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Loving The Louvre And Other Museums

In a weekend where the 59th edition of the SF International Film Festival is still going strong, the best film opening this weekend is Alexander Sokurov’s part-cinematic essay, part dramatic recreation regarding the history of the Louvre. But Sokurov’s scope is wider than just doing a cinematic love letter to the Louvre.

Of the rest of the weekend’s openings, the sight of people getting stoned on pot-laced challah bread provides one of the highlights of a new dramatic comedy starring Jonathan Pryce. Elsewhere, a biopic of an influential mathematical genius features a lead performance by a Slumdog Millionaire star.

The Cinematic Turd of the Week award deservedly goes to the medical fraudster who’s still trying to spread anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy mongering via the arthouse circuit.

Dough

Crabby Jewish baker Nat (Jonathan Pryce) reluctantly hires trouble-prone Muslim Ayyash (Jerome Holder) as a new assistant for his failing kosher bakery. The bakery’s fortunes don’t turn around until the day Ayyash hurriedly dumps a load of pot into the baking dough, and the resulting baked goods brings in repeat customers. Unsuspecting Nat is overjoyed, but a competitor determined to ruin Nat starts investigating.

Opens April 29 at the Albany Twin, the Aquarius Theatre, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Finding Mr. Right 2

Here comes the sequel to the romantic film that sparked popular Chinese interest in Seattle. Tang Wei returns as ambitious city girl Jiajia and Wu Xiubo reprise his role as friendly driver Frank. The two characters re-kindle their romance as they wind up traveling together to new and exotic destinations in the U.S. and Europe. No idea if the Louvre will be one of the duo’s stops.

Opens April 29 at the AMC Metreon 16

Francofonia

The core of the new film from master director Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) is a strange but true story from World War II. Louvre Museum director Jacques Jaujard faced Count Franziskus Wolff-Metternich when the latter arrived with the German occupiers to secure the Louvre’s art for the Nazis. Initially enemies, the two men soon found they shared the same ideals regarding art and worked together to preserve the museum’s treasures. Sokurov spins out from that story to offer a meditation on the links among art, culture, and history.

Opens April 29 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Smith Rafael Film Center

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this biopic of mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramujan. He leaped from the slums of India (which part of India, one may ask) to the halls of Trinity College, Cambridge University thanks to his talent with numbers. With the support of mentor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), Ramujan overcomes racism and academic rigidity to revolutionize the world of mathematics with his original theorems.

Opens April 29 at the Clay Theatre

Papa: Hemingway In Cuba

Veteran producer Bob Yari directs late newspaperman Denne Bart Petitclerc’s script of the time Petitclerc actually spent with literary lion Ernest Hemingway. Father figure-deprived newspaperman Ed Myers (Giovanni Ribisi in the Petitclerc role) gets invited by Hemingway (Adrian Sparks) to visit him and fourth wife Mary (Joely Richardson) at Hemingway’s Cuban home Finca Vigia. Hemingway gives the newspaperman mentorship and wisdom. But the younger man also gets unwelcome looks at the famed writer’s personal demons let loose. And all this is before the Cuban Revolution goes down.

Opens April 29 at the AMC Metreon 16, the Shattuck Cinemas and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Rio, I Love You

Installment #3 of the Cities of Love anthology series takes viewers to Rio De Janeiro. Once again, it’s ten short films about love taking place in ten different neighborhoods of the Brazilian city done by ten different directors from around the world. The talent involved this time include Im Sang-Soo, Paolo Sorrentino, Harvey Keitel, and Vanessa Paradis. The English-speaking world would be better served by a new Nestor Burma mystery from Leo Malet translated into English, but that’s just this writer’s opinion.

Opens April 29 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Valley Of Love

A few months ago, Michael committed suicide. Now his grieving and estranged surviving parents Isabelle (legendary Isabelle Huppert) and Gerard (equally legendary Gerard Depardieu) have come to Death Valley to find answers. A mysterious letter sent by Michael to each of his parents claims that he will somehow reappear to them at a certain time and in a certain place in the desert. Yet as they wander desert canyons and sand dunes, they begin to talk to each other again and possibly re-connect.

Opens April 29 at the Roxie Theatre

Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe

This film is not a Joey Skaggs prank. Nor does it appear to discuss how the anti-vaccination movement has strongly contributed to the resurgence of measles. Instead, director Dr. Andrew Wakefield goes the public documentary route to allegedly reveal that CDC scientists destroyed data allegedly establishing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Since science when practiced well is based on the concept of reproducible results, any scientific evidence the director offers should be taken with a mountain of salt. Or you could go here for a nice takedown of the film.

Opens April 29 at the California Theatre and the Opera Plaza 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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