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Werner Herzog Tours The Virtual World

The new documentary from Werner Herzog is this weekend’s obvious highlight. The legendary German director curiously and bemusedly looks at the virtual world many people inhabit. Don’t expect virtual reality hype. Herzog recently asked in an interview if playing Pokemon Go involved fistfights.

Are you not into Werner Herzog? Maybe you might be interested in films about subcultures. A Yerba Buena Center for the Arts hit documentary portrait of sculptor Eva Hesse gets a longer theatrical release. An East Los Angeles group of bikers fight both racism and sexism on the streets. And Daniel Radcliffe plays an FBI agent taking a deep dive into a white supremacist group.

But if films about subcultures or following the unpredictable Werner Herzog won’t do, what non-Hollywood films are you interested in?

Babu Bangaram

Legendary Indian actor Venkatesh plays soft-spoken police officer Krishna. He falls in love with Sailaja, daughter of a fugitive he’s pursuing. But the romance breaks off after Sailaja learns Krishna’s trying to arrest her dad. Readers can guess where the movie goes to get to a happy ending.

Opens August 19 at the Century 25 Union Landing

Eva Hesse

Sculptor Eva Hesse died early in her career thanks to a brain tumor. But in her decade of professional work, she created sculptures of latex, fiberglass and plastic that helped establish the post-minimalist movement. This first feature-length documentary about Hesse draws on everything from Hesse’s own journals to interviews with such artists as Richard Serra and Robert Mangold. Hesse’s achievements are more remarkable because she worked in the 1960s, a decade when the New York art world didn’t give female artists serious consideration.

Opens August 19 at the Roxie Theatre and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Front Cover

Gay Chinese American stylist Ryan Fu has rejected his cultural roots. The arrival of Beijing actor Ning shakes up Ryan’s life. Assigned to style the actor for an important photo shoot, Ryan unexpectedly becomes friends with Ning. That friendship spurs the stylist to re-assess his cultural heritage and even conceive of a new life path.

Opens August 19 at the 4-Star Theatre

Happy Bhag Jayegi

Happy (Diana Penty) is a feisty bride who is engaged to Bagga. However, she really wants to marry childhood sweetheart Guddu, an unemployed musician. With the help of reluctant politician Bilal Ahmed, the bride hatches a fairy tale ending plan which involves bringing Guddu from India to Pakistan. However, Happy’s elopement plan runs afoul of Indian-Pakistani tensions and the vengeful Bagga, among other complications.

Opens August 19 at the Century 25 Union Landing

Imperium

In his new film, Daniel Radcliffe goes from playing a corpse (Swiss Army Man) to playing someone in danger of becoming a corpse. Idealistic FBI agent Nate (Radcliffe) goes undercover with a white supremacist terrorist group to take it down. However, can the undercover agent hold onto his principles while maintaining his fake identity?

Opens August 19 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Line Walker

In this movie version of a hit Hong Kong TV crime drama, Ting Siu Ka (Charmaine Sheh) is an undercover cop charged with finding six undercover cops who’ve infiltrated the triads but have gone missing. Her hope is to help restore the cops’ good names once they’ve been found. Ting’s final search brings her into the orbits of an unconventional drug lord (Louis Koo) and a relentless tactical killer (Nick Cheung). One of these two men is the man Ting seeks. But to find out who it is, she may need to risk her life.

Opens August 19 at the AMC Metreon 16

Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World

The newest documentary from world cinema master Werner Herzog takes viewers on a tour of the digital world. His curiosity-filled tour covers everything from the origins of our virtual world to its current outer reaches. Along the way the filmmaker talks with such folks as hacker Kevin Mitnick and Tesla entrepeneur Elon Musk. Viewers expecting Werner Herzog to do a fluffy puff piece should catch another film. This is the man who has time for curiosity but no time for Animal Planet-like sentiment.

Opens August 19 at the Clay Theatre, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Older Than Ireland

2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, which eventually led to the birth of the Republic of Ireland. The thirty subjects of this documentary were all born before the Rising happened. All of them offer anecdotes about personal life events and living through a century of immense social and political change. Come see these thirty living repositories of Irish history.

Opens August 19 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas

Ovarian Psycos

In the neighborhoods of East Los Angeles, small groups of bandanna wearing bicycling activists pedal through the night streets. Part Critical Mass, part homebrew Take Back The Night, these young women of color confront racism and sexism with the aim of creating safe spaces for women. The Ovarian Psycos, the name of this activist group, receives an empowering portrayal from directors/producers Kate Trumbull and Joanna Sokolowski.

Opens August 19 at the Roxie Theatre

Sweet Sixteen

This Chinese-South Korean production concerns a high-school love triangle. Xiao Tian and Shu Yawang are childhood lovers. Xia Mu (Kris Wu), a troubled boy tutored by Shu, winds up falling in love with her. The triangle’s stability gets endangered by college, career choices and sexual harassment.

Opens August 18 at the AMC Metreon 16

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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