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Stories Of The Lives Of John Coltrane, Jane Jacobs, And Others

Biographies dominate this weekend’s openings. New films talk about the lives of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, social critic/activist Jane Jacobs, superstar chef Jeremiah Tower, jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan, and film director David Lynch. John Coltrane may be the bigger of the two jazz musician film subjects. But the film about the relationship between Morgan and wife Helen has been getting the critical plaudits.

For those not interested in John Coltrane or his music, other openings are more genre-based. There’s a big-screen historic actioner from India, a lesbian erotic drama, and even a ghost story led by a Game of Thrones star.

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

Baahubali and Deva are royal cousins raised by the same mother, Queen Sivagami. When it comes time to decide on a successor, the Queen chooses Baahubali over her son Deva. Baahubali, she feels, has the makings of a true ruler. The angered Deva conspires with his father to overthrow Baahubali, employing old faithful Katappa as a pawn in their plans.

Opens April 28 at the Century 12 San Mateo (both Hindi and Telugu), the Century 20 Daly City (in Telugu), and the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Battle Of Memories

In 2025, people can delete their painful memories via a memory manipulation operation. A famous novelist uses the operation to delete his memories of his marriage thanks to a painful divorce. But what are these memory flashes of unsolved murders that are plaguing the novelist? Has the writer been suppressing memories of serial killings he’s committed?

Opens April 28 at the 4-Star Theatre

Below Her Mouth

Successful fashion magazine editor Jasmine (Natalie Krill) finds herself instantly attracted to tomboyish roofer Dallas (Erika Linder). That feeling is returned by the roofer, who’s a pro at winning ladies’ hearts. The two women start having very carnal relations. Yet Jasmine’s reluctance to abandon her engagement to boyfriend Rile spells trouble.

Opens April 28 at the Rialto Elmwood Cinema

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Jazz giant John Coltrane made outside-the-box music that did everything from becoming milestones in the jazz canon to inspiring a church named after him in San Francisco. This cinematic biography brings to life the musician and the experiences and influences that shaped him. Coltrane never did television interviews, but his personality is brought to life by Denzel Washington, who reads excerpts from Coltrane’s numerous print interviews. Making onscreen appearances are such luminaries as Sonny Rollins, Common, Dr. Cornel West, and ex-President Bill Clinton.

Opens April 28 at the California Theatre and the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Citizen Jane: Battle For The City

In mid-20th century New York City, Jane Jacobs was a reporter with unimpressive credentials and no city planning experience. Yet she would help lead grassroots opposition to city planner Robert Moses’ grand plans to tear apart such historic NYC neighborhoods as Greenwich Village and Tribeca for expressways and urban renewal projects. This battle pitting top-down city planning versus grassroots bottom-up activism may have happened decades ago. But Matt Tymauer’s film shows its lessons still resonate today.

Opens April 28 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

David Lynch: The Art Life

David Lynch is best known for directing such strange films as Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive. Jon Nguyen’s film looks at Lynch’s formative experiences. The famed director talks about the strange encounters and surreal events that would eventually affect how he saw art and life.

Opens April 28 at the Roxie Theatre

Finding Oscar

Nearly 30 years ago, Guatemalan government soldiers massacred the inhabitants of a village. A boy spared from the killings was raised by one of the soldiers who slaughtered his family. Now a team ranging from a forensic scientist to a Guatemalan prosecutor will try to bring justice for the massacred by finding this boy named Oscar. This film is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and produced by Frank Marshall.

Opens April 28 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas

I Called Him Morgan

On a snowy February 1972 New York City evening, a murder occurred that would rock the jazz world. The victim: legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan. The perpetrator: Morgan’s common-law wife Helen, who performed the killing during one of the trumpeter’s gigs. Kasper Collin’s acclaimed documentary tells the story of the couple’s ill-fated relationship. Interviews with the jazz world’s Who’s Who are complemented by a rare recording from Morgan and a post-prison release interview with Helen.

Opens April 28 at the Roxie Theatre

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

Lydia Tenaglia’s biography looks at the life of the influential and controversial chef Jeremiah Tower. Beginning as a pioneer of California cuisine at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, Tower would launch his legendary Stars Restaurant in San Francisco. Yet despite Stars’ overnight success, the chef would eventually leave the restaurant he launched and disappear from the food scene for nearly two decades. When Tower resurfaces at the troubled New York City restaurant Tavern on the Green, the chef’s culinary efforts are supplemented by a personal journey of self-discovery.

Opens April 28 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center. Jeremiah Tower appears in person at the Smith Rafael for the 4:15 PM screening on 4/30.

Sleight

Bo is an gifted Los Angeles teenage street magician struggling to survive. He’s had to turn down a college scholarship and become a single parent to younger sister Tina. To supplement his street performance income, he works for local drug dealer Angelo. On the positive side, Bo develops a mutual attraction with the self-reliant Holly. But incursions by a rival drug-dealing gang and mistaken attempts to impress Holly force Bo to test the limits of his powers to save his makeshift family.

Opens April 28 at the AMC Bay Street 16, the AMC Metreon 16, the AMC Van Ness 14, the Century 20 Daly City, the Century at Tanforan, the Redwood Downtown 20, the Regal Jack London Stadium 9, and the Shattuck Cinemas

Voice From The Stone

In the 1950s Tuscany countryside, nurse/nanny Verena (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones) has been hired by frustrated sculptor Klaus to care for his mute son Jakob. But Jakob’s muteness is voluntary. The boy believes that his continued silence allows his mother’s ghost speaks to him from the walls. Verena soon finds herself battling the mother’s ghost for Jakob’s soul. She also has to deal with Klaus’ unhealthy interest in having the nurse/nanny become his new nude model.

Opens April 28 at the Roxie 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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