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Down With ISIS, A Ghost Unstuck In Time

A documentary about citizen journalists revealing truths about ISIS to the world is just one of a trio of strong documentaries now in theaters. Errol Morris returns with a touching film about a portrait photographer friend. And the Roxie screens a strange but true story about a Yukon gold town and an amazing cinema trove.

But if you want something a little less in your face than a film about the evil of ISIS, Casey Affleck follows up Manchester By The Sea with a touching fantasy about memory, loss, and being unstuck in time.

Battle Scars

Luke Stephens returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan suffering from PTSD and physical injuries. He wants to forget the war, but his veteran father won’t let him. At a local strip club, the traumatized veteran meets Michelle, who proceeds to lead him into a world every bit as violent and stressful as Afghanistan.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

Errol Morris’ new film is a portrait of portrait photographer friend Elsa Dorfman. Using the rare Polaroid Land 20″ x 24″ camera, Dorfman shot approximately 4,000 photographs over the course of 35 years. Her portrait subjects have ranged from unknowns to such famous folk as Allen Ginsberg, Jonathan Richman, and Bob Dylan. But when Polaroid discontinues the Land film stock, the photographer faces the prospect of forced early retirement.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse and the Shattuck Cinemas

City Of Ghosts

ISIS took control of Raqqa in 2014 and made it the capital of their Islamic State. In response, a brave group of citizen journalists band together to form Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS). The group would report to the world on Syrian life under ISIS oppression. Operating undercover or on the run, RBSS’ members risk their lives to reveal to the world what ISIS prefers be kept secret about their rule. Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) tells the sotry of RBSS’ often dangerous work.

Now at the Clay Theatre and the Shattuck Cinemas

Dawson City: Frozen Time

Dawson City was a Canadian town whose placement at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers made it the center of the Yukon Gold Rush. But establishing Dawson City wound up displacing the First Nation tribe which relied on the area for a hunting and fishing camp. Some years after the city’s founding, the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association began showing films to the public. Those films usually stayed in Dawson because of its geographical location and the town’s being the end of the film distribution chain. In this way, about 500 films were accumulated by the late 1920s. In a strange but true twist, the film material wound up eventually being buried beneath the town hockey rink. There the film cans remained until they were accidentally discovered nearly fifty years later. Director Bill Morrison’s documentary recounts the story of Dawson City and includes restored footage from the Dawson City Collection.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

A Ghost Story

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play an unnamed married couple. When Affleck’s character dies, his ghost returns to their home in hopes of consoling his grieving wife. But becoming a ghost has made the former man unstuck in time. Instead of communicating with his wife, the ghost helplessly watches her slip away from him. Soon even a sense of past and present begins to drift away from the ghost…

Now at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Jagga Jasoos

When he was a stuttering orphan, Jagga was adopted by the mysterious Tutti-Phooti. The boy’s new father figure taught him to overcome his stutter by singing his words. The two got along famously until Tutti-Phooti had to enroll Jagga in boarding school. Jagga’s adoptive father kept in touch by mailing the boy an annual birthday present. But when the present doesn’t arrive one year, Jagga suspects that Tutti-Phooti is in trouble. He sets out on a quest to find the missing man, accompanied by klutzy journalist Shruti. But who could have expected the search to span continents and involve run-ins with illegal arms dealers and spies?

Now at the AMC Metreon 16, the AMC Van Ness 14, the Century 12 San Mateo, and the Century 20 Daly City

Lost In Paris

Canadian small-town librarian Fiona (Fiona Gordon) leads an orderly existence. But when her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) sends a cry for help, the librarian flies to her aunt’s Paris home. However, the old lady has disappeared. Fiona’s frantic search for the old woman is hampered by her constant run-ins with Dom (Dominique Abel), an egotistical and annoying tramp.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Moscow Never Sleeps

Take a look at life in contemporary Moscow through the intersecting lives of five people: an ENTREPENEUR who refuses to play ball with corrupt bureaucrats; the POP SINGER who’s the ENTREPENEUR’s mistress but is also still in love with an on-again off-again boyfriend; the boyfriend’s father, an aging FILM STAR whose medical problems lead to his getting embroiled in a kidnapping; a teenage GIRL trying to escape her broken home; and a YOUNG MAN torn between his girlfriend and his grandmother. Over the course of one very eventful day, all these lives will change forever.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre

Pop Aye

While wandering the Bangkok streets, disillusioned architect Thana encounters an elephant that he recognizes as his old childhood friend Pop Aye. Impulsively buying the elephant, Thana takes Pop Aye on a 300 mile road trip back to the Thai countryside. While the police try to stop Thana from unpermitted travel with an elephant, the architect is aided by a transvestite prostitute and a friendly hermit. Winner of a screenwriting award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Wu Kong

Derek Kwok wrote and directed this adaptation of the unofficial Journey to the West prequel Wukong Biography. In it, Sun Wukong and Erlang Shen travel to the Immortal Mountain to cultivate their martial arts skills. However, Wukong soon makes himself unwelcome by stealing food from the Heavenly courts. When the fairy Ah Zi falls for Wukong, Ah’s childhood sweetheart Yang Jian and the powerful Heavenly general Hua Ji are Not Pleased.

Now 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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