Visits With Naughty Nuns And The Last Dalai Lama

A 25-years-later documentary about the Dalai Lama is a highlight among the new art films. But don’t tell that to the Chinese government.

Controversial for different reasons are two other new films. A raunchy update of some tales from The Decameron will upset more conservative Catholics. Meanwhile, a drama about a failed real-life assassination attempt on Hitler will probably have Trump supporters freaking out.

But the hidden gem of the week will probably be Ann Hui’s wartime drama about a schoolteacher reluctantly drawn into anti-Japanese activities.

13 Minutes

Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) returns with another Nazi-era historical drama. In 1939, idealistic carpenter Georg Elser tries to kill Adolf Hitler for the good of Germany. The bomb Elser builds does go off as planned. But Hitler escapes death as he left the bomb site 13 minutes early. Soon captured by the Gestapo, the would-be assassin is brutally interrogated in an effort to reveal the names of other possible conspirators. But as flashbacks reveal, Elser was a lone wolf eventually pushed to take radical action.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

The Last Dalai Lama?

25 years ago, filmmaker Mickey Lemle created Compassion In Exile, a groundbreaking documentary portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. In Lemle’s new film, his subject is now in his 80s. Some things from the earlier film still concern him, such as Tibet-China tensions and working with neuroscientists. But those concerns have been supplemented by worries about whether he will be the last Dalai Lama.

Now at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, the Roxie Theatre and the Smith Rafael Film Center

The Little Hours

In this very loose adaptation of stories from Boccaccio’s The Decameron, virile 14th century peasant Masetto flees his brutal master (Nick Offerman) and hides out in a convent. To prevent inspiring sexual thoughts in resident nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Genevra (Kate Micucci), the peasant pretends to be a deaf-mute. Despite the stern concerns of the Abbess (Molly Shannon) and priest Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), hormones rage. But the pending arrival of Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen) threatens to put the fun to an end.

Now at the Aquarius Theatre, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, the Smith Rafael Film Center


Devki may have two beautiful girls but she’s unhappy as a mother. Sensitive daughter Arya keeps Devki at an emotional distance. The mother patiently waits for her daughter’s love and acceptance. But when the distance between Devki and Arya worsens to the point of no return, the mother must choose from one of two terrible options to fight for Arya’s love.

Now at the AMC Metreon 16

The Ornithologist

Handsome ornithologist Fernando is looking for endangered black storks along a wild river in northern Portugal. But after getting accidentally swept up in the river rapids, he winds up on a wilderness journey which resembles a St. Anthony-like spiritual quest. Along the way, Fernando will meet such bizarre folk as a deaf-mute shepherd and Latin-speaking Amazons. This surrealistic film comes from director Joao Pedro Rodrigues (O Fantasma).

Now at the Clay Theatre and the Shattuck Cinemas

Our Time Will Come

Director Ann Hui’s historical drama is set in 1941 Japanese-occupied Hong Kong. The anti-Japanese Dongjiang guerrilla unit rescues Chinese cultural figures trapped in the city and lifts them to safety. Primary school teacher Fang Lan just wants to wait out the occupation with her mother. But the teacher’s path crosses with the guerrillas’ during a mission to extract novelist Mao Dun. Sharpshooter Blackie Lau recruits Fang to join the Dongjiang group. Fang’s mother, fearing for her daughter’s safety, replaces her daughter as a courier. But when the old woman gets arrested by the Japanese, Fang’s only hope to save her mother lies with a friend now working for the Japanese.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre and 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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