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Armistead Maupin Tells The Story Of His Life

Beloved San Francisco institution Armistead Maupin tells stories of his life in one of the week’s best documentaries. Hear Armistead Maupin tell tales of his early days working for Jesse Helms(!) and coming out to a friend. See Laura Linney and Neil Gaiman sing the praises of Armistead Maupin!

The higher profile openings of the week include a recounting of the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs match, the story of the living symbol of Boston Strong, and a life-changing year at Cape Cod.

But lower-profile gems worth checking out are a tragicomedy about a late 40-ish woman who grows a tail, and a documentary about an amazing historic coincidence involving Delta Blues and Freedom Summer.

Battle Of The Sexes

In 1973, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) was the first female athlete to earn more than $100,000 in a single year, an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and a closeted lesbian. Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) was a former world tennis champion, an avowed male chauvanist pig, and a big gambler. Riggs challenges King to a highly publicized tennis match. What begins as an entertainment spectacle becomes a highly politicized match to show that women can hold their own as professional athletes.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, and the AMC Metreon 16

Elizabeth Blue

Elizabeth decides to leave the psychiatric hospital where she’s staying and move in with her fiancee Grant. Yet her persistent schizophrenia means seeking the help of Dr. Bowman and trying a new round of medications. But Elizabeth still hears roaring trains at night and sees an imaginary raccoon in her bathroom. Her judgmental mother (Kathleen Quinlan) doesn’t make life any easier. Will Elizabeth and Grant’s impending nuptials fall through?

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Infinity Baby

What if you could be the parent of a baby that never ages? That’s the premise behind Bob Byington’s new comedy. Ben (Kieran Culkin), Larry, and Malcolm have been hired by Infinity Baby to market the company’s ability to create unaging babies. But the three marketers aren’t exactly models of maturity. Ben is unwilling to commit to a woman while Larry and Malcolm spend a little bit too much time with the new “product.”

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Jai Lava Kusa

Jai, Lava, and Kusa are three identical brothers, all played by NTR Jr. The trio work for their uncle’s drama troupe. However, because Jai has a terrible stutter, his brothers belittle and ignore him. Jai’s anger leads to some terrible consequences which causes the brothers’ separation. 20 years later, destiny brings the three now-changed brothers together. One’s a street smart thief. Another’s a bank manager. And the third worships Ravana.

Now at the Century 20 Daly City

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards

Enter the world of high-fashion shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. When Diana Vreeland suggested Manolo turn from theater set design to shoe-making, that suggestion would eventually lead to Manolo’s high-fashion fame. The fondness of Sex And The City‘s Carrie Bradshaw for Manolo’s shoes would cause his fame to really explode. Now meet the man whose creations are admired by everyone from Anna Wintour to Karlie Kloss.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

School Life

John and Amanda Leyden have taught for years at Headfort School, located in Kells, Ireland. This documentary follows these teachers as it portrays life at this progressive boarding school. Here, the students act in Hamlet, learn Latin, discuss same-sex marriage, and even do group covers of Ellie Goulding.

Now at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Stronger

In this biopic, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, symbol of Boston’s recovery from the notorious Boston Marathon bombing. Working class Bauman had shown up at the marathon finish line to try to win back ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany). After the bombing, Jeff loses both his legs. While Bauman helps ID one of the bombers, his real battle will be undergoing the physical and mental rehabilitation needed to walk again. Fortunately, Erin and his family are there to support him.

Now at the AMC Bay Street 16, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Century 20 Daly City, the Century at Tanforan, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Redwood Downtown 20, and the Shattuck Cinemas

Trophy

Does farming and breeding a wild animal save it? Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s disturbing documentary delivers few easy answers. The hunting safari industry makes money selling rights to kill big ticket animals such as lions or rhinos either in the wild or through breeding for hunting purposes. Yet the money from these sales keep the reserves profitable enough to save wilderness. Is it more important to preserve a species through controlled breeding and selective hunting or to preserve wildness itself?

Now at the AMC Van Ness 14

Two Trains Runnin’

On June 21, 1964, two separate cars filled with obsessed Delta Blues music sleuths found long-forgotten blues giants Skip James and Son House. That same day, a trio of Freedom Summer activists disappeared and were eventually found murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Sam Pollard’s documentary, with narration by Common, tells the story of this amazing historical coincidence. These Mississippi journeys may have been made for different reasons, but they’re bound by a desire to give recognition to African-American humanity.

Now at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin

Director Jennifer Kroot (To Be Takei) delivers a portrait of Armistead Maupin, the beloved creator of Tales Of The City. Maupin recounts everything from his days working for notorious homophobe Jesse Helms to how contemporary audiences reacted to his chronicles of 28 Barbary Lane. Admirers of Maupin appear throughout the film, ranging from the expected (Laura Linney) to the surprising (Neil Gaiman). Above it all is the wise and funny Armistead Maupin himself.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Year By The Sea

Joan Anderson (Karen Allen) is an empty-nester ridden by guilt over not following her relocated husband to Kansas. Retreating to Cape Cod, Joan wonders whether she made the right call in staying behind. But thanks to an encounter with a spirited mentor and the support of the locals, she begins to appreciate that age is not a barrier to enjoying the ebb and flow of life.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Zoology

Natasha is a single late 40-ish pencil pusher at a small town zoo. She still lives with her mother. Her co-workers act more like mean girls than adults. When Natasha suddenly grows a tail, her life changes. Kind and attractive radiologist Peter catches her eye, and she starts enjoying life. But Natasha’s fellow villagers start whispering about the alleged spawn of Satan living among them.

Now 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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