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John Ridley Examines The 1992 Los Angeles Riots

The John Ridley documentary on the 1992 Los Angeles riots is worth checking out for two reasons. First, the theatrical version is nearly an hour longer than the broadcast version. Second, John Ridley finds an illuminating angle for recounting the still relevant history of that legendary incident of urban unrest.

But if the recent heat wave discourages you from checking out the John Ridley account of mass urban burning, there are far cooler offerings available now. A documentary on Native American influence on American pop music will have you hitting your streaming services or record stores. Or follow a young woman trying to transition out of Japan’s idol industry.

However, ignore a historical drama with parallels to the dot-com boom. Despite its star power, the results prove more tedious than expected.

Baadshaho

During an Indian national emergency, Maharani Gitanjali loses her privy purse. The army seizes the last remnant of her fortune, a gold-filled treasure chest. Gitanjali asks her trusted lieutenant Bhawani to steal the chest back. Bhawani, who madly loves Gitanjali, assembles a team consisting of himself, lock picker Tikla, daredevil Daliya, and badass female Sanjana. The team will intercept the armored truck going from Rajasthan to Delhi with Gitanjali’s gold. But army officer Seher is determined to foil Bhawani’s plans.

Now at the AMC Van Ness 14 and the Century 12 San Mateo

Crown Heights

This Audience Award Winner at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was adapted by writer/director Matt Ruskin from an acclaimed This American Life piece. In Spring 1980, a teenager is gunned down on the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn. 18-year-old recent Trinidad immigrant Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) gets wrongly convicted of the murder and is sentenced to at least 15 years in jail. Best friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) is convinced of Warner’s innocence and works with his friend to learn the law and find legal recourse for this miscarriage of justice. If you like the new John Ridley documentary, you might like this.

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

Hazlo Como Hombre (Do It Like An Hombre)

Raul, Eduardo, and Santiago have been macho buddies since childhood. When Santiago comes out to his friends as gay, homophobic Raul tries to convince Santiago he’s only sexually confused. But when the trio’s friendship is threatened, Raul and Eduardo man up and help Santiago ease into being out and proud.

Now at the AMC Bay Street 16, the Century 20 Daly City, the Century at Tanforan, and the Century San Francisco Centre 9

I Do…Until I Don’t

Lake Bell’s follow-up to In A World… is an ensemble comedy about marriage and relationships. Documentary filmmaker Vivian manipulates three couples at various relationship stages to treat marriage as a seven year deal with renewal options. Alice and Noah (Bell, Ed Helms) face boredom as both parenthood and a decade together looms. Fanny (Amber Heard) and Zander (Wyatt Cenac) believe their open marriage keeps things lively. Meanwhile, Cybil and Harvey (Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser) are empty-nesters unsure of the next step in their marriage. While the filmmaker pushes a “marriage is outmoded” agenda, the three couples learn some truths about their relationships.

Now at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the AMC Metreon 16, the CineArts at the Empire, and the Shattuck Cinemas

Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992

Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley recounts the roots of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In this multi-ethnic oral history, witnesses to the events of that time ranging from politicians to survivors cumulatively show how the riots were the explosive culmination of a decade of racial resentment. Rising gang membership and police “pain compliance” tactics are just two of the factors that lead to that fateful social combustion. Judgment is avoided in favor of focusing on the emotional truth of what happened. This theatrical screening offers a chance to see the longer version of the film preferred by John Ridley.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

Did you know Native Americans helped develop 20th century American popular music? Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana’s documentary tells this forgotten story. The film begins with Shawnee guitarist Link Wray whose “Rumble” became the first instrumental single subjected to radio censorship. From there, the film includes such names as bluesman Charley Patton, folksinger Buffy Saint-Marie, and The Band’s Robbie Robertson. But that’s only a sampling of just how deep Native American influence runs in American popular music.

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

Served Like A Girl

The Ms. Veteran America beauty pageant raises money for homeless female veterans, who have become the fastest growing sector of America’s homeless population. Lysa Heslov’s documentary follows the 2015 pageant and its veteran contestants. Among the subjects are former NFL cheerleader turned medic Rachel Engler, acerbic tomboy Nichole Alred, and emotionally damaged Navy vet Hope Garcia. Come hear stories both funny (how do you sneak a vibrator into a war zone) and traumatic (the horror of MST).

Now at the AMC Metreon 16

Temple

Religious studies major Kate has come to Tokyo to study Buddhist temples. Her insecure boyfriend James and her best friend (and Japanese speaker) Chris round out Kate’s party. Chris hopes to use the trip to heal from a breakdown he suffered after his brother died in a horrible accident. However, when an old manuscript directs the trio to a notorious temple, healing and studying definitely don’t result. Instead of watching Americans get treated to J-horror clich├ęs go watch the far better The Descent.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre

Tokyo Idols

Documentarian Kyoko Miyake examines Japan’s “idol” phenomenon. Idols, who’ve been around since at least the 1990s, are teenage girl singers of J-pop tunes who dance in colorful costumes. Miyake’s principal subject Rio Hiragi (aka RioRio) wants to parlay her idol fame into becoming a recording artist. However, RioRio’s commercial appeal needs to expand beyond the small group of 20-40-year-old men who serve as her core fan base.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Tulip Fever

In 1637 Amsterdam, Tulipmania madness sweeps the city’s inhabitants. Prized tulip bulbs can fetch more than the value of a house. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is stuck in a loveless marriage to wealthy merchant Cornelis Sandevoort (Christoph Waltz). When Cornelis invites young painter Jan van Loos (Dane de Haan) to paint the couple’s portrait, sparks fly between Sophia and Jan. The adulterous couple gamble their future fortunes on a rare tulip bulb’s continued spectacular rise in value.

Now at the Albany Twin, the AMC Bay Street 16, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the AMC Van Ness 14, the Century 12 San Mateo, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Piedmont Theatre, the Redwood Downtown 20, and the UA Stonestown Twin

The Vault

To save their brother Michael, sisters Vee and Leah Dillon (Taryn Manning & Francesca Eastwood) help rob a bank. The heist begins smoothly. But bank manager Ed Maas (James Franco) leads the robbers to the bank basement’s secret vault. And inside that dark chamber, there lurks a supernatural evil…

Now at the 4-Star 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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