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Tom Of Finland, The Cavendishes, Other Real Life Heroes

Tom Of Finland is just one of the real-life heroes featured in this week’s openings. Other subjects of new dramas or documentaries include a couple who found a way to live with polio and a trio of activists fighting medical organizations letting people die.

On the under-the-radar front, a woman getting in touch with her inner wolf. Diwali celebrants (and non-Indian Bollywood fans) should check out Aamir Khan’s new film about a burqa-clad star.

Bending The Arc

About 30 years ago, medical student Paul Farmer joined forces with activist Ophelia Dahl and Dr. Jim Yong Kim to challenge a medical-and-charitable complex willing to prize conserving medical resources over saving “expendable” lives. This documentary recounts the story of their long struggle to change that mentality. Beginning with fighting TB in rural Haiti, they would gain powerful allies to fight AIDS in Africa and Ebola in Rwanda.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas

Breathe

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut tells the inspiring true love story of adventurous couple Robin and Diana Cavendish. When Robin (Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge) is expected to live only a few months after being struck down by polio at age 28. But Diana (Claire Foy, The Crown) enlists the help of her twin brothers and the ideas of inventor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey) to spring Robin out of the hospital. The couple eventually winds up raising a son together and helping other polio patients.

Now at the Albany Twin, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, and the Redwood Downtown 20

Dina

The Sundance Grand Jury Prize Documentary winner makes its theatrical debut. Philadelphia resident Dina Buno is a 48-year-old woman whose host of mental conditions include Asperger’s. But life’s hardships haven’t dimmed her inner strength and external candor. She plans to marry Scott, a man whose own mental conditions include discomfort with human contact. Filmmakers Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini follows this unexpected couple on their real-life accidental romantic comedy.

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

Golmaal Again!!!

The funny gang of wheeler-dealer orphans return in a new installment. They pay a return visit to the Ooty orphanage where they were raised to mourn their mentor’s passing. However, greedhead builder Vasu Reddy and his associate Nikhil plan to seize the orphanage as part of a money-making scheme. The gang tries to stall the builders. But friendly ghosts who’ve also settled down in the area complicate matters.

Now at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Century 20 Daly City

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Shell-shock and First World War flashbacks leave writer A.A. Milne estranged from his son Christopher Robin. But father-son rambles in the nearby woods provide both bonding and the inspiration for the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh stories. But unwitting celebrity winds up leaving a terrible shadow on Christopher Robin’s life.

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

Human Flow

Since World War II, famine, war, and climate change have forced over 65 million people from their homes. Artist Ai Weiwei’s epic documentary captures both the staggering scale of this mass displacement and refugees’ personal stories. As the film travels to 23 countries over the course of a very eventful year, the question becomes whether our world will retreat into fear and self-interest or move forth into openness and respect for humanity.

Now at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Secret Superstar

Small-town teenager Insia (Zaira Wasim in an outstanding performance) wants to become the Indian version of Taylor Swift. However, her very domineering father feels women should only aspire to serve men. Fortunately, the teenager becomes an Internet sensation by wearing a burqa and recording her songs for uploading to YouTube. But trouble erupts later when Insia’s father wants to move the entire family to Saudi Arabia. Director Aamir Khan plays a supporting role as an egotistical producer trying to shed his Simon Cowell-like reputation.

Now at the AMC Van Ness 14 and the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Thirst Street

Nathan Silver’s new microbudget drama pays homage to Fassbinder and Eurotrash cinema, but sadly not in a Tom of Finland way. Young flight attendant Gina tries bouncing back from her first lover’s suicide via a Paris one-night stand with strip joint bartender Jerome. However, the bartender is a serial player happy to lead the unworldly woman on. Gina meanwhile obsessively goes to extremes to regain Jerome’s unworthy affections. Anjelica Huston provides the film narration.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Tokyo Ghoul

In an alternate contemporary Tokyo, humans and human flesh-eating ghouls uneasily co-exist. Shy college student Ken Kaneki’s date with sensitive bookworm Rize Kamishiro turns sour when she turns out to be a ghoul. Rize is killed in a freak accident, but not before injuring Ken by taking a bite out of him. At the hospital, a life-saving organ transplant with Rize’s organs turns Ken into a half-ghoul. Now he struggles to retain his humanity while navigating the ghoul underground and facing ghoul-hunting government agents. Based on the Sui Ishida manga.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Tom Of Finland

Touko Laaksonen is the real name of gay leatherman erotic artist Tom of Finland. A traumatized World War II army veteran, he returned home to the social repression of 1950s Finland. Handsome dancer and lodger Veli becomes the object of Touko’s affections. Erotic pictures of hyper-masculine leathermen become Touko’s way of openly expressing his feelings. Getting those pictures published, though, becomes a constant struggle. It will take Touko’s relocation to sexually revolutionized 1970s California before his art would finally bring him fame as the iconic Tom of Finland.

Now at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Wasted: The Story Of Food Waste

40% of food produced in the United States is thrown out as garbage. Yet leaving those food scraps in landfills creates methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times worse than carbon dioxide. First-time filmmakers Anna Chai and Nari Kye take viewers on a globe-hopping tour with such food superstars as Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, and chef Dan Barber. They show learning how to transform wasted food into meals can both benefit the world and taste incredibly awesome.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Wild

Office drone Ania lives in a cold ordinary German town. But an encounter with a wild wolf at the edge of town awakens a determination to find the wolf again. Also getting awakened are Ania’s own sexual desires (not in the Tom of Finland way, sorry) and her bullshit detector regarding everyday hypocrisies. Soon the natural world becomes preferable to Ania over modern civilization.

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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