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An Oscar Front-Runner Starring Daniela Vega & Other Oscar Nominees

Trans actress Daniela Vega stars in the film of the week, the Chilean drama that’s considered the Oscar front-runner. The performance that Daniela Vega delivers will probably be skipped by the sort of people who think transphobic bathroom bills are great ideas. Other Oscar bait, aside from the nominees still playing in theaters, are three programs featuring this year’s short film nominees.

Under-the-radar film of the week is a Bollywood comedy about a metal worker whose invention of cheaper sanitary pads changes India in unexpected ways. This film really is based on a true story.

Before We Vanish

Kiyoshi Kurosawa jumps into science fiction territory for his new film, an adaptation of Tomohiro Maekawa’s play. Narumi is an illustrator estranged from her husband Shinji. When the husband returns home after a days-long disappearance lacking memories of both the past and even basic social skills, the wife sees a chance to do over their marriage. Meanwhile, journalist Sakurai has two weird encounters. One is a gruesome murder connected to the disappearance of the victims’ daughter, teenager Akira. The other is a request from a man named Amano who wants Sakurai to be his guide to life on Earth. It turns out Shinji, Akira, and Amano have been taken over by the advance scouts of a pending alien invasion. However, Kurosawa is less interested in genre thrills than in exploring what makes us human.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse

La Boda De Valentina (Valentina’s Wedding)

Successful businesswoman Valentina lives in New York City. She works for the company owned by fiancĂ©e Jason’s family. However, the big thing Valentina’s never done is introduce Jason to her family, who live in Mexico City. That’s because Valentina’s family happens to be a powerful but scandal-plagued clan. To deter Jason’s questions, Valentina’s clan secretly marries the daughter off on paper to ex-flame and social activist Angel. When Valentina discovers her secret marriage, it sets the stage for rekindling her old feelings for Angel. Then Jason comes to Mexico City and becomes friends with Angel. So who will Valentina marry?

Now at the Century 20 Daly City, the Century at Tanforan, and the Redwood Downtown 20

A Fantastic Woman

Daniela Vega makes her film debut in the film considered the Foreign Film Oscar front-runner. Marina (Daniela Vega) is a lounge singer and waitress who’s dating kindly textile company owner Orlando. But when the latter suddenly dies, a series of humiliations begin befalling Marina. She’s transsexual, and Orlando’s family don’t hide their disapproval of his relationship with her. The cops and even ordinary passersby treat her like a freak. Through it all, the transwoman struggles to exact a small measure of recompense and personal dignity.

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse and the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2018: Animation And Live Action

Curious about the short films nominated for the Oscar? Catch these programs and get up to speed on the individual nominees. The Animation shorts programs include the acclaimed Negative Space (a boy whose father taught him how to pack) and Lou (a toy-stealing bully finds his playground reign of terror hampered by the Lost and Found box). The documentary shorts include Heroin(e) (a portrait of three women struggling to save lives in the West Virginia town at the center of the opioid epidemic) and Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405 (a portrait of artist Mindy Alper, who’s used painting and sculpture throughout her life to express her hyper-aware mental state). The live action shorts include The Eleven O’Clock (a psychiatric session goes off the rails after a delusional patient believes he’s the psychiatrist) and Watu Wote – All Of Us (Kenyan Muslim and Christian mistrust resulting from Al Shabaab terrorist attacks gets turned around via a December 2015 incident involving Muslim bus passengers).

Animation shorts program now at the Clay Theatre, the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center.

Documentary shorts program screens only on February 10 at the Smith Rafael Film Center and starting February 17 at the Roxie Theatre.

Live action shorts program now at the Clay Theatre, the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Pad Man

Lakshmi is a metal worker who laments that his wife Gayatri and other neighboring women have to rely on dirty rags whenever they get their periods. Sanitary pads are available in India, but they’re stratospherically priced. So the metal worker builds a machine that makes the pads a lot cheaper. His national campaign to have the machine put into wide use would usher in a feminine hygiene revolution and eventually end the toxic culture of masculine disapproval. Based on a true story.

Now at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Surge Of Power: Revenge Of The Sequel

Openly gay superhero Surge finds his arch-nemesis Metal Master has been recruited by the villainous Augur. The villain’s heading to Las Vegas to steal the mysterious element known as Celinedionium for Augur’s nefarious ends. Surge leaves Big City to pursue Metal Master and stop his ee-vil mission. Features a huge load of (badly told) pop culture jokes and B-list genre celebrities.

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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