Reel Indie

20th Century Fox

Rocky Horror Picture Show. The time warp? We’re doing that again?! The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20.    

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. When the author Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007 at age 84, it hit the literary world hard, and Robert B. Weide harder. Twenty-five years earlier, the director—whose credits include a bunch of documentaries on old comedians and, most famously, the first few seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm—befriended Vonnegut and began filming their conversations for a hypothetical project somewhere down the line. With his subject gone, Weide figured it was finally time to put something together, and it only took another decade and a half to finish. For Slaughterhouse Five fanatics, the wealth of unseen footage should justify a ticket on its own. But the trailer makes clear this movie is as much about Weide and his relationship with Vonnegut as the name on the marquee, which will either elevate it above mere biography or make for an irritating exercise in navel-gazing. So it goes. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Friday-Tuesday, Nov. 19-23.    

Passing. In Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, two Black childhood friends, played by Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, reunite in adulthood, with the latter now living under the guise of a white person. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Friday-Tuesday, Nov. 19-23.    

Fantastic Planet. The phrase “adult animated feature” often raises some red flags, chief among them being, “Is this movie going to try to make me horny for cartoons?” But 1973’s Fantastic Planet is something else, in several different senses of the term. A severely trippy sci-fi allegory, the French-Czech co-production features no naked aliens—at least none that are meant to titillate—but uses its literally otherworldly imagery to impart a not-particularly-subtle message about interspecies subjugation and man’s inhumanity to man. It frequently ran as a double-feature with Yellow Submarine in the ’70s, but in terms of bugged-out psychedelia, it makes the Beatles look like Paw Patrol. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 19-20.

Legend: The Director’s Cut. On paper, the legacy of Legend should be a lot more, well, legendary. Ridley Scott directing a young Tom Cruise in a full-on, dwarves-and-unicorns fantasy epic? How is it not every ’80s baby’s favorite movie? As it happens, the film left much less of an impression on the cultural imagination than other examples of childhood nightmare fuel from the era like Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story. Maybe it’s the generic title, or that the story feels like a patchwork of mythological tropes rather than a true original. Or perhaps it just needed more Muppets. Whatever the case, in 2021, Legend exists essentially as a big-budget, star-studded cult flick, with one enduring image: Tim Curry’s hulking approximation of the devil, which set the template for horrifying demons that could nonetheless still get it for decades to come. The Screening Room, 27 E. Congress St. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. 

Tampopo. Like so many George Costanza fantasies, Juzo Itami’s self-described “ramen western” intertwines food and sex into a discursive comedy that, 34 years after its initial release, remains both charming and nutty in equal measure. Its plot revolves around a Japanese noodle shop and the lives that intersect there, making it something like Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, except with a vignette highlighting the erotic uses of raw egg. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21.   

Planes, Trains and Automobiles. For a holiday entirely about gorging yourself into a coma in front of a football game and/or dog show, Thanksgiving gets a bad rap. In popular culture, it’s merely a speed bump on the road to Christmas—an obligation to be endured, along with under-seasoned potato salad and Uncle Ronnie’s vaccine conspiracy theories. It’s an idea Hollywood has helped perpetuate: If there’s a movie set on Thanksgiving, 90 percent of the time, it’s going to involve family tensions boiling over at the dinner table. That’s why, three decades on, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is still the only Thanksgiving movie anyone actually wants to watch around Thanksgiving. Sure, for travel-phobes, it’s basically a 90-minute panic attack, but it serves to present the holiday as something worth going through hell to get home for, if only because the alternative is much worse. Also, Steve Martin, John Candy and John Hughes are such an unassailable ’80s comedy superteam it’s almost unfair. Harkins Theatre, 5455 S. Calle Santa Cruz. 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23. 

WHAT TO RENT FROM CASA VIDEO: The Last Waltz (1978). Actually, there’s at least one other Thanksgiving-related movie worth watching on Thanksgiving: Martin Scorsese’s documentary capturing the final concert by roots-rock greats the Band. Filmed on Nov. 25, 1976, at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, it plays out like an extended family gathering, with guests flying in from all over the country. Hey, everyone, Uncle Neil Young’s here! And, uh, what’s that all over his nose? Suggested beer pairing: Greenwood Brewing’s Harvest Diem Spiced Beer. 2905 E Speedway Blvd.

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