Valentine's Month in San Francisco should be less inhibited than anywhere else in the country. We have a reputation to uphold, after all. So the normally innocuous phrase "date movie" necessarily must take on a different meaning, sans innocence. Infuse it with inuendo and suggestiveness, and when the lights go down, whisper sweet nothings in his or her ear. These films will do the rest.
With a lineup deviously strewn with half-demented fictions and outré visions, S.F. Indiefest (Feb 6-20, 2014 at the Roxie) is a magnet for adventurous lovebirds and existential slackers. Pick your rose-red poison from a bouquet of singular works. Here are two exceptionally seductive lookers. Cheatin' (Feb. 7 and 11 at the Roxie, Feb. 17 at the New Parkway) finds the wildly imaginative animator Bill Plympton applying his puckish worldview to a love story jump-started by a minor car accident. Sparks fly, desires ignite and, eventually, the green-eyed monster makes an appearance. Loveless Zoritsa (Feb. 9 and 11 at the Roxie) is a dark-haired sorceress who inflames passions in a Serbian village: Anyone who falls for her meets an untimely demise, while everyone else thinks she's a witch or worse. When a cop arrives to investigate, black comedy and romance square off in a heartfelt battle. For more information visit sfindie.com.
Experimental film revels in the nonlinear, poetic and abstract. Love is illogical. See the connection? Open your mind -- and someone else's -- at the second ASKEW Film and Performance Festival at Yerba Bunea Center for the Arts. The three-night extravaganza, curated by Madison Young under the auspices of Femina Potens Art Gallery's Live Art Movement, draws on a range of art forms (film, dance, song, etc.) to rebuke, reject and revoke conventional views of conformity, gender and sexuality. Each program is different, and it's mighty hard to choose among We All Live Here: Primal Expressionism (Feb 6), Breaking Stones: Defining New Roles of Masculinity (Feb 7) and The Sacred and the Profane (Feb 8), the one most germane to this month's theme. Feel lucky? You should. For more information visit ybca.org.
Le Week-end, Roger Michell's wise and enthralling portrait of an English couple marking and occasionally celebrating their 30th anniversary on a sojourn to Paris, asks us to consider the numerous things that familiarity breeds. The opening night selection (Feb 13 at the Jewish Community Center) of the annual Mostly British Film Festival (running through Feb 20 at the Vogue, and Feb 18-20 at the Smith Rafael Film Center) stars the criminally underappreciated Jim Broadbent opposite Lindsay Duncan. It's hard to imagine any of the pretty young things dipping and darting through Love Me 'Till Monday (Feb 14) sticking with a partner for three decades, which doesn't make Justin Hardy's debut feature any less juicy a Valentine's Day treat. For more information visit mostlybritish.org. If you prefer your romantic and emotional climaxes in 90 seconds or less, you're already a fan of the annual British Arrow Awards (Feb 13-20 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) saluting the best ads of the year from across the pond. Or do you say adverts? For more information visit ybca.org.
The Color Purple
What's the hottest color? There are multiple answers at the Castro in February. Marc Huestis choreographs a Valentine's Day homage with Academy Award-nominated actress Margaret Avery (Shug) dishing the goods onstage before The Color Purple. Filmmaker Pratibha Parmar joins in the festivities with a chunk of her new documentary, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth. If, by some bizarre circumstance, you need help getting in the mood, the intense French (do I repeat myself?) relationship drama Blue Is the Warmest Color plays Feb 3. And if you detest Valentine's Day above all other holidays, Wednesdays provide a stiff antidote with Coen Brothers Abridged (Feb 12, 19, 26). Love is in desperately short supply in this mini-retrospective. For more information visit castrotheatre.com.
Five minutes is enough time to -- whoa! Is that all you think about? I was going to say construct a potent and satisfying short story on film (or digital video, more likely). If the subject matter happens to be sex, well, odds are we're referring to the Hump! Tour. Curated by the proudly subversive advice columnist Dan Savage from a starburst of entries from regular folks in the Pacific Northwest, the 15 short films on view (seven shows spread across Feb 28 and Mar 1 at the Roxie) cover the SGLBT waterfront. (S is for straight, don't you know.) What may sound like catnip for voyeurs is likely, at some point, to turn into embarrassed or amused self-recognition. Go with someone you want to love. For more information visit roxie.com.