Thursday, March 05, 2015

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 6 March 2015 - 12 March 2015

This is a good weekend to go to the movies if you like Dev Patel. Good for him! Must have been a busy and confusing week of doing interviews and other publicity, though.

  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is opening at practically every screen in the area - The Coolidge, the Somerville, Kendall Square, West Newton, Fenway, Boston Common, Assembly Row, and Revere. In that one, he once again plays the manager of a retirement hotel in India, with eyes toward opening a second. Once again, the residents are a whole bunch of great British actors who have passed a certain age, this time joined by a couple of Americans in Richard Gere and David Strathairn (who, apparently, is actually about the same age as Bill Nighy, which means Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are cradle-robbing).

    The midnight shows for March are actually going to be fairly new-release heavy, with the first entry on Friday & Saturday night- Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's "Island of Dr. Moreau" - a documentary of how Stanley was fired from the Val Kilmer/Marlon Brando movie on the first day of shooting, which gives one an idea of what sort of troubled production it was. In other special presentations, hopefully the entries for Tuesday's Open Screen are not that sort of disaster. The Francophone film series also continues on Thursday with another documentary, Un rêve américain, in which French Candian musician Bruno Boulianne travels across the U.S. meeting others of similar heritage.
  • Getting back to Dev Patel, he's one of the stars of Neill Blomkap's latest, Chappie, playing an engineer who upgrades a police "scout" robot to have genuine emergent intelligence, raising the paranoia of folks who have seen how well intelligent robots with guns have gone in every other movie. Not sure what to make of it; the trailers, synopsis, and early descriptions of the story are all really different tones. It's at the Capitol, Jordan's Furniture,Apple Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Fenway, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Revere, and the SuperLux.

    No Dev Patel in Unfinished Business, which features Vince Vaughn as a small businessman competing with his previous employers for a contract on a business trip to Germany. Nice cast, including Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, and Sienna Miller, and I liked director Ken Scott's Starbuck (though I didn't see the remake he did with Vaughn). It's at the Capitol, Apple Fresh Pond, Fenway, Boston Common, Assembly Row, and Revere.

    Fenway also has this week's Chinese opening, 12 Golden Ducks, which I guess is in the vein of the Golden Chickens series that also stars Sandra Ng, only featuring male escort played by Louis Koo. Tons of Hong Kong stars in this one - Nicholas Tse,Simon Yam, Michelle Chen, Dada Chan, Eason Chan, Anthony Wong, Zhao Wei, Isabella Yeong. Over at Boston Common, Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal drops down to two 3D shows per day.
  • In addition to Marigold Hotel 2, Kendall Square and West Newton will be opening another one of the Oscar nominees in the Foreign Language Film category. Wild Tales is from Argentina, and features six overlapping stories of life spinning far out of control. The Kendall also has a one-week booking of Queen and Country, John Boorman's sequel to his 1987 film Hope and Glory, in which the nine-year-old boy living in England during World War II is now 19 and has just been drafted. Why the earlier movie is not streaming somewhere, I cannot guess.
  • The Brattle has the very entertaining The Search for General Tso from Friday to Sunday, with director Ian Cheney on hand for the 7pm show opening night. In it, Cheney sets out to learn about the namesake of General Tso's chicken and winds up creating a movie about how Chinese immigrants became Chinese-Americans, assimilating and also dealing with prejudice. No 9:30 shows, though; that slot is given toBuzzard, in which a smll-time con artist winds up on the streets of Detroit, growing every more paranoid. There are also 12:30pm screenings of The Last: Naruto the Movie, but those are already sold out (good job, anime/manga fans)!

    There's also a documentary director in town on Monday, as Mary Lampson introduces and answers questions after a DocYard screening of Underground, a 1975 film following key members of The Weathermen - close enough access that the FBI would attempt to confiscate the footage as evidence. Tuesday is a local premier of Destiny's Detour, the latest collaboration between Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz, and Tom Leopold. Then Wednesday and Thursday are a two-day run of Hard to Be a God, the last project of Russian filmmaker Aleksey German (finished by his family after his death), based upon a novel by the authors of Stalker and featuring an Earth scientist trying not to interfere in the cultural development of a planet still in the middle ages.
  • It's a good weekend for those of us who like silents at the Somerville Theatre: The Alloy Orchestra makes their annual visit on Saturday evening with their new score and restoration of Rudolph Valentino's Son of the Sheik. Then, for those of us who aren't sated, Jeff Rapsis will be accompanying Sunday's 35mm double feature of two W.C. Fields silents: Sally of the Sawdust and Running Wild. Should be interesting to see how a guy known primarily for his delivery handled this sort of movie.
  • The Harvard Film Archive will welcome documentary filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki on Friday and Saturday to show and discuss two of his recent films about the changing People's Republic of China: The Iron Ministry (Friday) is shot on the trains which connect the vast country, while Yumen (Saturday) visits a quickly-built oil town that was abandoned just as quickly when the oil ran out.

    Sunday and Monday are movies that were cancelled because of last month's snow: silent WWI film The Big Parade (with music by Robert Humphreville) on Sunday and the restored "A Night of Storytelling" (35mm) and Man of Aran (16mm) on Monday. The Wednesday night "Furious Cinema" presentation is a 35mm print of John Cassavetes's Minne and Moskowitz.
  • The Museum of Fine Artscontinues their New Latin American Cinema program with Chile's Voice Over (Friday), Argentina's Natural Sciences (Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday), Brazil's Casa Grande, or The Ballad of Poor Jean (Saturday & Sunday) and Obra (Wednesday), also from Brazil. There' also a Tuesday afternoon series of some sort starting (?) with Rebel Without a Cause.
  • No subtitled Indian movies at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond/iMovieCafe this week, but there's Enakkul Oruvan if you speak Tamil and Surya Vs Surya if you know Telugu.


My plans: Chappie, 12 Golden Ducks, Son of the Sheik, the Fields silents, Wild Tales, Focus, and maybe Hard to Be a God and Buzzard. The Search for General Tso is recommended.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

(Looks at options for Amazon link, sees that this is also the name of a Frank Herbert novel, shakes head)

The fact that eFilmCritic doesn't give out assignments means that nobody really has to review a given new release, but I do feel a weird urge to fill in holes. Still, when I saw that Peter had reviewed it for RogerEbert.com and Brett does his horror reviews on his own oh-the-horror.com site, which left it to me. I could have said no, but MoviePass meant it was effectively free, Mark Duplass had done an amusing Q&A a few days before (and also worked with producer Jason Blum on the terrific Creep), Olivia Wilde did a funny annotation of an Esquire profile, and, hey, there's other good folks in the cast. Like Sarah Bolger, who will always be "one of the kids from In America" to me, no matter what else she does or how attractive an adult she's grown into.

It's not good. At all. It's so forgettable that it sucks other bits of memory in - I think I read that it was directed by the guy who made Jiro Dreams of Sushi something like four times before the idea actually stuck in my head despite that being a pretty interesting and unusual diversion. The other folks in the theater were actually doing some critical dissection, wondering what the heck happened to the dog who just vanished midway through despite being pretty damn important.

I kind of hope that's the direct-to-video sequel they go for. There are two other obvious routes, but there is a part of me that would be tickled pink if this movie spawned a series of movies about an immortal dog who has seen hell and travels the countryside like a demonic Littlest Hobo, drawn to paranormal activity and dealing with it by being as good a dog as he can be with the strange voices in his head.

As an aside: Can anybody actually name a series that ran like what I describe in the first paragraph of the review (direct-to-video/VOD sequels that wound up with a strangely consistent creative team and a dedicated fanbase)? I feel like it's happened before, but the only things that leap to mind are a couple of Japanese series. I can think of a couple of times it has happened on television - that's how we wound up with more Stargate and Highlander than bears thinking of - but examples of the route I'd like The Lazarus Effect to go elude me.

Weird crowd, too. When I sat down just as previews started to run, there was only one other person in the theater, and while I opted for center-right-behind-the-railing (the first elevated seats above the wheelchair row), he was in almost the last row and so far to the side that he was actually behind the walkway in. I cannot fathom being the first person to arrive in a theater and choosing that seat. Similarly, a lot of folks who arrived during the trailers sat far enough back that they made shadows on the screen when they got up, which was relatively often. What the heck? Why go to a theater if you're going to sit far back enough to make the screen the apparent size of your TV, and why so restless? It was an 83-minute movie, for crying out loud; even with AMC's 20-minute trailer package, that's not a terribly long time to go without checking your phone or peeing (and if you know you can't last that long for the latter, find a seat where you're not interrupting someone else's movie, even if it's something crappy like this).

Ah, well. At least the stuff around this amused me more than the typical terrible horror movie.

The Lazarus Effect

* ½ (out of four)
Seen 3 March 2015 in AMC Boston Common #11 (first-run, DCP)

There's a thing that sometimes happens where a movie under-performs but the name apparently has just enough value that whoever winds up with the rights makes a direct-to-video sequel, or two, or more, with tiny budgets that maybe allow one person from low in the original's cast to return and probably doesn't bring the original writers and directors back. But, perhaps, they do get the same guy to a few of them, he or she goes off in a new direction, and they develop a small but hard-core fanbase that tells you the sequels are really great and just ignore the first one. The Lazarus Effect has great potential along those lines, and it's a shame about the movie itself.

It actually starts well enough; we're introduced to Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde), a pair of engaged scientists working on a process that would allow for patients who have flatlined to be revived much later than was previously the case. Working with them are Niko (Donald Glover), a longtime friend with an obvious crush on Zoe, and Clay (Evan Peters), an obnoxious-but-allegedly-brilliant younger colleague. Eva (Sarah Bolger), a student at the university hosting the researchers, is documenting the process. Today, they've just had an animal test succeed, but the revived dog is acting strange - and they are almost immediately shut down and locked out of their lab. But if they can reproduce their work...

That may not sound particularly promising, but a good cast can make the movie go down fairly easy during the set-up part. Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde make for unconventional choices for their character types - Duplass plays his driven genius as more casual and amiable than is often the case, and Wilde brings an approachable sort of confidence to the character whose job is to undermine the certainty a bit. They work well as a pair, smart, funny, and mostly at ease, enough to give a little push to later events. Donald Glover does a fair job as the guy one the outskirts of that relationship, Evan Peters adds a bit of manic energy, and Sarah Bolger gives Ava a little more personality than just being the pretty girl that the rest explains things to. Ray Wise shows up as an oily corporate type and makes you hope that Ray Wise is in more than one scene.

Full review on EFC

Monday, March 02, 2015

Song of the Sea

My original plan over the weekend was to see this back to back with Paddington on Saturday, which would have been a pretty darn good afternoon of window-shipping for potential things to get my nieces for their birthdays and/or Christmas. It didn't work out that way, though - the times on Saturday were just to right even if the theaters were just for stops apart on the Red Line - which made for two weirdly parallel double features: Paddington & Maps to the Stars on Saturday and Song of the Sea & What We Do in the Shadows on Sunday. Not necessarily the order is recommend, although the day is seldom set up to give you a cute-movie chaser after the mean-spirited one.

It's a pretty delightful little movie, at least. Maybe one for my oldest niece, although the fairies she likes are more the cute little winged ones as opposed to the wide range from Irish folklore. Most adults with an appreciation for mythology and folklore should enjoy it too; it's a cute movie, but not one that feels like it has had its edges worn off.

It was kind of fun to see this one at Kendall Square, in that you seldom see kids there and they tend to liven up a somewhat serious crowd. The flip side is that the theater has no idea what previews to run before the movie - or, more likely, not much on the preview server that is really appropriate. I, as a kid, might have enjoyed the Amazing Randi documentary, but that's really kind of it. It was no wonder that a boy behind me started grumbling for the movie to start just two or so in.

Later on, I wondered how he might have reacted to the White God trailer. Kids like dogs and scary stories, right?

Song of the Sea

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 1 March 2015 in Landmark Kendall Square #4 (first-run, DCP)

There have generally been one or two movies like Song of the Sea among the nominees every year since the Oscars started giving out an award for best animated feature, and they're the best argument for the award's existence. No, this smaller film from Ireland that relatively few voters had seen had little chance to win, but being nominated makes it easier for it to get noticed later. That's when people notice it and realize that it's terrific.

It starts on a small island, where lighthouse-keeper Conor (voice of Brendan Gleeson) and his wife Bronagh (voice of Lisa Hannigan) are expecting their second child, but as they put four-year-old Ben to bed, it is clear that something is not right. Jump ahead six years, and is clear that Ben (voice of David Rawle) resents his sister Saoirse, who has not yet learned to talk. A scare at Saoirse's birthday party has Conor send the children to live in Dublin with their grandmother, an action that both reveals a greater destiny for Saoirse and means she may need more help than Ben and their dog Cu can give to fulfill it.

Saoirse, it turns out, is a selkie, one of the many sorts of faeries to be found in Celtic myth (though human on land, they become seals when they enter the water with their special coats). Director Tomm More and screenwriter William Collins embrace their homeland's rich mythology, and not just by building the story around it. Ben lives and clings to the stories his mother told, making him a refreshing outlier in a genre where the hero must often start out as cynical and then embrace his heritage. It lets the filmmakers introduce new elements casually, without having to go through the effort of convincing Ben and the audience anew each time, and also means that when Ben is stymied by the things that would present challenges to a ten-year-old boy, it does not seem like small potatoes compared to witches and monsters.

Full review on EFC

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Maps to the Stars

It was a cruel tease for the College Corner Theatre to run a "Cronenberg's Mad Science" series through February and end it with this. Sure, it seems like the odds of ever getting the same sort of crazy science fiction and body horror that is synonymous with David Cronenberg's name from him again are fairly low - we'll have to wait for his son Brandon's next film to see if he had truly picked up the torch - but this was just about as far in the other direction as you might fear: a sadly familiar portrait of Hollywood being shallow and full of madness.

It could be worse, I suppose; while I was pondering how underwhelmed I was feeling, I saw other folks lamenting on Twitter that they might never see another Cronenberg movie in theaters again. This may not be prime Cronenberg, but you'd think something with this director and this cast would be a cut above a simultaneous video-on-demand release, which means a bunch of theaters won't play it. Heck, I wonder what same-day releases do to Oscar eligibility.

Maps to the Stars

* * (out of four)
Seen 28 February 2015 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (first-run, DCP)

Hollywood stories can be self-indulgent or snide, depending on what sort of axes the people making them have to grind, rarely managing to hit the sweet spot in the middle. What they seldom are, though, is extraneous, but that's what happens with Maps to the Stars - there's one track that's a nifty little story with some potential. Whenever it gets into stuff that's specifically about the movie business, on the other hand, one can't help but be reminded that David Cronenberg used to make things far more original than this.

The movie-star track involves Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), a second-generation actress who has reached an age when staying relevant takes a lot of tenacity if you're even given a chance. She's currently focused on landing a role in a remake of one of her mother's movies, and that mother, Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon) is appearing to her as something between a haunting and a hallucination. Havana has regular sessions with pop psychiatrist Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), whose own son Benjie (Evan Bird) is an actor, with mother Christina (Olivia Williams) handling his career. Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska), meanwhile, is just off the bus from an institution in Florida, and while she soon lands a job as Havana's assistant, it's Stafford, Benjie, and Christina who are most concerned about the young woman with the burns on her skin.

As soon as Stafford finds out that Agatha is in town, there's a tremendous tension to the Weiss side of the film, and while what writer Bruce Wagner has concocted is maybe not enough to fill a feature-length film as it is, it probably could be with a little more effort - it's got the makings of a Greek tragedy, and while many of the people involved are unstable in one way or another, their motivations still tend to be human and understandable. It's a fractious enough web of relationships on its own that the bits that involve Benjie being a self-centered brat of a child actor just seem little more than the latest time over some rather well-tread ground.

Full review on EFC

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal

I've spent some time grumbling about how we get a bunch of Chinese romances in theaters right now but seldom any action/adventure movies, which is a shame, because China does that better than many other places. I suspect that's the result of that being too well known - historically, American distributors would buy these movies up, probably for more than the Chinese studios are making for these day-and-date releases, not to mention getting on the festival circuit and getting a little more publicity there. Still, things are moving faster now, and this is the second action film in three months that Well Go has managed to get into American theaters just a couple weeks after it played China.

Interestingly, their logo didn't appear before the movie, although ones for Village Roadshow and Warner Brothers did, which always strikes me as funny - if big American studios finance a movie, why don't they just distribute it here as well? I kind of get that Warner isn't really set up for limited releases, but it's kind of their own fault for dismantling New Line, Warner Independent, Picturehoue, etc. rather than making use of them.

Anyway, the movie itself is fun, especially since it's one of the first times I've had the same sort of reaction to digital effects that I do to practical ones - not really caring about the shortcomings because I can feel the handcrafting. I tend to reject that sort of argument anyway, in part because I get very frustrated by people acting like anything done on a computer just involves pressing a "Do It" button, but the techniques certainly tend to yield different sorts of results. This has a real Ray Harryhausen feel, what with its crazy monsters and mythological underpinnings. Different mythologies, certainly, but that's sort of the fun.

Heck, it also reminded me of some of the old, genuinely weird movies Garo Nagoshi and Clinton McClung used to show at the Weekly Wednesday/Weekend Ass-Kickings, both in that it was taken from Chinese mythology with little explanation provided in the subtitles for us poor westerners and surprisingly violent for what seemed like a children's fantasy. Those were generally against a fairly featureless desert backdrop and represented Heavens and Hells in fairly abstract ways compared to this, but the DNA is the same. I knew this as soon as we cut to Zhong Kui trying to exorcise a pregnant woman only to have some giant Cerebus thing leap from he loins. It was a reverse angle, but, yikes!


I'll spare you this week's "photo taken of the end credits so I can get actor/character names", because I was darn lucky that the top-line people were even legible, what with the movie being in 3D and all.


Zhong Kui fu mo: Xue yao mo ling (Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 27 February 2015 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, RealD 3D)

Maybe the best way to describe Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (to give it the full name that appears on-screen) is to imagine if Ray Harryhausen had been born in China, making the sort of weird fantasies that were popular in Hong Kong in the 1970s, only he had access to twenty-first century CGI and performance capture. It's rough and all over the place, but also a fair amount of fun.

It takes place in and around the Tang Empire city of Hu, which is apparently right next door to Heaven and Hell. A once-a-millennium day of reincarnation is approaching, and local god Master Zhang Daoxian (Winston Chao Wen-hsuan) has recruited lord Zhong Kui (Chen Kun) to slay demons, going so far as to sneak into Hell to retrieve the Dark Crystal, a repository of souls stolen by demons. The Demon King wants it back by the full moon, and has sent a performing troupe of demons led by chameleon Xi Wei (Summer Jike Juanyi) and Snow Girl Xue Qing (Li Bingbing) to retrieve it - made more complicated by the fact that Xue Qing is a spitting image of "Little Snow", a seemingly magical girl he met three years ago.

Six writers are credited here, along with researchers, and I've got no idea just how much they have skewed or mangled the mythological figures presented here. What they have done is to cram a lot of it into one movie, from gods to demons and shapeshifters to dragons, with a story that keys on how people have seven spirits and three souls. For all that is shown on screen, there is even more implied; Chinese mythology always seems to imply more levels to the world than one can imagine. The writers never quite make clear just exactly what the souls in the Dark Crystal actually do, although the ultimate stakes are made clear. There are parts of the movie that seem like they had an idea that just didn't fit with the rest of the story, and others where things are barely described - Xi Wei seems to be around or not in completely arbitrary manner.

Full review on EFC

Friday, February 27, 2015

A la Mala

This weekend's solution to the Mad Lib of "Hollywood doesn't make romantic comedies any more but ________ does" is, apparently, "Mexico".

Like the last couple of Mexican movies to pop up at Boston Common, A la Mala is distributed by Lionsgate's Pantelion label, although unlike Instructions Not Included and Cantinflas, any attempt to be Mexican-American is pretty minimal - there are a few English-language songs on the soundtrack, and some English-language phrases slip into the dialogue, but pretty much the whole thing takes place in Mexico City and Spanish is everyone's primary language.

I wonder how much that will help/hurt it at the box office. The 8pm preview show on Thursday night was just me and one other guy, neither of us Latino (well, I can't speak for him, but it wouldn't be my guess), and not being a regular at night-before screenings, I've got no idea how common that is. I suspect that it might make the picture a little harder to sell to a crossover audience, which is too bad; it's funny and genuinely charming.

I'm a little bit surprised that this was the Mexican movie that opened in Boston this weekend; Ana Maria in Novela Land seemed to be getting more publicity online and has more folks a non-Latino audience might recognize (Elizabeth Pena, Luis Guzman, Sung Kang). Maybe if this does well that will show up next week. Seems weird that they'd both target the same weekend, though.

A la Mala

* * * (out of four)
Seen 26 February 2015 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, DCP)

There are a lot of romantic comedies that start from from premises as ludicrous as that of A la Mala, but few of them do as well in selling that starting point. It's a goofy little thing, but it's got a cute couple at the center and makes enough nimble steps along the way to be a great deal of fun.

The idea is that actress Maria Laura "Mala" Medina (Aislinn Derbez) has a side gig - she'll flirt with a woman's boyfriend or otherwise provide enough temptation and distraction for men to determine whether they're worth keeping around. It looks like she can quit when she aces an audition for a new television series, but its producer (Daniela Schmidt) demands one last gig - seduce and then dump her ex-boyfriend Santiago (Mauricio Ochmann), both making him understand how she felt and giving her a chance to swoop in and win her back. The trouble is twofold - Mala and Santiago have already met, and she winds up liking the guy.

That's close to the whole deal, and that's fine. The filmmakers don't undermine their premise's simplicity with subplots that don't matter, nor do they feel a particular need to throw additional challenges in Mala's and Santiago's way (there's actually something kind of clever about how the unwanted ex is built right into the setup, but in a way that doesn't require her to be visible and gate on the audience). Instead, director Pedro Pablo Ibarra and writers Issa Lopez & Ari Rosen spend the bulk of the movie on the pair getting to know and like each other, letting their chemistry fuel the movie without jerking the audience back and forth.

Full review on EFC

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 27 February 2015 - 5 March 2015

The Oscars are over, which means theaters can clean house of the stuff that people are interested in seeing before the awards, and start bulking up with new releases that are more than sacrificial lambs!

  • The big one: Focus, starring Will Smith as a master con artist and Margot Robbie as his beautiful protege, a former lover turned rival. Strange thing to get an Imax blow-up, but that's apparently not just about grand-scale movies as much as milking a couple extra bucks these days. It's at the Somerville, Embassy, Apple Fresh Pond, Jordan's, Fenway (including RPX), Boston Common (including Imax), Assembly Row (including Imax), Revere (including XPlus), and the SuperLux.

    The less-big one: The Lazarus Effect, a Flatliners-looking horror movie with a nice cast (Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Sara Bolger) and an interesting choice of director (David Gelb, who did the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi). Plus, it's 83 minutes, and horror movies that don't wear out their welcome are generally okay in our books. It's at Apple Fresh Pond, Fenway, Boston Common, Assembly Row, and Revere.

    Boston Common also opens two foreign films this week: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is a 3D fantasy adventure featuring Chen Kun and Li Bingbing in a movie that promises to at least look gorgeous (they're also keeping Somewhere Only We Know around while Fenway continues playing Triumph in the Skies). They and Revere will also have A la Mala, a Mexican romantic comedy about an actress who has a side gig where she's hired to tempt unwanted boyfriends into breakups, only to fall in love with her latest mark.

    Fenway will also have a three-day run, from Tuesday to Thursday, of The Drop Box, a documentary about a Korean minister who set up a place where unwanted infants can be left safely
  • The Coolidge really cleans house, getting down to one film per screen, half new, although they move from one to another based upon the day and time, so you'd be advised to check and buy tickets early or miss out when it's in one of the smaller rooms (or not playing in a slot at all). That includes Map to the Stars, a black comedy from David Cronenberg (really!), featuring Julianne Moore as a high-strung actress, John Cusack as a self-help guru, Mia Wasikowska as a scarred personal assistant, and Robert Pattinson driving the limo this time around. It will also have midnight screenings on Friday and Saturday, and Cronenberg will be doing a Q&A via Skype after the 2pm screening on Saturday. Note that he was originally supposed to be there in person, which had the show sell out fast, but there may be tickets now that he isn't travelling to Brookline.

    The other film opening is She's Beautiful When She's Angry, a document about the early years of the women's rights movement (1966-1971) that won the audience award for documentary at IFFBoston last year. It will also have guests over the weekend, with director Mary Dore and guests from Our Bodies, Ourselves introducing and discussing the film afterward for early shows on Saturday and Sunday.

    There's a Talk Cinema screening on Sunday morning, although the film has not been announced. Monday's special presentation is a "Sounds of Silents" show featuring Donald Sosin & Joanna Seaton accompanying the long-thought-lost John Ford comedy Upstream, along with Charlie Chaplin short "The Adventurer". Then, on Thursday, they start a weekly series of French-language films in the screening room with Left Foot Right Foot, a Swiss story of May-December romance and intrigue.
  • Too late to do anything about any desire to see all the nominees before the ceremony, Kendall Square opens Song of the Sea, nominated in the Best Animated Feature category. It's directed by Tomm Moore of The Secret of Kells fame, and similarly looks like a stylish family movie based upon Irish folklore.

    There's also Ballet 422, which follows young New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck as he is given a chance to create the institution's 422nd original ballet. It may just be ticketed for one week, but so was What We Do in Shadows, which not only sticks around but expands to the Embassy.
  • The Brattle continues Damn Fine Cinema: The Films of David Lynch with a week of mostly 35mm prints: Dune on Friday, a double feature of Wild at Heart & Blue Velvet on Saturday, a reprise of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me & the series pilot (digital) on Sunday, The Straight Story on Monday, Lost Highway on Tuesday, Mulholland Drive on Wednesday, and Inland Empire (digital) on Thursday.
  • The Harvard Film Archive wraps up a couple of series this weekend, with The Lost Worlds of Robert Flaherty finishing with the F.W. Murnau collaboration Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (Friday 7pm) and a collection of short films including the recently-discovered "A Night of Storytelling" (Sunday 5pm). Grand Illusions - The Cinema of World War I includes La France (Friday 9pm), Comradeship (Saturday 7pm), The African Queen (Saturday 9pm), and Four Sons with live accompaniment by Robert Humphreville (Monday 7pm). That means, yes, there are two separate silent John Ford movies on Monday. All films in both programs screen in 35mm.

    Sunday evening, there's a rescheduled DCP screening of Touki Bouki, which was cancelled due to a blizzard a few weeks ago. Then on Wednesday, the weekly "Furious Cinema" presentation is Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Melvin van Peebles's mico-budget grindhouse feature. It screens in 35mm and starts at 7pm rather than 7:30 like the other Wednesday shows.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts finishes the February calendar and The Films of Stanley Kubrick with 2001: A Space Odyssey (Friday), A Clockwork Orange (Saturday), and Room 237 (Saturday & Sunday). Their first program on the March calendar is New Latin American Cinema, which incudes Argentina's Natural Sciences (Wednesday) and History of Fear (Thursday) plus Brazil's Casa Grande or the Ballad of Poor Jean (Wednesday) and Obra (Thursday).

    In between, they're one of the venues for the Boston ReelAbilities Film Festival, screening Here One Day and AKA Doc Pomus on Sunday; check the festival's website for scheduling information.
  • It's a busy week for film at The Regent Theatre in Arlington. Saturday has a Lord of the Rings marathon that runs from 9am to midnight, including themed meals and discussion (register here). Tuesday is the rescheduled screening of King: A Filmed Record from the 10th. Then there are two on Thursday - Irish film Patrick's Day, which was selected by the Manhattan Short Film Festival's Feature Film Project, runs at 7pm. Digging up the Marrow, the new one from local filmmaker Adam Green, runs at 9:15pm. It's a mock documentary featuring Ray Wise as a man who claims monsters are real.
  • The Bright Lights series in the Paramount Theater's Bright Screening Room has a panel discussion about video game culture on Tuesday, following Roger Sorkin's documentary "Joystick Warriors". Then on Thursday, they team with Balagan for a 35mm presentation of Burn the Sea.
  • The UMass Boston Film Series welcomes director Zachary Levy with his documentary Strongman on Thursday; it shows titular subject "Stainless Steel" encountering problems that his physical strength can't solve.
  • The ICA has the program of Sundance 2014 Animated Shorts that played the Coolidge a month or so ago a couple times in March; the first screening is on Thursday the 5th.
  • Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond/iMovieCafe continues Badlapur with English subtitles this week, but you'll probably need to know Tamil to appreciate Kaaki Sattai and Telugu for Bham Bholenath


My plans: Snow Girl, Focus, A La Mala, Song of the Sea, The Lazarus Effect, the Coolidge silents, Map to the Stars, and maybe Digging into the Marrow. And I've probably pushed my luck re Paddington long enough.