- Just looking at wide releases, there's The Shallows, the new one from director Jaume Collet-Serra starring Blake Lively as a surfer who must outwit a hungry shark within sight of the shore. Eighty-seven minutes, which is probably the perfect length. At the Somerville, Apple Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, Revere, and the SuperLux.
That's unusually short, but it's worth noting that Independence Day: Resurgence is pretty svelte by big 3D summer effects-based movies, 119 minutes and notably shorter than its predecessor, which isn't usually the way things go. Apparently the landmark-destroying aliens are back, this time with a ship the size of a Death Star, although humanity has hopefully reverse-engineered their tech enough to have a fighting chance. Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Judd Hirsch return; Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth, and Angelababy join up. It's at the Somerville (2D only), Apple Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Jordan's (Imax 3D), Boston Common (including Imax 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax 3D), Fenway (including RPX), and Revere (including MX4D & XPlus).
And then, clocking in at 139 minutes, Free State of Jones, with Matthew McConnaughey tackling one of the few true Civil War stories where his accent doesn't make him the bad guy as a farmer who, along with a number of escaped saves, leads an uprising for his home county to secede from the Confederacy (hopefully not whitewashing things too much). Oddly, it's produced by a Chinese company, and playing at the Somerville, Apple Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, Revere, and the SuperLux.
(Showcase Cinemas Revere will also be showing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Wednesday.)
- Getting back to the fairly short - but highly anticipated, by me, at least - movies, Boston Common gets Three, the new 87-minute thriller from Hong Kong maestro Johnnie To. It's got Wallace Chung as a drug dealer who shoots himself so he'll be taken to a hospital instead of jail (where his gang can presumably spring him easier), Louis Koo as the cop who's on to him but setting a trap for the gang, and Vicki Zhao as the doctor stuck in the middle. They'll also be opening Cold War II in a couple of weeks, so you may want to join me in going to Amazon (or a couple other places) to watch the original, as it never had a release in theaters or on disc here.
Despite all the Hollywood stuff coming out, Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond has a pretty full Indian slate. In addition to keeping Udta Punjab around, they also open the Hindi-language Raman Raghav 2.0, a serial-killer movie about a present-day man inspired by a series of crimes from the 1960s. That one's subtitled, as is Tamil-language drama Amma Kanakku, about a bright teenager planning to quit school because she can't afford higher education. No guarantees for Telugu romances Oka Manasu & Kundanapu Bomma or Friday's show of Telugu action flick Gentlemen.
They'll also be filling out their schedule with The Duel, a western starring Liam Hemsworth as a Texas Ranger brought in to solve a crime in a town under the sway of preacher Woody Harrelson. Also on VOD, but, hey, Tuesday night's $5 night and there are senior and student nights as well.
- At 110 minutes, The Neon Demon is probably long for a horror movie, but Nicolas Winding Refn's story of an aspiring model who moves to L.A. and has the fashion industry try eat her alive (probably literally) is apparently beautiful and gory, so, yes, this slots in ahead of other things. It's at Kendall Square and Boston Common. Kendall Square also opens one of my favorites from last year's Fantasia Festival, Therapy for a Vampire (in which an immortal count finds a new love and also meets Sigmund Freud), for a one-week run. It's kind of slight but, IMHO, pretty funny.
They also get Tickled, a documentary that apparently also plays like a horror story, in which a filmmaker responds to an ad about "competitive endurance tickling" and finds that some of the people involved are even scarier than the eccentrics that description describes. I think they liked it a lot at IFFBoston, which also showed Don't Think Twice, Mike Birbiglia improv-comedy comedy, which has a couple sold-out preview showings on Monday with Birbiglia on hand. The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble also has guests - musician Reylon Young & The Silk Road Project's Laura Freid on Friday and musician Evan Ziporyn & SRP's Cristin Bagnall on Saturday - for those curious to learn more about the international musical collective.
- The Coolidge Corner Theatre has a limited run of Unlocking the Cage, mostly in the screening room, in which documentarians Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker chronicle the legal battle of the Nonhuman Rights Project's Steven Wise, with directors and subject on-hand for a Sunday afternoon screening in the big theater.
In other special screenings, the Midnight Ass Kickings finish up with Gordon Liu in Return to the 36th Chamber, a comedic take on his character's quest to learn secret Shaolin martial arts to defeat the Han, on 35mm film on Friday & Saturday nights; hopefully the series did well enough that this sort of thing will be a regular part of midnight rotation again. The other notable special screening has the Big Screen Classics series team up with the Goethe-Institut for Das Boot, the submarine movie that put Wolfgang Petersen on the map, on Monday night.
- The Brattle Theatre has a quick-ish Man Meets Wilderness repatory series this week, mostly in 35mm: Friday's double feature is Man in the Wilderness (from the same source material as The Revenant) & Jeremiah Johnson; Saturday's is The Last of the Mohicans (DCP) & The New World; Sunday offers a noon matinee of Chaplin's The Gold Rush and a pairing of Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller & Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff; Monday has Never Cry Wolf & The Grey (digital); and it wraps up on Sunday with Valhalla Rising, for those who aren't getting enough Nicholas Winding Refn with The Neon Demon.
Though the current Reel Weird Brattle slate was scheduled to end last week, Daisies was unable to run in May, so they've rescheduled Vera Chytilová's comedy for late Saturday night; it's on 35mm film. It's a nice pairing with another female-focused film, Agnes Varda's Cleo From 5 to 7, which runs on Tuesday evening as part of the free "Elements of Cinema" series, and the Different Faces Different Voices Film Festival. That runs Wednesday and Thursday evenings with four programs of short films built to breakdown female stereotypes.
- The 18th Annual Roxbury International Fim Festival continues at The Museum of Fine Arts, with screenings of short and feature-length films by and about people of color. Filmmakers will be on-hand for A Girl Like Grace (Friday), Baby Don't Go (Saturday), Southeast 67 (Saturday), How to Tell You're a Douchebag (Saturday); Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess (Sunday), Destination: Planet Negro (Wednesday), "The Bay State Banner" & "A Ferguson Story" (Thursday), By Blood (Thursday), and One Drop of Love (Thursday). There's also a kid-friendly program at the Museum Sunday morning, and on the days the MFA doesn't show film, a "Dinner & A Movie" with Life Is Too Short in Roxbury's Haley House Bakery Cafe on Tuesday and a pitching session at Dudley Dough on Tuesday.
- The Somerville Theatre begins their summer "Midnight Specials" program this weekend with a 35mm print of The Breakfast Club. Pass-Thru, the latest from the quite-possibly-insane Neil Breen, plays once on Wednesday evening, probably mostly to people looking to point and laugh. Their sister theater in Arlington, The Capitol, picks up political-trainwreck documentary Weiner and has a Tim Burton double feature on "Throwback Thursday", featuring Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.
- It's Members' Weekend at The Harvard Film Archive, so if you're a member in good standing, you probably know what secret films they will be pulling out of the 35mm vault from Friday to Monday.
- Joe's Boston Free Films has Minions playing outdoors a lot this week - at both the Kroc Center and Hatch Shell Friday night and Revere Beach on Thursday (expect more in later weeks). Many of the other outddoor screenigs go with Spielberg: E.T. at the Boston Harbor Hotel & Jaws at the Lawn on D on Friday, with Hook outside Porter Square Books on Monday.