Friday, July 01, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 1 July 2022 - 7 July 2022

All right! Fourth of July Weekend! That means Jaws at…

Wait a second.

Look, it's cool that we'll be getting 3D/Imax releases later this year, but, c'mon, this messes with a couple Boston moviegoing traditions. And in return, Universal's giving us freaking Minions?
  • Although, about time, I guess - Minions: The Rise of Gru was originally scheduled for July 2020, but between Covid-19 delaying the last bits of animation and wanting to open to theaters at full capacity, it's opening two years later, but at least it's opening wide, at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, the Lexington Venue, West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including RealD 3D/Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Fenway (including RealD 3D), South Bay (including RealD 3D/Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including RealD 3D/Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill.

    Top Gun: Maverick gets some late night showtimes where they figure Minions won't play at 10pm - Imax Xenon at Boston Common and South Bay, Dolby at Assembly Row, CWX at Arsenal Yards. There are 25th Anniversary screenings of Men in Black at Fenway and Assembly Row on Sunday and Monday and encores of The Thing at Fenway and Assembly Row on Wednesday. Boston Common has Fourth of July, the new film written and directed by Louis C.K. on Wednesday the 6th.
  • IFFBoston Closing Film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On opens locally this weekend, and it's a real delight, with writer Jenny Slate giving voice to Marcel, a one-inch tall guy who has been living alone with his grandmother (voice of Isabella Rossellini) in an empty house but makes friends with the new tenant. Slate will be at The Coolidge Corner Theatre for a Q&A on Saturday night, although that show is already listed as sold out. The Coolidge also has a masked matinee show on Sunday, and the film also opens at the Kendall and Boston Common.

    There's also Mr. Malcolm's List a Regency romantic comedy starring Frieda Pinto as a woman who seduces her jilted friend's former boyfriend (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù), although perhaps some of it may be for real. It's mostly on the smaller screens at the Coolidge and also plays the Kendall, Boston Common, Assembly Row, the Embassy, and West Newton.

    July appears to be "Midnights on the Midway" month at the Coolidge, with late shows taking place in circuses, carnivals, amusement parks, and the like; it kicks off with Freaks on Friday and a 35mm print of Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse on Saturday. The Big Screen Classic on Monday is, fittingly, Independence Day, with a seminar presentation of Jackie Brown on Tuesday and a 35mm print of Casablanca on Thursday.
  • The Forgiven, the new film from John Michael McDonagh, has Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain as Londoners involved in a hit-and-run in Morocco, and in far over their heads as they attempt to cover it up. It's at Landmark Theatres Kendall Square and Boston Common.

    Kendall Square also has a couple shows a day of Apples, a Greek fantasy about a man who is attempting to build a new life as the survivor of an amnesia pandemic. Their Tuesday series switches up to "Hit the Road" with Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Their sister theater in Waltham, the Embassy, gets Official Competition a week behind the places closer to town.
  • Indian drama Rocketry: The Nambi Effect opens at Apple Fresh Pond, with shows in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, and in at least Hindi at Boston Common. It stars Madhavan as Nambi Narayanan, an ISRO scientist accused of espionage but later cleared though still fighting for justice. There's also Telugu-language comedy Pakka Commercial at Fresh Pond, and Om - The Battle Within, a Hindi-language action flick set in Italy starring Aditya Roy Kapoor. Hindi comedy Jugjugg Jeeyo continues at Fresh Pond and Boston Common.

    Boston Common also opens Ode to the Spring, a Chinese film with five directors and an ensemble cast (including Zhou Dongyu and Song Jia) telling stories set in Wuhan during quarantine.

    Fenway opens Kira & El Gin, an action epic starring Karim Abdel Aziz and Ahmed Ezz as revolutionaries in 1919 Egypt. It's got the biggest budget in Egyptian cinema history and certainly looks like they're aiming for something like RRR by matching two of the country's biggest stars and dropping their real-life characters into a fictional adventure.
  • The Brattle Theatre may not have its July 4th usual, but they get the new 25th anniversary restoration of David Lynch's Lost Highway, playing fairly full schedules through the long weekend but starting to pare back on Monday.

    It also gives the theater a different twist on their July vacation-theme series; with "Lost in America" featuring a series of tales from the road with It Happened One Night (35mm Saturday/Sunday matinees), Pee-wee's Big Adventure (35mm Monday), Midnight Run (35mm Tuesday), and Queen & Slim (Thursday), with another week's worth after that.
  • The Somerville Theatre wraps their "70mm and Widescreen Fest" with new 70mm prints of Spartacus (from Friday to Sunday) and Airport (Saturday). Saturday's Midnite Special is Thrilling Bloody Sword, newly restored from the only known print of this bit of Taiwanese insanity (which I guess must have been the one I saw back in '04 and was apparently not prepared for). They're still showing repertory material after that, though, with a double feature of Meatballs & Camp (the latter on 35mm) Tuesday and Wednesday, plus Rain Man on Thursday.

    The "Feel Good Flick" at The Capitol this weekend is When Harry Met Sally, playing Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has more of The Complete Federico Fellini this weekend, with on 35mm film Friday and digital presentations of Rome, Open City on Saturday, and Juliet of the Spirits on Sunday.
  • The Regent Theatre once again breaks out 1776 for the Fourth, with shows Friday through Sunday, although no indication that they're sing-alongs as has often been the case.
  • The in-person portion of The Roxbury International Film Festival isover, but they still have a number of "ROXFILM@Home" presentations through Saturday night.
  • The Museum of Science continues to show Jurassic World: Dominion on the Omnimax dome on Friday and Saturday through July ninth.
  • The Lexington Venue has Elvis and Minions: The Rise of Gru from Friday to Monday.

    The West Newton Cinema also gets Minions and Mr. Malcolm's List to go with Elvis, Lightyear, Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Saturday), and The Bad Guys (Friday/Sunday/Monday).

    The Luna Theater is closed for the holiday weekend, re-opening with Weirdo Wednesday and then Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem Friday-Monday line-up is Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Minions. The week's Summer Rewind presentation is Face/Off on Thursday.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes.
Wow, it's almost peaceful, having already seen Marcel and never being bitten by the Minions bug. Lost Highway, The Forgiven, and Mr. Malcolm's List are new-ish release priorities. I'll probably catch up with Jurassic World, The Black Phone, maybe Top Gun & Elvis, catch Airport and Thrilling Bloody Sword at the Somerville. Plus there's the big fireworks show and a Red Sox ticket.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Official Competition

I mention something about how I was expecting a somewhat more mainstream, more broadly comic movie and as such kind of had a review framing in mind as I was settling in: That Hollywood doesn't really make this sort of movie as much as they used to, or that it skips theaters and goes to streamers where they become invisible. By "this sort of movie", I mean comedies or dramas with parts where movie stars can make use of their charm and personae to draw people in and give them what they want. Stuff that's well-produced but not gaudily elaborate. You can look at a poster with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas and a tagline that gives you an idea of the story and say, yeah, that looks like a good $12 evening out.

Now, it's not quite that movie; it's a bit more art-house inside-baseball than that. It's nevertheless still kind of interesting that of the trailers that ran before it, two were for documentaries; one was for Three Thousand Years of Longing, a high-concept fantasy; one was for Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, which looks accessible enough but is kind of a niche genre movie at this point; and the last was The Forgiven, which has a couple of stars in Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain but looks pretty intense for an evening out.

And don't forget - these are the trailers for movies that will probably play at Boston Common and the Kendall, but are coin-flips to make it to other multiplexes, except for the big George Miller genie movie.

Competencia oficial (Official Competition)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 29 June 2022 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, DCP)

Not having seen a trailer but just stills and posters, I expected Official Competition to be something a little more screwball-y, and for as much as one should try to review the movie you get rather than the one you wanted to see, I still kind of feel like this might have done well as a broader or darker comedy. It feels like the filmmakers want to spoof the art house, but only intermittently find the sweet spot where their targets feel as real as they are deserving.

One can see how their knives feel sharp even as their targets are a mess early on, when the audience is introduced to Don Humberto Suárez (José Luis Gómez), the pharma billionaire with an eye to leaving a legacy who winds up being a bit of a dullard as he splashes out money for the rights to a Nobel Prize-winning novel, to be directed by auteur Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz), who wants to cast actors' actor Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez) and international star Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas). They've found this type that is worth skewering, and Gómez is making him funny but not entirely a villain, and have almost no idea what to do with him afterward.

After that, the film mostly follows the rehearsals of Lola's adaptation of Rivals, and there's a sort of fun vibe where Banderas's Félix often plays the straight man compared to the eccentric artistes played by Cruz and Martinez despite being a movie star. Directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat (with co-writer Andrés Duprat) run through a bunch of increasingly-absurd set-ups as Lola's experimentation collides with Iván's desire for Method-like immersion and Félix wanting to just sort of show up and do a job he takes pride in doing well without a lot of introspective fuss. It almost becomes a sketch show of sorts, repeating this fertile setup a fair amount and having several of them hit but maybe not building a movie out of it; a lot of these gags could be reshuffled in any order without it really hurting the film. The ending feels like it should be much squirmier, like the filmmakers have leveled up to something more satirical or the events should have shaken the characters, but instead it stretches out a while, looking for a stopping point.

It mostly works, though. On the one hand, that cast is pretty terrific: Cruz seems to have a great time playing the broad, screwy character here - there's probably not that much Almodovar to Lola beyond the messy mop of hair on her head, although she certainly brings out that type of art-house auteur. Martinez makes a sort of stock character - the pretentious elitist who looks down his nose at things people actually like even as he revels in his lack of material wealth - and makes him feel like a real guy that one can actually see existing as more than the butt of a joke. And while Banderas is beginning to show a little more age than the persona that this plays off, he delivers expressive reactions to the madness he's part of without mugging and blends laid-back and fussy well.

There are times when perhaps the filmmakers would have been better off playing something straight rather than going for a clever shot to be in a better position to poke fun at excessive artsiness. There's a shot toward the middle where the directors and cinematographer Arnau Valis Colomer position Banderas and Martinez in a room with multiple mirrors so that even though they're technically facing each other, the audience concentrates on reflections that are talking past each other, and another where a massive close-up is set up so that one can see both Félix's face and body language no matter what size screen people are watching on. The creativity and execution is impressive, but it's showy enough that the movie becomes the thing that it's mocking.

Much of the movie is like this, where even an on-target joke would be more impressive if it was clearer whether the thing was being skewered from inside or outside. It works more often than not, but just well enough that one could see how it could have been sharper.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 24 June 2022 - 30 June 2022

Aside from the major releases, it's also kind of one of those weeks where you look at the repertory stuff and then check to see if there's work being done on the MBTA that may screw up getting from one to another.
  • The week's big release is Elvis, with Austin Butler as the rock & roll legend, Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker, and Baz Luhrmann behind the camera. The trailer, well, it looked pretty much exactly what you'd expect a Luhrmann movie about Elvis to look like, and the film's got another two and a half hours. It's at the Somerville, the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Lexington, West Newton, CinemaSalem, Kendall Square, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also opening is The Black Phone, with Ethan Hawke as a serial kidnapper/killer whose latest victim may get some paranormal help to survive. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards.

    G.I. Joe: The Movie plays 35th anniversary shows at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Saturday. The Fifth Element plays 25th anniversary shows Sunday and Wednesday at Fenway, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards (Wednesday only). Racing documentary Rowdy plays Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Wednesday. And in addition to the normal Thursday previews, Boston Common has an early Wednesday show of IFFBoston-closing delight Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre also gets Official Competition, which features Penélope Cruz as a director attempting to wrange the egos of movie stars played by Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez on behalf of a billionaire financier. The Coolidge has a Masked Matinee Saturday morning, and it also plays Kendall Square and Boston Common.

    Cronenberg midnights continue with 35mm prints of Scanners on Friday and Videodrome on Saturday. Monday's Big Screen Classic is a 35mm print of Akira. Tuesday's "Joe-Bob's Indoor Drive-In Geek-Out" (featuring The Brain and Brain Damage) is already marked as sold out, and there's another Big Screen Classic on Thursday in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless.
  • The Brattle Theatre plays Hit The Road, the first feature from Iranian filmmaker Panah Panahi (the son of Jafar Panahi, who has famously kept making films under house arrest despite the Iranian government forbidding it), this one a family road trip story.

    They've also got a terrific line-up for late shows and weekend matinees. Friday brings a new restoration of The Heroic Trio, with Johnnie To directing Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Maggie Cheung as the title characters on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, with post-apocalyptic sequel Executioners on Sunday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday feature Mad God, Phil Tippett's decades-in-the-making stop-motion nightmare, which dropped my jaw when I streamed it via Fantasia last summer and should be amazing on the big screen.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square also gets Lost Illusions, which racked up 7 Cesars. It stars Benjamin Voisin as a poet in 19th Century Paris, the dawn of modern media.

    The final Pride Month Retro Replay Tuesday show is Maurice, one of Hugh Grant's first noteworthy starring roles.

  • Hindi ensemble comedy Jugjugg Jeeyo plays at Apple Fresh Pond and Boston Common. Fresh Pond also opens Telugu-language romance Sammathame on Friday, while Marathi-language drama Medium Spicy plays Saturday and Tulu-language action-comedy Raj Sound and Lights shows on Sunday.

    Anime Fruits Basket: Prelude plays Kendall Square, Boston Common, Fenway on Saturday (dubbed), Tuesday (subtitled), and Wednesday (dubbed); a prequel to one of the most popular animes and mangas in recent years. For classic anime, the month's Ghibli selection is The Cat Returns at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards, dubbed on Sunday and subtitled on Monday. Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell, which appears to be a new iteration of the venerable space opera, plays Thursday at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row.
  • The Somerville Theatre is in full 70mm and Widescreen Fest mode this week with a 70mm double feature of Last Action Hero and Streets of Fire on Friday and Saturday, a (digital) midnight show of Nobody on Saturday, Gladiator on 35mm film and Joker on 70mm on Sunday, a 35mm print of L.A. Confidential on Monday and Tuesday, and a new 70mm print of Spartacus on Thursday (with that one playing through the Fourth).

    Their friends at The Capitol starts a summer of "Feel Good Flicks" with The Goonies, playing Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
  • The Harvard Film Archive is all about The Complete Federico Fellini this weekend, with new digital restorations of Nights of Cariba (Friday), Variety Lights (Saturday), and (Sunday), with The White Sheik on Monday preceded by a 35mm print of Roberto Rossellini's featurette "The Miracle" (co-written with Fellini and featuring him on-screen).
  • The Regent Theatre presents an encore of the "Women's Adventure Film Tour" on Tuesday, while Wednesday's Ocean Films show is Big Wave Guardians, which follows the lifeguards on Hawaii's beautiful but deadly North Shore.
  • The Roxbury International Film Festival continues with shows at The Museum of Fine Arts from Friday to Sunday, plus a free outdoor screening of Love Jones on their lawn on Tuesday; there are shows at ArtsEmerson on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, the latter being closing film Let's Go Outdoors, with events and screenings around the city, including several at Hibernian Hall on Tuesday, while a selection of streaming films comes online Monday.
  • The Museum of Science continues to show Jurassic World: Dominion on the Omnimax dome on Friday and Saturday through July ninth.
  • The Lexington Venue has Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick from Friday to Sunday as well as Thursday.

    The West Newton Cinema adds Elvis to Lightyear, Phantom of the Open(no show Thursday), Jurassic World: Dominion, Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Saturday/Sunday), and The Bad Guys (no show Friday).

    The Luna Theater once again Men Friday and Saturday evenings, Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story Saturday afternoon, Fanny: The Right to Rock on Saturday evening; Paris Is Burning plays Sunday on Sunday, and there's a free Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem Friday-Monday line-up is Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Lightyear. They've also got The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Teseracte players on Saturday (the Full Body Cast is back at Boston Common for their Saturday night show) and a Summer Rewind presentation of Wayne's World on Thursday.
  • Joe's Free Films shows two outdoor movies by the water on Friday night: Jaws at the Boston Harbor Hotel and Pirates of the Caribbean on the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution. Thursday night offers an outdoor double feature of Moana & School of Rock at Cambridge Crossing.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes.
Look, I want to see The Black Phone, Official Competition, and maybe Elvis, but am I going to miss the 70mm shows of Last Action Hero and Streets of Fire, the two Heroic Trio movies, Mad God on the big screen, and 35mm L.A. Confidential and Gladiator to fit them in? That's a tight squeeze, folks!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 17 June 2022 - 23 June 2022

Whoa, Disney is actually letting a Pixar movie hit theaters for the first time in 2+ years!
  • That would be Lightyear, a Toy Story spinoff in that it's the movie that would have spawned the Buzz Lightyear toy that Andy received in the first movie. Chris Evans does the voice this time around. It's at the Arlington Capitol, Apple Fresh Pond (including 3D), Jordan's Furniture (Imax), West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Fenway (including RealD 3D), South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/Real D 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill.

    Judas and the Black Messiah (Friday/Tuesday), 42 (Saturday/Tuesday), The Best Man (Sunday/Wednesday), and Just Mercy (Monday/Wednesday) return to Boston Common and South Bay for Juneteenth week. John Carpenter's The Thing gets 40th Anniversary shows on Sunday and Wednesday at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row, while G.I. Joe: The Movie gets a 35th Anniversary show at Fenway and South Bay on Thursday. Documentary George Michael: Freedom Uncut plays the Kendall, Boston Common, Fenwayon Wednesday evening, made just before his death in 2016. Fenway has an early show of The Black Phone on Wednesday, before the usual Thursday previews.
  • Two of your basic boutique-house food groups are served at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (and other spots) this weekend. The Phantom of the Open is a charming-looking British underdog story, with Mark Rylance as a working-class man who wheedled his way into the British Open in 1976 despite never playing golf before, becoming a sort of folk hero; Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans are also part of the cast. It's got a Sunday Masked Matinee at the Coolidge and also plays the Capitol, West Newton, the Kendall, and Boston Common.

    Those more inclined toward Sundance favorites can catch Cha Cha Real Smooth before it disappears fully into Apple's walled garden, with writer/director Conor Raiff as a directionless recent college grad who gets a job dancing at bar mitzvahs (a thing, I guess). Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, and Brad Garrett are along for the ride. It also plays the Kendall.

    35mm Cronenberg midnights continue at the Coolidge with A History of Violence on Friday and Eastern Promises on Saturday (with Crimes of the Future also playing, they can serve all your Cronenberg/Mortensen needs). They're also showing The Room Friday night and #ShakespeareShitstorm on Saturday. Black Panther is Monday's Juneteenth Big Screen Classic, Jeff Rapsis brings his organ for a Wednesday "Sound of Silents" presentation of Harold Lloyd in The Kid Brother, and there's a 35mm Rewind! Show of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze on Thursday, with an after-party at Parlour.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square opens Brian and Charles, in which a Welsh inventor played by David Earl builds himself a robot friend. It's also at the Arlington Capitol and Boston Common.

    They also have But I'm a Cheerleader as Tuesday's Pride Month Retro Replay.

  • The Indian new releases at Apple Fresh Pond are Hindi-language action-comedy Nikamma (a remake of an early Telugu flick, and Veetla Vishesham, a Tamil remake of a Hindi comedy about a couple expecting another child even though their sons are grown. Telugu action flick Virata Parvam opens at Boston Common (with Fresh Pond showing a 1 July date). Ante Sundaraniki continues at Fresh Pond and the Common while Vikram stays at Fresh Pond.
  • Neptune Frost, a queer Rwandan Afrofuturist sci-fi musical, returns to the The Brattle Theatre where it played as one of the Boston Underground Film Festival's most memorable selections this year. There's also a "sidebar" with Senegalese film Touki Bouki on Tuesday and Thursday.

    There's also a 35mm print of The Shining from Friday to Monday to "celebrate" Father's Day. And, finally, they join with Revolutions Per Minute Festival to present Kathryn Ramey in person with a program of six short films (on 16mm/35mm film) called "White Women Are a Curse Against Their Sex".
  • The Somerville Theatre brings in Crimes of the Future to fill some gaps in the schedule, but also continues their 70mm and Widescreen Fest with a 35mm print of Boogie Nights on Friday (RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman), a midnight show of Sneakers on Saturday, projectionist David Kornfeld's collection of 70mm Odds & Ends on Sunday, Billy Budd (35mm) on Monday, Mutiny on the Bounty on Tuesday, and a 70mm print of Earthquake on Thursday.

    Their friends at The Capitol shows documentary When the Dawn Comes, which tells the story of Taiwanese gay activist Chi Chia-wei, on Saturday evening.
  • The Harvard Film Archive continues The Complete Federico Fellini with La Dolce Vita (Friday), La Strada (35mm Saturday), and Il Bidone on Monday. The final "Forgotten Filmmakers of the French New Wave" is Mario Ruspoli, whose "Captive Feast" & "A Look at Madness" play Sunday afternoon.
  • The Regent Theatre presents the "Women's Adventure Film Tour" on Wednesday, including seven short films on the subject.
  • Belmont World Film apparently had some issues streaming Concerned Citizen (their Pride and World Refugee Month presentation) for its first few dates, but have extended availability through Wednesday; it will also have an in-person screening at West Newton on Monday.
  • The Roxbury International Film Festival kicks off at The Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday with Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, directed by Denise Dowse and featuring R&B star Ledisi as the renowned gospel singer and civil rights leader. The program also includes two short films, a live performance, and a post-film Q&A.
  • The Museum of Science continues to show Jurassic World: Dominion on the Omnimax dome on Friday and Saturday through July ninth.
  • The Lexington Venue has Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick from Friday to Sunday.

    The West Newton Cinema adds Lightyear and Phantom of the Open to Jurassic World Dominion, Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Saturday/Sunday), and The Bad Guys (no show Thursday).

    The Luna Theater screens Men Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story Saturday afternoon and Thursday evening, Fanny: The Right to Rock on Saturday evening; Queer Short Films on Saturday evening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Sunday, and the free Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem Friday-Monday line-up is Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Lightyear.
  • Joe's Free Films shows outdoor movies at the Boston Harbor Hotel starting again (first time since 2019?), with E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial playing Friday night. That night also has Encanto at a parking lot at Tufts and Ukrainian documentary The Long Breakup with director Katya Soldak at the Condon Shell in Medford.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes.
I am thinking I may head out to the furniture store for Jurassic World and catch Lightyear in 3D while also catching up with Crimes of the Future, maybe seeing if Neptune Frost isn't quite so overwhelming a second time through, and giving some of the stuff at the Somerville a look. And boo to the folks who didn't book The Witch: Part 2 in Boston!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Roundup

An online acquaintance recently bemoaned the lack of schlock in theaters, which kind of seems like the flip side of not having romantic comedies or coming-of-age films in theaters; I don't think it's the inevitable result of any one thing but a lot of different forces that have positioned going to the movies as something you do for spectacle or prestige pictures as opposed to an affordable and pleasant evening out, at least in the United States. I don't miss schlock so much myself, but I do miss mid-range movies that might be at least a little better on the big screen, and it's kind of amused me at times over the past decade that we often wind up importing those things from Asia, because a Chinese romantic comedy (occasionally a remake of an American one that would go straight to Netflix today) or an Indian underdog story or a Korean cop movie at least has a niche appeal that will get people out of their living rooms in a way that something more mainstream doesn't.

That's what The Roundup is, more or less - a crime story of the type that would hit theaters fairly regularly in the 1980s or 1990s (Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris starred in a bunch of them) but became too small at some point. It's a sequel to another movie, The Outlaws - that's why you see a "2" on any posters with Korean script - but you get the shape of it from a quick look and don't exactly need to come in with anything else. It's not quite ambitious enough to get a big screen release if it were an American film, but it hits enough marks to pull fans of Korean genre cinema out of the woodwork, and just good enough that I'll probably circle back around to the first at some point.

Beomjoidosi 2 (The Roundup)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 June 2022 in AMC Boston Common #13 (first-run, DCP)

It's kind of funny that I was initially kind of frustrated/annoyed that Boston wasn't one of the cities that opened The Roundup almost day-and-date with South Korea, because as much as I like quality action and Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee), there are probably a dozen movies like it that anonymously appear on video-on-demand services and streamers every month starring people like Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins. The fact that there might be some sort of obstacle in the Korea-to-America pipeline keeping it from me probably annoyed me more than the excitement that a trailer almost entirely composed of Ma punching people and dropped the week Eternals introduced him to the wider world actually merited.

It's basic enough stuff - Ma Seok-do (Ma Dong-seok) is a Deputy Captain in the Seoul Police Department, prone to cause some embarrassment because he's got a tendency to rough people up too much. After one such incident, he and his captain Jeon Il-man (Choi Gwi-hwa) are sent to Vietnam on a milk run to extradite a lookout who turned himself in at the consulate. The why of it bugs Seok-do, though, and he soon learns that the guy basically figured Korean prison was safer than being anywhere near Kang Hae-sang (Son Sukku), a kidnapper with a tendency to kill his abductees and any henchmen who get squeamish. The father of Kang's latest victim sent a team of mercenaries to deal with him, which means Seok-do will eventually have to track him back to Korea.

It's a raggedy plot built to space the action out and vary what kind of action to stage. Some action movies of this sort build their fight scenes around impressive choreography and clever staging, but Ma Dong-seok is a big muscular dude who is built to just whale on people, as the folks who made this movie are well aware of that, opting to exaggerate how much a punch will send a normal-sized person flying rather than have fights end quickly and anticlimactically. It sets a tone that carries through all the action, with little of it pretty or elegant but canny in how the filmmakers use the impact. Most folks are trying to be effective and do enough damage with each blow ro end it more or less right away, even if their opponents have more stamina than expected.

You need a little extra to make it go on for more than a few seconds, and since guns kind of have the same issue in terms of ending it quickly, the solution director Lee Sang-yong and his co-writers (including Ma) is blades, which are going to make even a mountain like Seok-do think twice. The film has got some top-shelf knife fight material, and is indeed stabby enough in general to make folks more used to clean gunfights and martial arts wince a bit, although it may just be the sort of Korean violence one is up for.

So why head out for this meat and potatoes (or whatever the Korean equivalent is) VOD-level flick? Well, it is elevated by the presence of a genuine movie star who can inject a bunch of charisma. Ma is better than what this material asks of him as an actor and he probably knows it, but it lets him add an odd wholesomeness to this sort of tough-cop character that lends itself to self-deprecating jokes and a sense of fun even when the violence amps up; he thinks in terms of helping people rather than being a cynical thin blue line holding back chaos. It's a counter to Son Sukku's vicious kidnapper who spew pure undirected malice, a permanent scowl who doesn't necessarily give any signs of enjoying his viciousness despite his intensity; one gets the feeling he's come to the conclusion that maximizing violence is just what's best for business at some point.

It's straightforward but gets the job done, maybe a touch self-aware and too dedicated to helping characters from the first installment around - I haven't seen The Outlaws, but there's one guy with a small role in Vietnam that the audience is clearly meant to recognize and someone else that must have been a fan favorite because he's given a lot more to do that seems wise. It's still able to find room for a couple curveballs, like the wife of a kidnap victim summoning nerves of steel, and knows exactly what sort of hard-hitting action the audience is leaving their apartments to see.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 10 June 2022 - 16 June 2022

It's starting to look like something akin to a regular summer movie season, except that one of the places you might expect to be showing off their new projector is instead going all-in on repertory material.
  • The big release this weekend is Jurassic World: Dominion, with Colin Treverow returning to the director's chair for the finale of the series, picking up where Fallen Kingdom left off with dinosaurs out of the park and original Jurassic Park stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum joining new series leads Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. It's at The Capitol, the Museum of Science (Omnimax weekends), Jordan's Furniture (Imax 2D/3D weekends), Fresh Pond (including 3D), Boston Common (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D and showtimes subtitled in various languages), Fenway (including RealD 3D), South Bay (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Kendall Square, Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    Fenway and South Bay have 60th Anniversary shows of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? on Sunday and Wednesday. There are special "Andy Experience" screenings of Lightyear on Wednesday at Boston Common (Dolby Cinema), South Bay (Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (Dolby Cinema) before the normal early shows on Thursday.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square picks up Cannes award-winner A Chiara, whose teenage title character searches for her father who has disappeared, learning about how her family is connected to the local crime syndicate. From the names of the cast, it looks like star Swamy Rotolo's real-life family fills the supporting roles.

    There are relatively few shows of The Walk on the schedule, but director Daniel Adams and his co-writer George Powell will be there for the one at 6:30pm on Saturday to discuss their film about desegregation and busing in 1970s Boston. The week's Pride Month Retro Replay is Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!, Julie Newmar on Tuesday.
  • Korean action film The Roundup opens at Boston Common; you may remember it from the trailer was nothing but Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee) punching people with his big meaty fists cannily released the same week as Eternals.

    New from India are Hindi condom-sales comedy Janhit Mein Jaari at Boston Common, Telugu comedy Ante Sundaraniki at Boston Common; Apple Fresh Pond also gets Marathi-language biography Dharmaveer and cute-dog Rakshit Shetty comedy 777 Charlie. Vikram sticks around Fresh Pond (Tamil/Telugu) and Boston Common (Tamil), Major at Fresh Pond, and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 at Boston Common.

    Anime Macross Frontier: The False Songstress plays Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Thursday.
  • Noir City Boston returns to the The Brattle Theatre this weekend with a mostly-35mm slate of rarities: Naked Alibi on Friday and Sunday, the 1949 adaptation of The Great Gatsby Saturday and Monday, a supernatural-tinged double feature of Night Has a Thousand Eyes and Alias Nick Beal on Saturday, and a digital double feature of Too Late for Tears & Woman on the Run on Sunday. Film Noir Foundation board member Foster Hirsch will be on-hand for intros for the early-evening shows.

    Italian dystopian thriller Mondocane gets the late-ish shows from Friday to Sunday, with earlier shows on Tuesday. There are also two special presentations: Something Wild on Wednesday as a tribute to Ray Liotta, and In Bed with Ulysses on Thursday, a James Joyce documentary on Bloomsday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre brings back Memoria for another six-day run through Wednesday, with the screenings of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's new film with Tilda Swinton coming via a 35mm print this time around. The plan is for a perpetual roadshow rather than home releases, and it's worth catching at least once.

    Midnights for June will primarily feature the work of David Cronenberg (whose latest Crimes of the Future continues), with a 35mm print of Dead Ringers on Friday and a DCP of Crash on Saturday. There's also a Masked Matinee of Everything Everywhere All at Once on Saturday, a Goethe-Institut presentation of Dear Thomas Sunday morning, as well as a 35mm Cinemas Jukebox show of La Bamba on Thursday
  • The Somerville Theatre officially kicks off their 70mm and Widescreen Fest this week, although they kind of do that all the time. Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood and The Hateful Eight play Friday to Sunday, both on 70mm film (the latter Ultra-Widescreen). The Midnight Special on Friday night is Speed Racer (for those looking to stretch the Brattle's Wachowski Week out a bit). A 35mm submarine double feature of Run Silent, Run Deep & U-571 plays Monday and Tuesday, while Wednesday night's Crime Pays Double finale features Touch of Evil (35mm) and Detour.

    Their friends at The Capitol will have a special screening of Lightkeepers on Thursday; it's a locally-produced film set during the War of 1812 about two teenage girls left in charge of their parents' lighthouse while they have business in tow, with a British ship primed to attack.
  • The Harvard Film Archive starts a new summer program of The Complete Federico Fellini this week with most shows featuring new digital restorations. First up are I vitelloni (Friday/Monday), La Dolce Vita (Saturday), Nights of Cariba (Sunday), and La Strada (Sunday), with more screenings scheduled deep into August. "Forgotten Filmmakers of the French New Wave" still has a couple of films left to go as well, with a 35mm print of Alain Cavalier's Le combat dans l’île screening Saturday afternoon.
  • The Wednesday Ocean Film Series entry at The Regent Theatre this week is The Race to Alaska, a documentary featuring an event described as "the Iditarod on a boat".
  • ArtsEmerson and The Taiwan Film Festival of Boston will be showing American Girl in the Bright Screening Room at the Paramount Center on Saturday afternoon, about a 13-year-old Chinese-American girl who must move to Taipei when her mother becomes sick. Filmmakers Feng-I Fiona Roan and Clifford Miu will be there for a post-film Q&A.
  • Belmont World Film will be streaming Concerned Citizen beginning Monday for both Pride and World Refugee Month; it will be available online for a week with an in-person screening at West Newton on the 20th.
  • The Museum of Science will be playing Jurassic World: Dominion on the Omnimax dome on Friday and Saturday through July ninth. Their "SubSpace" summer program shows films from the Woods Hole Film Festival on that screen on the third Thursday of every month, with this week's presentation being "Bruce & Alvin", a documentary about a submersible and its long-time operator. It's short (24 minutes), but there will be a panel discussion and Q&A afterward.

    The New England Aquarium seems to be refreshing its Imax shows, with the rotation now including "Incredible Predators" (22 minutes), "Wings Over Water" (27 minutes), "Cephalopods: Aliens of the Deep" (25 minutes), and "Superpower Dogs" (49 minutes).
  • The Lexington Venue has Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick from Friday to Sunday.

    The West Newton Cinema brings in Jurassic World Dominion alongside Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey: A New Era, The Automat (no show Friday), The Duke, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Saturday/Sunday), and The Bad Guys. They also have All the Lonely People on Wednesday, though it's not entirely clear which film of that title they're showing from the site.

    The Luna Theater screens Men most of the week, with shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; Fanny: The Right to Rock on Saturday and Thursday; a Pride Edition of the Teseracte Players' Rocky Horror show on Saturday; and But I'm a Cheerleader on Sunday. And, of course, the free Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem Friday-Monday line-up is Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, and The Bob's Burgers Movie. They will also be showing Panorama Film Festival 2022: A Revolutionary Exis, a 2+ hour short film block for and by queer and trans youth on Thursday.
  • The big outdoor screening this week has the Coolidge bringing a 35mm projector to the Greenway for The Birds on Wednesday (or Thursday in the case of rain). Joe's Free Films, sadly, isn't showing many more yet.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes. The film program at the MFA will return at the end of the month with the Roxbury International Film Festival.
My plans involve living at the Brattle for Noir City and Mondocane after catching The Roundup, catching up with Crimes of the Future, and maybe the sub stuff and Lightkeepers. Jurassic World might have to wait until I can get to the furniture store next weekend!

Friday, June 03, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 3 June 2022 - 9 June 2022

Ah, the traditional week where things kind of coast after a holiday blockbuster comes out, and the stuff that does crab screens gets a bit weird.
  • For example, David Cronenberg's first thing that folks would really call "Cronenbergian" - that is, weird sci-fi body horror - is probably the week's biggest release, with Crime of the Future featuring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart performing outre surgery as performance art. It's at the Coolidge, the Kendall, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    BUFF selection Watcher opens at Boston Common; it's a slick thriller set in Bucharest featuring Maika Monroe as a woman who moves there with her husband (Karl Glusman) and becomes convinced that the man in the apartment across the way is following her, and may possibly be the serial killer active in the city.

    Found-footage horror flick Dashcam plays Fresh Pond, while Morbius re-opens for a few shows at South Bay, because sure, why not. South Bay also has Juneteenth-themed comedy Block Party on Wednesday before it heads to BET+.

    The Wizard of Oz plays Fenway, Assembly Row, South Bay on Sunday and Monday to celebrate Judy Garland's centennial. There are also a number of special presentations tied in with Jurassic World: Dominion on Thursday, with Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row offering a double feature with Jurassic Park, with a separate live-streamed post-film Q&A event at Boston Common (Imax Xenon), Assembly Row (Imax Xenon).
  • In addition to Crimes, The Coolidge Corner Theatre opens Fiddler's Journey to the Screen, a fifty-years-later making-of documentary about Norman Jewison making Fiddler on the Roof, with plenty of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and narration by Jeff Goldblum. It's mostly in the GoldScreen, but gets some shows in Moviehouse 1, including a Masked Matinee on Saturday, a show with producer Sasha Berman doing post-film Q&A, and a few late-afternoon shows during the week.

    Speaking of guests, Lloyd Kaufman will be in town for the weekend's midnight screenings: Friday offers his latest Troma production, #ShakespeareShitstorm, the sort of modern adaptation of The Tempest you'd expect from him, and they run what's likely his best-known production, The Toxic Avenger, on Saturday. For classier repertory presentations, they offer a half-hour seminar before Ousmane Sembène's Black Girl on Monday and the new restoration of Out of the Blue on Tuesday.
  • Benediction opens at Landmark Theatres Kendall Square and Boston Common this weekend: directed by Terence Davies, it stars Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi as gay soldier and anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon at different points in his life. The Kendall also shifts their Retro Replay series to LGBTQ+ pride for June, with Brokeback Mountain playing Tuesday.

    A more celebratory offering is Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story, a documentary in which Frank Marshall & Ryan Suffern give the audience a backstage look at the 50th anniversary edition of the The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (although given Covid, it's either actually the 50th edition in 2019 or this film was turned around very quickly from the 2022 fest). It's at Kendall Square and Boston Common.

    The Landmark Embassy in Waltham (open Friday to Tuesday) opens Hustle, one of Adam Sandler's forays into more serious material, as he plays a journeyman NBA scout who finds a raw but talented player (Juancho Hernangómez) in Spain.
  • The Indian new releases this week are Samrat Prithviraj, a Hindi-language historical action-drama starring Akshay Kumr and Manushi Chhillar at Apple Fresh Pond and Boston Common; Vikram, a serial-killer flick playing Fresh Pond (Tamil/Telugu) Boston Common (Tamil/Hindi); and Major, starring Adivi Sesh as Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in a Telugu-language take on the circumstances that led to him dying in the 2008 Mumbai riots. 1980s-set Marathi romance Chandramukhi plays Fresh Pond on Saturday. Hindi-language horror-comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 continues at Fresh Pond and Boston Common.

    Vietnamese family adventure Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy plays in South Bay about a week after opening in its native land, and seems to be getting pretty good reviews as a colorful sci-fi story.

    Anime Revue Starlight (Shoujo Kageki) plays Fenway and Boston Common on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening.
  • The Brattle Theatre celebrates The Pop-Art Cinema of the Wachowski Sisters, one of the series that was on their calendar back in 2020 before everything fell apart. It kicks off with The Matrix on its own on Friday, the entire saga on Saturday, and the sequels on Sunday. Cloud Atlas plays on Monday, Speed Racer on Tuesday, Bound on Wednesday, and Jupiter Ascending on Thursday. A series pass is available, and everything except last year's The Matrix Resurrections are playing on 35mm film.
  • The Somerville Theatre brings Gaspar Noé's Vortex, back for a second weekend, this time in theater #2 rather than the micro. For repertory material, they have Motel Hell on 35mm as Saturday's midnight special, a 35mm print of Zulu on Monday and Tuesday, a Crime Pays Double feature of Night Moves (35mm) & 1975's Hustle on Wednesday, and a Thursday night pairing of Vertigo on 70mm & Last Year at Marienbad.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has yet more "Forgotten Filmmakers of the French New Wave" this weekend with The Punishment and Octobre à Paris playing separately on Friday, The Depths on Saturday, a 35mm print of Judex on Sunday, and The Ebb-Tide on Monday.
  • The Regent Theatre will be having a weekly Ocean Film Series on Wednesdays in June, starting off with the "One Ocean Film Tour", a two-hour short film program.
  • Last call for Doctor Strange at The Museum of Science on Friday and Saturday, with Jurassic World: Dominion taking over the next weekend, though the opening night show with dinosaur experts appears to be sold out. Tickets are available for "Third Thursday" film screenings presented by the Woods Hole Film Festival on June 16th, July 21st, and August 18th.
  • The Lexington Venue has Downton Abbey: A New Era and Top Gun: Maverick from Friday to Sunday, and will open Thursday for Jurassic World.

    The West Newton Cinema sticks with The Bob's Burgers Movie, Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey: A New Era, The Automat, The Duke, and The Bad Guys.

    The Luna Theater has Men most of the week, with shows Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday, along with the Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem has Top Gun: Maverick, Downton Abbey, and The Duke from Friday to Monday (Monday's matinees captioned).
  • Joe's Free Films shows a screening of Werner Herzog's "Lessons of Darkness" at the Goethe-Institut on Wednesday, with reservations required.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes. The film program at the MFA is still in limbo.
I am down for Crimes of the Future and may, I confess, attempt a weird Morbius/Maika double feature out in Dorchester, along with plenty of Wachowski stuff around Night Moves & Hustle. And maybe one give Strange one more look on the dome on Friday.