Friday, January 21, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 21 January 2011 - 27 January 2011

It looks like things are starting to get back to normal after the winter's nap - multiple films being released in multiplexes, the boutique houses back on calendar schedules, and the academically-affiliated venues back showing films.

Now, getting to and from them could be interesting, what with the snow and all - this certainly feels more like a traditional New England winter than any I can remember in years.

  • Talk of winter leads logically to talk of Siberia (right?), Peter Weir's The Way Back may not be the biggest opening this weekend - in Boston, it's only showing up at Boston Common and Fresh Pond - but it's probably the safest bet. Weir tends to make interesting movies, the scenery and cinematography in the preview is gorgeous (somewhat to be expected, perhaps, with the National Geographic Society involved), and the cast is awfully solid: Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan may not jump off a poster, but they're all folks I would like to see walking four thousand miles from a Russian gulag to freedom in India.

    Maybe not quite so prestigious but also likely worth a look is The Company Men, which features a similarly noteworthy cast. Writer/director John Wells is mostly known for well-respected television (E.R., The West Wing), and the preview kind of looks like it's trying a bit too hard, but the cast is excellent: Aside from local guys Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper, it seems like it's been forever since Tommy Lee Jones showed up on movie screens. And, hey, Kevin Costner, who I think could be pretty good in this sort of blue-collar supporting role now that his leading man days are apparently done.

    The other big opener is No Strings Attached, with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. I've got to say, the preview makes it look like something I've seen before. In fact, at various points in its development, it went by the names "Friends with Benefits" and "F--- Buddies". There was a Friends (With Benefits) at the Boston Underground Film Festival last year that I liked quite a bit, which also went by "F--- Buddies" while being made, that seems to have the exact same plot, and there's another "Friends With Benefits" (sans parentheses) coming this summer with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. I suspect the best of the three will not contain any members of the That 70s Show cast (or, if you want to be less snarky, the Black Swan cast), but I've got to admit, I will probably see this one on the basis of "Kevin Kline is in it" alone.

  • Over at Kendall Square, they actually got back into the announced one-week bookings last week with Partir; this week the one-week warning is also on a French movie, Nénette, a documentary by acclaimed director Nicolas Philbert about an orangutan who has just turned 40 and has lived in Paris's Jardin des Plantes for most of her life. It looks charming, and while not long (about 70 minutes), it's presented with a short film, "Night Falls on the Menagerie".

    The higher profile opening is Another Year, the new film by Mike Leigh which chronicles a year in the life of a married couple in his typically low-key way. It features Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, and Lesley Manville.

  • The week's Indian opening is Dhobi Ghat, which actually looks fairly conventional for a Bollywood product: A story of intersecting relationships in Mumbai, it's not a musical and runs a relatively comfortable 95 minutes. It played the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, so if you've been curious about Indian cinema but nervous about its odd reputation, this might be a good place to start.

  • The Brattle Theatre begins a two-week "(Some of) The Best of 2010" series tonight with Inception. It continues through Wednesday with a Chloe Moretz double feature on Saturday (Let Me In & Kick-Ass), a pair of great leading ladies on Sunday (Isabelle Huppert in White Material and Tilda Swinton in I Am Love), Bong Joon-Ho's fantastic Mother on Monday, Cesar winner A Prophet on Tuesday, and Exit Through the Gift Shop on Wednesday. Several of the screenings will have introductions by members of the Boston Society of Film Critics. Check the calendar, because there have been some schedule changes to accommodate a couple special events.

    Those events include a nifty-looking screening of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre on Monday at 9:30pm; it's presented with the Boston Underground Film Festival and includes a special guest, actress Sabrina Dennison. Wednesday at 5:30pm, Race to Nowhere makes another appearance in the area, and someday this documentary about the unhealthily competitive environment in our schools will play at a time when I can get to see it. If you can make it to this screening, there will be a discussion with parenting/education expert Alfie Kohn afterward. And, on Thursday night, the Found Footage Film Festival comes to town with a program of oddities from the VHS age.

  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre basically carries its programming from last week over, but has a couple of special presentations. The midnight show tonight and tomorrow is Primal a new bit of old-style Ozploitation featuring folks trying to survive a friend going nuts in the Outback. It's a quick preview booking before a Tuesday video release (they're actually screening the Blu-ray), but it sounds like fun. Monday night's Science On Screen program is Full Metal Jacket, which will have an introduction and Q&A by psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, a "nationally known expert on combat trauma". And, on Thursday night, filmmaker Jesse Peretz flies out from Park City, UT, for the "Sundance USA" screening of My Idiot Brother, which has a heck of a cast (Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer). It's sold out on-line, and probably at the box office, so consider this a reminder for those who already have their tickets.

  • The Harvard Film Archive opens back up after a winter break with a massive presentation, the 25th Anniversary re-release of Shoah. Saturday and Sunday, both parts will screen - Part One at noon, and Part Two at 6pm. Part One also screens tonight at 6pm, and Part Two also runs Monday at 6pm. It is a titanic work - nine and a half hours, all told - but also a clearly important one.

  • Emerson's film program also returns with a pair of Hungarian films. Tonight, director János Szász is present to screen and discus his second feature, Woyzeck, his 1994 adaptation of early nineteenth-century playwright Georg Büchner's most famous work (though his version is set in contemporary times). Tomorrow, they show 1972's Red Psalm by Miklós Jancsó. The family-friendly matinees are also back, with The Wizard of Oz showing Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening on genuine 35mm film.

  • At the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Festival of Films from Iran continues. Note that Salve has been dropped from the schedule, with tonight's screening replaced by Please Do Not Disturb. That festival will be running through the 29th, but The Agony and Ecstacy of Phil Spector will be starting on the 26th for a five-day run (with one screening a day, at various times). The director will be present for that first screening, but on the others, it's "just" an hour and a half long interview with the legendary (and now infamous) record producer conducted during his first trial.

  • I've failed to mention it several times, but the ICA has been presenting "The Art and Technique of the American Commercial" on and off for the past month as part of their film program; the screening on Thursday loks like it may be the last chance to catch it.

  • The second-run shuffle has All Good Things popping back up at the Somerville Theatre, sharing a screen with The Social Network, despite not being very good. At FEI's other theater, the Arlington Capitol, Casino Jack grabs a screen, as does Tron: Legacy (in 3-D). The Studio Cinema in Belmont opens Black Swan, while the Stuart Street Playhouse bumps Love and Other Drugs in favor of more shows of the out-on-video The Social Network (which is also playing on full screens in Arlington and Waltham). Apparently, there are a lot of folks as lazy about seeing that movie as I have been.

My plan? Well, I've already got my ticket for My Idiot Brother, and the priority for the new releases is The Way Back, The Company Men, then No Strings Attached. In between, maybe I'll do the Brattle Saturday night (I never did get around to seeing Kick-Ass) and find a spot for Nénette in between.


Not Gross said...

Actually her name is "Chloe Moretz".

Jason said...

Fixed. Meant to do it last night, but got sidetracked somewhere.