Friday, January 28, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 28 January 2011 - 3 February 2011

Oscar nominations got announced Tuesday. This year, I'm reasonably caught up, with only one glaring oversight (that's right, despite my love of Fincher and Sorkin, I still haven't seen The Social Network). I'll correct that, not out of any compulsion toward completion, but because it looks like a pretty good movie. I used to think you had to see everything to have a right to have an opinion about what is snubbed and what isn't on the night of the awards, but while this might be true, suffering through Chicago a few years ago disabused me of the notion that this was in any way worth it.

  • If you do want to catch up, the Somerville Theatre in particular has your back. They're already showing The Social Network and Best Costume nominee The Tempest, and this week they re-open Best Documentary nominee Inside Job and multiple nominee The Kids are All Right. Inside Job also re-opens in the Coolidge's screening room. And The Social Network, already playing at Somerville, Stuart Street, and the Arlington Capitol, re-returns to AMC Harvard Square. If you'll recall, it re-opened there two weeks ago, played a week, and is now back again. Three and a half screens for something that's out on video, and we don't get Ip Man 2, despite that opening in spots around the country today.

  • Oscar nominees also tell the tale of what opens at Kendall Square. Not only does 127 Hours expand back to a full screen after limping along with just late shows for a couple weeks, but Biutiful (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor) and The Illusionist (nominated for Best Animated Feature) open. I'm a little skeptical of Biutiful - it looks like more interconnected suffering akin to director Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu's Balbel and 21 Grams, and I don't remember either fondly. But The Illusionist looks wonderful, with The Triplets of Belleville's Sylvain Chomet adapting a screenplay by Jacques Tati.

    The one-week warning is for Nuremberg, a newly-restored version of the 1948 documentary of the first modern war crimes trials. It's never been shown in the U.S. before this new release, and the soundtrack had to be completely reconstructed. For the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (28-30 January) shows, Sandra Schulberg (daughter of original director Stuart Schulberg and a major part of the restoration team) will be present to introduce the film and perhaps answer questions.

  • Oscar likely has very little to do with the two main films opening on multiplex screens. Sure, The Rite has former Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins, but otherwise it looks like the Season of the Witch to The Last Exorcism's Black Death - bigger, more expensive, and with some more familiar faces, but just not looking quite as scary, because imaginary demons just aren't as scary as the cruelty human beings are capable of.

    The other major opener is The Mechanic, in which Jason Statham and Ben Foster try to step into the shoes of Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure whether that's an upgrade or not. It looks like a bunch of Jason Statham doing Jason Statham things - a little martial arts, a little looking cool, a little vehicular mayhem. Generally, there's worse ways to spend a couple hours.

  • One more movie opens this week for a semi-conventional run: Zenith, an indie sci-fi movie that describes itself as a retro-futuristic steampunk thriller taking place in two time periods with people genetically engineered to be happy all the time discovering that only sorrow makes life meaningful. It's potentially a game of cliche bingo, but sometimes interesting things come out of that. It's playing one show a day - 8pm tonight, 11pm Saturday, and 7:30pm Sunday through Thursday. As a head's up (in case I don't get this up early then), the Regent will be playing IFFBoston selection Lemmy next Friday (4 February).

  • The Brattle continues their "(Some of) The Best of 2010" series with a few interesting double features - tonight there's a pair of zany, surprisingly good by most accounts youth comedies with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Easy A; Saturday is a pair of films about young girls in big trouble, Winter's Bone and Fish Tank; and Thursday a pair of rediscovered Japanese horror films with new prints - Kuroneko and House. On other days, there are singles - the full five-and-a-half-hour cut of Carlos on Sunday afternoon, IFFBoston Best Doc winner Marwencol on Monday, and low-budget kaiju/romance Monsters on Wednesday.

    Marwencol will also be playing Sunday night as part of the Boston Society of Film Critics's annual awards ceremony, where they will honor its director, Jeff Malmberg. Tuesday night sees the return of The DocYard, a bi-weekly screening series of documentaries that will run through April. The first entry is Armadillo, Janusz Metz's chronicle of a UK-Danish base in Afghanistan.

  • It's a week without a lot of change at the Coolidge - the Sundance shorts move to a smaller room to make way for Inside Job, but The King's Speech and Black Swan stay put. The schedule of special events is likewise pretty quiet - if you enjoyed Santa Sangre at the Brattle on Monday, you may want to check out Alejandro Jodorowsky's other crazy 1970s midnight movie, El Topo. Man, I thought his bandes dessinéees were screwy, but his movies make them look quite sane. Sunday morning, the Goethe-Institut presents Vincent Wants to Sea (yes, that apparently is the proper translation of the title), about a Tourettes-afflicted young man who flees the sanitarium where he lives with two friends for a road trip with his mother's ashes.

  • The Harvard Film Archive is back doing what it does today, when it starts Play It As It Lies, a two-weekend retrospective of the films of Hong Sang-soo. Director Hong is not a man I'm terribly familiar with, but he is very well-regarded and will be at the archive in person next weekend. For this weekend, four of his films are on tap: The Power of Kangwon Province and Hahaha tonight; The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well on Sunday, and Tale of Cinema on Monday. If Sunday's Brattle event isn't enough Harvard Square and Boston film critics for you, they have a screening of For the Love of Movies hosted by director Gerald Peary and "followed by a panel of prominent Boston-area critics who will be discussing the state of film criticism in the era of the Internet". I was not invited (not surprising; it makes sense to go with someone who does this full-time rather than as a hobby), but am tempted to go and see if they have any pure on-line guys or if it will just be old people complaining about us. Admission is free for HFA members. VES re-starts their free screening series in February, with The Beaches of Agnes on Tuesday and a selection of early short films on Wednesday.

  • Emerson programs some good stuff at the Paramount Center, especially if you like Robert Mitchum. Charles Laughton's excellent Night of The Hunter plays Friday and Saturday nights, while the original Cape Fear is the back end of Saturday's unofficial double feature before playing at 7pm Sunday. The family-friendly program Saturday afternoon is a Passport Shorts Program from the Children's Film Festival Seattle. It's 77 minutes of short films from a half-dozen or so countries, featuring "real-life kids who are making a difference."

  • The MFA wraps up the Boston Festival of Films from Iran today and tomorrow, around one show per day of The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector. In February, they launch a Cinema and the City series; it runs through the entire month and starts with Vertigo on Thursday afternoon.

  • The ICA has a pair of short programs this weekend: Saturday at 5pm is The 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival Program One, a collection of short films from the continent's "longest-running independent and experimental film festival". Sunday afternoon (2pm and 4pm), they have a program from The Ottowa International Animation Festival, one of the most prominent animation-focused festivals in the world.

My plans? Well, crap, there's a lot going on tonight. I think I'll likely take in Zenith on my way home tonight, see how much time getting Sox tickets takes tomorrow, and then shoot for The Mechanic, Nuremberg, and The Kids Are All Right on the weekend. Probably The Illusionist, too, because the new commute is going to make getting to Kendall Square in time on a weekday iffy.

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