Friday, February 11, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 11 February 2011 - 17 February 2011

Ah, February holidays - Valentine's Day, President's Day, and Oscar Day. All three influence what's coming up this weekend.

  • We'll start with President's Day, for the past 35 years the ending date of the Boston Sci-Fi Festival/Marathon. The holiday and marathon are still a week away, but just as with last year, there's a nine-day festival on tap for the run-up. It plays at the Somerville Theatre, and looking at their schedule, it seems like it will be playing in one of the "regular" theaters, as opposed to the video room, this year. According to the schedule, this week's shows, all at 7:30pm, are the "Dangerous Visions" shorts program on Friday the 11th, Summer Wars on Saturday the 12th (with an extra show at 4:30pm on Sunday), the "Retro Speculatives" program on Sunday the 13th, Finland's Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning on Monday the 14th, documentary The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels on Tuesday the 15th, an as-yet-unannounced flick on Wednesday the 16th, and the 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Thursday the 17th, with Jeff Rapsis providing musical accompaniment (this will also be part of the marathon).

    I'm often a little rough on the event, especially on its message board, but only because, out of all the film festivals and events Boston hosts each year, it's the one I want most to be great. As much as I'd like to see less parody/homage to bad sci-fi movies and more attempts to create good stuff (and less questionable use of the "premiere" label), this is a fun event, Summer Wars, at least, is a pretty darn good movie, chances to see silents with accompaniment should always be taken, and I want good attendance so that it can grow. So if you see anything you think you might like there, head out to Somerville.

  • Let's move on to Oscar, as those who like seeing everything nominated can get much closer this week: Not only is Landmark Kendall Square still playing Another Year, Biutiful, Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Illusionist, and The King's Speech, but they will also be playing the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts and Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts for a week.

    If you can't see them this week, they'll move to the Coolidge next Friday. In the meantime, they've got Another Year opening, as well as the Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts. Those will be playing in two separate-admission programs, as each short in this category is actually about 40 minutes long. There's also midnights of Eraserhead this weekend, as well as a couple of Valentine's Day live events: "Naked Girls Reading: Love Stinks" at midnight on Saturday, and Mortified's Doomed Valentines Show on Monday night. The latter is sold out, but check their website and Twitter; sometimes tickets are released last-minute. The Sunday-morning "Talk Cinema" series this week previews The Double Hour, a thriller of sorts that won several top awards at the Venice Film Festival.

  • Since it's Valentine's Day, the Brattle is showing Casablanca on Sunday the 13th and Monday the 14th. You may not get to the big Monday at 7pm show, which sells out early and where people have been known to propose and cosplay (at least, I hope they cosplay!), but there are several others and novelist Leslie Epstein will introducing and answering questions at the 4:15pm show on Sunday. Mr. Epstein's uncle and father wrote the script, and I imagine people will try to pry baseball knowledge out of him, too, since Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is his son. That, friends, is a heck of a family tree.

    This isn't the only intriguing romance the Brattle has this week; around showings of Casablanca, they are also opening The Strange Case of Angelica, a unique-looking fantasy about a photographer who falls in love with a woman who only lives through his pictures. It's made by 102-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira, and appears to be influenced by work made throughout his long lifetime.

    Plus, the bi-weekly DocYard series returns this week with Secrecy, Tuesday the 15th. In it, directors Peter Callison and Robb Moss take a look at how the massive amounts of information the United States classifies as secret is both potentially necessary and difficult to justify in a democracy.

  • The English-subtitled Bollywood film opening this week is Patiala House, a London-set drama that reunites Chandni Chowk to China star Akshay Kumar and director Nikhil Advani. It appears to involve a disgraced father, romance, and cricket, not necessarily in that order.

  • The Harvard Film Archive starts another two-week series: History, Memory, Cinema: The Documentary Vision of Patricio Guzmán. According to the HFA synopsis, Guzmán was one of the first to use documentary filmmaking to record history as it happens as a counter to sanitized, "official" histories, and the films included in this series reflect that: Salvador Allende on Friday night (playing with the featurette "Robinson Crusoe Island"), The Pinochet Case on Monday, and the three-part The Battle of Chile on Saturday (parts 1 & 2) and Sunday (part 3).

  • The MFA's Cinema and the City series continues, with this weekend putting the focus on Rio de Janeiro (the fantastic City of God) and Washington DC (All the President's Men), as well as a couple more shows of "Three Films by Rudy Burckhardt", featuring New York. Then, on Thursday, the next cycle begins, spotlighting Los Angeles (Chinatown) and Mexico City (Los Olvidados).

  • Emerson splits its program this weekend. On the ends, there are visits by two different filmmakers: On Friday night, French filmmaker Rose Lowder is in town for an "Avant-Garde Showcase", with an hour or so of experimental 16mm films she has made over the past thirty years. On Sunday, Claire Andrade-Watkins presents her 2006 documentary "Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican?": A Cape Verdean-American Story, about how a tight-knit community of immigrants in Providence was displaced and broken up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    In between, there are a couple of co-presentations with the Irish Film Festival of Boston: On Saturday night, there are two chances to see Perrier's Bounty, which played locally both as part of IFFBoston and a brief theatrical run last year; it shows up in part because ArtsEmerson is presenting writer Mark O'Rowe's Terminus on their main stage. The kid-friendly film this weekend will be presented Sunday afternoon, when A Shine of Rainbows runs at 2pm.

  • Also Sunday afternoon is Double Take at the Institute of Contemporary Art, with Belgian filmmaker Johan Grimonprez there to introduce his film in which Alfred Hitchcock encounters his doppelganger. On Saturday, they present a second program of short films from the Ann Arbor Film Film Festival, all presented on 16mm film.

  • The Somerville & Arlington theaters each have worthy double features to check out this weekend. Somerville continues to run Casino & GoodFellas as a double feature on Friday and Saturday, switching over to Amelie & The Triplets of Belleville for Sunday and Monday. I'm not sure what they'll use the screen for Tuesday-Thursday. The Capitol, meanwhile, continues its weekend series of HD double features, this time with Ingmar Bergman's two from 1957, The Seventh Seal & Wild Strawberries.

  • These two theaters also account for much of the second-run shuffle, as Somerville opens The Company Men while the Capitol picks up 127 Hours and Rabbit Hole. Both lose The Social Network (as does Harvard Square), but that's still cranking along at Stuart Street, now alternating with I Love You Phillip Morris.

  • And that's... Oh, right, there's the new first-run films coming out. It looks like a pretty grim bunch, quite honestly: The Eagle looks like the best of the bunch, with a young Roman soldier attempting to find out what happened to his father and the 9th Legion. I suspect it could sort of work as a sequel to Centurion, but, then again, why not just bag Centurion if you want some lost-legion action? Director Kevin MacDonald isn't bad, but he's not Neil Marshall.

    To prepare for the kids having February vacation, studios hit with not one, but two films aimed at them that are playing almost exclusively in expensive 3-D: Gnomeo & Juliet, an animated take on Shakespeare's most famous play done with lawn gnomes that has a buttload more writers than such a thing needs, but an interesting voice cast (James McAvoy and Emily Blunt play the leads, but the supporting cast has people from Michael Caine to Jason Statham to Dolly Parton to Hulk Hogan to Ozzy Osborne). It also features a ton of songs from executive producer Elton John, including two new ones. Kids may be more interested in Justin Beiber: Never Say Never; apparently young people like him.

    And, fine, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston have a new romantic comedy out, Just Go With It, four times removed from its original source material (it is apparently based on an earlier film based on an American play based on a French play). The trailer looks terrible, it's been getting reviews of remarkable bile, and I strongly suspect Nicole Kidman insisted that her name be kept out of the advertising and her face out of the previews because she's up for best actress awards for Rabbit Hole and being seen as connected to this could not possibly help.

My plans? Mostly living at the Sci-Fi Film Festival; I bought a pass months ago. Around that, I'll probably try and get to see the nominated-shorts collections, maybe Perrier's Bounty and Angelica and Double Take. Plus, I've still got an AMC awards ticket that needs to be used by Tuesday; maybe it'll finally get used for Blue Valentine.

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