Friday, February 25, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 25 February 2011 - 3 March 2011

Oscars on Sunday, and as a professional courtesy, the studios are holding back on releasing anything particularly highbrow.

I kid, a little, but I suspect that both the multiplexes and boutique houses are poised for a major housecleaning next weekend, as the interest people had in nominees drops when they're tagged as "losers". Unfair, but what can you do?

  • There are two wide releases this weekend, and their trailers more or less tell the story Hall Pass is the latest by the Farrelly Brothers, and like its protagonists, it seems to be a case of guys settling into middle age not realizing that they're not as cool as they once were. In it, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis are given "a week off from marriage" by their wives Isla Fisher and Christina Applegate, somehow under the impression that they're going to do better. The previews make it look like the filmmakers are trying to recapture their young, gross-out glory, but they seem to have lost a bit off their fastball, too.

    Drive Angry 3-D, meanwhile, slaps a big "SHOT IN 3D" onto its poster and previews, letting us know that although this is an attempt to get you to pay $4 extra for a silly grindhouse movie, it's one where the filmmakers are actually using the tools to make it worthwhile (I didn't think much of director Patrick Lussier's My Bloody Valentine as a mystery, but the man is clearly comfortable with shooting for 3D). Plus, it's got Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, and William Fitchner in exactly the sorts of parts where they excel.

  • With 19 screens to fill, the AMC at Boston Common needs a little more, so they are actually your place to go for new independent films this week, featuring two with religious undertones. From the Christians, we have The Grace Card, a drama about a pair of police officers (one a part-time pastor) overcoming family tragedies and challenges. It's apparently produced by a large Memphis church, but does look a lot more polished than many faith-oriented films, with Louis Gossett Jr. playing the mentor figure. On another screen, we have Mooz-lum, about a teen from a strict Muslim family dealing with culture shock as he starts college soon before the 9/11 attacks. It's got a couple of familiar faces - Danny Glover, Nia Long - and I thought star Evan Ross was very good in Life Is Hot in Cracktown. I haven't seen a preview for this one, though, so I'll probably be going in blind.

    If you don't mind making the trip out to Revere (or live out in that direction), locally-produced Oxy-Morons returns for another one-week run. And if you're looking for Oscar catch-up, Boston Common also has a 24-hour marathon screening of all ten Best Picture nominees starting Saturday at 10am. It looks like you've got to buy a ticket to the whole package rather than just the ones you may have missed, and there's no readmission during the wee hours.

  • Speaking of Oscar catch-up, the Brattle offers an odd double feature tonight (Friday the 25th) and tomorrow, with multiple nominee The Kids Are All Right and foreign-language film nominee Dogtooth. Both feature unusual family dynamics, although from what I've read of Dogtooth, the long-time lesbian couple of The Kids Are All Right isn't close to being in the same league.

    Mid-week, they will be playing a couple of documentaries: The DocYard screening is The Edge of Dreaming on Tuesday (1 March) at 8pm; it's the work of a rational filmmaker who, after having what seems like two predictive dreams, decides to investigate the phenomenon. On Thursday (3 March) afternoon, there is a special screening of Not My Life, an investigation into into modern slavery and human trafficking. Free admission for Harvard and Simmons students.

    In the middle of the week, they offer a tribute to the late, great Peter Yates. On Wednesday (2 March), you can see a double feature of Robbery (5:30, 7:45), a not-available-on-video adventure film about the Great Train Robbery, and Bullitt (10pm), the terrific Steve McQueen thriller with plenty of great suspense and car chases. Bullitt also plays Thursday night at 7:30.

    And, finally, there's also a late show of Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone at 9:30pm on Thursday to catch audiences up for the second film in the series, which opens next week. No word on whether it or Evangelion 2.0 will be presented dubbed (as the first was a year and a half ago) or subtitled

  • Speaking of Peter Yates, the MFA concludes their "Cinema and the City" series this weekend by looking at Boston in Yates's The Friends of Eddie Coyle, maybe not "the best Boston film ever" as some have called it, but a pretty darn good crime drama. Also finishing up this weekend is "Uzbek Rhapsody: The Films of Ali Khamraev. Their March calendar starts on Wednesday with a program of New Latin American Cinema, including The Joy from Brazil, Crab Trap from Colombia, and Lucia from Chile.

  • The Harvard Film Archive begins a retrospective of its own, Yilmaz Güney: From "Ugly King" to Poet of Despair, chronicling the career and strange life of one of Turkey's most (in)famous filmmakers. Some are films from his early (late 1960s/early 1970s) career (Hope & Bride of the Earth on Friday, Elegy on Saturday, The Hungry Wolves on Monday), while others were directed by others from his scripts while he was in prison for murder (Yol on Saturday, The Herd on Sunday).

  • ArtsEmerson was originally scheduled to have filmmaker Nina Menkes presenting two films in person this weekend, but an injury has, unfortunately, left her unable to travel. They will still be presenting Phantom Love tonight (25 February) and her new film, Dissolution, on Saturday night. The former is described as a "surreal psychodrama", the latter a look at violence in Israel. The Saturday afternoon family film is Charlotte's Web, and the Sunday evening program is Zulu Love Letter, a 2004 film set against South Africa's first truly democratic elections. It will be followed by a discussion that night and three more nights of South African films, but Zulu Love Letter is the only one open to the public.

  • The Academy-nominated short films are running in several places - the Coolidge, the Kendall, and the ICA (Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening only). The ICA also has an interesting program Saturday night, Sam Green and Dave Cerf: Utopia in Four Movements, a combination of documentary film, live narration and music, and "sound artist" Cerf putting it together.

  • The one-week warning at Kendall Square is for A Somewhat Gentle Man, a Norwegian black comedy starring Stellan Skarsgård as a recently released prisoner looking to go straight but only knowing criminals. I suspect that one-week warning is for real, as four films are scheduled to open next week, likely meaning a mass exodus.

  • And, finally, things get rather crowded at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with Biutiful and The Illusionist both opening - Biutiful on film, and The Illusionist in the screening room. This pushes the shorts to the GoldScreen and means that the matinee of Another Year is on film while the evening show is in the screening room (Another Year also opens second-run at the Arlington Capitol). Maniac continues to play midnights (though without Mr. Lustig this weekend), and the Sunday morning Goethe-Institut German film is The Silence, in which an unsolved crime from 23 years earlier is reopened when it appears that history is repeating itself.

My plans: Catching up on the nominated shorts tonight and tomorrow, the Brattle Oscar party on Sunday, with Drive Angry and Mooz-lum sometime in between. A Somewhat Gentle Man and Robbery (and maybe Bullitt, though I've got that one on HDDVD) figure to round out the week.

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