Friday, March 04, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 4 March 2011 - 10 March 2011

Awards season is officially over, so it's time for theaters to stop holding a spot open for everything that might win and just go with straight entertainment that's good enough to play when they stand a reasonable chance of getting large crowds.

It's nice to see, quite frankly. As much as I've occasionally felt like I've been falling behind the movies I want to see over the past couple months, there have been a lot of days when I haven't felt like this sort of movie on this day, but that looks to be at an end for now.

Worth mentioning: The original, R-rated version of The King's Speech is still in theaters, but apparently it will be pulled when The Weinstein Company releases the PG-13 cut in a week or two, to avoid "confusion". Aside from how silly the whole blanking out a couple f-bombs for a new rating is, despite the objection of the filmmakers, the confusion angle seems silly, considering that the Justin Bieber thing is apparently alternating between "original" and "director's fan" cuts.

  • Four new movies open in the multiplexes this weekend, something for everybody. Potentially the most interesting is Rango, an animated Western with anthropomorphic animals. Johnny Depp voices a non-mammal, and since only mammals have hair, that means no stupid haircut. The rest of the voice cast is impressive as well, and it's Gore Verbinski's first non-Pirates movie in years. And while it's sometimes odd for live-action directors to move into animation, Verbinski did first impress with the very funny Mousehunt, which certainly could have been animated.

    Though Rango is pitched to older audiences as well, if we presume that kids are the target, then the next step up the ladder would be Beastly, a take on "Beauty and the Beast" that wouldn't look out of place on the homogeneous young-adult shelf that's taking space away from science fiction and fantasy in bookstores. It stars the good-looking girl from High School Musical and the good-looking guy from I Am Number Four (good month for him, I guess). The next level up is Take Me Home Tonight, a comedy of young people just past college in the late 1980s. It's got a nice cast, although Topher Grace (who came up with the story) and Anna Faris are both folks who never seem to get the most out of their talent (and are about ten years older than the recent college grads they play).

    And, finally, there's The Adjustment Bureau, delayed since September or so to get past a glut of Matt Damon pictures, perhaps. It's adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, Hollywood's go-to place for classy sci-fi. The trailers remind me more than a bit of Dark City, although scaled down to a more manageable level.

  • Big turnover at Kendall Square, as well, with four movies opening there. The one-week warning is for Poetry, a Korean film about a grandmother learning poetry even as Alzheimer's Disease starts to chip away at her mind. Also opening are Gregg Akari's Ka-boom!, an apocalyptic teen comedy-drama which got a little notice for Akari pulling it from a genre-oriented festival. Landmark's been pushing the trailer hard, which is also the case with Even the Rain, a quite intriguing-looking film wherein a Spanish film crew goes to Bolivia to make a film about Christopher Columbus only to be confronted with their own hypocrisy when they realize that the exploitation that started then still has echoes today.

    There's also The Last Lions, a March of the Penguins-style documentary focusing on a family of lions on an island off Africa. It's wildlife adventure told from the animals' perspectives as opposed to that of humans, and should at least be impressive to look at.

  • The Brattle "opens" Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, in that it starts playing Friday and continues Saturday, but it's a very short run. Fans of the series about teenagers piloting giant battle suits against alien invaders should be pleased, though - unlike when the previous entry played there, it's being shown in the original Japanese with English subtitles, and there are even matinee showings of Evangelion 1.0 (also subbed) both days for those looking to play catch-up. I hear 2.0 is better than 1.0, but that comes from people who liked the first more than me. We'll see.

    It's not technically part of the Brattle's Mental Machines series, but it's a natural lead-in. Sunday's double feature is 2001: A Space Odyssey and Demon Seed; Tuesday's is Forbidden Planet and The Iron Giant. Wednesday is a single-feature of Duncan Jones's fantastic Moon, while Thursday night's 7pm screening of Heavy Metal leads into a "Rock Band" gaming event at 10pm (PAX East starts the next day, and "Mental Machines" continues through next weekend). The theater is closed Monday, and a special screening of Left on Pearl: Women Take Over 888 Memorial Drive, Cambridge on Sunday afternoon is sold out.

  • Things remain more or less status quo at the Coolidge, with just a little bit of reshuffling. Inside Job is now playing on film rather than video, while Another Year moves entirely to the video screening room. Maniac has its last weekend of midnights (I could have sworn that the monthly showing of The Room was this Saturday, but I don't see it on the Coolidge's slick new website). There are a couple of special screenings on Thursday the 10th - video artist Liza Johnson lectures and presents a set of short films in one house, while writer/director John Cregan will present Devolved, which looks like a teen comedy take on Lord of the Flies.

  • ArtsEmerson has another interesting weekend planned, with Tom Kingdon in town on Friday to introduce John Cassavetes's Faces (which will be followed by a short of Kingdon's own). The Saturday afternoon show is The Muppets Take Manhattan, the last feature Muppet movie made with the original group of Muppeteers, introducing the Muppet Babies and ending on one of the most long-awaited weddings in pop-culture history. The rest of the weekend is given over to documentaries about rural life - The Inheritors twice on Saturday night, focusing on the lives of Mexican children who must work just as hard as their parents to survive, and what looks like a sprawling Chinese documentary, Ghost Town, on Sunday. It's a look at a tiny village in Southwestern China being left behind as the nation changes

  • At the MFA, New Latin American Cinema continues, with Norberto's Deadline, a comedy from Uruguay playing Friday afternoon (4 March) and Wednesday evening (9 March), joining the line-up from last week (Colombia's Crab Trap and Chile's Lucia continue). Also playing Friday and Saturday are selections from Jewishfilm.2011 - one Friday, three Saturday, and one final screening next Friday.

  • On Sunday and Monday, the Harvard Film Archive wraps up last week's Yilmaz G├╝ney retrospective with two from 1974 - The Friend on Sunday the 6th and The Poor on Monday the 7th. On Friday and Saturday night they present Hollis Frampton's Hapax Legomena, which looks to be an unusual combination of spoken-word and silent pieces.

  • The ICA has an experimental program as well, the 2011 edition of The International Experimental Cinema Exposition at 6pm on Saturday (the 5th). It's presented in two parts, the first being the best from around the world, the second being Boston filmmakers, all shorts presented in 16mm. They also have screenings of the Oscar-nominated shorts for animation and live action on Saturday and Sunday (the programs also continue at Kendall Square and the Coolidge).

  • It's too late for anyone else to buy tickets, but The Alloy Orchestra makes their annual visit to the Somerville Theater with Metropolis on Saturday. Kind of mean to include this, I suppose, but hey - I've been waiting a year to see this after realizing I'd be out of town when the movie opened at the Coolidge last May, even if I have seen the movie twice with other soundtracks (and purchased the Blu-ray) in the meantime. So I'm psyched.

  • The second-run shuffle this week has Barney's Version leaving Kendall Square and moving to the Arlington Capitol (in what they describe as their "small screening room") with True Grit (presumably in a larger theater). The Coens' remake also opens at Stuart Street, where it shares the screen with Blue Valentine (guess which movies didn't win any Oscars and thus are getting pushed out of the multiplexes!).

  • Though I generally focus on the new releases in this column, it's worth mentioning a few smaller bookings with unusual staying power: Mooz-lum gets another week at Boston Common, Oxy-Morons continues in Revere (although it is now playing evening shows only), and 7 Khoon Maaf enters its third week at Fresh Pond.

My plans: Probably Barney's Version on the way home from work tomorrow (today? man, I need to hit the hay!), Evangelion 2.0 because I'm a sucker for punishment and the action in the first one was pretty good, Metropolis because the Alloy Orchestra is not to be missed, and somehow fit Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, Kaboom, and some Mental Machine action in between. After a month or so of not really being enthused, it's a crazy-looking week!

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