Friday, March 18, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 18 March 2011 - 24 March 2011

What we have here is a week in which I clearly have to stop whining about how my new commute messes with my moviegoing and start finding ways to work around it, because there's a ton of stuff that looks like it might be worth seeing and a clear reason not to put it off.

  • Of all the nifty things opening this week, I'm probably most excited for I Saw the Devil, the movie with the one-week warning at Kendall Square. It's the new thriller by Kim Ji-won, who did the excellent A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Here he reunites with the star of the last two, Lee Byun-hun, as an obsessed detective who digs deep into his own dark side while chasing a serial killer (played by Oldboy's Choi Min-sik). Director Kim makes great movies, and this one is said to be dark even by Korean revenge thriller standards. It's only booked for one week, so don't miss it.

    At the end of the week, Kendall will play host to the Boston Underground Film Festival, which starts on Thursday the 24th and runs for a week thereafter. The opening night film is Hobo with a Shotgun, which started as a fake trailer made in a contest to promote Snakes on a Plane and became enough of an internet sensation to spawn this feature starring Rutger Hauer as, shall we say, an avenger who literally has nothing to lose.

    Also opening this week at the Kendall are Of Gods and Men, in which a group of French monks must decide whether or not to leave their monastery in war-torn Algeria; and Kill the Irishman, a true-crime story starring Ray Stevenson and a whole bunch of recognizable names/faces (Val Kilmer! Vinnie Jones! Vincent D'onofrio! Christopher Walken! Linda Cardellini!). And, oh, yes, two screens for Jane Eyre.

  • Jane Eyre also opens up at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Early on, its previews and advertising got some negative buzz from English lit crowds for making it look like a horror movie, but I've got to admit - it's some of the most effective advertising for a period/literary classic I've ever seen. An impressive cast (Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Judy Dench, Michael Fassbender) and direction by Sin Nombre's Cary Fukunaga doesn't seem to hurt, either.

    The midnight show Friday and Saturday is a no-doubter horror movie - a spiffy new print of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Even though the sequels are likely better known and more popular, calling this one "the ultimate experience in grueling horror" wasn't just tongue-in-cheek; it's a tense, well-executed example of the genre that is actually able to benefit from its raw young director and cast. There are also a couple of preview screenings on tap: Monday the 21st's "Science on Screen" feature of Transcendent Man with director Barry Ptolemy and subject Ray Kurzweil has already sold out of pre-sales, but there will be some on sale at the box office (free for Coolidge members) on Monday. Thursday night features a preview of Orgasm Inc., a documentary on the search for a "woman's Viagra" which played last year's Independent Film Festival Boston and opens for regular screenings on the 25th. Filmmaker Liz Canner and several others will bet here for a Q&A after the movie on the 24th.

  • Three movies get wide releases today, all of which at least look to have potential. Paul, for instance, features the team of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the leads, and since only sad, humorless people don't like Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, that's a good start. Now, to be fair, this one is directed by Greg Molotta rather than Edgar Wright, and by its nature is going to feature a lot of nerd comedy (two Brits on a road trip to ComicCon meet up with a real alien), so it may not be for everyone.

    The other science fiction-ish wide release is Limitless, which plays to one of the more obnoxious pseudo-science things that people keep repeating despite there being little evidence ("we only use 10% of our brains; imagine if we could unlock it all!"). Still, it's got Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro, which is also a good start, and if the filmmakers can handle superintelligence well (and creating a capable character more intelligent than oneself without giving him an obvious psychological blind spot is one of the hardest things for a writer to do), it could be something pretty impressive.

    A more conventional thriller opens as well in The Lincoln Lawyer, with Matthew McConaughey starring as a lawyer who works out of the back of his car possibly getting in over his head with his latest case. It looks like a solid mystery/crime story, it's got a pretty great supporting cast, and McConaughey can be pretty good when he's on his game.

  • Over at Boston Common, they've got a few other screens to fill out, including a day-and-date premiere for China's The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman. It is, arguably, the thing a lot of us have been waiting for since China Lion started doing these same-day releases in the USA: A big, crazy action movie, with people punching and kicking and chopping at each other with swords and knives (the thing that China does better than pretty much anybody else), and I gather this is more quirky and stylized than many period epics. 20th Century Fox and Doug Liman are "presenting" it, and if that gets people in the door, great.

    Also opening is I Will Follow, a drama about a grieving woman starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Ebert likes it, and the bottom of his review mentions that it's part of a series, the "African Film Festival Releasing Movement", placing these movies directly in theaters without a studio (I think it may be another AMC-supported series).

    And, finally, they've got Lord of the Dance 3D for a week, which actually opened yesterday and is also plalying one show a day at Fenway (though at 4:25pm). It's easy to joke about Lord of the Dance, but you know what? It's replacing Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D on most screens. Take that as you will - improvement, same thing/different demographic, whatever.

  • The Brattle and Harvard Film Archive each continue their celebrations of Famous French Film Folks. At the Brattle, it's a week of Belle Toujours: The Films of Catherine Deneuve - A Christmas Tale and The Hunger (digital) Friday, 8 Women (digital) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for a musical double feature on Saturday, Time Regained on Monday, Dancer in the Dark on Tuesday, and a double feature of Repulsion and Belle de Jour on Wednesday. The Harvard Film Archive presents more Murderous Art of Claude Chabrol, with This Man Must Die and Betty on Friday, Le Boucher and Innocents with Dirty Hands on Saturday, and Story of Women on Sunday. Color me kind of shocked that these two series don't intersect anywhere, but the pair only worked together once.

    The Archive also features Promised Lands by Susan Sontag on Monday night (the 21st), while the Brattle has a sold-out Henry Rollings show on Sunday night and the Boston Cinema Census, showcasing recent locally-produced films, on Thursday (the 24th).

  • The MFA began their Francophone Film Festival last night, and it continues through next Friday, with eight different films from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Haiti, Tunisia, Chad, and Mali.

  • The ICA brings back the Oscar-nominated short films for animation and live action for matinees on Saturday (the 19th).

  • The Regent Theatre wll have Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny, a documentary by Richard Trank, Monday the 21st through Thursday the 24th. After the film, historian Daniel J. Moulton will be answering questions.

  • Saturday and Sunday (the 19th-20th), the Somerville Theatre offers a double feature of Robocop and The Terminator on their big screen. It's two days only (tonight, the room is used for a concert), with Blue Valentine reclaiming a screen on Monday. AMC, meanwhile, will be digitally projecting Taxi Driver in their Harvard Square and Boston Common theaters on Saturday the 19th and Tuesday the 22nd.

  • The second-run shuffle is quiet this week, with Stuart Street adding Biutiful to its daily screenings of True Grit and Inside Job. They also host the opening night of Irish Film Festival Boston on Thursday the 24th with Parked, featuring Colm Meaney as a man living out of his car whose life turns around when a young man in a similar situation parks next to him. The Irish Fest will continue through next weekend at the Somerville Theatre.

  • And, finally, the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film will have their annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday (the 20th). 5pm at the Brattle Theatre, with Larry Fessenden on hand to receive an award for all he's done for independent film - both highbrow (Wendy and Lucy) and horror (The Last Winter, etc.). The members vote on the awards, and I'm one, so there will be at least some small amount of sanity to the process. It's a fun, laid-back event that Boston fans of independent film should enjoy.

My plans? I Saw the Devil tonight is non-negotiable (and with the 8:10 start time, work would have to screw me over but good for me to miss it), and I will likely go for The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman, Paul, and some Chabrol tomorrow. The Lincoln Lawyer will be in there somewhere, as I got in on those $6 Fandango tickets on Groupon (sorry, it's expired), and I may wind up doing two movies a night at Kendall Square to catch up before BUFF eats next week.

And Thursday is nasty - I've already got my BUFF pass, but if I get any inkling that Hobo with a Shotgun will play Boston elsewhere, I might head to Stuart Street for Parked instead. This "two festivals in one weekend" thing wasn't funny when Boston International Film Festival decided to overlap with IFFBoston, and it's not terribly amusing now.

1 comment:

Hank Moody said...

Yeah, I have really got to watch I Saw the Devil...