Thursday, March 24, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 24 March 2011 - 31 March 2011

It's festival time! Two noteworthy festivals begin in Boston tonight (well, one in Boston and the other in Cambridge, and the one in Boston soon moves to Somerville, but you get the general idea), and unfortunately it's hard to make both of them, let alone the other worthwhile things playing this weekend.

  • The bigger festival is The Boston Underground Film Festival, in its lucky thirteenth year. The annual orgy of strange and transgressive cinema will be occupying to screens at Kendall Square, and it's actually possible to see every feature there with a little effort - the only things not having repeat showings are today's opening night screening of Hobo with a Shotgun and Lucky McKee's The Woman on Friday (the 25th). Other notable features (to me, at least) are Indonesian exploitation documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed (paired with an example of the genre, Twilight People); Chop, from the writer of Deadgirl; two bits of madness from Japanese cult directors in the shape of Sion Sono's Cold Fish and Yoshihiro Nishimura's Helldriver; recent Chlotrudis honoree Larry Fessenden presenting (and appearing in) James McKenney's Satan Hates You; and Argentinian post-apocalyptic dark comedy Phase7.

    Some of these may not seem totally underground - Phase7, for instance, comes pretty directly from SXSW - but few are likely to show theatrically elsewhere, and the environment can be raucous. For a festival of its size, it's extremely well-run, with a well-thought-out schedule and a great option for those who would like to see a lot of movies for not a lot of money (the $35 "recession special" pass, which gets you into all the encores from Monday the 28th to Thursday the 31st). The films themselves may not be for everyone, but many are surprisingly good.

  • The other festival this weekend is Irish FIlm Festival Boston, which opens tonight (Thursday the 24th) with Parked at the Stuart Street Playhouse before moving to the Somerville Theatre for Friday through Sunday. If you're going, be careful with your schedule; its shows sometimes have about ten minutes of turnaround time in between, which means one starting late can mess up the rest of the day.

  • Just to potentially confuse matters, Kendall Square adds White Irish Drinkers to Kill the Irishman on its marquee. Writer/director John Gray will be introducing/QA-ing the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon shows, but remember - the festival at Kendall is the Underground. Irish is in Boston and Somerville.

  • Also opening at Kendall Square and the Coolidge Corner Theatre is Win Win, a Sundance comedy starring Paul Giamatti about a part-time high school wrestling coach who thinks he has found a way to parlay that into a payday. It's got a nice supporting cast, too, including Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey, Jeffrey Tambor, and Bobby Cannavale.

    The Coolidge also opens Orgasm Inc., a documentary about shady goings-on at a pharmaceutical company searching for a Viagra for women. A "classic" intersection of horror and blaxploitation plays midnights Friday and Saturday with Blacula. The Goethe-Institut Sunday morning movie is Mahler on the Couch, a comedy about the composer driven to consult Sigmund Freud over his wife's infidelities. And Monday night, there is a special presentation of Gen Silent, a locally-produced documentary about homosexual elders facing a return to the closet in order to get by in the assisted living system.

  • It's a relatively quiet week in the mainstream theaters, with just two new releases. Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch gets a whole bunch of screens, including most of the premiums. It's certainly spiffy-looking, with every frame looking like it was taken out of an exceptionally cool comic; whether there's steak to the sizzle - or just cheesecake - seems to be a different question. For the kids, the adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules appears pretty close to exactly one year after the movie of the first, but what can you do - there's five books in the series and kids grow up so quick. Boston Common also picks up Jane Eyre on a pair of screens, and reduces The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman to one show a day (at an awkward 5:10pm at that).

  • The Brattle, Harvard Film Archive, and ArtsEmerson seem to be handing things off between each other during the coming week. First, the Archive will have Aaron Katz in town on Friday and Saturday; he'll introduce his new film, Cold Weather on Friday and a double feature of his two previous films, Dance Party, USA and Quiet City; the Brattle opens Cold Weather on Wednesday for a five-day run that stretches to Sunday April 3rd. I'm looking forward to this one; Quiet City was pretty good and Cold Weather is described as having a big Sherlock Holmes influence.

    With Katz at the Archive, the Claude Chabrol series moves to the Paramount Theater on Friday and Saturday, with 2004's The Bridesmaid and 1970's La Rupture playing both nights (but not, I don't think, as a double feature). The series concludes Sunday evening back at the Archive, with 1975's Pleasure Party.

    Before it gets Cold Weather, the Brattle has a set of interesting screenings. Friday through Sunday, they will alternate a new print of Sally Potter's gender-bending fantasy Orland with early and late screenings of Black Swan. On Monday, Independent Film Festival Boston hosts a special (and free!) preview of Super, James Gunn's comedy about a loser who becomes a superhero to impress his girlfriend; Gunn will be there for your edification and interrogation. And on Tuesday, the DocYard has director Darius Marder on-hand with Loot, a documentary about World War II vets who stole and hid treasures during their service and the amateur treasure hunter helping them to recover them.

    ArtsEmerson sticks to the classics for their family-friendly Saturday afternoon show, with a pairing of Albert Lamorisse's "The Red Baloon" and "White Mane". On Sunday night, they present their regular Avant-Garde Showcase; "Images of Nature, or The Nature of the Image: Canadian Artists at Work", eighty minutes of experimental short films culled from forty years of Canadian explorations of film and the environment.

    Which just leaves the Archive, who on Monday will have visiting lecturer Dominique Cabrera in person for Folle Embellie, in which a French asylum is evacuated as German troops approach during World War II. Their schedule also lists Ross McElwee present during a VES screening of Bright Leaves on Tuesday the 29th; no guests are expected for Teinosuke Kinugasa's A Page of Madness on Wednesday, which is to be expected, as it is a Japanese silent film from 1927.

  • The MFA wraps up their Francophone Film Festival Friday night (the 25th), but starts the Boston Turkish Film Festival tonight. Twelve different features an a collection of short films will screen intermittently between now and 10 April. There will also be screenings of Mahler on the Couch on Saturday, rescheduled from two weeks previously (the tickets from 11 March screening will be honored), and Bill Cunningham New York, a preview screening of a documentary on the 80-year-old fashion photographer.

  • It's a bit out of the way for car-less people like me, but the Monogamy opens at the West Newton Cinema. It's about a wedding photographer who starts a service in which people hire him to stalk them. Odd. It's only playing two shows a day out there in the suburbs, so it's really being buried. Also out in the burbs, Oxy-Morons continues its unlike run, down to one show a day at 10pm (and weekend midnights) at the Showcase Cinema in Revere.

  • Stuart Street hasn't put their schedule for tomorrow out yet, so the second-run shuffle looks pretty small - Biutiful opens at the Arlington Capitol.

My schedule is pretty simple - I'm at BUFF all week. Say hi if you see me, though I likely won't recognize you. I may try and catch one of the early shows at Boston Common on Saturday or Sunday, or use the open day in my schedule on Wednesday for something else, but I suspect sleep will be a more attractive option.

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