Friday, April 15, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 15 April 2011 - 21 April 2011

It's actually a pretty quiet week at the theaters. Is it not school vacation week in other states, or just in Maine and Massachusetts where we have the Patriot's Day thing going on?

  • I suppose you could say that there are two major openings this week and two-semi-major ones. Among the majors, Rio is the most recent animated picture from Fox and Blue Sky (best known for the Ice Age movies); it features a last-male-of-his-kind bird (who never learned to fly) sent to Rio to breed with the last female. Hijinks ensue. Blue Sky doesn't get quite as much ink as Pixar or DreamWorks/PDI, but they do have a consistently decent track record.

    Number two is Scream 4, which has me hoping for good things, because I do like the previous entries in the series, and nobody involved has really had great things in their career since. Still, the previews make me wonder if Craven, Williamson, et al really had more to say or if this is just a way for them to remind the world that they exist.

  • And then there's Atlas Shrugged: Part 1. Supposedly, it's the first of a trilogy adapting Ayn Rand's mammoth novel, but IMDB doesn't list any information on Parts 2 and/or 3. The trailer didn't knock me over, either, so I'm wondering if Rand's core fanbase is enough to get the next two parts into production. It opens at Kendall Square, Fenway, and Boston Common.

    Also among the tweeners is The Conspirator, which opens at Kendall Square and Boston Common. Robert Redford directs Robin Wright Penn as a woman who is accused of sheltering Lincoln's assassins. It's an interesting subject, from a company whose aim is apparently to produce accurate retellings of American history, but it seems odd to see Redford working outside the studio system - and odd that this should seem odd, given that he's the guy behind Sundance and all they've done for independent film.

  • Also opening at Kendall Square are two foreign films. Perhaps the most noteworthy is In a Better World, the Academy Award winner for best foreign language feature. It's about a Danish doctor who splits his time between an African war zone and a small town back home; guess which one is more potentially treacherous. Also opening is Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), a quiet meditation on "four-fold transmigration", the idea that the soul passes between human, animal, plant, and mineral forms.

  • The Coolidge doesn't shake much up this week, but does add a "Nine Nation Animation" program to the digital screening rooms. It's ninety minutes of festival award-winning shorts from around the world (My Perestroika, Orgasm Inc., and Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune also share these two screens). The 1980s midnight series continues with Red Dawn tonight and tomorrow night; The Room joins it at midnight for its monthly screening on Saturday. Sunday morning, the Goethe-Institut presents Autumn Gold, a German documentary about people striving for a gold medal in track and field - in the 80-100-year age bracket. On Wednesday the 20th, there will be a screening of short films from the first ten years of the 48 Hour Film Project; 5 of the 15 came from the Boston competitions. And on Thursday the 21st, Coolidge members can see a free preview of Morgan Spurlock's The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, courtesy of the Nantucket Film Festival.

  • Also featuring animation this week is the Museum of Fine Arts, which begins an "Animation Celebration" program on Wednesday with a screening of Summer Wars; later that evening and on Thursday the 21st, the program will feature Piercing I, billed as the first independently-produced animated feature from China, about a college graduate trying to head back to his rural home after all manner of setbacks in the city.

    Before that, though, are a couple of holdovers from last week: Mercedes Alvarez's documentary The Sky Turns, and the remaining three days of the museum's first annual Hollywood Scriptures program, which feature a film followed by a one-hour panel discussion. Lebanon is showing Friday, Armadillo on Saturday, and War Don Don closes the series out on Sunday.

    Another quick series runs this weekend, New South Asian Film. Friday night is Life! Camera, Action..., about an Indian-American woman who wants to make movies; Saturday is Cooking with Stella, about a Canadian cook in New Delhi; and Sunday is Bicycle Bride, about a woman who falls for a Swedish immigrant despite her family's plans for an arranged marriage.

  • The Brattle doesn't feature animation, but they do present something in the same spirit, with a Jim Henson Weekend. Friday and Monday, there's a double feature of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal; Sunday afternoon and evening, there's a TRIPLE feature: The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Kids and families may also want to come to the Brattle on Saturday, with a kids music show at 11am featuring Elizabeth Mitchell and special guest Barbara Brousal. Another music show runs that evening, New York City's Ida.

    No shows Tuesday, but Wednesday and Thursday are a True Grit double feature. John Wayne and Kim Darby have the 7pm show on Wednesday, with Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges before and/or after; the order is reversed on Thursday.

  • The Harvard Film Archive welcomes Kurdish director Bahman Gobadi this weekend; he will introduce and take questions on Saturday (No One Knows About Persian Cats, which is pretty great) and Sunday (A Time for Drunken Horses, his first film). Also showing as part of the retrospective are Turtles Can Fly and Marooned in Iraq on Friday and Half Moon on Monday. On Tuesday, VES has a screening of Persepolis (not Gobadi's, but another story of Iran); on Wednesday they show The Passion of Joan of Arc.

  • Whoa, more Iran? ArtsEmerson is presenting Offside tonight as part of the Boston Muslim Film Festival. It's about a group of female soccer fans who disguise themselves as boys sneak into a soccer match, only to be caught and detained in a holding area where they can here the crowd but not see the game. The film was banned in Iran, and director Jafar Panahi was arrested during the December protests and sentenced to six years in prison and a twenty year ban on making films, writing scripts, giving interviews, or traveling abroad.

    Saturday night, the program features two films by Andy Warhol - "Hedy" and "The Velvet Underground in Boston". Sunday night's screening is The Far Side of the Moon, a surreal movie directed by and starring Robert Lepage as quarreling brothers. Lepage will be presenting something called "The Andersen Project" on stage at the Paramount later in the year, which ties into the Saturday Afternoon family film, Hans Christian Andersen, featuring Danny Kaye as the famous storyteller.

  • Saturday afternoon, the Stuart Street Playhouse presents the 4th Annual Moving Images Film Festival, a program of films "by and about those with disabilities". Temple Grandin plays at noon, the short "When I'm Not Alone" at 2:45, and the documentary Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia at 3:45. The first two will be captioned and feature panel discussions afterward.

  • The Boston International Film Festival opens tonight at AMC Boston Common, and you're welcome to try and extract any information you can from their terrible website. I may try to make it out there for Ay Luv Yu tonight, just because I want to know how Steve Guttenberg shows up in a Turkish romantic comedy. The festival runs through the 24th.

  • Another festival is going on at the Arlington Capitol, the Boston International Kids' FIlm Festival. The bulk of the program is matinees from Saturday the 16th to Thursday the 21st, but there is an opening night screening of To Kill a Mockingbird tonight at 7pm. If you've got kids and the afternoon free, it looks like there's quite a bit of good stuff there (including Summer Wars and The Secret of Kells).

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington has "Sing-Along Grease" this week, every night at 7pm (except Saturday), a 2pm matinee on Sunday, and a 10:30am show on Wednesday. Enjoy, people who like singing along to things!

  • The second-run shuffle has Insidious and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules moving over to Somerville, one playing evenings and the other matinees (not a bad plan during school vacation week). The Lincoln Lawyer opens at the Arlington Capitol, and The King's Speech pops up at the Stuart Street Playhouse (which also keep Poetry), although there are no shows tonight (Friday the 8th).

My plans? Well... Baseball! I've got tickets for the Sunday and Monday afternoon Red Sox games, and I honestly feel pretty good about them (the losing can't go on forever; this is too good a team). I will probably try and see Scream 4 and Rio at some point, along with the animation programs at the Coolidge and MFA.

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