Friday, May 06, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 6 May 2011 - 11 May 2011

There's going to be some tooth-gnashing about how summer movie season has started and now it's time for non-stop sequels, remakes, and comic book adaptations (especially after Universal self-awarely pushed the start back to late April in the advertising for Fast Five), and while that's not entirely undeserved, this is really one of the most downright odd movie weeks I've seen in a while. The big 3-D comic book movie is by a guy best known for Shakespeare, the boutique cinema has new movies starring Kevin Kline (where he speaks French) and Mel Gibson (where he speaks through a puppet), the multiplex has a Werner Herzog documentary (in 3D), there's a German zombie movie popping up, and the remake is Takashi Miike with samurai.

  • The big, big opening this week is Marvel's Thor, with 3D, digital, IMAX... the works. I'm more than a bit excited about this, because it's got a darn good cast - I liked Chris Hemsworth in Star Trek, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman are usually pretty solid, and there are folks like Kat Dennings, Colm Feore, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, and Tadanobu Asano in the supporting cast. I love Kenneth Branagh.

    And, really, how crazy is it that there's a Thor movie directed by Kenneth Branagh with that crazy cast, that looks like the production designers have gone full Kirby? When Iron Man came out, I wondered at how, when DC couldn't get their big-name heroes into movies, Marvel made Iron Man, whose fame doesn't really extend outside the comic shop, a big deal. And Thor is less well-known as a superhero (even considering the references in Adventures in Babysitting). Marvel has been really clever about putting together good cast and crews with their comics - I'm really looking forward to Captain America, and wish they could get the rights to Fantastic Four back. They've also been clever with the marketing, pushing how it appeals to women, and despite the Nordic origins, Thor has surprisingly broad appeal (as in, you'd be surprised how many African-American and Latino people go for the comics).

    As for what it's going to cost at its various venues, let's go to the grid:

    ScreenPrice (before noon)Price (afternoon)Price (evening)
    Fresh Pond, digital/RealD 3-DN/A$9.00$12.00
    Arlington Capitol, Digital 3-DN/A(Mon-Fri) $9.00$11.50
    (Sat-Sun) $10.00
    AMC Harvard Square, 35mm$6.00$8.00$10.00
    AMC Harvard Square, digital 3-DN/A (likely $9.00)$11.00$13.00
    AMC Boston Common, 35mmN/A (likely $6.00)$9.50$11.50
    AMC Boston Common, digital 3-D$10.00$13.50$15.50
    AMC Boston Common, IMAX Digital 3-D$12.00$15.50$17.50
    Regal Fenway, 35mm$9.00$9.00$11.50
    Regal Fenway, digital 3-D$13.00$13.00$15.50
    Regal Fenway, RPX 3-D$13.50$13.50$16.00

  • The studios are going to give counter-programming the old college try, though. Something Borrowed is a chick flick with Ginnifer Godwin as the nice girl who meets a nice guy (Colin Egglesfield) only to have her best friend (Kate Hudson) scoop him up. I've seen the trailer about a dozen times, and it looks inoffensive enough, although quite generic. There's also Jumping the Brrom, with two families from different social classes gathering for a wedding; Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine, Meagan Good, Mike Epps, and Romeo Miller star.

    Boston Common fills their theaters out with a few smaller releases. There Be Dragons is writer/director Roland Joffé's with a journalist investigating a would-be saint during the Spanish Civil War. It's got some interesting people involved - Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, and Geraldine Chaplin - but, wow, Joffé's reputation seems to have just gone steadily downhill since The Killing Fields. There's also The Beaver, which stars Mel Gibson as a family man trying to deal with clinical depression who takes to dealing with people via a hand puppet. Gibson has a bunch of baggage, but he can be a great actor, and this looks like some of his best work.

    One of the 3D screens there will be showing Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which should be a real treat - Herzog makes great documentaries, and here he'll be using 3D photography to bring us inside France's Chauvet Caves for an up close and personal look at the world's oldest known pictures drawn by human hands. This seems to be a last-minute shuffle - it's not listed on Google's movie page and the 2D version was originally scheduled to open at Landmark in Cambridge, but now I'm seeing no sign of it there.

    And, remember that Bloody-Disgusting Selects series that was announced a few months back? It starts this week, with Rammbock (aka Berlin Undead), a German zombie movie from last year. It apparently opened on Wednesday, and is playing twice a week for the next month - Wednesdays at 10pm and Fridays at midnight - when it will be replaced by the next film in the series. It appears to be extremely short - roughly an hour - so it won't keep you up too late.

  • The Beaver also opens at Kendall Square, which has a genuinely exciting slate of films opening. 13 Assassins, for instance, is fresh off its win of the Audience Award at IFFBoston, and it looks like a cracker - though Takashi Miike is known for his strange, even grotesque, work, even when doing family movies, by all accounts this is straight-ahead samurai action. As much as I like his screwy stuff, there have been times when it seemed to get in the way of just doing a great action movie; and I'm looking forward to seeing if this one delivers.

    Another notable director with a new movie out is Kelly Reichardt with Meek's Cutoff. She reunites with Michelle Williams for a story of settlers moving into Oregon, likely led astray by their guide and not sure whether they can trust the native who offers to lead them. Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano and Shirley Henderson make for a heck of a cast.

    The one-week warning is for Queen to Play (aka Joueuse). It's a French comedy with Sandrine Bonnaire as a chambermaid who discovers an aptitude for chess and Kevin Kline as the American who tutors her. Kline is always worth watching, and I believe he speaks French fairly well, so this should at least be interesting.

  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre has another indie opening, Beautiful Darling, a documentary by James Rasin about Candy Darling, a transgendered actress who rose to fame in Andy Warhol's Factory but died young. It's split between two screens, the small digital "Goldscreen" during the afternoon and screen two in the evenings.

    They also kick off a new series of midnight shows, a month of bloody Asian thrillers, with Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil. It's pretty fantastic, and the later movies in the series (Oldboy and Dream Home) aren't bad either. It plays midnights on Friday the 6th and Saturday the 7th; Saturday midnight options also include "The Taunting", a burlesque show featuring the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts. If your tastes run a little more toward the wholesome, there's a Saturday morning screening of the original animated version of Charlotte's Web.

    And on Tuesday, the festivities for the annual Coolidge Award begin. This year, rather than presenting the award to an individual, the Coolidge Foundation honors film preservation with programs throughout the week. Tuesday night there is a screening of These Amazing Shadows, a documentary on the American Film Registry, with an introduction by the co-director and a panel discussion after the film. Wednesday brings a panel discussion on "Film Restoration and Access in the Digital Age" in the afternoon and a screening of All About Eve in the evening.

  • The Museum of Fine Arts and Brattle Theatre will both be the venues for the 27th Annual Boston LGBT Film Festival; it runs through the 15th at both locations; there's also a screening of Go Go Crazy at the Machine dance club on the 11th.

    The MFA will also feature various compilations of short films: On Friday, a program of Boston College Senior Thesis projects will run at 1:30pm. On Thursday the 12th, the half-hour "Dave Chihuly in Action" will run continuously in the Alfond Auditorium as part of their Chihuly exhibit. Thursday evening will also include a program of short animated films by the 2011 graduates of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

  • Another short program will play at the ICA at 3pm on the afternoons of Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th; New England Animators features 24 animated short films by local filmmakers. There will be guests on both days, with filmmaker Joel Frenzer on Saturday and Rhode Island School of Design professor Amy Kravitz on Sunday.

  • Only two films at Emerson's Paramount Theater this weekend, but they're both notable. Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train plays Friday and Saturday night, followed by chapter 7 of Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema. Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening bring screenings of West Side Story, in part to promote a Boston Ballet presentation of works choreographed by George Balanchine and West Side Story choreographer Jerome Robbins.

  • The Harvard Film Archive has Nicolás Pereda in person this weekend; the young Mexican director will introduce his films on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night; another pair of films will play Monday the 9th, although he is not scheduled to attend.

  • The second-run scene is relatively quiet this week (pending Stuart Street's always-late listings); Somerville picks up Source Code and the Capitol in Arlington picks up African Cats

My plans? I'm thinking a horror 2-fer at Boston Common on Friday with Scream 4 (wow, that cleared out of theaters fast!) and Rammbock, and then probably Thor and Cave of Forgotten Dreams on Saturday. Maybe Fast Five after seeing a ballgame with my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces on Sunday. Some time will be spent at Kendall Square during the week with 13 Assassins, Meek's Cutoff, and Game to Play.

In short, it's going to be a crazy-fun week at the movies.

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