Thursday, May 19, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 20 May 2011 - 25 May 2011

Seriously, Hollywood? One wide release this weekend? I know it's a popular franchise, but... really? No counter-programming at all, except for those of us that missed Bridesmaids last week?

  • So, instead, let's look at what's coming out of China, the source for a fair amount of entertainment playing the Boston area this week. The Brattle gives most of the weekend over to not-quite-local-but-we'll-claim-him-as-our-own Donnie Yen, whose latest, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, has him as the masked vigilante of the title, fighting for justice in 1930s Shanghai. It's a part most famously played by Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury (this version clearly tips its hat to Lee's time as Kato on The Green Hornet< as well), but which Yen has also played before, on a TV series back in the 1990s. It plays Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but check the schedule, as the times vary from day to day.

    This is in part to make room for a Saturday afternoon double feature of more Donnie Yen martial arts action somewhat connected to Bruce Lee, as he takes on the part of the man who taught Lee wing chun in Ip Man and Ip Man 2. There's some pretty amazing action in these pictures - Wilson Yip directs and Sammo Hung choreographs the martial arts (and squares off against Yen in the sequel). The first is flat-out fantastic, and while the second only really suffers when compared to its predecessor. (Note that according to the Brattle's site, all but Ip Man 2 appear to be digital projection.)

    If you like Chinese movies but don't feel like a whole lot of punching and kicking, the latest day-and-date release from China Lion, A Beautiful Life, opens at Boston Common Friday night. There's not a lot of information to be found about it in English, but it appears to be a romantic comedy/drama starring Shu Qi (who also co-stars in Legend of the Fist), and one of those - If You Were the One 2 - has thus far been the importer's biggest success in North America. It might well be worth a look; Shu Qi certainly manages the "beautiful" part well enough.

  • The Brattle also has a couple other things programmed. On Wednesday the 25th and Thursday the 26th, they will have Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, an interesting film by famed Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul about a man dying of kidney failure who opts to spend the time he has left with family - living and dead. Very odd, but pretty good. Sunday night, the Alaska Wilderness League presents a simulcast of Bears of the Last Frontier, an episode of PBS's nature series focusing on the bears of Alaska's North Slope. And on Tuesday, acclaimed author China MiĆ©ville will read from his new book Embassytown at 6pm and introduce a screening of Jan Svankmajer's Alice (a retelling of Alice in Wonderland in Svankmajer's surreal style) at 8pm.

  • Three new movies open at Landmark Kendall Square. The one-week warning is for Blank City, a documentary about underground cinema in 1970s New York, back when Manhattan was less gentrified and independent cinema didn't have a national network getting its pictures into major theaters.

    Going from 20th-century New York to 16th Century France, we see The Princess of Montpensier, a story about a beautiful woman in love with one man, promised to another, and placed in the care of a third. It looks like a grand-scale period melodrama, and it's getting exceptional reviews that promise a contemporary pleaser rather than a stodgy period piece.

    The First Grader, on the other hand, takes place in contemporary Kenya. It's the story of an eighty-year-old man who, now that the country he fought for long ago is offering free education, would dearly like to learn to read. It looks like a warm crowd-pleaser.

  • The Coolidge's new releases will be a bit familiar from the last few weeks, although they become a little more accessible. Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams has been playing at Boston Common, for instance, but if 3D gives you a headache, you can now see it on flat 35mm film. They'll also be giving a one-week run in the digital rooms to These Amazing Shadows, a documentary on film preservation that was part of their Coolidge Award festivities a week ago.

    The midnight show this weekend is Dream Home, a not-perfect but extremely bloody (especially in this uncut version) tale of a woman who will do anything to get an apartment in an exclusive Hong Kong building. It's pretty good, although it's kind of strange that there are enough older horror fans that they are now making movies about the high cost of home ownership.

    There's also a special screening on Wednesday the 25th of Eric Metzgar's Reporter, which follows New York Times reporter Nicolas Krisof during the summer of 2007, when he went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and reported on the dangerous poverty and violence there. A student and a teacher also shadowed him, and the student, Leena Wen, will be there to introduce the film.

  • You may have heard about Tree of Life getting booed at Cannes, but that's just France for you. Those curious about its iconoclastic director's earlier work can catch up with three of his four previous features with ArtsEmerson's Terrence Malick retrospective at the Paramount Theater - Badlands and Days of Heaven both play Friday and Saturday night; The New World plays Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening.

  • The Harvard Film Archive continues its look at the careers of mother Sharmila Tagore and daughter Soha Ali Khan in Two Generations in Indian Cinema. Soha Ali Kahn will be appearing in person on Saturday the 21st to introduce and discuss 2006's Bollywood hit Rang de Basanti, and also plays in Khoya khoya chand on Friday the 20th. Sharmila Tagore will also be in town, introducing and discussing Satyajit Ray's Days and Nights in the Forest on Sunday the 22nd; she also appears in The Goddess on Friday and The Hero on Monday the 23rd (both also directed by Ray).

  • At the MFA, the Global Lens Film Series continues, with encore screenings of Dooman River and The Invisible Eye on Friday, along with Kyrgyzstan's The Light Thief (Friday and Saturday), Iran's White Meadows (Saturday and Sunday), Brazil's The Tenants (Saturday and Sunday), and Uruguay's A Useful Life (Sunday and Wednesday).

  • The Somerville Theatre's "microcinema" will be playing Inventory, an independent comedy produced on the South Shore for the next three Friday nights (20 May, 27 May, and 3 June). It's a slacker comedy with Clerks and The Breakfast Club DNA about slackers who are supposed to be counting the stock at a local furniture store. Somerville also opens Win Win, which isn't done with the Boston area after a pretty good run at Kendall Square, the Studio Cinema in Belmont, and the Coolidge.

    Also, while the first screening is a month away, the Somerville has put up their schedule of classic films that will be playing in 35mm on their big screen this summer.

  • The Studio replaces Win Win with Jane Eyre, but also has special Saturday and Sunday afternoon screenings of Akkara Kazhchakal - The Movie, a feature version of what is apparently a popular web series about a family of Malayali immidgrants in New Jersey. It's not clear from the description whether there are English subtitles to this Malayalam-language movie.

    (Also not clear - whether anything is running at the Studio's sister cinema on Stuart Street in Boston. Update your website, guys, I'm starting to get worried!)

  • Oh, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opens all over the place, in 3D and 2D, on the IMAX screens at Jordan's Furniture, the IMAX-branded screen in Boston Common, and the RPX screen at Fenway. I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, because I like writers Elliott & Rossio and co-stars Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane, but... Well, Rob Marshall directed Chicago and Nine, which were pretty awful (and I've heard little good about Memoirs of a Geisha). And putting Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow front and center seems to be a mistake; as much as I recall people complaining about Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom being boring in the previous Pirates movies, I suspect he'll be too much here.

    Plus, if this tanks, maybe that will make Warner reconsider the whole "have Marshall and Depp remake The Thin Man" idea, because that's got to be stopped.

My plans? Legend of the Fist and A Beautiful Life, for sure, and after that mostly catch-up - probably Bridesmaids and 13 Assassins, which given my recent work schedule will probably be enough until Kung Fu Panda 2 and a lesser sequel open next Thursday.

1 comment:

Justin Fielding said...

Thanks for the blurb about our movie, Inventory!