Friday, June 17, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 17 June 2011 -23 June 2011

Here's something that bears watching beyond just "next week": iPic Theaters Looking at Borders Site in Downtown Crossing, reported by Boston Restaurant Talk. Weird place to hear about new cinemas, and iPic's website certainly suggests an upscale place (the Herald story suggests it will easily be the priciest theater, with tickets running up to $29!). Still, I've been hoping for an Alamo/Keystone-style restaurant/cinema for a while.

Kind of a bummer that it comes at the expense of the Downtown Crossing Borders. Sure, nobody really laments the closing of a franchise place the same way that they would a locally-owned place - heck, my shopping there of late has been "use email coupons to get ridiculous deals", which gives them the cash infusion they're looking for but probably doesn't help with profitability in the long term - but it means that there will be no mainstream bookstore left in the Downtown Crossing area once it closes. Plenty of used and antiquarian spots, and I suspect (hope!) that the Borders in the Cambridgeside Galleria and the Barnes & Noble in the Prudential Center aren't going anywhere, but no downtown big bookstore.

  • Speaking of downtown theaters and places I'd rather not close, there are signs of life at the Stuart Street Playhouse this week! It's been pretty much closed up in the month and a half since its IFFBoston night, which is a shame, as it's a nice facility whose economics were tricky. The last time I walked by, there were no posters in the windows and the marquee just talked about it being available for rental, so I suspect that Jig booked the theater rather than vice-versa. It's a documentary about the an international Irish dancing competition in Glasgow, focusing on several groups of young women who have been competing with each other for years, fly-on-the-wall style. It looks exuberant, and Patrick Doyle's doing the soundtrack, so that's at least going to be pretty good.

    I'm not saying to go see this and buy a large popcorn even if you have as little interest in the subject matter as I do. But I'll be there at some point, even if only to try and prove Stuart Street can be a viable place for independent movies not opening elsewhere in Boston.

  • Across the river, in the usual place for independent movies (Kendall Square), things get a little bit closer to back to normal, with the Malick and Allen films dropping down to a reasonable number of screens to make room for some new arrivals that had brief appearances in the Boston area earlier in the year. The single-week booking is for Bride Flight, which played the Coolidge as part of the Talk Cinema series. It's about three Dutch girls who emigrate to New Zealand looking for a better life after World War II, although I'm guessing that not all of them will wind up living happy, uneventful lives with the fiancés awaiting them.

    The Trip and Submarine both played IFFBoston; of the two English films, I've only seen Submarine, a nifty-looking but often-grating coming-of-age story, while The Trip was a difficult cut. It features Steve Coogan on a restaurant-reviewing road trip with Rob Brydon, and as these are very funny guys, improvised hilarity likely ensues.

  • Another IFFBoston alum opens at the Brattle: Stake Land is a pretty darn good post-vampire-apocalypse road movie directed by Jim Mickle, starring Connor Paolo as a teenager traveling with the man who rescued him (Nick Damici) when vampires killed his family. Mickle's a rising star in the horror genre (or at least, he should be), and though it's probably not fair to compare this to the inexplicably-popular Zombieland (they do very similar things in different ways), I can't help but think that this one does it right.

    That plays evenings (and 11:30pm late shows on Friday and Saturday nights); for weekend matinees, there's some John Huston classics. Treasure of the Sierra Madre plays Saturday and Sunday (18-19 June) at 12:30pm, while Sunday afternoon also features a double feature of The Maltese Falcon and The Asphalt Jungle.

    On Monday evening, the DocYard presents The Kids Grow Up with director Doug Block at the theater. It's an autobiographical tale, as Block films the last year before his daughter Lucy goes to college. He'd previously garnered a great deal of praise for documenting his relationship with his parents in 51 Birch Street, so this can be seen as a sort of bookend.

  • AMC changes things up a bit, booking The Art of Getting Byat Harvard Square rather than Boston Common. It's a Sundance veteran (I believe it played there under the title "Homework") about a kid who is a talented artist but just does enough in school and life to, how should I say this, get by. It's got an impressive cast - the suddenly grown-up Freddie Highmore as the boy, Emma Roberts as his crush object, Rita Wilson and Sam Robards as his parents, Michael Angarano as a mentor - although it sounds sort of generic-quirky.

    They get that in lieu of what's opening in the bigger theaters, Green Lantern and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Both are getting poisonous reviews, which saddens me, because there should be potential there. I remember Mr. Popper's Penguins being a charming children's book, and as much as I like Jim Carrey, I don't think zany is what this story needs. Similarly, I like Ryan Reynolds, and I think Green Lantern is one of the great comic book concepts (space cop has a ring that can make anything he can imagine), but it's one that has often struggled to find a personality in the comics, and the movie looks pretty thin on that account. Here's hoping that the effects which look kind of hokey in the previews look good in 3D.

  • They were shooting a movie at the Somerville Theatre last Tuesday; here's hoping that winds up playing there. Of course, what with Ted being directed by Seth MacFarlane, it will likely be a bunch of unwatchable non-sequiters. For now, they've got the usual assortment of first-run material, including Super 8 looking great in the main theater. They're also using that spiffy 500+ person room for their summer programs - Kick-Ass is the midnight movie on Friday and Saturday, while Captains Courageous plays Sunday (the 19th) at 11am and Monday (the 20th) at 5pm and 8pm. That one looks pretty good, a 1937 Victor Fleming adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling story about a spoiled boy (Freddie Bartholomew) who falls off a luxury yacht and is rescued by a fishing boat whose crew includes Spencer Tracy and Lionel Barrymore. Good old-fashioned adventure, and since the people at the Somerville are maniacs about obtaining quality 35mm prints and projecting them properly, it should look incredible.

  • The Coolidge is also mostly staying the course with their current bookings (they do pick up City of Life and Death for the tiny GoldScreen room), although they too have some nifty event bookings. Friday and Saturday night at 11:59, for instance, they are running Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D. Probably anaglyph, as I don't think any other sort of prints of this movie exist, but, hey, it's Jason Vorhees coming right at you. Sunday (the 19th) at 11am, they have the finale Goethe-Institut German film of the season, The Man Who Jumped Cars, about an escaped mental patient walking across Germany who inspires those he meets to shake up their humdrum lives. And on Monday, the Big Screen Classic is Fiddler on the Roof, celebrating its 40th anniversary in its full 35mm, three-hour glory.

  • Art on Film keeps chugging on at the MFA; this week's selections include Women Art Revlution, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (tying in with their ongoing Dale Chihuly exhibit), and First Face: The Buck Starts Here. Also playing scattered times are hand-painted animated film Mia and the Migoo, with two new documentaries enter the rotation on Wednesday (the 22nd): Armadillo (which I believe played the DocYard earlier this year) is a documentary from the Netherlands about soldiers on their first dangerous mission in Afghanistan, while Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? investigates Colony Collapse Disorder, although the description seems to indicate that there's more philosophy than hard science.

  • The Harvard Film Archive begins a retrospective of Luis Buñuel this weekend. The aptly titled Buñuel - The Beginning and the End includes both his first film ("Un Chien Andalou", co-directed with Salvadore Dali and screening with L'Age d'Or at 7pm on Friday the 17th) and his last (That Obscure Object of Desire, screening Saturday the 18th at 9pm). Several other films widely regarded as classics play this weekend - Tristana Friday at 9pm, Viridiana Saturday at 7pm, a pairing of "Land Without Bread" and "Simon of the Desert" on Sunday the 19th at 7pm, and The Milky Way on Monday the 20th at 7pm. The series will resume again on the 24th and continue through the 27th before the Archive shuts down for its summer vacation.

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington will play host to the Adventure Film Festival on Tuesday the 21st and Wednesday the 22nd. Each day features a different program of short films celebrating "outdoor adventure and environmental activism"

  • And, finally, I believe "Rescue" is a new release at the Museum of Science's Mugar Omni Theater this weekend. It's an IMAX presentation that follows emergency response teams from around the world who are summoned to Haiti after last year's massive earthquake. That likely makes for an exciting double feature with "Tornado Alley" (or triple feature with the 9pm-only "Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk").

My plans? I'd love to say I have the willpower to avoid Green Lantern (see what I did there?), I'll probably do an early (and thus cheaper!) 3D screening at some point, probably Sunday. As I mentioned, Jig gets my support, and around them... Hmm. I've got some free tickets to use at AMC, the Aquarium, and the Museum of Science, so maybe I'll play some catch-up there.

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