- Let's get it out of the way: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is playing everywhere, including all the premium screens that aren't part of educational museums of some sort, and the words has it that AMC Boston Common was getting close to a 24-hour cycle last night (midnights, 3ams, potentially even 6ams). I kept putting Part 1 of Movie 7 off until I missed it, so I don't mind that my movie-seeing time for the next three weeks is something else, but I'm sure everyone else is psyched for this.
On the other hand, it's getting so many screens that the week's other wide release, Disney's new animated Winnie the Pooh, is apparently not even showing up at Regal Fenway, which is sad, because it's getting great reviews, it's old-style cel animation, and is short enough that even the fidgety youngsters who are its primary audience won't have much trouble sitting through it.
And AMC Boston Common actually has enough screens to also open something independent, Chris Weitz's A Better Life, about an immigrant gardener trying to give his son the "better life" than he had of the title.
- A Better Life also opens at Landmark Kendall Square, with director Chris Weitz introducing the film in person on Sunday (17 July 2011). Among the others, I can vouch for IFFBoston alumnus Terri, a fairly entertaining coming-of-age story that features a great supporting turn from John C. Reilly as a high school principal whose unorthodox way of getting through to students may or may not be helpful.
There's also Errol Morris's Tabloid, in which the esteemed documentarian is reportedly in a more light-hearted mood, chronically a bizarre story of an obsessed former beauty queen whose pursuit of the man of her dreams involved kidnapping and even stranger things. And the one-week booking is Vincent Wants to Sea, which played the Goethe-Institut series at the Coolidge earlier this year and features Tourette's Syndrome-afflicted Vincent, anorexic Marie, and obsessive-compulsive Alexander on a road trip across Europe in stolen cars to spread the ashes of Vincent's mother in the Mediterranean.
- Speaking of the Coolidge, they open Project Nim, a documentary about a chimpanzee who was raised as a human child in the 1970s, on one of the larger screens, although it may have already played in the area. In the digital rooms, The Trip joins Page One and Trollhunter as three films sharing two screens. Trollhunter at least gets midnights, though, where it is joined by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on both Friday (the 15th) and Saturday (the 16th). On Friday, Rolling Thunder gets another midnight screening for those who missed it last weekend, while there's a live burlesque show instead of a movie Saturday midnight.
For non-late-night special engagements, there's a live appearance by Lizz Winstead in support of Planned Parenthood on Monday (the 18th) at 7pm, which bumps the Big-Screen Classics screening of Blue Velvet to 7pm Tuesday (the 19th).
- The Brattle is still easing into their vertical calendar this week. The weekend special engagement (Friday the 15th - Monday the 18th) is Septien, which I regretted missing at IFFBoston and am now missing again. Rats. It tells the tale of a man (director Michael Tully) who left his family without warning or explanation 18 years ago and has just now returned, to find his two brothers haven't changed at all. Note that it will only be playing evenings; on Saturday and Sunday, Sylvain Chomet's delightful animated ode to Jacques Tati, The Illusionist, plays at 1:30pm and 3:30pm.
On Monday afternoon, the matinees are a double feature of The Birds and Psycho, which almost plays on Tuesday (afternoon and evening). That's part of the summer's ongoing tribute not to director Alfred Hitchcock, but composer Bernard Hermann, who would have turned 100 years old this year. So would another composer, Nino Rota, and his tribute series kicks off on Thursday, with a double feature of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. And on Wednesday, there will be a special event, as members of Cirkestra and the Boston String Players get together to play selections from the two maestros' many classic film scores.
- No silent movies at the Somerville Theatre this weekend, but a couple of particularly beloved classics: The midnight special on Friday and Saturday is The Princess Bride, with the now-customary comedy, music, and dance beforehand on Saturday. The Sunday matinee (11am) and Monday evening (5pm & 8pm) classic is The Wizard of Oz. Sure, that's played some regular cinemas a few scattered times in recent years, but that was digital, and the projectionist at the Somerville insists on great 35mm prints and will feed you to the flying monkeys if you even suggest DVD. These will also be the only shows in the main theater over the weekend, as the Boston Opera Collaborative will be presenting their version of Falstaff there this weekend and next (hopefully the orchestra pit is finished by then).
- The Boston French Film Festival keeps going at the MFA, with highlights including the much-acclaimed thriller Point Blank (new and French, featuring no Lee Marvin) and Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme, which tends to get one or four stars from people, with very little middle ground.
- One thing I missed mentioning last week but which is still running through the weekend is Rejoice & Shout, a documentary on gospel music playing at the Regent Theatre in Arlington through Saturday. 7:30pm shows on both Friday and Saturday, and a 2pm matinee on Saturday as well.
- And, though it opened Wednesday, it's worth a reminder that Phase 7 is the current "Night Terror" at AMC Boston Common. I dug it at BUFF this year, and it's a genuinely thrilling movie about a quarrantied apartment with great dashes of black comedy.
My plans. None of that stuff. Well, Trollhunter, because it's playing as part of Fantasia Festival here in Montreal (apparently there's no Canadian distributor yet). Expect reviews of it and a few dozen other genre movies over the next month.