Friday, August 19, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 19 August 2011 - 25 August 2011

You know, a few months ago, I was groaning at the possibility of 3-D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy being released in the USA and me thus feeling obligated to review it. Now that its release date has finally arrived, and no Boston venue has been announced (because the AMC that usually plays China Lion's films doesn't do unrated/NC-17 stuff), I'm kind of disappointed. I'm sure part of it is that the distributor has inexplicably chosen a date when three other 3D movies are coming out and several others are sticking around (or having to move to 2D screens), but here's hoping that after a couple weeks, when things have thinned out, one of the non-AMC/Regal theaters with 3D down by Alewife picks it up, because I've passed dread and arrived at "morbid curiosity".

  • 3D movies in a bit, but as a movie blogger I am contractually obligated to mention that Attack the Block opens at AMC Boston Common this weekend, playing an impressively aggressive schedule (seven times on Saturday, including midnight and 10:10am show). Early word on the festival circuit was extremely positive on this story of aliens attacking London, but making the serious mistake of hitting a run-down council flat, where the kids aren't going to back down. Of course, there might have been a little bit of the Austin/SXSW/Alamo crowd effect going on, but we'll see this weekend. Also at Boston Common, the "Night Terrors" series has returned with Atrocious playing Wednesdays at 10pm and Fridays at midnight; it's another first-person horror movie from Spain that has been getting reviews to match its title. They've also cut the digital IMAX shows of Final Destination 5 down to late nights and restored Harry Potter 8 to that screen during afternoons and evenings, with the listings indicating 2D but the prices the the same as the 3D Destination.

  • So, what's playing in 3D? A reboot, a remake, and a sequel. The reboot and biggest name is probably Conan the Barbarian, with Jason Momoa in the title role and enough good people playing supporting parts to make one hope for the best. As is usually the case, the filmmakers don't seem to be adapting any specific Robert Howard story, but just taking the character and the general milieu. Schwarzeneggar-free and likely pre-empts seeing Conan the King any time soon.

    The remake is Fright Night, which updates a 1980s flick that never penetrated the general consciousness and spawned sequels like some of its brethren but is fondly remembered. The new version is getting surprisingly good reviews and features Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant of recent Doctor Who fame, and the super-cute Imogen Poots, but be warned: The 3D is apparently one of those hasty post-conversion jobs, and near as I can tell the only way to avoid it is a single daily matinee at Regal Fenway.

    The sequel is also a reboot of sorts, with Spy Kids: All the Time in the World featuring Jessica Alba and a new generation of spy kids, because the ones from the original trilogy are now old enough to vote (though they show up here as supporting characters). Like Game Over, this one is shot in 3D, with scratch & sniff cards handed out for good measure.

    Those looking for something maybe a little less escapist may want to check out One Day a romance/drama with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess that opens at Kendall Square as well as the megaplexes. It follows them over twenty years, seeing what they are doing on the anniversary of their college graduation in each one. Cute concept, though the mid-August release raises questions about the execution.

  • That's the big opening at Kendall Square, as well, but they've got a few others coming: Senna is a documentary on Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna, who is F1's Dale Earnhardt in that he was one of the sport's best and most popular - especially in his native land - only to die at the height of his career during a race. An interesting subject, at least, especially for fans of the sport. The other documentary opening is How to Live Forever, in which director Mark Wexler (best known for Tell Them Who You Are)takes a look at the longevity and anti-aging movements. It's booked for a single week.

    For fictional films, they also have The Names of Love, an opposites-attract romantic comedy from France in which a conservative man (Jacques Gamblin) meets a liberal young woman (Sara Forestier) whose take on "make love, not war" involves sleeping with political opponents to convert them. The trailer is cute enough to give it a chance.

  • The Brattle also has a recent movie or two from France this week. The Special Engagement over the weekend is Catherine Breillat's take on The Sleeping Beauty, which could be interesting: The last time Breillat put her stamp on a fairy tale, she made the odd choice to take the sex and violence out of Bluebeard (and there's not a lot left once you do that); here she's doing a more adult take than usual on this well-known tale, which runs through Sunday (the 21st). On Wednesday (the 24th), the "Recent Raves" series features The Princess of Montpensier, a grand-scale historical drama.

    On Monday the 22nd, director Heather Courtney will attend the DocYard presentation of her film Where Soldiers Come From to give an introduction and answer questions. A festival favorite, it follows a group of midwestern friends who join the National Guard after graduating high school, leading to a tour in Afghanistan and finally back home.

    On the other two days, the musician centennial tributes continue. Tuesday (the 23rd) is Bernard Herrmann day, and features a particularly nifty double feature: Brian De Palma's Sisters at 3:15 and 7:30, and the less well-known Twisted Nerve at 5:15 and 9:30. If the name of the latter sounds familiar, it's because Quentin Tarantino swiped a bit of this score for Kill Bill. On Thursday the 25th, the tribute is to Nino Rota, with a pair of films he scored for Federico Fellini: Amarcord and The Clowns

  • No major changes at the Coolidge, although they do pick up Point Blank to show in the digital rooms. This week's specials include 30th Anniversary screenings of The Beyond at midnight on Friday and Saturday, with the monthly showing of The Room Saturday at midnight on the other screen. The Summer Fun Screening on Monday night is a 35mm print of The Shining.

  • The Harvard Film Archive continues its The Complete Joseph L. Mankiewicz series this weekend with an intriguing combination of rarities and (in)famous works: Friday is a pair of romantic fantasies with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Dragonwyck (Gene Tierney AND Vincent Price? yes, please!); Saturday is the sprawling four-hour Cleopatra; Sunday is a second screening of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and James Mason spy thriller 5 Fingers; and Monday is Edward G. Robinson in House of Strangers.

  • The MFA continues what it started on Wednesday, with a Restored Print of Went the day Well? playing daily through Sunday, alongside Octubre. On Thursday, Octubre has one last show and a limited engagement of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress starts; I saw that one at IFFBoston this spring and it is a pretty nifty little doc.

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington is a good place for music-oriented docs, and on Tuesday the 23rd they have two screenings of Busking the System, which follows several musicians trying to make it in the Big Apple starting from the bottom in a very literal sense: Playing for tips in the subway. There are screenings at 4pm and 7pm, with cast and crew thre for a Q&A afterward.

  • At Fresh Pond, Arakshan continues with two shows a day, alternating with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which opened worldwide in July but just seems to be hitting Boston now. It's a vacation movie where three long-time friends take a last vacation together when one becomes engaged.

My plans involve a niece's birthday party on Sunday, but around that I'll probably take in Attack the Block, Fright Night, the Herrmann double, and probably Spy Kids.

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