Thursday, August 25, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 25 August 2011 - 1 September 2011

Hey, I've seen some stuff that is showing up this weekend and can make recommendations on them, just like a real movie critic! Also like a real movie critic, I'm quoted on the back of the DVD/Blu-ray package for Little Big Soldier that came out this week (see? Not by name, but I'm the guy who wrote that for eFilmCritic). Although it's kind of sad that WellGo had to go to a blogging computer programmer who vacations at film festivals to get a quote for this - it's a good movie, and Jackie Chan's not nobody.

  • Speaking of Jackie Chan, and movies I saw at Fantasia last year that I can recommend, it's time for the Asian Community Development Corporation's annual Films at the Gate. Starting tonight (Thursday 25 August 2011), and running through Sunday (the 28th), there will be a free movie projected outside, near the Chinatown Gate in Boston. All shows at 8pm, with live martial arts and dragon-dance demonstrations at 7:30pm (weather permitting).

    It kicks off with Bruce Lee in 1972's Way of the Dragon tonight. Tomorrow (Friday) is the local premiere of Gallants, which I saw at Fantasia last year. It's funny! Saturday night's film is Jackie Chan in 1980's The Young Master (which also features Yuen Biao). And Sunday has a double feature - a very young Bruce Lee in 1950's The Kid, and the recent hour-long documentary A Moment in Time is a bit of an oral history of immigrants in San Francisco's Chinatown, told in part via the movies shown there.

    All shows are free, though a hat is passed and popcorn is sold. The optimal way to enjoy it, of course, is to stop at a restaurant and get some take-out, supporting local businesses.


  • Three movies open at the multiplexes this weekend, and I can vouch for two of them: Our Idiot Brother, which screened in Boston as part of Sundance's local shows back in January, is a funny and good-natured comedy starring Paul Rudd in the title role, a guy whose good intentions tend to backfire on his sisters. They're played by Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel, so there's a pretty funny, good-looking cast at work here.

    If you go in more for scares, there's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, which was the last feature-length film I saw at Fantasia this year. I don't love it quite as much as Our Idiot Brother, but I like it quite a bit. I almost wish it was a little bit less intense, because it would be a good movie to scare little kids with (note: it's rated R, but it's one precocious ten-year-olds might like).

    I haven't seen Colombiana, the latest out of the Luc Besson action factory. Besson co-writes with frequent partner Robert Mark Kamen, the awesomely-pseudonymed Olivier Megaton directs, and Zoe Saldana stars, with Michael Vartan and Cliff Curtis in supporting roles. Saldana's character is looking for vengeance for the murder of her parents, and that stuff I said last week about how the French kick butt at mid-range action thrillers? here's the test, albeit mostly in English.


  • The Coolidge will be opening spiffy-looking thriller The Debt next Wednesday (31 September 2011), bumping the long-running Midnight in Paris to the digital rooms, but in the meantime one of those smaller screens picks up Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, a documentary about "the Jewish Mark Twain", best known for stories that later became Fiddler on the Roof. On Sunday (the 28th), director Joseph Dorman will be present for the 2:30pm screening (they'll be moving to a larger screen for that).

    Around those, there are the weekly special screenings. Zoolander has Friday and Saturday midnights in the large downstairs theater, while A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors plays on the slightly-less-large upstairs screen at the same time. The Monday night "Big Screen Classic" is Federico Fellini's La Strada. It plays at 7pm.


  • Kendall Square will also be getting The Debt, with Point Blank and The Names of Love sharing a screen until then and then disappearing. In the meantime, they've stamped a one-week warning on two films: Chasing Madoff is a documentary on the ten-year investigation that led to Bernie Madoff's arrest for swindling a great many people out of their life savings, while Griff the Invisible is a romantic comedy about an office worker who plays superhero by night. Interestingly, it's distributed by Indomina which up to now has mostly focused on Asian action movies, so this is a bit of a switch.

    Also opening is Brighton Rock, an adaptation of a Graham Greene novel about a young gangster who marries a witness to keep her from squealing. Very nice supporting cast, including Helen Mirren and John Hurt.


  • The Brattle's area premiere this weekend is big - four hours and seventeen minutes, plus intermission, big. Mysteries of Lisbon is a grand-scale adaptation of a classic Portuguese novel by Raul Ruiz with a nice cast and what looks like gorgeous production design. It runs Friday to Monday at 7pm, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 1:45pm.

    The matinees on Monday - and all-day double feature on Tuesday - is the finale of the Bernard Hermann tribute, and the Brattle sends the series off in style, with a double feature of Citizen Kane and The Devil and Daniel Webster. The Nina Rota series that's been running in parallel ends on Thursday (September 1st) with 8 1/2, which I'm assured is much better than that horrific Nine movie from a couple years ago. Note that there's been a change in tonight's screenings for that series - the 9:30pm show of The Clowns has been replaced by Amarcord, which also screens at 7pm. Print availability is a bummer, but for Fellini/Rota fans, that's a still a pretty good eight-day period when you take the Coolidge's La Strada screening into consideration.

    Wednesday night is the finale to the "Recent Raves" series, and it's another good one, Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It's in 2D at the Brattle, but should still be fascinating even without the third dimension.


  • As mentioned last week, the Museum of Fine Arts opens a limited run of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress tonight (Thursday the 25th); it's a nifty process-oriented documentary showing how Ferran Adria comes up with new dishes for his famed restaurant, and a big hit at IFFBoston this year (it had to be moved to a much larger screen to accommodate demand). The "New and Restored Prints" series finishes off with screenings of Powell & Pressburger's Black Narcissus, in which Deborah Kerr plays a nun sent to a distant convent where everybody is on the verge of a breakdown. Also opening is Rebirth, a documentary on 9/11 survivors. The Friday and Saturday showings are sold out, but there are two screenings on Thursday.


  • The HFA wraps up the Joseph L. Mankiewicz series this week, with A Letter to Three Wives on Friday at 7pm and Sunday at 5pm, his version of The Quiet American Friday at 9pm, and his Julius Caesar Monday at 7pm.

    In the empty slots - Saturday and Sunday at 7pm - are two screenings of Cristi Puiu's Aurora. His follow-up to The Death of Mr. Lazarescu charts the mental breakdown of a solitary middle-aged metallurgist.



My plans? Hopefully plenty of Films at the Gate, hopefully baseball Sunday & Thursday, and Columbiana sometime in between. And if it rains and I don't want to go out, well, that's an excuse to buckle down and finish the Fantasia reviews up.

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