Thursday, September 08, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 9 September 2011 - 15 September 2011

Big festival going on up north in Toronto, where several of the fall's awards contenders will be rolled out. Meanwhile, back here, there's a little bit of that, as well as some stuff that was at IFFBoston, some apparent crap getting shoved into theaters before the good stuff crowds it off the screen, and some programming that is at least interesting.

  • Contagion is the big premiere this weekend, with Steven Soderbergh directing a quite frankly ridiculous cast (Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet above the title on the poster, and there's even more!) in a thriller about an attempt to stop a global pandemic. It's a big canvas, and will get the biggest screens this weekend, popping up in IMAX at the furniture store in Reading (though not Natick), the main screen in Somerville, the IMAX-branded digital screen in Boston Common, and the RPX screen in Fenway.

    The other big studio release is Warrior, which has been getting very enthusiastic reviews for its story of two brothers (Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy) both drawn into the world of mixed martial arts in order to make ends meet. In particular, those who've seen it rave over Nick Nolte as the father. I only get goodness as opposed to greatness from the trailer, but those can be deceptive.

    Also opening at the multiplexes: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which looks to be a script that Adam Sandler wrote but didn't consider worth his further time (yikes!) but somehow managed to snag Christina Ricci as the female lead (that's just sad), and Creature, a monster movie with a title, cast, and premise so generic I'm kind of shocked that it's playing theaters rather than SyFy or straight to video. Remember, tickets to actual promising movies cost the same as seeing these things.

  • One of the IFFBoston alumni, Circumstance opens at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. It's the tale of a couple of teenage girls in Tehran who have a bit of a crush on each other, which is more than just a little complicated in a country that has "morality police". I liked it quite a bit when I saw it at the festival, as much for the nifty last act that shows us how dictatorships solidify in microcosm as for the love story. Cinematographer Brian Rigney Hubbard will be there in person for a Q&A on the 7:10pm show on Saturday (10 September).

    Perhaps the most interesting of the place's special presentations this week might be the easiest to overlook; at 11am on Sunday morning, there's a combined Sounds of Silents/Goethe-Institut presentation of Nathan the Wise, a 1922 film from Germany that advocated religious tolerance among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. As you might expect, it was banned by the Nazis and remains topical, screening on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Local composer Aaron Trant composes the new soundtrack, which the After Quartet performs.

    Before that, the weekend's midnight movie is Class of 1984, in which a high-school music teacher is going to have to do more than just inspire his students to get out of his new inner-city assignment alive. There's also a National Theater simulcast of Man, Two Guvnors on Thursday (15 September).

  • Circumstance also opens at Kendall Square, as does Bellflower and Higher Ground. I didn't like Bellflower quite so much as Circumstance when I saw them back in April, but the apocalyptically-inspired tragic love story does have a visceral appeal, and props to the filmmakers for not only building all the tricked-out flamethrowers and custom cars featured in the picture, but much of the camera equipment as well.

    Higher Ground, on the other hand, is likely a bit quieter; the directorial debut of star Vera Farmiga is about her character gaining and losing faith in religion as tragedies enter her life. A fair number of films are sticking around, so there's only room for the one-week booking, Mr. Nice, to play two shows a day (1:40pm and 6:30pm; Magic Trip has the complimentary slots). It stars Rhys Ifans in a comedic biography of a dope smuggler who was apparently quite brilliant in other fields.

  • With their one-a-month schedule interrupted by summer (and nobody in Boston stepping up to show 3-D Sex & Zen), China Lion opens two Chinese films at Boston Common this week. Both appear to be romances of a sort, but dig into the descriptions a little and they sound interesting. My Kingdom is a period piece about two brothers who entered the Peking Opera School because martial arts was forbidden; naturally they get involved with the same woman in Shanghai. Barbie Hsu is the biggest name in the main cast, but Yuen Biao plays one of their teachers, and Sammo Hung choreographs the action, so that should be fun.

    Love in Space, meanwhile, is stocked with plenty of bigger stars, including Canto-pop idols Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan, and "Angelababy". It's four times the romantic comedy, as a mother and her three daughters take a chance on finding love in environments including high school, the moon, and everywhere in between. Well, I don't know if they ever reach the moon, but we'll see.

    Both share a single screen, although AMC is likely not selling single-admission tickets for a double feature. My Kingdom plays at 11:40am, 4:40pm, and 7:10pm; Love In Space takes the 2:00pm and 9:40pm slots.

  • If you prefer Indian to Chinese, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan opens at Fresh Pond; it's about a man trying to arrange a marriage for his brother, only to fall for the lady himself (she's played by Katrina Kaif, and thus gorgeous). It's a musical comedy, and thus perhaps the most Bollywood film I can imagine. It splits the screen with the still-playing Bodyguard. Still no sign of That Girl in Yellow Boots.

  • The Brattle has a special guest this weekend, Crispin Hellion Glover, who may have disappeared off the mainstream radar between Back to the Future and Charlie's Angels, but earned a big cult following as an actor and filmmaker while the rest of us weren't looking. His two films playing this weekend are both very much on the odd side: It Is Fine! Everything is Fine! features screenwriter Steven C. Stewart in a semi-autobiographical tale that is "[p]art horror film, part exploitation picture and part documentary", and runs Friday and Sunday night; Saturday's program features What Is It?, an avant-garde movie whose cast incidentally features many actors with Down's Syndrome. Both films will be precede by a different version of Glover's "Big Slide Show"; there will also be Q&A and a book signing.

    Monday's DocYard feature is Rain in a Dry Land, with director Anne Makepeace and editor Mary Lampson there to introduce and answer questions about their documentary. It follows two Somali families who arrive in the United States as refugees and find that living here is a whole new sort of culture shock.

    The rest of the week finishes up with the second half of The Neurotic Genius of Woody Allen. Tuesday night (13 September) is a double feature that blurs the line between real life and reel life (Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo). Wednesday is given to Radio Days, apparently one of Allen's favorites. And Thursday sees Allen back in serious mode, with the recent Match Point.

  • The Harvard Film Archive continues its American Punk series this weekend, with Border Radio and Desperate Teenage Lovedolls on Friday and The Blank Generation on Sunday and Monday. On Saturday and Sunday nights, there are two chances to catch the full three-and-a-half hour cut of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire, which was produced for German television in 1973 (from a 1964 novel) but seems to anticipate a great deal of the virtual-reality a corporate paranoia that would show up in later science fiction.

  • The Museum of Fine Arts continues their series of selections from the International Festival of Films on Art with screenings of six different films. In between, the restored print of Black Narcissus gets another screening on Sunday the 11th.

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington has another one-night documentary premiere this Thursday, Beyond The Myth: A Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination; he title seems pretty self-explanatory. Director Libby Sherrill will be in attendance, as will "Cherry", one of the dogs seized from Michael Vick.

  • There's a bit of second-run shuffling going on, including Attack the Block moving back to Boston Common after spending a week across the river in Harvard Square. Sarah's Key moves to the Arlington Capitol (closing at Kendall Square and Coolidge Corner).

My plans? It looks like I may be good and booked, grabbing both Chinese films at some point during the weekend, probably combined with Contagion. Among the specials, I'm very tempted by both World on a Wire and Nathan the Wise, as well as the non-Match Point Allen movies. And on Sunday, I'll also be hitting the Ice Cream Showdown, because I love ice cream and it's for charity.

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