Friday, October 21, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 21 October 2011 - 27 October 2011

It's a good thing that I'm not opting to go nuts with the horror movies this October, because Hollywood is really not doing much to help - an unwanted remake a week ago and a quick-turn-around franchise release this week. As much as I normally think Magnolia/Magnet does a good job, I kind of think Tucker & Dale vs Evil might have killed if it had been pushed into a genuine wide release. It's really not a spooky time at the multiplex.

  • It's the first October in nearly a decade without a new Saw movie, but Paramount has stepped in to fill the gap with Paranormal Activity 3, which takes place in the late 1980s and may or may not be connected to the others beyond the basic format - I'm not sure how this works, having skipped the second one and never had a chance to see the Japanese spin-off. I do know that no VHS camera in 1988 was recording the sort of high-definition, widescreen picture we see in the trailer.

    Two other movies that are different sorts of retreads open as well: Johnny English Reborn has Rowan Atkinson reviving the title character (curious in that while there would probably be something of an audience for Mr. Bean or Edmund Blackadder, I don't think anybody really expected the 2003 Johnny English movie to be anything but a one-off) with a potentially decent cast along for the ride. The latest adaptation of Dumas's Three Musketeers comes courtesy of director Paul W.S. Anderson and features a bunch of good-looking but forgettable folks alongside Anderson's wife Milla Jovovich. This one looks goofy and with exaggerated 3D, but I have to admit - that kind of worked for the last Resident Evil movie, so this could be fun. Maybe.

    Some smaller films also infiltrate the multiplexes: The Mighty Macs is actually playing at both Boston Common and Fenway and some places in the suburbs. The story of an underdog Catholic college's new girls' basketball coach taking them to the playoffs looks like one of those movies funded by a group wanting to see more positive depictions of faith on-screen (it's even G-rated!), but it's got a decent cast in Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, and Ellen Burnstyn. Norman, meanwhile, looks to be a less-conventional family movie, with Dan Byrn playing a teenager who, for various reasons, lets the other kids at school think he has the same cancer diagnosis as his father (Richard Jenkins). It previewed at the MFA a week or two ago, but I didn't hear from anybody who saw it. That one's at Boston Comon

  • Also playing Boston Common - as well as the Kendall and Coolidge Corner - is Margin Call, which features a heck of a nice cast (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto) in a story about an investment firm trying to avoid disaster in the first hours of the financial crisis. Great ensemble, slick-looking trailer, but the list of producers is almost as long (meaning that there were a lot of hands involved) and the filmmaker is unproven.

    I think the one-week booking at Kendall Square is Puncture, which features Chris Evans as a personal injury lawyer who winds up in way over his head when he takes a case against a local hospital which sends him up against the entire health care industry. Or it may be The Mill & The Cross, Lech Majewski's film which takes place inside Pieter Bruegel's sixtheenth-century painting "The Way to Calvary", with enough painstaking work taken to get the visuals just right that many critics have been blown away.

  • Both the Kendall and Coolidge also open Take Shelter, in which a paranoid father, convinced that a disaster is coming, begins obsessively building a sotrm shelter in his backyard, with enough zeal that he may actually be the real danger to his family and community. It's also been getting a great critical reception, with the lead role absolutely perfect for Michael Shannon. It's mostly playing in theater #1, but check the Coolidge's website, as some shows are in #2, while Margin Call skips between film rooms and video rooms depending on the time of day.

    It's a huge weekend for midnight movies there as well - Human Centipede II and The Dead did well enough last weekend to be held over, meaning that this weekend is the rare time that all four screens will be used for midnights. The other two are the new restoration of Lucio Fulci's Zombi - considered a classic of the genre and presented on 2K video taken direct from the original negative - and this weekend's Steven King adaptation, Pet Semetary, which is one of the few (only?) King movies actually to be shot in his native state of Maine (hey, I grew up there and it was a big deal at the time)!

    Aside from the scary stuff (and, hey, both Take Shelter and Margin Call probably count toward that count in their own ways), Sunday morning (the 23rd) has the second Talk Cinema preview of the season at 10am, Like Crazy, which got some awards at Sundance for its story of a trans-Atlantic romance complicated by visa problems. Monday night (the 24th) has a National Theatre Live presentation, The Kitchen.

  • The Brattle spends most of the week on its "Recent Raves" series, and I can actually recommend many of them (or not). Friday the 21st features Another Earth, which is nicely-acted but flawed both narratively and scientifically; Saturday the 22nd gives my brother Matt Attack the Block for his birthday (unfortunately, the double feature with Super 8 listed on the schedule has had to be cancelled); Sunday the 23rd is a double feature of Meek's Cutoff and The Future (both of which I found had interesting ideas but sometimes torturous execution); Tuesday the 25th is a pair of recent comedies from across the pond, The Trip and The Guard (the latter such a Recent Rave as to stil be playing in theaters!); and Wednesday the 26th finishes things up with apocalyptic love story Bellflower.

    Around those, there are a couple of new movies to see. Monday night's CineCaché presentation is Unhappy Birthday, a new British thriller about two men looking to surprise a friend on their birthday, with things getting very strange when another woman joins the party. On, Thursday night (the 27th), MSP's latest ski movie, Attack of La Niña screens twice, with footage taken as an unusually cold winter in western North America creates unusual and (presumably) exciting conditions.

  • I've really grown to love ArtsEmerson's film programming lately. This weekend continues the Katharine Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin programs, with Kate in Holiday (Friday evening and Sunday afternoon) and the Little Tramp in The Circus (Saturday afternoon). I remember liking Holiday a lot from when I saw it five years ago, so that's a good start.

    They've also got another program running, though, "The Marriage Circle", which ties in with the live theater happening downstairs at the Paramount. On Friday and Saturday evening, they're showing a new 35mm print of Divorce Italian Style, in which Marcello Mastroianni conspires to eliminate his wife in order to trade for a younger model. The similarly-named but for more serious documentary Divorce Iranian Style, meanwhile, plays Saturday night (the 22nd) and examines the torturous hoops Persian women must go through to end their marriages, despite the fact that their husbands can do so at will.

  • The Harvard Film Archive spends the weekend paying tribute to "The Legend of Taylor Mead", as the poet and actor will be in town to introduce three of the underground/counter-cultural films he has made over the years: The Flower Thief on Friday the 21st, Brand X on Saturday the 22nd, and Tarzan and Jain Regained... Sort of on Sunday the 23rd. For those who want more Mead, they will also be showing Queen of Sheba Meets the Atom Man on Sunday afternoon and Lonesome Cowboy on Monday evening.

  • The MFA is mostly booked by The Boston Palestine Film Festival, which runs from Friday the 21st through Sunday the 30th. Twenty-three different films will show over the course of the festival, with ten showing this week. Each only shows once, so check the musuem/series webpage to see what's running when. There's also a Wednesday afternoon screening of Raoul Ruiz's Time Regained as part of "An Evening in France", but that appears to be sold out.

  • The Somerville Theatre has a concert on Friday, and I'm not sure what they're using the big auditorium for on Friday and Saturday, but Starting Monday, it's horror dobule features, all on 35mm! Monday the 24th is random (Satanic Rites of Dracula & Nightmare on Elm Street 2); Tuesday the 25th is an It's Alive double feature (including the sequel, It Lives Again); Wednesday the 26th is "1980s movies set in movie theaters that aren't Gremlins" (Demons & Night of the Comet); and Thursday is horror essentials (The Shining & Carpenter's Halloween).

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington also has a number of different live shows over the weekend ("live radio" on Friday, a kids' concert on Saturday morning, and the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra doing a Bowie/Queen/Zeppelin set Saturday night), so it only makes sense that their one film selection during the week is also a concert - Rush Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland. Shot in April, it notably includes their 1981 album Moving Pictures in its entirety. I knew a girl in college who really liked Rush, so I hope she digs it if she's still around here.

  • Most of the Indian films playing Fresh Pond this week are doing so without English subtitles, but that change with RA. One, the big Diwali-season opening on Wednesday the 26th. Diwali is when the big summer/holiday-type movies get released in India, and this looks to be a gigantic one, with big effects and action, a cameo for superstar Rajinikanth, songs, and whatever else might make this story about a father and son who get sucked into a computer game and become superheroes more fun. And on top of that, the 9:50pm shows will be presented in 3-D, I believe a first for Bollywood films in the United States.

  • There's a little bit of second-run-shuffling going on, as the Arlington Capitol picks up The Big Year (from the Somerville) and My Afternoons with Marguerite (from the Kendall & Coolidge).

My plans? I'm thinking The Big Year tonight (right on my way home AND at a convenient start time for that!), The Three Musketeers and The Circus tomorrow, Like Crazy and The Holiday on Sunday, Unhappy Birthday on Monday, maybe a preview or maybe the Brattle's double feature on Tuesday, and try to go for RA.One in 3D because I do like novelty. It's going to be a busy week unless work and other things interfere (as they are, admittedly, wont to do).

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