Friday, November 11, 2011

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 11 November 2011 - 17 November 2011

This week, I bought membership to both ArtsEmerson's film program and MoviePass; let's see how they're going to get used.

  • I believe J. Edgar is the first time that Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio have worked together; it's a biography of the notoriously driven and paranoid head of the FBI. He's certainly got the potential to be a fascinating subject, although Eastwood admittedly isn't on a particularly hot streak as a director.

    The other big opening is Immortals, another variation on the story of Theseus that was told just last year in Clash of the Titans. The difference, I guess, is that this one was planned for 3-D from the beginning and director Tarsem Singh seems like he'd be a natural for that; even his bad movies (see: The Cell) are striking to look at.

    And, yes, fine, there's an Adam Sandler thing opening, but the trailer sets new records for looking terrible. You know you have better options.

  • I've actually had a chance to see two of the three new movies opening at Kendall Square this weekend at previews, and they're both very good: Melancholia is the latest from Lars Trier; it features Kirsten Dunst as a bride trying to fight back depression on her wedding day despite the way that the guests range from well-meaning but unable to understand to flat-out horrible - good thing the world's about to end! Into the Abyss is Werner Herzog's new documentary about a death row the crime that landed him there, and everyone involved. Very good, especially since Herzog is not shrill, even though he very clearly doesn't approve of capital punishment. The other movie is The Other F Word, is the one-week booking. It's another documentary, this one about punk rocker Jim Lindberg, who after years of making songs that rail against authority must now be that authority as a father. There's also a two-day run of a recently unearthed Steve Jobs interview conducted by Bob Cringely. It's a 1995 interview, so he was at NeXT at the time; there may be some amusingly bitter comments about Apple (interestingly, the sickeningly fawning text on Landmark's website doesn't mention Pixar at all, even though Toy Story would open that year). It bumps evening showings of Take Shelter on Wednesday the 16th and The Skin I Live In on Thursday the 17th.

  • Getting back to rocker dads, the Coolidge opens Janie Jones in its tiny digital "Goldscreen" room. The movie stars Alessandro Nivola as a guy who has the tween-age daughter he never knew he had (Abigain Breslin) dumped in his lap mid-tour. Disaster naturally ensues. They open Le Havre on the main screen; it's a French film (albeit by noted Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki) about an older resident of the port city that takes a young African refugee under his wing. Note that both will have some shuffling and reduced playtimes when Being Elmo opens in the Screening Room on Wednesday.

    Midnights this weekend are both Giorgio Moroder-related: His cut of Metropolis with a 1980s rock soundtrack plays downstairs in advance of being released on home video next week, while Flashdance (for which he wrote the score) plays upstairs. Pick your poison. Other special events include the Goethe-Institut screening of Almanya, Welcome to Germany at 11am on Sunday morning (the 13th); it tells the tale of an ethnically Turkish family that has lived in Germany for three generations and has decidedly mixed feelings when the grandfather announces he has bought a house in the homeland and wants the entire family to move back there with him. Monday night has a "Big Screen Classics" 50th anniversary screening of West Side Story; while a number of multiplexes have been advertising screenings, those are digital, and I think the Coolidge's will be on film. And on Tuesday night, director Michael Hazanavicius will bet here for an IFFBoston screening of The Artist. It's a free preview, so you've got to get a pass and get there early. And buy some popcorn and corn syrup-free soda, ya freeloader.

  • The Brattle is all about Steven Tobolowsky this weekend - the ubiquitous character actor will be doing a live version of his podcast, "The Tobolowsky Files, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8pm, and be the guest of honor at the Brattle Film Foundation's annual gala at the Charles Hotel at 5pm on Sunday. If that's not enough, four of his movies will play before and after the live performances: Sneakers and Groundhog Day on Saturday, and Groundhog Day, True Stories, and Memento on Sunday.

    The guests continue for the rest of the week, with a live concert to benefit the New England Folk Music Archives on Monday the 14th and director Jacqueline Goss present for the Balagan presentation of The Observers, a 16mm film that follows climatologists on Mount Washington. Another director will the there on Wednesday night to introduce a 9:30pm show of Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, a look at the punk & funk band still trying to play after twenty-five years. I'm not sure which director - both Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler are credited - but at least one will be there for opening night.

    It's a bit late for guests, but Everyday Sunshine is only playing the late show and only for five days; it will be sharing the screen with Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which also opens Wednesday the 16th. I quite liked this documentary on Kevin Clash, the man who has performed the little red monster on Sesame Street for years and is now an executive producer on the show, when it ran at IFFBoston this year. It's scheduled to run for a little over two weeks and will have some fun co-features starting next Saturday (the 20th).

  • Down the street, the Harvard Film Archive continues its Once Upon a Time... Sergio Leone with Duck, You Sucker! (Friday and Sunday evening), Once Upon a Time in the West (Saturday evening), and The Colossus of Rhodes (his debut film, Sunday afternoon). According to the website, Duck, You Sucker! will also include an hour of Clint Eastwood's early television work, even though the movie itself stars Rod Steiger and James Coburn.

    On Monday evening (the 14th), Oliver Laxe will visit with his film You All Are Captains, which he made with his students in Tangier and which blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction. Sounds like a great one to grill a director about afterward.

  • There's a pretty great line-up at Emerson's Paramount Theater this weekend. The week's Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy film is State of the Union, in which Frank Capra has Kate play the estranged wife of presidential candidate Tracy (Angela Lansbury is in it, too). It runs Friday at 6pm and Saturday at 6:15pm. If you've been there for a movie in the past few weeks, you've probably seen the gorgeous looking trailer for House of Bamboo, a Sam Fuller noir (albeit a gorgeous CinemaScope color one) set in occupied Japan starring Robert Ryan, Robert Stack, and Shirley Yamaguchi; it runs Friday at 8:15pm and Saturday at 8:30pm.

    The family-friendly stuff at 2pm looks good, too - on Saturday, director Jeff Chiba Stearns presents his partly-animated documentary One Big Hapa Family, which focuses on how a stunning number of ethnically Japanese Canadians are marrying outside their demographic. It's presented as part of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, which also presents a special appearance by James Hong on Friday night at MIT (where two shorts programs will also screen, at 9:15pm on Friday and 1pm on Sunday) and three movies at AMC Boston Common: Touch and Bang Bang on Saturday and Knots on Sunday; all will have directors attending.

    Oh, and there's a members-only preview screening of The Muppets on Sunday at 2pm. I'm not saying this screening alone is worth the $60 membership fee, but it more than pays for itself if you see enough movies there. Good luck finding the film membership page on their site, though - I think you have to sign up for the email newsletter and hope there's a link to it in that.

  • The Boston Jewish Film Festival wraps up at the Museum of Fine Arts this weekend (there's also one show in West Newton on Sunday) with screenings of My Best Enemy and Dusk on Saturday and Breath Made Visible, Lenin in October, and Mabul on Sunday. After that, the focus shifts to The Films of Catherine Deneuve, with Belle de Jour, The Girl on the Train, and Genealogies of a Crime playing on Wednesday the 16th and I'm Going Home playing on the afternoon of Thursday the 17th.

  • The new Bollywood film showing at Fresh Pond is Rockstar, with Ranbir Kapoor as a wanna-be musician who believes that his songs will never take off until he falls in love and has his heart broken, so he seeks out the most beautiful girl in his college (Nargis Fakhri). Popular composer A.R. Rahman does the music, and the soundtrack has apparently been a big deal in India for months pre-release. That one's got English subtitles, Telegu flick O My Friend apparently does not.

  • The Somerville Theatre is down to four screens this week, with the big auditorium used for live theater Friday and Sunday, a concert on Thursday, and The Alloy Orchestra with the restored Metropolis on Saturday night. I saw this earlier this year at a sold-out show, and it's well worth checking out. As a bonus, even with the Red Line out of service between Harvard and Alewife on weekends, there's still plenty of time afterwards to get to Brookine for the Moroder version. Metropolis double feature!

    They free the room by pushing The Rum Diary over to the Arlington Capitol. It's in the 48-seat screening room, while in amazing second-run news, Midnight in Paris, after months playing in Cambridge, is apparently set up in the main auditorium. Note that Midnight has no screenings on Thursday (a Steve Katsos benefit for Autism Speaks) and Puss in Boots has no 3D screenings on Tuesday (and only one 2D matinee at 3:30pm; not sure why).

My plans? Actually, kind of laid out: Duck, You Sucker! tonight. All afternoon and evening at ArtsEmerson on Saturday for One Big Hapa Family, State of the Union, and House of Bamboo. Maybe stay up late for the Moroder Metropolis. Right back there for The Muppets the next day. The Artist on Tuesday. Try to fit J. Edgar, Puss in Boots and Immortals in between.

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