(And my niece, and my cousin, who both share the day with me. And Sting, Groucho Marx, Ghandi, and more. 2 October is a legitimately cool day to be born!)
- It actually looks like a potentially weekend; perhaps the surest bet is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in 50/50, in which the former is given that prognosis for surviving his cancer and chemotherapy. Doesn't necessarily sound funny, but Rogen and his co-writer based it on events they lived through (so, the folks who complain about Rogen always "playing himself" can at least point to a good reason), and early reports have it as honest and well-observed.
The more conventional comedy coming out this weekend is What's Your Number?, in which Anna Faris (for some reason or another) decides that one of her ex-boyfriends is her soulmate and tries to figure out which one; I'm guessing that the best pal played by Chris Evans is more likely. There's also a familiar-sounding horror/thriller type, Dream House, in which a family moves from the city to a small New England town only to find out their house was the site of a grisly murder. It's got a nice cast (Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz), but, man, doesn't it sound an awful lot like Don't Be Afraid of the Dark from just a month ago, with a title that's easily confused with Hong Kong gross-out real-estate movie Dream Home?
- Meanwhile, Boston Common is plugging a lot of different things in, apparently to kill time until Real Steel comes out next week. Specifically, the faux-IMAX screen is pushing Contagion down to one or two shows a day, filling the gaps in with hits from the last few years - Star Trek, Inception, and Fast Five. Each gets one show a day, with times alternating, so check before you go. The good news is that the returnees are only $7 each (though Contagion is still full price). They're also keeping the 3D-ified Lion King around for an extra week beyond the limited two week engagement, but it's done so crazy well that everyone is.
Not everyone is picking up Bunraku, a Sin City/The Warrior's Way-looking movie starring Josh Hartnett and Japanese singer Gackt along with the likes of Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, and Ron Perlman. It's apparently based on a Japanese legend, but I'm still kind of surprised that they didn't rename it, since it's apparently heavily Westernized. It closed the Boston Film Festival last week, so take that as you will.
Also opening: Courageous, a movie about four police officers who are also fathers finding themselves growing apart from their sons and turning to God for help. It's distributed by Sony (albeit TriStar Pictures, which now seems to be mostly an acquisition label), but developed and produced by an Alabama church. Which is cool, but if that's not your thing...
- Boston Common and Kendall Square both open Machine Gun Preacher, wihch has been doing a frighteningly hard sell on my inbox. It's the story about an ex-biker who goes to East Africa to do volunteer work and chooses to take action against the groups terrorizing the populace and recruiting child soldiers. It's got some nice people involved - Gerard Butler is in the title role, supported by Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, and Michael Shannon, with generally pretty-good Marc Foster directing - but early word is that it's trying too hard.
Kendall Square also picks up The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 as the one-week booking, which combines a bunch of unused footage shot by a Swedish TV network during the time in question with new interviews into what is apparently an electric look at the Black Power movement during those years.
- With Drive and The Debt sticking around in the main theaters at the Coolidge, the new releases are opening up in the smaller video rooms. The most fun is likely Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, a backwoods-slasher movie reimagined as door-slamming farce that absolutely deserves more than one show a day at 9:45 (plus a midnight on Friday and Saturday) on digital video. Instead, it shares a screen with Girlfriend, in which a man with Down Syndrome comes into some money and tries to reconnect with his high-school crush, now an unemployed single mother with an abusive boyfriend. Could be really good or really schmaltzy. Lead actor Evan Sneider will be in town for a Q&A after the 4:30pm show on Sunday (2 October).
The other digital screen is playing Restless, the new one by Gus Van Sant. It's about the romance between a terminal cancer patient and a dropout businessman whose best friend is the ghost of a kamikaze pilot - and I'm sure that Van Sant will put his stamp on it. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'll leave up to you.
The midnights for the week at least look fun - Friday night's (aside fromTucker & Dale) include the monthly screening of The Room and Deadbeat at Dawn, a 1988 exploitation film about an ex-gang-leader woh goes straight, has his girlfriend killed, and exacts revenge. The Boston Underground Film Festival guys are co-presenting it, and writer/director Jim Van Bebber will be there in person. Saturday night, J. Cannibal will be presenting his "Feast of Flesh XI", a multimedia presentation that includes music by metalcore group Acaro, sexy dancing by the Black Cat Burlesque, and a 35mm presentation of Demons, produced by Mario Bava and directed by Lamberto "not Mario" Bava. And while it doesn't run at midnight, the Science on Screen presentation on Monday (3 October) is the original Roger Corman Little Shop of Horrors (complete with very young Jack Nicholson).
- If you couldn't get a ticket for Pearl Jam Twenty during its successful Brattle Theatre run, you've got one last chance; it has a final screening at 6:30pm on Friday, after which Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle returns. It's a six-and-a-half hour work, five parts presented in three programs (though they were originally produced out of order), all reputedly very strange and non-linear, and never to appear on home video. Its various bits run through Tuesday the 4th; on Wednesday the 5th, the Cambridge READS program presents a classic comedy double feature - Duck Soup and Dr. Strangelove.
- The Harvard Film Archive finishes up its "Risorgimento on Screen" program on Friday night with Luchino Visconti's The Leopard. On Monday night, they've got British "experimental filmmaker and radical ethnographer" Ben Rivers, who will introduce two of his recent short films, "Slow Action" and "Sack Barrow". And in between, there's the first three films from a two-month retrospective on 16mm documentarian Frederick Wiseman - Basic Training and High School on Saturday and Domestic Violence on Sunday.
- Saturday is also the start of a long Katharine Hepburn series "Kate the Iconoclast/Katharine the Icon", which will run through December. October covers 1932-1938, with matinee screenings of the 1933 Little Women on the 1st and 2nd, while Saturday night has two screenings of Hepburn's debut, A Bill of Divorcement, where George Cukor cast her opposite John Barrymore and Billie Burke as a bride-to-be who is surprised by the return of her unstable father (Barrymore). Before that, on Friday (30 September), film historian Eric Schaefer presents Herschell Gordon Lewis's Scum of the Earth!, which seems like a wonderfully hypocritical exploitation film about a young girl lured into the dirty-pictures business.
- The MFA kicks continues Celebrating World Cinema starting on Saturday, with The Hunter from Iran over the weekend and Curling from Quebec starting Wednesday the 5th. Sunday afternoon also has a series of selections from the Manhattan Short Film Festival, while Wednesday also begins a run of The City Dark, a highly-entertaining documentary about the expected (and unexpected) problems of light pollution. Thursday also features an evening screening of Benda Bilili, about a Congolese band made up entirely of musicians suffering from polio.
- The Omni theater at the Museum of Science switches its programming up with the new month - "Adrenaline Rush", "Coral Reef Adventure", and "Tornado Alley" have their last shows on Friday, with "Alaska: Spirit of the Wild", "Greece: Secrets of the Past", and "Ring of Fire" returning to take their place on Saturday.
- The Regent Theatre has live music Friday and Saturday, but next weekend will host the Arlington International Film Festival, which kicks off on Thursday night with We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, a pretty good documentary about the attempts to revive the Wampanoag language in Eastern Massachusetts. It will be followed by a panel discussion with director Anne Makepeace, subject Jessie Little Doe Baird, and MIT linguist Norvin Richards III.
My plans? Well, since the Red Sox have gone and made watching baseball less important this week, I'll have some extra time. I'm thinking 50/50, Moneyball, and Bunraku. Maybe A Bill of Divorcement. And probably Star Trek, because that is a lot of fun on the big, big screen, and it's been a while since I've seen it; I might have actually had to play my Blu-ray!