Friday, January 20, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 20 January 2012 - 26 January 2012

So far, January has been a lot of nothing, but it turns out that it's just been waiting to blast us with stuff that is at least interesting from all sides - there's a fair amount that's worth seeing this weekend, and a lot that is trying to convince us it is.

  • I'll admit it: I had a pretty big crush on Gina Carano when she was appearing on the revived American Gladiators a couple years ago, where she coincidently went by "Crush" (yes, I'm also admitting to watching the American Gladiators revival). So, yeah, I'd be pretty excited about Haywire, her first big role, even if it weren't the latest by Steven Soderbergh and filled with an absolutely fantastic cast. Strangely enough, straight-up action/adventure is one of the few things Soderbergh hasn't done (unless the sublime Out of Sight counts). Still, given that he's apparently good at everything, I'm sure this will kick some butt. Plays the Arlington Capitol, Fenway, and Boston Common.

    In the works for over twenty years, George Lucas's long-gestating Red Tails finally hits theaters this weekend. The January opening is, admittedly, not a good sign, but the trailers promise an old-fashioned aerial action/adventure set against the backdrop of an all-black squadrom of bomber escorts in WWII with state of the art effects. At the very least, it should be very pretty, and Lucas seems to have hired good people to write and direct this passion project, as well as put together a good cast. And, c'mon, admit it - the Fox fanfare followed by the Lucasfilm logo in the trailer still gave you goosebumps whether you want to admit it or not. Plays Fenway and Boston Common.

    Speaking of trailers, the opening of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close means we'll finally see the end of that one. I must admit, it seemed weird to me - the kid trying to follow a trail his eccentric father (Tom Hanks) left him after the father dies in 9/11 makes me wonder how dad knew to leave a mystery behind. Plays Somerville, Fenway, and Boston Common.

    Hey, they made another Underworld movie, and Underworld: Awakening is in 3D. Kate Beckinsale is back as a vampire who is now fighting humans who are fed up with being eaten so that she can look good in black leather as well as werewolves. The funny thing is, despite having missed hte last couple installments, this looks like something I could step right into, were I so inclined. Plays at Fenway and Boston Common, including the premium screens, although the furniture stores are sticking with Mission: Impossible.


  • Boston Common has a couple of other screens to fill, so they're going to add a couple of things that are a little more esoteric. Pina is a gorgeous 3D documentary by Wim Wenders showcasing the work of late choreographer Pina Bauch; I saw a preview last week and was kind of bowled over. They've also got a simultaneous release with Hong Kong with The Viral Factor, a new action/adventure movie by Dante Lam that stars Jay Chou (Kato in The Green Hornet) and Nicolas Tse (recently seen in Shaolin and Bodyguards and Assassins).

    Over in Harvard Square, Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War opens. I believe this is Zhang's first international feature; it features Christian Bale as a western refugee who tries to rescue a group of women during the Rape of Nanking.


  • In contrast, only one movie opens at Kendall Square, Young Goethe in Love. It's a historical romance about the famed German poet, and while that may not be your thing, it's worth remembering that co-writer/director Philipp St√∂lzl also made North Face, and though this is a completely different sort of film, it's still a pretty good track record.


  • The Brattle also opens one film, with Silent Souls playing Friday through Sunday. It's a nifty little Eastern European movie, featuring two longtime friends who go on a journey (across many bridges) to lay one's wife to rest in the traditional way. Arty, but not impenetrable. Note that it won't have any 9:30 shows, as "Hooked on Who" pops up, this weekend filled with episodes featuring robots (Tom Baker on Friday and Saturday, Matt Smith on Sunday).

    Monday and Tuesday (the 23rd and 24th) feature the return of a pair of special programs for their winter sessions, both opening up with director visits. The DocYard Presents will appear every other Monday; this one features Space Coast, a 1979 film by Michel Negroponte and Ross McElwee which looks at the Cape Canaveral area after the end of Apollo. Balagan Presents plays every other Tuesday; this installment is "A Visit From Daichi Saito", who will introduce and discuss six of his experimental short films. After that, they offer the chance to catch up with (Some of) The Best of 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes will play on wednesday the 25th, and a double feature of Melancholia and Take Shelter will run on Thursday the 26th, with the series continuing until February 5th.


  • The Coolidge, meanwhile, will be catering to people who would like to be in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance film Festival but can't. The screening rooms will be hosting a selection of last year's Sundance Shorts all week, while on Thursday the 26th, they will have their annual Sundance USA screening of Celeste and Jesse Forever, with director Lee Toland Krieger on hand for a Q&A. I'm almost certain that's sold out, though.

    There are two pretty good movies screening at midnight on Friday and Saturday this week - Mean Girls is the "Hey Ladies!" entrance downstairs, why Takeshi Kitano's fun and gory return to yakuza action Outrage is "Fresh Blood" upstairs. Going from midnight to mid-day, they'll have a special screening of Big Catholic Guilt: Resurrection on Saturday at noon, which shows a set they played at the Middle East in 2010, fourteen years after their last concert. Otherwise, no new openings, just continued screenings of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Dangerous Method, and The Iron Lady.


  • Okay, when FUNimation announced they would be screening Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos nationwide, I did not expect its Boston venue to be the Museum of Fine Arts. Apparently they worked well together with Summer Wars, though, so if you want to catch the latest movie based on the popular manga, that's where you'll go. If you do, be aware that it's dubbed in English. It plays Friday the 20th (7:45pm), Sunday the 22nd (10:30am), and Wednesday the 25th (5:30pm), and will continue next weekend.

    A more expected part of the MFA's calendar is the Boston Festival of Films from Iran, which features a number of films by Abbas Kiarostami as well as Circumstance (Wednesday the 25th at 7:50pm), which I liked quite a bit when it played IFFBoston last year.


  • School's back in session, so ArtsEmerson's screenings at the Paramount return with the start of Gotta Dance: The American Movie Musical, a long series featuring not just the well-known classics of the genre, but some more obscure examples. This weekend, they pair The Broadway Melody (Friday at 6pm and Sunday at 2pm) and Singin' in the Rain (Friday at 8:30pm and Saturday at 2pm); the Friday evening shows can be purchased as a double feature and will be introduced by classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz. On Friday night, they present Views and Wavelengths, a collection of short films that screened as part of the Toronto Film Festival's "Wavelengths" program and the New York Film Festival's "Views from the Avant-Garde". Several New England-based filmmakers will be present to discuss their contributions.


  • The Harvard Film Archive, meanwhile, begins screening The Complete Robert Bresson: Pickpocket on Friday (7pm) and Sunday (5pm), Angels of the Streets on Friday (9pm), Diary of a Country Priest (7pm) and Las Dames du Bois de Boulogne (9:30pm) on Saturday, Lancelot du Lac on Sunday (7pm), and The Devil Probably on Monday. That 7pm show will be introduced by artist Stephen Prina.


  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington has second screenings of the two documentaries from last week - Splinters (surfing in Papua New Guinea) reruns on Wedesday the 25th and Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged plays on Thursday the 26th; both begin at 7:30pm.



My plans? Red Tails and Haywire from the US, The Viral Factor and The Flowers of War from China, and Celeste and Jesse Forever from Sundance. Maybe I'll try and fit Young Goethe in Love or Underworld 4 in there, but that might really be pushing my luck.

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