Friday, January 27, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 27 January 2012 - 2 February 2012

Huh, I haven't done an Oscar Nominations Reaction Entry in six years. I guess I've been better at handling things I can't control.

  • The nominations have led to a little stuff popping back up at theaters - The Descendants and Hugo return to Fenway. A few other things that received nominations show up in town for the first time: Albert Nobbs, which features Glenn Close as the title character, a woman who disguises herself as a man works as a butler in a small Irish hotel in the 19th Century for so long that it's become her whole identity. It plays at Kendall Square, Coolidge Corner, and Boston Common. Kendall Square alone gets A Separation, which is not only considered the front-runner for the Foreign Language Film award, but snagged a screenplay nomination for a story of an Iranian woman who sues for divorce, a precarious prospect in the best of times.

  • The big release at mainstream theaters is The Grey, which apparently is even better than the previews which make it look like a tense story of wilderness survival would indicate. Supposedly star Liam Neeson and writer/director Joe Carnahan are 2012's first award contenders, enough to make people wonder why it wasn't released a month earlier. At any rate, it's a pretty auspicious debut from Open Road, the distributor formed by AMC and Regal theaters to fill the gaps in what the studios are providing. In addition to those two chains' screens in Harvard Square, Fenway, and Boston Common, it's also appearing at Somerville and Fresh Pond.

    There's less fanfare for Man on a Ledge and One for the Money. The former (playing at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Harvard Square, Fenway, and Boston Common) is a thriller featuring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks as the title character and the shrink sent to talk him down, not knowing that he's serving as a diversion for a massive heist. The latter (at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Fenway, and Boston Common) stars Katherine Heigl as the star of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels about an unlikely bounty hunter.

  • There's some one-offs at various theaters too: Kendall Square's one-week booking is Crazy Horse, Frederick Wiseman's documentary of the namesake Paris burlesque house. The trailer promotes it as being from the director of La Danse, although I'm guessing that that movie didn't have quite so much nudity as the preview shows.

    Boston Common, meanwhile, gets Miss Bala, Mexico's submission for the Academy Awards. It didn't get shortlisted, but it's received good buzz. It features Stephanie Sigman as a would-be beauty queen who finds that it's a more dangerous, corrupt business than she might have thought.

  • Are we still on awards? If so, the Brattle's (Some of) The Best of 2011 series provides both opportunities to catch up on nominees and looks at things that maybe should have been nominated. You can catch Le Havre on Friday, World on a Wire on Saturday (with late shows of Attack the Block both days), a documentary double feature of Nostalgia for the Light and Cave of Forgotten Dreams on Sunday, The Interrupters on Monday, a double feature of Beginners and Weekend on Tuesday, the original Japanese cut of 13 Assassins on Wednesday, and a double feature of Bill Cunningham New York and Midnnight in Paris on Thursday.

  • Over at the Coolidge, in addition to opening Albert Nobbs, they've got a couple of Friday and Saturday midnights of things I saw at Fantasia last summer but didn't write up full reviews for. The Theatre Bizarre is an anthology film with work by seven directors. Some of the segments, like Buddy Giovinazzo's "I Love You", are darn good; others... Well, less so, as is the way with anthologies. Local director David Gregory (who did "Sweets") will be on hand Saturday night to introduce and withstand interrogation (IIRC, much of the questions for his segment may consist of variations on "what the hell, man? what...the...hell?"). That's upstairs; the midnight show is Battle Royale, the classic satire featuring Takeshi Kitano and a pre-Kill Bill Chiaki Kuriyama. It was mostly a cult sensation in the US because it never had official distribution here, and this theatrical release is in anticipation of it finally hitting DVD and Blu-ray in March (right along the time The Hunger Games shows up in theaters). It's a genuine classic, well worth seeing on the big screen.

    Other special programs show up during the week: The Goethe-Institute German film on Sunday morning is Stopped on Track, about a man who finds out he has a terminal illness; on a far less serious note, Monday's Science On Screen program is Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, which includes discussion by MIT's professor Edward Farhi on the theory of time travel.

  • The MFA closes out their January calendar with the end of their Boston Festival of Films From Iran; the films running Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are all 2011 releases, showing what's going on there now. There's also one last show of the dubbed Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos on Saturday morning.

    And speaking of animated films from Japan, they kick of the February schedule on Wednesday with the first few screenings of Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli. This touring program is the chance to see some absolutely fantastic films on the big screen in their original language and mostly in 35mm. On Wednesday (1 February), they will be running two of Hayao Miyazaki's more recent features, Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away; the next day features Spirited Away, Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, and Isao Takahata's Only Yesterday.

  • ArtsEmerson has a set of nifty programs upstairs at the Paramount Theater this weekend, including a visit from one of their own academics. On Friday night, Asian Cinema scholar Shujen Wang will introduce and discuss When Love Comes, the latest by Taiwanese filmmaker Chang Tso-chi, which focuses on multiple generations of family living together and running a restaurant. They will also have two more entries in their Gotta Dance! series on the American musical, and their rarities: Sunnyside Up comes from 1929 and Delicious is from 1931, very early in the development of the form, and while some of the songs may be familiar, most of the cast has since faded into obscurity. Neither of the two is available on DVD, and Sunnyside Up is a new 35mm print.

  • It's a very French weekend at the Harvard Film Archive. They continue their series of The Complete Robert Bresson with Mouchette and L'Argent on Friday night, The Trial of Joan of Arc on Sunday afternoon, Four Nights of a Dreamer on Sunday evening, and Au Hasard Balthazar on Monday. Famed cinematographer and director Claire Denis will introduce Four Nights of a Dreamer on Sunday (she appears as an extra); on Saturday, she will introduce and discuss her own film White Material, as well as a featurette she recently shot, "To The Devil".

  • After a few weeks without Hindi-language (or English-subtitled) movies, Fresh Pond gets Agneepath, featuring Hrithik Roshan as an exile returning to claim his home village from the gangsters who have overrun it.

My plans? Well, I've heard fantastic things about The Grey and A Separation, so I'll likely be hitting those. Some Ghibli, definitely (language practice! It's educational!). And both One for the Money and Man on a Ledge look like they could be at least entertaining. Well, here's hoping, at least.

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