Friday, February 10, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 10 February 2012 - 16 February 2012

The 2012 festival gauntlet starts this weekend - by the time I finish writing about the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival, it will be time for the Boston Underground Film Festival; by the time I'm done with BUFF, it's time for Independent Film Festival Boston; when I've written all I can on IFFBoston, I hit New York for the Asian Film Festival; and even though I generally wash my hands of NYAFF on the way to Montreal, Fantasia

  • The Boston SF Film Festival drives me nuts at times; I probably want them to succeed more than anybody who doesn't have a financial stake in the festival, but they can frustrate me so with how many details they don't sweat when it really wouldn't be that hard to do things right. But I go every year, and this year's Festival portion of the festivities is easily their most ambitious and impressive-looking yet, with about fifteen new features and eight shorts programs playing at the Somerville Theatre from the 10th to 18th. It's smaller stuff, but that's plenty exciting to me, and I can't believe that the schedule is packed enough that I'll actually have to miss some for work and class this year, even with basically living at the theater.

  • Everything at the festival is 2D, but the 3D theaters will get a workout with a couple sci-fi programs of their own. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is the first of the annual 3D re-releases that will be coming out way until 2017, and though the movie itself is the weakest of the group, it's still full of eye-popping visuals that deserve a big screen, with more care taken to the 3D conversion than has often been the case. That opens in Arlington, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, and Harvard Square. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island hits all those screens aside from Harvard Square; it's a week-looking sequel to that 3D Journey to the Center of the Earth that substitutes Dwayne Johnson for Brendan Fraser and reminds us that Michael Caine, having grown up knowing what it is to have no money, cannot turn down a paying gig.

    The picture looking to take advantage of Valentine's Day appears to be The Vow, which stars Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams as a newlywed couple who must overcome the wife's amnesia to fall in love again. It plays Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, and Harvard Square. Also playing those theaters, if you're looking for a thriller rather than a weepy, is Safe House, with Denzel Washington as a rogue spy and Ryan Reynolds the green desk jockey who winds up having to deal with him when things go crazy.

  • With the Oscar nominations in, the boutique houses are mostly letting people catch up with unseen nominees, and some of the toughest to see are the shorts. This week is a good time to get a line on them, as the three Oscar-Nominated Shorts programs will be playing in Cambridge and Brookline: Animation and Live-Action alternate times at Kendall Square (separate tickets required), while the Coolidge Corner theater has the Documentary shorts in their digital screening rooms.

    That means Madonna's W.E. is only opening at Boston Common. It leaps back and forth between the romance of Wallis Simpson and the King of England and a contemporary woman who is fascinated by the affair.

  • Better romantic options are likely to be found at the Brattle, which has their annual Great Romances repatory series this year, albeit without Casablanca, which Warner has pulled from distribution (boo!). Still, there's a pretty high-quality line-up: The Princess Bride on Friday and Saturday, a double feature of Gilda and To Have and Have Not on Sunday and Monday, Breakfast at Tiffany's pinch-hitting for Casablanca on Tuesday (the 14th), The Fly '86 on Wednesday, and In the Mood for Love wrapping things up on Thursday. On Friday night, there will also be a midnight screening of The Whitest Kids U Know: The Civil War on Drugs to coincide with their appearance at the Roxy.

  • The Oscar Documentary Shorts are the only full new booking at Coolidge Corner, but they've got several midnights this weekend: Moulin Rouge plays in the main auditorium, The Room upstairs (Friday only), and The Theatre Bizarre is back for another weekend in the screening room, with executive Daryl Tucker on hand for the Saturday night screening.

    No special films for Valentine's Day, but Mortified returns to the stage on Monday with all-new material for their Doomed Valentine's Day Show. Another stage show, Travelling Light, is beamed in from the National Theatre in London on Thursday.

  • More Ghibli at the Museum of Fine Arts this week, with Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns (in English on Sunday morning), The Ocean Waves,Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbors the Yamadas playing at various times between the 10th and 16th. The Swell Season finishes up its run with single shows on the 10th, 12th, and 15th (Friday/Sunday/Wednesday), while Objective, Burma! has single shows on the 10th and 11th as the week's "Exiled in Hollywood" selections. Saturday afternoon also features "BC, I Love You", and anthology featuring short films from ten Boston College alumni. It's free!

  • ArtsEmerson carries many of the shows from last weekend forward, but they do serve up a new "Gotta Dance" selection, with a restoration print of Rouben Mamoulian's Love Me Tonight playing Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. The rest of the weekend is filled with repeats of the Dreileben trilogy and Explorers on Saturday afternoon.

  • The Harvard Film Archive finishes up its Robert Bresson retrospective on Sunday evening with A Man Escaped, a movie that is no less exciting for the massive spoiler in the title. It's bookended by special guests - "David Gatten's Secret Histories", a series of films focusing on the nature of the written word, run Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon, with Mr. Gatten talking with the Archive's curators; Monday evening has Michael Almereyda in town to present his much-lauded documentary Paradise, along with a 1948 short by Helen Levitt, "In The Street". Even the free VES screenings are special - 2046 on Valentine's Day and Andre Ujica in person for a screening of The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu on Wednesday.

  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington has two films this week: A second screening of I Am Bruce Lee on Wednesday the 15th, and a "Sound Cinema" show of RE:Generation Music Project on Thursday the 16th. There were actually ads for that in the multiplexes a few weeks ago, and it looks pretty neat: A group of big-name electronica producers/DJs get out of their mixing rooms and go work with influential rock, jazz, country, classical, and R&B musicians, each producing a new song while director Amir Bar-Lev documents the process.

  • The Bollywood film at Fresh Pond this week is Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, which features Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor as a mismatched couple who meet, drink, and impulsively marry one night in Vegas.

  • The Museum of Science shuffles their IMAX films around a bit, adding Dolphins to the roster on Monday.

My plans? Basically living at the Somerville Theatre for the festival.

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