- The big opening this week is John Carter, Disney's big-budget adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars, with the name changed because marketing people decided boys wouldn't go see something with "Princess" in its name and girls would run screaming from "Mars". Silly, because a hundred-year-old story about a Civil War veteran who is somehow transported to a habitable Mars where he gets involved in the wars between various native races is going to sink or swim no matter what words are in the title. The Arlington Capitol and Fresh Pond split single screens between 2D and 3D (so check times); Boston Common and Fenway each have 2D and 3D screens; Harvard Square has it in 3D only; and it plays the premium screens at Jordan's Furniture, Fenway, and Boston Common.
Stars on the way up and down take the other mainstream screens. Elizabeth Olsen follows up Martha Marcy May Marlene with Silent House; it's a real-time horror movie about a girl trapped in her family home (edited to look like a single take) from the directors of Open Water, working from an original from Uruguay. It plalys Fresh Pond, Boston Common, and Fenway. The same screens have the latest from Eddie Murphy, A Thousand Words, in which he plays an insincere talent agent who will die when he speaks the thousand words of the title.
- The Coolidge opens Friends with Kids, with Kissing Jessica Stein's Jennifer Westfeldt writing, directing, and starring in a movie about two platonic friends who decide to have a baby together. It also plays Boston Common and the Kendall.
In special programs, the Boston Underground Film Festival gears up for the main event later this month by presenting the infamous Cannibal Holocaust at midnight on Friday and Saturday; it's one of the first found-footage horror movies, originally banned in many places for being thought authentic. Sunday morning is the latest Goethe-Institut presentation, Cracks in the Shell, in which a meek young actress is cast completely against type in her first role.
- Kendall Square is also finally opening We Need to Talk About Kevin in Boston, just two or three months after it hit New York and L.A. Tilda Swinton is one of several actresses criminally overlooked by the Oscar nominators, because her performance as the mother of a teenaged monster is fantastic. They also open The Forgiveness of Blood, an Albanian film from an American director (Joshua Marston, who also went abroad to make Maria Full of Grace) about a murder that turns into a blood feud.
Aside from Friends with Kids, they've got a couple other movies with more mainstream appeal. Being Flynn also opens at Boston Common; it features Paul Dano as a man whose father (Robert De Niro) unexpectedly re-enters his live. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, in which Ewan MacGregor and Emily Blunt fall in love while trying to introduce a sport (and species) to a country whose environment rahter inhospitable, will almost certainly play in the multiplexes considering how many times the trailer has played everywhere over the last few months, but for now is just at Kendall Square and their sister cinema in Waltham's Embassy Square.
Speaking of the Embassy, they are the only theater in the area playing Ralph Fienne's adaptation of Coriolanus, a modernized take with a screenplay by John Logan and a cast that includes Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, and Brian Cox. There's a poster or two up elsewhere, but if you want to see this movie, you may want to take the 70 bus out there.
- The Brattle has Battle Royale back this week, playing one more week of late shows in advance of it finally hitting legitimate US video and the American remake coming out. (Wait, you say The Hunger Games isn't a remake? Huh.)
The things playing earlier that 9:30 are sort of mixed and matched, starting with a Film Noir Weekend: Sunset Boulevard and In a Lonely Place play as a double feature on Friday and Saturday; The Lady from Shanghai and The Postman Always Rings Twice are the twin bill on Sunday and Monday. The Balagan show on Tuesday is A Visit from Bruce Bickford, with the stop-motion animator presenting a 90-minute program of his clay work in person. The week is finished out with two French-language films as part of Francophone Week - Switzerland's La Petite Chambre on Wednesday and Quebec's Starbuck on Thursday.
- ArtsEmerson wraps up "Portraits of New Orleans" with three screenings of Trouble the Water (Friday and Saturday), a documentary on Hurricane Katrina constructed from the home movies of someone who started shooting herself just before the storm began. The "Gotta Dance" screening on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is Kid Millions, an Eddie Cantor-starrer in which a young Brooklynite has misadventures claiming an inherited fortune; it's notable for switching from black and white to Technicolor for the big finale. And the "Crazie Cult Classics" screening on Saturday night is The Intruder, with Professor Eric Schaefer introducing a 1962 Roger Corman film that stars William Shatner as a provocateur looking to whip up unrest about school integration.
- The MFA kicks off their "Friday Night Films" series on the 9th with Such Hawks, Such Hounds, a documentary on "the American hard rock underground". It starts at 7:45, but folks who arrive at the museum by 7pm will be treated to a set by Zozobra beforehand. The other documentary playing that weekend is also musical, with A Drummer's Dream playing at various times on Friday through Sunday. The Saturday afternoon screening will also feature live performance afterward, along with a Q&A and a raffle for a cymbal set.
Sunday afternoon features the full four-hour-plus Cleopatra, and when they start showing films again on Wednesday, it's a New Latin American Cinema program, with Argentina's The Prize on Wednesday and Colombia's animated Fat, Bald, Short Man on Thursday.
- The Harvard Film Archive begins The Melancholy Worlds of Béla Tarr this weekend; it will run through the 25th. The series opens with Tarr's latest (and, allegedly, last), The Turin Horse running at 7pm on Friday and Sunday evenings; also featured will be Damnation (Saturday at 7pm), The Outsider (Saturday at 9:15pm), The Prefab People (Sunday at 4:30pm), and Family Nest (Monday at 7pm).
- The Hindi movie opening at Fresh Pond this weekend is Kahaani, a thriller starring Vidya Balan as a pregnant woman from Londan searching Kolkata for her missing husband - who may or may not exist.
- And in second-run-shuffling action, the Somerville Theatre picks up both The Secret World of Arietty and A Dangerous Method as they leave Kendall Square, with The Iron Lady and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy both making their way to the Arlington Capitol.
My plans? Maybe some of the Brattle noirs, The Intruder, and Silent House. Maybe try to make it to the furniture store to see Mars on the giant screen. And if I wind up working from home, maybe catch Coriolanus (the Embassy used to be on my way home, but now I haven't been there in at least a year). Maybe Starbuck, as I tend to get unnaturally curious about movies when I see posters for them all over Montreal during my annual Fantasia visit.