Thursday, June 21, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 22 June 2012 - 28 June 2012

It's always at least a little sad to hear about a theater that's been around a while reaching the end of the line, which is the case with the Harvard Square Cinema, a 5-plex that AMC has announced will close in July. It's not particularly surprising - compared to other venues, it wasn't very good for the price and wound up ceding its boutique niche to Kendall Square as it moved to more mainstream fare once exclusive bookings went the way of the dodo. Used to be, the same thing would never open at both Harvard Square and Fresh Pond, and that was before the two FEI plexes went first-run - and now, why would you choose this spot over the cheaper, cleaner, and altogether nicer Somerville Theatre two T stops away?

Now it's just the place where The Rocky Horror Picture Show plays every Saturday at midnight and where Matt Damon and the Afflecks once worked. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that the live cast for Rocky Horror sets up shop somewhere else (the Coolidge would be my guess) by the time the college students come back.

So, while the closing of any cinema is sad, these days Harvard Square seldom represents something you can't see elsewhere or the best screen on which a movie is playing. The main auditorium is nice, but the other four are where I learned how to recognize how a single screen has been cut into several smaller ones. But, until it closes, they're getting new movies, so let's see what they'll be going out with.

  • Likely, the biggest opening is Brave, the newest film from Disney's Pixar group, which tells the tale of a Scottish tomboy princess who seeks to have her own adventures rather than just be seen as a marriageable commodity. It's had a bit of a tumultuous history history - its name changed from "The Bear and the Bow"; the first Pixar movie with a female lead was supposed to have a female director, but she was replaced; and there have been complaints that the 3D projection does bad things to its many less well-lit scenes (though how much is "legitimate problem" and how much is "I hate 3D and take any chance to complain" is as yet unclear). Pixar's overcome stuff like that before (remember Ratatouille?), and this at least looks gorgeous. Also plays the Arlington Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, and Fenway. 3D everywhere, 2D everywhere but Harvard Square.

    Similar 3D issues may dog Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is apparently not an elaborate, long-running gag, but a real movie directed by Timur Bekmambetov who may have just the right sort of style and action skills to make it work. Not that I'm betting on it, but it could happen. Plays Somerville (2D only), Harvard Square, Fresh Pond, Fenway, and Boston Common.

    Not opening in Harvard Square but playing Fenway, Boston Common, and Kendall Square is Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a road-trip comedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley trying to resolve the loose ends in their respective lives before an asteroid impact destroys all life on Earth. Man, it feels like I've seen this trailer a lot in the past six months.

  • Kendall Square also opens two other films, and has a special presentation to boot. The one-week booking is for 5 Broken Cameras, a documentary about a Palestinian village being hemmed in by Israeli settlements, with the hook being that the five cameras the farmer who shot the movie with are all lost in action. The Island President gets a shorter run (two shows on Tuesday the 26th), and also features a threatened homeland; in this case, it's the Maldives, whose first democratically-elected president may oversee the end of his nation, as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the low-lying archipelago.

  • Hopefully more upbeat is the second flick starring Mark Duplass to hit the area in as many weeks, which is also opening at the Coolidge. IFFBoston entry Your Sister's Sister features him as a guy mourning his brother whose best friend offers the use of her family's cabin for some alone time, only to have her sister show up, from which point buried feelings and awkwardness are inevitable.

    That opens on the big screens; the video room gets Pink Ribbons Inc., which documents how the campaign to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness has, in many ways, become its own industry that often neglects its actual cause.

    In special events, there are two midnight movies this week: Addams Family Values continues the "Summer Camp" series with Wednesday and Pugsley Addams being sent to camp while their new baby brother's nanny schemes to marry Uncle Fester. It plays both Friday and Saturday, while the annual "Can't Stop the Serenity" charity screening is a one-night event, with cosplay, raffles, and a food drive on tap. Sunday morning brings the latest Goethe-Institut German film screening, with Lessons of a Dream featuring Daniel Brühl as an English teacher in 19th-century Germany who uses soccer to get through to the reluctant students. And Monday night offers another broadcast of the Boyle/Miller/Cumberbatch Frankenstein, although the theater's weekly mailer has it marked as sold out.

  • The Brattle has an unusually simple schedule this week, showing IFFBoston alumnus Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story. This particular musician documentary covers the life of the Morphine frontman who died at a music festival in 1999, under apparently mysterious circumstances. Special guests will be appearing on Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, if not more often.

    It plays every day except Wednesday, when the monthly silent program returns with The Gold Rush, with Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp prospecting in Alaska. It's a classic and is billed as a new 35mm restoration, which means that the likelihood of a print with Chaplin's unceasing narration is very low.

  • The weekend program at the Harvard Film Archive is History Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: The Films of Aleksei Guerman. Guerman is considered one of the greatest modern Russian filmmakers, and the program includes Trial on the Road & My Friend Ivan Lapshin on Friday, Khrustalyov, My Car! (his most recent) on Saturday; The Seventh Companion & The Fall of Otrar on Sunday; and Twenty Days Without War on Monday.

  • The MFA continues its series of "Exclusive Screenings" that started on Thursday, with Payback, Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, and Lost Bohemia rotating through the weekend as well as Wednesday the 27th; on Thursday the 28th, the next cycle starts with Portrait of Wally and The Turin Horse

  • Two Indian movies with English subtitles open at Fresh Pond this weekend, Teri Meri Kahaani and Saguni. The former is Hindi and features Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra each playing three roles as the movie presents love stories in 1910, 1960, and 2012; the latter is Tamil and described as a political satire.

My plans? A wedding over the weekend, so I'll be seeing Brave and Abraham Lincoln around the corners and hopefully fitting Your Sister's Sister, Seeking a Friend... and maybe Moonrise Kingdom in during the week.

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