Although, is it selfish of me to want The Hole to open here, too? Sure, I don't have the time to see everything I want to this weekend, but I would make time for Joe Dante in three dimensions.
- The big priority is Looper, in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hitman who targets people sent back in time from thirty years in the future - and his latest target is his older self (Bruce Willis). It's directed by Rian Johnson of Brick and Brothers Bloom fame, with the maker of Primer helping out on the time-travel logic. That is what you call a good pedigree, and it's been getting a ton of festival praise. It opens at Somerville, Boston Common, Fenway, and Fresh Pond.
There's other stuff that is not so obviously great opening, but which has potential. Pitch Perfect, for instance, looks like a standard take on the competitive-performance moive, this one with singing, but it's got Anna Kendrick in the lead role and Rebel Wilson looks downright hilarious in the trailer. It's at Fenway and Boston Common. Hotel Transylvania is Adam Sandler and friends doing the voices of Universal Monsters knock-offs in an animated kids' comedy, but it's directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, and he's done great stuff. It plays the Arlington Capitol, Boston Common, Fenway, and Fresh Pond, by and large alternating 2D and 3D showings at each. Those screens also play Won't Back Down, with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis playing mothers pushing to improve their kids' school. Again, looks pretty standard, but a nice cast.
- Meanwhile, AMC is opening a lot of smaller stuff at Boston Common: Not only do they keep 10 Years stick around on a split screen for a week and open The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but they are where China Lion opens Vulgaria, a Hong Kong comedy by Pang Ho-Cheung that is as crude as its title implies and funny as hell. I laughed hard when I saw it at Fantasia and eagerly await the chance to help it earn some money this weekend. Go see it.
Speaking of festival films, Solomon Kane has been kicking around the festival circuit for roughly three years and just got distribution now. It stars James Purefoy as a 16th-century Puritan monster-hunter, a character created by Robert E. Howard of Conan fame. The long-delayed release may mean that either the movie or distributor is a bit of a mess, or both. Backwards, meanwhile, features Sarah Megan Thomas (who also writes) as a competitive rower who takes a coaching job as the window closes on her racing career, which is likely what leads to the romance with James Van Der Beek's character.
- Of course, one can argue that the best movie opening this weekend is at the Brattle, which has a new and beautiful 35mm print of Vertigo. Widely considered Alfred HItchcock's greatest film (and pushing past Citizen Kane to be listed as the best of all time in the latest Sight & Sound poll), it stars James Stewart and Kim Novak in a bizarre tale of obsession. Only runs Friday to Sunday, and Friday's shows are pushed late by the closing-day slate of The Massachusetts Independent Film Festival from 2:30pm to 7:30pm, so don't waste any time getting to it.
Monday and Tuesday are special events and part of regular series: Keep the Lights On, on Monday, is the second CineCache film of the fall, and has director Ira Sachs on-hand to introduce and discuss what is apparently an intense romance between two men over the course of a decade; it's co-presented by the Boston LGBT Film Festival. Tuesday, meanwhile, is a Balagan presentation, "Germany Year 1962", curated by Dagmar Kmalah and featuring short films from German from that year, plus or minus five. At least five will be seen on 35mm, with a different program playing the Coolidge (off DVD) on Sunday.
The next day kicks off the Cloak & Dagger: Spies on Screen repertory series with a pair of nifty double features. Wednesday's includes the quite nice (and quite serious) recent version of John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy alongside Carol Reed's witty adaptation of Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana (featuring Alec Guinness). The different approaches are even more clear on Thursday, when The Ipcress File (featuring Michael Caine as tough, no-nonsense agent Harry Palmer) is paired with two of the more fantastical episodes of The Avengers with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg.
- Kendall Square puts The Perks of Being a Wallflower on two screens (in addition to the one it's getting at Boston Common). It's got a great cast of young actors (Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller) in an adaptation of a much-loved book, although I must admit that the trailer screams "generic coming-of-age movie" at me. They've also got a one-week booking of "Stars in Shorts", which is what it sounds like - a package of short films featuring fairly recognizable actors.
They also open two documentaries. How to Survive a Plague chronicles how activists in the 1980s and 1990s pushed to get HIV treatments approved in record rime and transformed the disease from an automatic death sentence to something merely very dangerous. It played IFFBoston this spring and I seem to recall it being well-liked. The other one is Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, a biography of the longtime fashion editor that is put together by the wife of her grandson.
- With The Master firmly ensconced in the main theater in 70mm, the Coolidge will play this year's edition of The Manhattan Short Film Festival in the small GoldScreen room, where audiences can not only watch two hours of new shorts, but vote on their favorites. Sunday also has another selection of short films - "Provoking Reality", a Ralph Eue-curated collection of films that compliments the Brattle's "Germany Year 1962" program, and two preview screenings that render last week's Boston Film Festival even more moot than before: The Oranges, a Talk Cinema presentation which features Hugh Laurie as a father whose black-sheep daughter returns home for Thanksgiving and wreaks havoc on the family and neighborhood, and The Sessions, a members-first free screening with star John Hawkes, director Ben Lewin, and producer Judi Levine stopping by to talk about their movie about bedridden-but-upbeat writer Mark O'Brien.
The Midnight Movie on Friday and Saturday is Sleepaway Camp, a cult-favorite slasher from 1983 which, IIRC, was planned for the summer but was delayed due to print-wrangling issues. Supposedly, it's got one of the most bizarre endings of the genre, which is saying something.
- ArtsEmerson continues their Shakespeare on Screen series this weekend: Stage Beauty and Shakespeare in Love (35mm) on Friday, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and the Zefferelli Romeo & Juliet (35mm) on Saturday, and 10 Things I Hate About You on Sunday afternoon. All are DVD unless otherwise indicated.
Similarly, the Harvard Film Archive continues The Passions of Werner Schroeter: The Rose King (35mm) and The Smiling Star (digital) on Friday, Malina (35mm) and Willow Springs (digital) on Saturday, Dress Rehearsal (digital) and Flocons d'or (digital) on Sunday, and a digital double feature of theatrical adaptations ("Salome" and "Macbeth") on Monday. Silent film fans can drop by on Wednesday for a free VES screening of Man with a Movie Camera.
- The MFA finishes up the September calendar with more screenings of Detropia and You've Been Trumped, along with a special screening of Jake Mahaffy's War on Saturday the 29th. The latter is shot on a silent, hand-cranked camera, and the screening will also features several of Mahaffy's short films. They've also got a screening of the Manhattan Short Film Festival on Sunday the 30th, and come October, they trade one IFFBoston documentary for another, showing screenings of David Redmon's and Ashley Sabin's Downeast on Wednesday and Thursday. I missed that one at the festival (though I did like their Girl Model); it covers an attempt to keep a Maine cannery in business by switching its specialty to lobster.
- That Manhattan Short Film Festival sure gets around - it also plays the Regent Theatre in Arlington on Friday and Sunday evenings. They've also got Backwards booked from Tuesday to Thursday, probably not expecting that AMC would pick it up too.
Speaking of getting around, Detropia may finish at the MFA on Sunday, but director Heidi Ewing will be in town on Thursday to screen the film with a Q&A at the UMass Boston Film Series on Thursday, October 4th at 7pm. Admission is free, although I don't know how many seats there are in the venue where the film will screen (the UMass Boston Campus Center 3rd Floor Ballroom).
- FEI brings Arbitrage to the Somerville Theatre after it closes in Kendall Square.