Friday, September 14, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 14 September 2012 - 20 September 2012

Apparently, the studios think we really want 3D this weekend, and we want it from something familiar. Such is life between the summer and fall movie seasons, as the local scene offers up mostly safe things.

  • Well, I think a Resident Evil: Retribution is kind of safe - it may be the fifth entry in a dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks series based on a videogame whose fans hate the movies, sneaking into theaters while the critics are flying back from Toronto, but these silly movies and their cliffhangers grew on me. Milla Jovovich is fun, and her husband/director Paul W.S. Anderson makes entertaining use of 3D. It plays Boston Common (2D/3D/Imax-branded 3D), Fenway (2D/RPX-branded 3D), Fresh Pond (2D/3D), and the Somerville Theatre (2D only). Also asking the audience to don glasses is a 3D re-release of Pixar's Finding Nemo, which will hopefully prove well-suited to the format. It plays the Arlington Capitol, Fresh Pond, Fenway, and Boston Common, with no 2D screenings.

    Boston Common's got a couple more screens to fill, so they pick up Samsara (in 4K digital; 35mm continues at Kendall Square) and Bangkok Revenge (aka Rebirth). The latter comes from China Lion, and is kind of an odd choice for them, being a French/Thai production that hit Thai theaters a year ago rather than a recent Chinese release. Still, if you're looking for an hour or so of martial-arts action on the big screen, they're willing to supply it
  • Boston Common also opens Arbitrage, as does the Coolidge and Kendall Square. It's a thriller that features Richard Gere as a Wall Street trader whose financial misdeed are soon compounded by a dead mistress at the worst possible time. Nice cast, including Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth, and I'm curious to see how Brit Marling fares in a larger production with someone else's script. Note that it splits time between film and video screens at the Coolidge, and that the 7pm screening on Tuesday is an "Off the Couch" presentation followed by discussion with members of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society.

    The Coolidge has some other special presentations, such as Santa Sangre, which plays at midnight on Friday and Saturday and is apparently strange even by Alejandro Jodorowsky's standards, though it's actually got more of a story than some of his other works of psychadelia. Sunday morning has This Ain't California, about skateboarders in 1980s East Berlin; the film combines found footage and recreations. Monday is a special "The Sounds of Silents" presentation: Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail, with a great score by the Alloy Orchestra, precede by a new composition that accompanies Hans Richter's 1926 short "Filmstudie".
  • In addition to Arbitrage, Kendall Square opens two French films: Beloved is the one-week booking, a musically-tinted romance featuring Catherine Deneuve and real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni as a parent and child with individual romantic issues, including flashbacks to the mother's youth (when she is played by Ludivine Sagnier). On another screen Little White Lies has Jean Dujardain and Marion Cotillard as a one-time couple whose friends confront their mortality and les petits mouchoirs they've told throughout the years.
  • On Thursday the 20th, Kendall Square and Regent Theatre in Arlington will have a special screening of Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest, which features both the band's 1986 concert and documentary footage of the lead-up to this first show by a western rock group behind the iron curtain. That's just one of three "Sound Cinema" programs that the Regent has; Tuesday the 18th features Joe Satriani: Satchurated Live in Montreal, while Wednesday the 19th is a special promotional screening of The Rise and Fall of The Clash, with director Danny Garcia on-hand for a Q&A afterward.

    Before those, though, the Sunday afternoon show at the Regent has something called The Boston Action Film Festival, which should be fun - an afternoon of locally-produced action shorts along with live demonstrations, comedy from Bigg Nez, and a raffle.
  • Want more concert films? The Brattle offers Shut Up and Play the Hits, a documentary on the final show of LCD Soundsystem, whose one-day engagements last month were evidently successful enough for a bigger run at the Brattle. It plays Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and for those who want yet more music, Club Passim is presenting the Session Americana CD Release on Thursday night.

    On Monday night, CineCaché returns for a new session of seven bi-weekly shows. The first is Collaborator, in which Martin Donovan stars and makes his directorial debut as a down-and-out playwright who crosses paths with an ex-con (David Morse); Olivia Williams also co-stars. Passes are available for the entire season, with discounts for Brattle and Chlotrudis members.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has the second half of their Raj Kapoor retrospective, with four more from the Indian cinema pioneer that cover his whole career. Barsaat (Monsoon) plays Friday night, Mera Naam Joker (My Name is Joker Saturday night, Jagte Raho (Stay Awake) Sunday afternoon, and Satyam Shivan Sundaram (Love Sublime) Sunday night. Remember, Indian films are often jumbo-sized.

    On Monday, Sharon Lockhart and Jen Casard appear in person for Lockhart's film Double Tide, a documentary which follows Maine clam-digger Casard as she takes advantage of a rare day when both low tides come during daylight hours. And while not an official HFA program, the room will be used on Wednesday for a free VES screening of Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans.
  • The good news: ArtsEmerson's film program is not quite so extinct as I'd feared, and starts up again this Friday! However, its upcoming programs have been heavily slanted toward supporting the main stage productions, so with Paris Commune playing for the 20th to 23rd, the next two weeks have films that tie in. The current program starts with The New Babylon on Friday at 6pm; the producer of this Soviet silent's recent restoration will introduce the film and discuss it with Paris Commune creators Michael Friedman & Steve Cosson afterward. An archive print of Babette's Feast plays Friday at 5pm and Sunday at 1pm, and Peter Watkins's La Commune: Paris, 1871 plays Saturday afternoon at 5pm.

    The less good news is that the bulk of the archive print is now the exception as opposed to the rule; the bulk of the programming will be presented on video. For example, the Saturday afternoon show of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, where westerners who crash their plane in the Himalayas are rescued by the people of Shangri-la, is listed as being screened from DVD, which even on that relatively small screen, is not ideal.
  • The MFA continues a number of films from last week into the weekend, with a different time every day (Friday-Sunday) for Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Kumaré, and Planet of Snail. On Wednesday, they start a new cycle of documentaries, with China Heavyweight following a former boxing champion and his two students, IFFBoston feature Detropia showing Detroit residents trying to hold their city together with willpower and humor, and What Time Is Left contrasting filmmaker Dakin Henderson's two octogenarian grandmothers (one suffering from dementia and the other still sharp) as he receives frightening news of his own.
  • Believe it or not, the Hindi film playing at Fresh Pond is not a raunchy comedy, despite the title "Barfi!". That's the name of the title character, a mute and hearing-impaired man who initially loves one woman (Ileana D'cruz) who marries a "normal" man, meeting her later when searching for his lost new love, the mentally-handicapped Jhimul (Priyanka Chopra).
  • The Somerville Theatre is playing a reduced schedule on Saturday - no screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, The Campaign, or The Bourne Legacy, and only an early matinee of Compliance - in order to accomodate a couple of special events. Dar Williams will be doing a live show in the main theater, while All Things Horror presents The Etheria Film Festival, two blocks of short films (one fantasy, one sci-fi) and a short documentary feature noteworthy for all being directed by women.
  • The Boston Film Festival begins Thursday the 20th at the Stuart Street Playhouse, and their opening night at least features a couple of interesting films, though both will likely be opening at other venues soon: Butter is a "passions are so high because the stakes are so small" movie about a small town's butter-carving contest that features Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman, Rob Corddry, and Yara Shahidi (as the underdog almost certain to win the thing); Head Games is the new documentary from the director of Hoop Dreams that focuses on sports concussions, a problem getting more attention although one that is still often taken lightly.
My plans? Etheria, Bangkok Revenge, Resident Evil, Arbitrage, Blackmail, maybe the Action Film Festival, and, yes, I'll likely give the BFF another shot with Head Games.

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