Thursday, September 20, 2012

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 21 September 2012 - 27 September 2012

The end of summer on the calendar happens this week, and the recent end to the Toronto Film Festival means that the floodgates are going to start opening for more critically acclaimed films - indeed, this weekend is packed. Of course, there are still two comic-book movies coming out, though neither is standard superhero fare. Still, it's quite possible neither is the biggest release of the weekend.

  • The biggest release - quite literally, in one case - may be The Master, the newest film from Paul Thomas Anderson, who seems to be shifting from Altman-ish ensemble casts to examinations of big, charismatic characters and the people around them. This time, the character in question is Philip Seymour Hoffman's post-WWII cult leader who is not a thinly-veiled version of L. Ron Hubbard (or so they say), with Joaquin Phoenix as his right hand-man. Though it plays at Kendall Square (35mm), Boston Common, and Fenway (both digital), you want to see it at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, which is screening one of a dozen or so 70mm prints made. The movie was shot on large-format film and seeing it that way should be amazing. The Coolidge is committed to at least three weeks of 70mm screenings, and the opening weekend shows are selling out fast. Note that they will be charging a couple bucks extra.

    Over in the screening room, the Coolidge is opening Knuckleball!, which I saw and liked during IFFBoston despite never getting around to a full review (You embargo a film, I put off writing about it, and eventually it's been too long and I can't, no matter what all those late-arriving Fantasia reviews may make you think). It's an entertaining look at baseball's oddest pitch and its practitioners, particularly Tim Wakefield (in his last season) and R.A. Dickey (who is having quite the late career surge).

    There's also a nice chunk of special events playing. The main Friday/Saturday midnight film on 35mm in the main theater is Point Break; the upstairs theater has the monthly showing of The Room on Friday and five tall (every one over 5'10") Naked Girls Reading flash fiction aloud on Saturday night. The Master taking up residence on screen one means that Monday's 35mm Big Screen Classics show of Funny Girl plays upstairs
  • One of the big mainstream openings is Dredd 3D, a second go at bringing the iconic 2000AD comics character to the big screen. Work out of the UK is that it's an excellent translation, more loyal to the core of the character and world than the Stallone version (which hit more mythology/story points), and Karl Urban never takes the helmet off. The 3D is also said to be extremely well-used, as Dredd and rookie Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson hunt down the purveyor of Slo-Mo, a drug that alters one's perception of time that is the latest threat to Mega City One. It plays the Capitol, Boston Common, and Fenway in 3D and Fresh Pond in 2D (Fenway & Boston Common each have one 2D screening daily).

    End of Watch, meanwhile, uses "found footage" for a crime drama, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as uniformed L.A. cops who get in way over their head when investigating a Mexican drug cartel. Director David Ayer did well with Training Day and has a nice cast to work with here; the movie opens at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, and Fenway. Also benefiting from a nice cast? Robert Lorenz, who gets Clint Eastwood to star as an aging baseball scout in Trouble with the Curve, despite the man supposedly being done behind the camera with Gran Torino and not having acted for other directors since, what, In the Line of Fire? He's joined by Amy Adams as his daughter, as well as Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. It plays the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Fenway, and Boston Common.

    It also looks like we're going to get a fairly busy Halloween season; this week's horror/thriller is House at the End of the Street, in which Jennifer Lawrence plays a teenager in a new town whose neighbor is hunky but whose house has a scary secret. It's at Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, and Fenway. Boston Common also keeps Bangkok Revenge around for one show a night and opens 10 Years, a high-school reunion comedy with Channing Tatum, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Anthony Mackie, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, and some more folks who likely don't sell tickets on their own but add up to a nice ensemble. Boston Common also has a one-night screening of Dr. No on Monday the 24th; free posters for everyone and one "Bond 50" Blu-ray set will be given away.
  • The other "comic book movie" opens at Kendall Square shows how broad the medium actually can be; Chicken and Plums has Marjane Strapi once again adapting her own graphic novel with Vincent Paronnaud (they made Persepolis), though this time in live action with Mathieu Amalric as a musician who initially opts to wait for death when his violin breaks.

    They're also opening The Master on two screens, as well as Liberal Arts, which plays IFFBoston this spring and has How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor (who also writes and directes) visiting his alma mater ten years or so after graduation and meeting a cute/cool undergrad played by Elizabeth Olsen. Odds that she's the daughter of the professor (Richard Jenkins) whose retirement party he's attending? High. They've also got a one-week booking of Step Up to the Plate, a documentary chronicling legendary French chef Michel Bras handing his three-Michelin-star restaurant over to his son Sebastian.
  • The Brattle has a pair of interesting indies this weekend: For Ellen gets most of the showtimes, with Paul Dano as a musician on the verge of success or a crash who travels to the midwest in the hopes of meeting his daughter for the first time before formalizing his divorce. The 3pm and 9:30pm slots go to The Ambassador, a documentary in which a Danish journalist creates a persona as a diplomat in Africa to expose the corruption involved but could very well lose himself in the character he plays. Eye-opening and intriguing, but could maybe have used fewer Sacha Baron Cohen-type flourishes.

    Weekdays are filled with "Recent Raves". Monday has a double feature of Farewell, My Queen and The Queen of Versailles; the former tells a tale of Marie Antoinette and shoots at Versailles, while the latter features a wealthy couple looking to emulate Versailles with their new mansion only to have the financial crisis severely diminish their fortune. Safety Not Guaranteed runs Tuesday; it's a pretty charming comedy that may (or may not) involve time travel. IFFBoston alumnus Dark Horse plays Thursday; Todd Solondz's latest is a rather different take on the underachiever with arrested development who meets a girl. Note that Safety was originally scheduled to play Wednesday and bumps Polisse from the theater's schedule; the calendar had to be shuffled to make room for a (private) special event.
  • The MFA continues three documentaries - Detropia, What Time is Left, and China Heavyweight - at various times over the weekend; the first two will still be playing on Wednesday and Thursday, when You've Been Trumped replaces China Heavyweight. It has a Scottish village clashing with Donald Trump, who has won the opportunity to build a resort in the middle of their coastline. Thursday night (the 27th) features Jake Mahaffy's 2008 film Wellness, in which a salesman must overcome disaster to pitch a questionable service. It's preceded by a collection of Mahaffy's short films; another film of his, War will play on the 28th.
  • The Harvard Film Archive shifts from India to Germany this week, collaborating with Goethe-Institut for The Passions of Werner Schroeter, an avant-garde filmmaker most active during the 1970s, although the program has films from 1969 to 2010. This first week includes The Death of Maria Malibran and Council of Love on Friday, Love's Debris and The Black Angel (preceded by "Argila") on Saturday, Elia Katappa on Sunday and The Kingdom of Naples on Monday. Goethe-Institut will have two other screenings at 170 Beacon Street, Boston, on Wednesday (Mondo Lux and Der Bomberpilot).

    Silent film fans may want to stop by for a couple of free screenings - The Last Days of Pompeii plays with live piano accompaniment at 4pm on Sunday afternoon (at nearly two and a half hours, it's an epic for 1926), and there is a VES screening of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and 1903 footage of "Coney Island at Night" on Wednesday. Note that the HFA's site does not list which cut of Metropolis VES will be screening.
  • ArtsEmerson appears to have Hamlet coming up soon on their main stage, so the next few weeks are direct and indirect adaptations of the Bard's work - mostly Hamlet, but other Shakespeare as well. Friday features Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (6pm, DVD) and Franco Zefferelli's Romeo & Juliet (9pm, 35mm); Saturday has The Lion King (1pm, DVD), Stage Beauty (6pm, DVD), and Shakespeare in Love (9pm, 35mm); and Sunday has Olivier's Hamlet (1pm, DVD).
  • Barfi! continues at Fresh Pond, although starting on Friday it splits the Indian screen with Heroine, a behind-the-scenes Bollywood story featuring Kareena Kapoor as a big star who nevertheless has to negotiate a great deal of behind-the-scenes politics and backstabbing to remain a success in the movie industry.
  • The Boston Film Festival continues through Monday, with a lot of very sincere, earnest-looking films playing at the Stuart Street Playhouse's Theatre 1 space. Some noteworthy selections: The Oranges at 9:40pm Saturday, a preview of The Sessions at 7pm Sunday, and a restored print of The Shining (with a panel discussion) at 9pm Sunday.
  • The Regent Theatre will be showing the Queen concert film Hungarian Rhapsody again on Sunday the 23rd (as will Kendall Square, which also has it on the schedule for Thursday the 27th). There is one other Sound Cinema screening this week: Wednesday the 26th features Pat Metheny: The Orchestrion Project shows Metheny creating an orchestra out of computer-controlled acoustic instruments, using his guitar to program every one. Thursday the 27th, they play host to the Reel Rock Film Tour, which features a number of short films about rock climbing. Could have some nifty cinematography.
  • This looks like the last week for The Dark Knight Rises in full genuine IMAX at the Aquarium, and the Jordan's Furniture screens sadly seem to be downgrading to digital this week. See some real IMAX while you can.
  • A little second-run shuffling is going on, with Celeste & Jesse Forever moving from Kendall Square to the Somerville Theatre, Lawless moving from Somerville to the Arlington Capitol, and The Imposter opening at the Capitol after also playing Somerville. Also, note that The Dark Knight Rises and The Campaign won't play in Somerville on Saturday so that the stage can be used for the Boston Comedy Festival.

My plans? Man, it's a crusher. I'm seeing baseball with my folks on Sunday, so I'll try to fit Dredd, End of Watch, Chicken and Plums, and Trouble with the Curve in around that, possibly waiting a week on The Master in 70mm as it will be really hard to get to those 6:30pm showtimes after work. I may give the Boston Film Festival another shot, although nothing that won't play is really moving the needle for me.

I will also start going through the four screeners I got from Fantasia, at least in part to get a review of Young Gun in the Time up before it plays at Fantastic Fest down in Austin.

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