Friday, August 30, 2013

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 30 August - 5 September 2013

Labor Day weekend is just a crazy one at theaters - instead of opening big movies to take advantage of the long weekend, you get stuff being dumped, re-releases, stuff opening at both the multiplexes and the arthouses, even if it's got subtitles... It's madness!

  • For instance two of the things opening at Kendall Square are also opening elsewhere. Closed Circuit, for instance, is also at Somerville, Boson Common, Fenway, and the SuperLux. And, fair enough, it's a thriller with a cast of recognizable actors - Eric Bana & Rebecca Hall as defense lawyers who were once lovers, with Jim Broadbent, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles, and Ciaran Hinds also in there - discovering a conspiracy that also likely plays into how many cameras there are recording one at any given time in London.

    The Grandmaster, meanwhile, also plays at Fenway and Boston Common. It's Wong Kar-wai's take on the Ip Man story with Tony Leung Chiu-wai in the title role and Zhang Ziyi as a rival master, and Yuen Woo-ping both appearing and choreographic the fights. It's been in the works for so long that I'd practically forgotten about it when I saw the preview a week or two ago, thinking "another Ip Man movie... oh, right!" Fair warning, the version playing American screens is about twenty minutes shorter than the original Chinese release, because Harvey Weinstein is just plain evil.

    On top of those, three other movies open at Kendall Square: Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson in a film about a young supervisor at a home for at-risk teenagers that is being much-lauded for its extremely intimate focus. There's also Austenland, in which Keri Russell plays an American tourist staying in and English manor where all the guests role-play as if they were living in a Jane Austen novel, with actors to court them (although I'm guessing this one finds something real). Finally, the one-week booking goes to Thérèse Desqueyroux (just called Thérèse for its American release, although that's needlessly confusing with another movie of that title coming out in a month's time. This one features Audrey Toutou as a woman of status who finds that lost in a marriage which demands subservience.
  • It's possible, though, that the Brattle Theatre has the best movie opening this weekend, with I Declare War running from Friday to Wednesday. The opening film at the Boston Underground Film Festival this year, it's a pretty fantastic movie about kids playing "war" in the woods, although this particular game may change things for them in a big way. I kind of loved it. Though it features pre-teens, it's not entirely for them, which is probably why it's playing in the evening while the matinees from Friday to Monday are instead a 35mm print of Singing in the Rain, almost universally held up as an all-time classic musical about the transition from sound to silents, with Gene Kelly starring and directing with Stanley Donen, alongside Donal O'Connor & Debbie Reynolds as co-stars. A musical film of a different type takes over on Thursday the 5th, with a 40th Anniversary screening of The Harder they Come, featuring Jimmy Cliff as a young reggae singer running afoul of the law to make it in the big city. As a bonus, folks who attend will be able to enter a drawing for tickets to Cliff's 25 September show at the House of Blues.
  • If you miss The Harder They Come there, it will run again the next night (the 6th) at The Regent Theatre. Before that, though, they've got another entry in the Gathr Preview Series on Tuesday at 7:30pm. It's a bag-of-money thriller by the name of A Single Shot, which has a nice cast - Sam Rockwell as the guy who finds a dead woman in the woods and steals her money, William H. Macy as his divorce lawyer, Kelly Reilly as the soon-to-be-ex-wife, and Ted Levine, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright, and Melissa Leo lurking elsewhere.
  • So, aside from The Grandmaster and Closed Circuit, what else is opening at the multiplexes? Well, there's Getaway, which is unrelated to the Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger and Steve McQueen/Ali McGraw movies; this one features Ethan Hawke as a former racecar driver who carjacks Selena Gomez's vehicle to track down his kidnapped wife. It's at Boston Common, Fenway, and Apple. The other wide-opener is One Direction: This Is Us, which follows the most popular boy band with today's tweens as they go on tour. Morgan Spurlock, of all people, directs, shooting in 3D. It's at Somerville (2D only), Apple, Boston Common, Fenway, and the SuperLux. Yeah, the last one's a head-scratcher for mee, too, but I'll bet young girls really will pay that place's prices for this.

    There's still more screens to fill out, so Boston Common opens a couple more: Instructions Not Included stars Eugenio Derbez as an Acapulco playboy who has a baby daughter dropped in his lap, travels to Los Angeles to find the mother, and failing that becomes a stuntman - until the mother returns six years later. It's from Mexico, so presumably it's mostly in Spanish, although there may be a lot of English if it's going for crossover status. That plays all day while The Lifeguard just has evening shows, which is fair; I wasn't a particular fan of this movie at its January "Sundance USA" screening, thinking it really didn't fit together well at all.

    But wait, there's still more screens to fill, so it's time to haul the summer's bigger hits out for one last bow. At Fenway, that means cheap-ish screenings of Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel in 3D on the big RPX screen (and at $6 each, that's not a bad deal). Meanwhile, Paramount is re-releasing Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z as a double feature, with Apple and Boston Common picking them up here, both in 2D. Disney is also re-releasing Monsters University (just in time for back-to-school) for matinees at the Capitol, Apple, and Boston Common - again, all in 2D
  • Labor Day marks the end of summer, so it looks like we'll be bidding adieu to Cinema Slumber Party, although they've got one last hurrah coming: A 35mm print of Don Coscarelli's original Phantasm at midnight on Saturday on the big screen at the Somerville Theatre. The Somerville will also be showing Adjust Your Tracking on Tuesday, which is a completely different VHS nostalgia documentary from Rewind This! (which played the Brattle a week or two ago); this one focuses on collectors.
  • The Coolidge is also staying pretty steady for the holiday weekend, finishing up their 1980s August midnight series with The Last Dragon, with African-American kung fu enthusiast Bruce Leroy (Taimak) needing to defeat Shogun Sho Nuff (Julius Carry) to rescule a beautiful singer (Vanity). It plays midnight Friday and Saturday, I believe in 35mm. The end of summer also means the end of weekly Big Screen Classics, but they finish it off the way you'd want them to, with a 35mm print of Jaws on Monday night. Last screening of Jaws of the summer!
  • With the kids going back to school, the MFA's film program finishes its reprise of The Boston International Children's Film Festival, which is not just for kids, especialy since there are two screenings of Starry Starry Night, one of my favorite films from last year, at 5:30pm Friday and 3pm Saturday. Go to one. There's also two selections of short films, Zarafa (Friday morning), Meet the Small Potatoes (Sunday morning), The Zigzag Kid (Sunday afternoon), and A Letter to Momo (Sunday afternoon). There are also a couple of music-oriented pictures: Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking) assembles the music videos and other footage Phil Harder shot for the band Low; it plays Friday night and is preceded by David Michael Curry playing songs by and inspired by the band. The more conventional rock-doc Ain't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm starts a run on Wednesday the 4th, playing again on the 5th and into next weekend. Also starting a little run on Thursday the 5th is Matías Piñeiro's first The Stolen Man; it also continues into next week and kicks off a retrospective of his works.
  • The Harvard Film Archive is continuing their retrospectives, with the Burt Lancaster Centennial featuring two of his most famous: The Swimmer at 7pm Friday and Run Silent Run Deep at 5pm Sunday. The Complete Alfred Hitchcock, meanwhile, offers wartime spy movie Saboteur (featuring a script by Dorothy Parker and a character best described as "mini-Hitler"!) at 9pm on Friday with French-language propaganda film "Bon Voyage" running beforehand. They finish the sub-series of showing his British films on Sunday night with Murder! at 7pm, one of his first talkies.

    They're also planning a Noir All Night on Saturday the 31st, although they're only hinting at the contents. Still, it looks like at least six movies on 35mm to keep you up from 7pm to 4am, much like last year's pre-code marathon. Not a bad deal for $12. You could also spend $12 on Monday, when animator Susan Pitt will visit in person to present and discuss an hour and a half of her short films spanning over forty years.
  • It looks like Bollywood is going to be a thing at Fenway for the near future, as they will be opening the more dramatic film Satyagraha this weekend. It features Kareena Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Amitabh Bachchan, and more in Prakash Jha's story of idealistic and ambitious people clashing over principles in modern India. It also plays the iMovieCafe screen at Apple, which is also showing matinees of Chennai Express, late shows of Madras Cafe, and a little of both for Telugu-language romanceAnthaka Mundu Aa Tarvatha.
  • Another sign of the end of summer: The outdoor film series are more or less over, with Anchors Aweigh at the Boston Harbor Hotel's Music & Movie Fridays pretty much the last of them. There are a couple of foreign films playing outside on Friday - Nicostratos Pelican at Christopher Columbus Park and Maria in Nobody's Land at the El Salvador Consulate. (All listings from Joe's Boston Free Films, which also includes a bunch of other screenings happening indoors)
  • Fruitvale Station ended its run elsewhere, but The Capitol picks it up second-run this week.
My plans? Well, even though I'm hoping for the original cut later, I can't miss The Grandmaster on the big screen, and I am very curious about Short Term 12. I'll probably also check out Closed Circuit and Getaway, use the long weekend to recover from midnights of The Last Dragon and Phantasm, and use my already-purchased ticket for A Single Shot. Murder looks to be a must as well. As to all the return engagements, I'm tempted, but the only one I'm sure to hit is Starry Starry Night.

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