Thursday, March 20, 2014

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 21 March 2014 - 27 March 2014

This week, things get weird.

  • The primary source of weird will be at the Brattle Theatre, where The Boston Underground Film Festival starts up on Wednesday night (the 26th) for five days of edgy independent film. The first couple of days are looking like a mixed bag to me, but it wouldn't be BUFF otherwise: Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson team up for All Cheerleaders Die opening night, with a special restored 40th anniversary presentation of School of the Holy Beast, a Japanese pnky violence nun-spoitation classic (I seem to recall hearing that this was a 35mm print, but the site currently doesn't say anything about that). Thursday features an "animation for adults" block, documentary My Name is Jonah, and Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell?.

    To be fair, the Brattle are priming the pump beforehand. The Martin Scorcese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema finishes up from Friday through Saturday, with new restorations of Man of Iron, The Constant Factor, Blind Chance, A Short Film About Killing, Austeria, and Pharoh. . In addition, Grand Piano, featuring Elijah Wood as a concert pianist charged with playing every note in his comeback performance perfectly lest he be killed, will play the last show of the day from Friday to Monday. Then on Tuesday, it's the monthly Trash Night,, this time featuring Class of 1999, which unlike many of their "sub-cult" selections actually has some interesting people involved (Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, Stacy Keach). Crappy video, talking back at the screen, and commercial interruptions will all be included.
  • On the other side of Harvard Square, the Harvard Film Archive will offer a refined strangeness with the start of The Glitter of Putrescence - Val Lewton at RKO, an end-of-month retrospective of one of the greatest producers of B-movies in history. This week's entries include Cat People (Friday 7:15pm), The Curse of the Cat People (Friday 9pm), I Walked with a Zombie (Saturday 7:15pm), Mademoiselle Fifi (Sunday 5pm on 16mm), and The Body Snatcher (Monday 7pm). Most are in 35mm, as is the final film of their "Fortunes of the Western" series, Woman They Almost Lynched.

    On Sunday night, the Archive is the first stop a three-evening visit by Ben Russell & Ben Rivers that will jump around Cambridge. That first leg has them introducing the documentary they directed together, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, which combines a look at three distinct environments with artist/musician Robert A.A. Lowe. Monday night, they are at the Brattle with a collection of their short films, and Tuesday finds Russell and Lichens at the Middlesex lounge for a spontaneous performance of music and 16mm projections.
  • That takes us to the no-man's-land between Central and Kendall Square, where the Landmark Theater cleans house and compacts what is left into fewer theaters to make room for an eclectic range of new openings. The biggest may be Nymphomaniac: Volume I, the first half of the latest work by Lars Trier, featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg as the title character, recounting her life to the man who rescued her from a mugging. It also features Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Udo Kier, Shia LaBeouf, Connie Nielsen, and Stacy Martin. No-one under 18 will be admitted, and Volume II is due on 4 April.

    Another pretty nice cast (performing much less explicit sex) populates The Face of Love, in which Annette Bening plays a woman who falls in love with a man (Ed Harris) who is the exact duplicate of her late husband. Robin Williams & Jess Weixler are in it, too. There's also Bad Words, with Jason Bateman directing and starring as a 40-year-old who cheerfully causes chaos by injecting himself into elementary-school spelling bees; Kathryn Hahn plays the reporter trying to figure him out and Rohan Chand the kid amused by this weird competitor. It also plays at Boston Common.

    More? More! The one-week booking is for Particle Fever, a documentary on the search for the Higgs boson directed by Mark Levinson, a former physicist himself. He'll actually be on-hand for the screenings Friday & Saturday evening, with an extra added guest in the person of Nobel Laureate Dr. Sheldon Glashow for the 7:05pm show on Friday.
  • They also have The Lunchbox, in which Ila (Nimrat Kaur) and Saajan (Irrfan Khan) become connected when the lunchbox Ila sends to her inattentive husband is delivered to Saajan's office by mistake, leading to an attraction being struck up via exchanged notes. It also opens at the Coolidge (though all but one show daily is in the screening room) and West Newton.

    The Coolidge also picks up Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me for matinees as it leaves Kendall Square, while their midnights include the monthly infliction of The Room on Friday and True Romance in 35mm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday morning brings a Talk Cinema screening of Le Week-End at 10am, while Tuesday's preview from the New York Film Critics' Series, Breathe In, is at a much more civilized 7pm and features a "captured-live" talk featuring director Drake Doremus and cast members Fecilicty Jones, Guy Pearce, and Amy Ryan. Tuesday night also features a screening of Rehaii-Liberation (or just Rehaii), a film inspired by the story of women in Pakistan who have received microfinancing support by the presenting Kashf Foundation. And Thursday's Francophone Film is Haiti, Land of Fire, a stage spectacle depicting nine periods of Haitian history.
  • Things are pretty conventional at the multiplexes, though. Muppets Most Wanted follows up the very successful "re-introduction" of a couple years ago by putting them on tour in Europe, where they find trouble in the form of an international criminal who's a dead ringer for Kermit and new human friends/foes in the form of Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, and Ricky Gervais. It's at the Somerville, Studio in Belmont, Apple, Boston Common, and Fenway.

    The other big opening is Divergent, starring Shailene Woodley as a teenager who is made an outcast because she does not fit into one of society's pre-ordained groups and must become a freedom fighter who could possibly be the key to everything. Man, put it that way and it sounds like it really panders to its young-adult audience, doesn't it? Hopefully it's better than it sounds - you don't amass a cast with Woodley, Miles Teller, and Kate Winslet if the material stinks, right? Anyway, it's at the Capitol, Apple, Jordan's, Boston Common (including the Imax screen), Fenway (including RPX), and the SuperLux.

    Boston Common also picks up God's Not Dead, in which a devout college freshman is challenged to prove the existence of God by his dogmatic professor; given that it is made and distributed by "Pure Flix", I suspect it will not end with a triumph of rationality. But, hey, if you were curious about what Kevin Sorbo's been up to recently... They've also got The Shawshank Redemption as their classic on Sunday and Wednesday, while Fenway adds another couple of screens to The Grand Budapest Hotel's count.
  • Queen seems to be having a pretty good run at Apple Cinemas, as it's hanging around for a third week. iMovieCafe also has a matinee screenings of 1983 there on Saturday, but you will apparently need to speak Malayalam to understand this period cricket comedy.
  • The Somerville Theatre has Irish Film Festival Boston through Sunday, with special guests for several screenings. Semi-ironically, this pushes Philomena to the Capitol (and also pushes 300: Rise of an Empire to a non-3D screen). Centennial events pick up again on Wednesday, with a 35mm print of Psycho, and on Thursday with a 35mm print of The Apartment.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts finishes the New Latin American Cinema with encore screenings of Summer of Flying Fish (Friday & Sunday) and Workers (Wednesday & Thursday). The Boston Turkish Film Festival fills up much of the rest of the slate, with screenings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thursday also features the monthly "Mind-Bending Movies" entry, this time David Lynch's Lost Highway. Apparently only Lynch has ever made a movie that can fit in this program.
  • The Regent Theatre seems to have an accidental theme going on this week. They host the "First Annual A-Town Teen Video Contest" on Friday night, showing off the works of local Arlington teens. The Gathr Preview Series returns on Sunday with Hide Your Smiling Faces, a story about two pre-teen brothers forced to confront mortality when a friend dies. Not part of the preview series but also booked by Gathr is These Birds Walk on Wednesday, whose young protagonist is a runaway boy in Karachi, Pakistan. The youth-oriented week finishes up on Thursday with Brooklyn Castle, a pretty nifty documentary abouta high-achieving chess club that hails from one of New York's poorest neighborhoods.
  • The Belmont World Film Series at Studio Cinema continues Monday with Grigris, Chad's Oscar submission. It's about a man who dreams of being a dancer despite his bad leg, but winds up involved in petrol smuggling to pay his uncle's medical bills. Director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun did A Screaming Man, which I seem to recall people liking. The post-film speaker is Cliff Odle, a UMass Boston lecturer on Africa in media.
  • Emerson's Bright Lights is off this week, but the "regular" ArtsEmerson film program will be using the Paramount Theater's Bright Screening room this weekend. Two are films featuring artist-in-residence Ayad Akhtar: He co-wrote and starred in The War Within (Friday 7pm), about an immigrant involved with terrorists having second thoughts, and co-stars in Too Big to Fail (Saturday 1pm), an HBO film about thefinancial crisis of 2008. At 6:30pm on Saturday, they will be hosting the Boston Student Film Fest.
  • The UMass Boston Film Series entry on Thursday looks like a fun one - And Who Taught You to Drive? takes a look at three people who have moved to foreign countries (Germany to India, America to Japan, South Korea to German) and must get a local driver's license, finding that the new rules of the road aren't the only way they must adapt. As always, it's at the student center, free, and features Q&A with the director (Andrea Thiele).

My plans? Well, the family is throwing my brother a going-away party which apparently will require an overnight stay on Saturday (he and his wife are moving to Chicago in April), so that eats up a chunk. Probably at least Grand Piano, Muppets, Hide Your Smiling Faces, maybe Grigris, and BUFF. Not sure how much more I can fit in, really.

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