Thursday, October 23, 2014

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 24 October - 30 October 2014

Ah, mid-October. The colors turn, the festival films start their platform releases in earnest, and various big movies come out for Halloween and Diwali. It's a weird week that's going to inspire weird tangents. You've been warned.

  • For instance, there's actually a movie based upon the Ouija board coming out this weekend, because of course a PG-13 tie-in to a Hasbro toy gets an order of magnitude or two more theaters than any of the dozens of really good horror movies I saw at festivals this year. The ones in the Boston area include Apple, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, Revere, and the SuperLux. Still, I'm racking my brain to think of two other movies I saw this year that involved these things. They amused me because they were Asian, and the Japanese one had a hand-written kana grid like from my classes, while the Chinese one had dozens and dozens of symbols arranged in rings.

    Speaking of festivals, everyone at Fantastic Fest had great things to say about John Wick, with Keanu Reeves as the title character, a former assassin who goes full mayhem on the gangsters who killed his dog (it is, apparently, over the top in many, many ways). It's directed by stuntmen who know big action, and plays at Apple, Revere, Fenway, Boston Common, Assembly Row, and Jordan's. Imax at the last three (in fact, Imax-only at Assembly Row), and it seems like the things playing those particular screens have basically been because you have to use that proprietary set-up for something between Guardians of the Galaxy and Intersteller.

    Speaking of festival films, IFFBoston alum Dear White People opens at West Newton, the Kendall, Fenway, and Boston Common; it's a pretty darn funny story about race relations on campus, especially considering how no character is ever entirely what you might expect. And while it already opened last week at Kendall Square, St. Vincent expands to Somerville, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, and the SuperLux.

    At Boston Common, the weekly classic is Psycho, playing Sunday and Wednesday. Fenway and Revere, meanwhile, celebrate Halloween with encores of the Danny Boyle-directed NT Live Frankenstein, with Jonny Lee Miller as Victor & Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature on Monday and the rolls reversed on Wednesday (the AMC in Braintree has them on opposite days, and the Coolidge plays one on Thursday, but it's already sold out). It's pretty nifty, although I've only seen Cumberbatch as Victor.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre opens two noteworthy movies on the big screens this weekend. Birdman is a black comedy from the normally very dour Alejandro González Iñárritu, and it also features some bang-on fantastic casting - Michael Keaton as an actor who has disappeared from the limelight since passing on doing a third superhero movie twenty years ago, now trying to make a comeback on Broadway. Had me at "Michael Keaton", but Edward Norton, Emma Watson, Naomi Watts, and a bunch of other great folks don't hurt. It's also at the Kendall and Boston Common.

    They also get Whiplash, featuring Miles Teller as a talented young drummer whose new teacher (J.K. Simmons) is monstrous in his determination to make the student the best. I'm kind of intrigued that it's directed by Damien Chazelle, because I did not like his first movie (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) much at all, but wonder what he can do with something that has an actual story to it. It also plays the Kendall, Embassy, and Boston Common.

    There's an enjoyably Halloween-y slant to the special programming. Friday night's midnight show is a 35mm print of The Monster Squad, while Saturday is the midnight-to-morning Halloween Horror Marathon, which starts with Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and then Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys, both in 35mm. Four more unannounced 35mm movies follow, with seances, costume contests, trailers, shorts, and other good stuff stretching things until noon. The scary vibe continues on Monday, as the Big Screen Classic presentation is American Werewolf in London, also in 35mm. Then, on Thursday, that NT Live Frankenstein, although it appears to be sold out.
  • In addition to Birdman, Dear White People, and Whiplash, Kendall Square has a one-week booking of The Irish Pub, which is just what it sounds like, a celebration of that fine Celtic institution. Director Alex Fegan will be on-hand Friday night, doing a Q&A after the 7pm show and introducing the one at 9:15. Their Firday/Saturday midnight movie is David Fincher's Seven, and Tuesday's "Globe on Screen" presentation is The Tempest.
  • I'm not quite sure on the specifics of Diwali, but I know that's when a lot of big Indian films get released, with this year's big release being Happy New Year, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, and Abishek Bachchan in a great big diamond heist caper; it's at both Apple Cinemas and Fenway. The iMovieCafe guys will also be showing two Tamil-language films there, Kathithi and Poojai, without subtitles.

    The cinema at Fresh Pond will also be screening Bitter Honey this week, a documentary seven years in the making examining the practice of polygamy in Bali. They'll also be doing a horror quadruple-feature on Sunday, with each part also running during the week: The Lost Boys (also Wednesday), Evil Dead 2 (also Thursday), The Cabin in the Woods (also Monday), and 28 Days Later (also Tuesday). The whole thing will repeat again on Halloween with Trick R Treat added to the end; I'm not sure if either the Sunday or Halloween shows are single admission or can be purchased as a single ticket.
  • The Brattle ramps up to Halloween with The Master of Schlock: A Centennial Tribute to William Castle, filling their schedule with some of the theatrical hustler's most well-known films. Friday night is an unusual double feature of The Whistler (on 35mm) & The Lady from Shanghai (which he produced). Saturday starts with another one he wanted to direct but only produced, Rosemary's Baby (which also runs on Wednesday); that is followed by a double feature of The Old Dark House & The House on Haunted Hill (the 7:30pm screening in EMERGO!). Sunday offers a double feature of The Tingler (with Percepto!) and 13 Ghosts (in 35mm and Illusion-O!); the twin bill also plays Thursday. Monday's single feature is a 35mm print of Homicidal, and Strait-Jacket shows at 10pm on Tuesday, also in 35mm.

    Amidst all that, there are other screenings, some less scary than others. The Visitor wraps up the "Reel Weird Brattle" program at 11:30pm on Saturday, and that's on a vintage 35mm print, rather than the new digital restoration. Sunday afternoon features a special screening of recent Filipino thriller Rekorder with star Ronnie Quizon in person. The monthly free Elements of Cinema screening on Monday is Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter, with discussion afterward, and Tuesday's IFFB Fall Focus presentation is the pretty darn excellent horror movie The Babadook.
  • The Harvard Film Archive hosts Martin Parr this weekend, with "Think of England" on Friday night and the filmmaker himself in person for his new film Turkey and Tinsel on Saturday evening, following an afternoon discussion of his new photo book. They also continue their Hou Hsiao-hsien series with Millennium Mambo at 8:30pm on Friday and The Sandwich Man & Goodbye South, Goodbye on Sunday. They then cap the weekend with a fortieth anniversary screening of Vietnam documentary Hearts and Minds on Monday, with director Peter Davis there in person.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts has the closing portion of their Boston Palestine Film Festival this weekend, with screenings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Wednesday the 29th, they have the first screenings of two films that will show intermittently over the next few weeks: Listen Up Philip, which features Jason Schwartzman as an egocentric novelist, and Fifi Howls from Happiness, a documentary that pays tribute to "Persian Picasso" Bahman Mohassess.
  • The Bright screening room at Emerson's Paramount Theater plays host to the Boston Asian-American Film Festival, which includes some 25 shorts and features on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I can vouch for Saturday's centerpiece showing, 9-Man, although I gather it's down to rush tickets. During the week, the Bright Lights series features two free screenings: Kisses to the Children, a documentary about hidden Greek-Jewish children during the German occupation, plays Tuesday night with the director and other special guests having a discussion afterwards. Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive has a special screening Thursday night.
  • The Regent Theatre just has one film program this week, the 9th Annual Boston Bike Film Festival on Friday night.
  • The UMass Boston Film Series has a screening on Thursday, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, done up a little fancier than usual with a reception beforehand and a special panel discussion afterward.

My plans? Birdman, John Wick, Whiplash, Happy New Year, the Frankenstein I haven't seen yet, and maybe a few others.

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