- Can't really say Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is long-awaited - it's kind of crazy that Star Wars movies are becoming a Christmas tradition - but it's an interesting change of pace - a side story that's not a direct part of the "Skywalker Saga" and incidentally one of the movies attempting to be a pan-Pacific hit, with Donnie Yen joining Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whittaker, and a generally great cast (which you can't necessarily get to commit to the open-ended main series). Hopefully looks as good in 3D as The Force Awakens, too, and plays at the Capitol (2D only), Apple Fresh Pond, Jodan's (Imax 3D), the Embassy, Boston Common (including Imax 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax 3D), Fenway (including RPX 3D), Revere (including MX4D & XPlus), and the SuperLux.
Counterprogramming it: Collateral Beauty, starring Will Smith as a man who recently lost his daughter, and is visited by the spirits of death, love, and time after writing them letters - although, from the first reviews, it looks like the trailer misrepresents the heck out of this movie, which is less a feel-good fantasy than him being gaslighted by folks he thought were his friends. That one's at the Capitol, Apple Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, Revere, and the SuperLux.
- Another big opener is La La Land, Damien Chazelle's follow-up to Whiplash, a genuine musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Gotta admit, I didn't like his first musical, but he's done some great stuff since, and that's a nice cast. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, West Newton, Kendall Square, Boston Common, and Assembly Row.
The Coolidge also has some cult Christmas stuff for midnights with Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale on Friday and Krampus Saturday. The Sunday-morning kids' show isn't Christmas-based, but Hugo is one of the best family films of the past decade, a real delight.
- Oddly, Kendall Square skips matinee shows for The Brand New Testament, in which God's young daughter texts the entire world the day on which they will die, which leads to a number of other chaotic events. Very funny trailer, dry Belgian humor. Took a while to get here, though, playing the festival circuit back in 2015.
- Also taking what seemed like forever - The Wasted Times, a Chinese film for which Boston Common has been showing the same trailer since a year and a half ago. It's set in occupied Shanghai, and appears to involve a film director making an art-house flick. For a while, I honestly believed that it was a parody of Asian art-house films, but it's apparently real, featuring Zhang Ziyi, You Ge, and Tadanobu Asano.
For Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond offers a fair number of Indian films this weekend, although few get full schedules, and there's no word on subtitles for Telegu comedy Nanna Nenu Naa Boyf and Tamil cricket comedy Chennai 600028 II: Second Innings. And in perhaps the most random, likely four-walled, release in recent memory, they will be playing a Russian cop movie, Black Rose, from early 2014 that has Alexander Nevsky as a Moscow detective helping the LAPD find a serial killer, daily at 2:50pm.
- Though it will be playing other places digitally next week, The Brattle Theatre has a 35mm print of It's a Wonderful Life, which you may have heard of or seen, from Friday to Sunday. Lots of shows selling out, so get tickets early. There are special events during the week, with Girl Haus Cinema showcasing short films and video art made by women, including a showcase of local filmmakers. Tuesday is Trash Night, featuring Dolph Lundgren (presumed) crud-fest The Minion. And in case I don't do this again Tuesday, remember that A Shane Black Christmas is coming up.
- The Harvard Film Archive breaks for Christmas after this weekend, right in the middle of their Busby Berkley Babylon retrospective, with 35mm prints of Gold Diggers of 1933 (Friday 7pm), Dames (Friday 9pm), Roman Scandals (Saturday 7pm), Fashions of 1934, Lady Be Good (Sunday 4:30pm), and Ziegfeld Girl (Sunday 7pm).
- The Museum of Fine Arts, meanwhile, is doing a retrospective of Laura Dern, titled "Woman Inherits the Earth" from her biggest movie, even if it's not necessarily her most significant. The films on offer include 99 Homes (Friday), Wild at Heart (Friday/Sunday on 35mm), Inland Empire (Saturday on Lynch's personal 35mm print), Rambling Rose (Saturday), Smooth Talk (Sunday), and Blue Velvet (Sunday).
- The Regent Theatre has encore screenings of Harry and Snowman, a documentary about a man who trained an Amish plow animal to a champion show horse, on Saturday and Tuesday. Another niche documentary, Banner Years: The Golden Era of Hockey in Massachusetts runs Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
I already have tickets for Rogue One (9am Saturday!), I'll catch The Wasted Times and The Brand New Testament, and probably more Bubsy Berkley than I'd originally planned, because you can't expect me to resist William Powell and Joan Blondell.