- The “return” would be xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, with Vin Diesel somehow resurrecting a character that was killed off for the first sequel and bringing along one heck of a fun international cast for the ride, including Donnie Yen, Deepika Pakukone, Tony Jaa, Kris Wu, and Nina Dobrev, with Samuel L. Jackson looking much less obviously Nick Fury-ish now that he’s playing the real deal over at another studio. This one is done up in Imax and 3D, and opens at Apple Fresh Pond (2D only), Jordan’s (Imax 3D), Boston Common (including Imax 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax 3D), Fenway (including RPX 2D/3D), Revere (including MX4D and XPlus), and the SuperLux.
The return to form, hopefully, is M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, featuring James McAvoy as a man with over twenty personalities, one of whom kidnaps a trio of teenage girls (including The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy) and holds them captive. Having liked The Visit and even some of Shyamalan’s lesser-loved films, I’m enjoying his take on lower-budget horror. It’s at the Somerville, Apple Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, Revere, and the SuperLux.
Then there’s The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, which looks like a faith-based comedy (with the title character a washed up actor who must pretend to be a devout Christian to get a job in a local church’s passion play), but if so, it’s a weird group to be making it: WWE Studios and BH Tilt (Blumhouse’s alternate label). That’s at Boston Common. In terms of awards expansion, Hidden Figures opens up at the Studio Cinema in Belmont, La La Land comes to the Coolidge, and 20th Century Women adds West Newton, Fenway, and Revere.
- Another film expected to be an Oscar contender (as it was pushed from August to a Christmas platform release, although it was already out in Australia when I was there) is The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who saw the potential in a California drive-in by the name of “McDonalds” and built it into a global empire. That’s at Kendall Square, West Newton, Boston Common, and Revere. They also get Paterson, the most recent from Jim Jarmusch, featuring Adam Driver as a working-class poet.
- Tower opens at The Brattle Theatre, and while I didn’t find time to write it up after seeing it at Fantasia last summer, it’s kind of terrific, an animated documentary about a 1966 spree killing at the University of Texas, the one that created the idea of a madman picking people off from a clock tower. Presenting this as animation allows director Keith Maitland to recreate the event without it seeming tacky, really allowing the horror to affect the audience. It mostly gets a regular run, although (already sold-out) screenings of Sailor Moon R - The Movie play Saturday and Sunday at 1pm, while another documentary, An Aquarium in the Sea, plays Monday with special guests, presumably including some of the Ukrainian refugees who created the stage show in a synthetic language at the center of the film. Note that there are also no shows on Tuesday.
- This weekend’s midnight movie at The Coolidge Corner Theatre is Rocky IV, which establishes crucial backstory for Creed. Friday and Saturday nights, on 35mm film. If early morning is more your speed, there’s a Talk Cinema presentation of Land of Mine at 10am Sunday, with Applause director Martin Zandvliet telling the story of German POWs during World War II being forced to dig up the land mines that their army placed in Denmark. They also have a special screening of Disturbing the Peace on Tuesday, with director Steve Apkon and produce Marcina Hale doing a Q&A after their documentary on former Israeli and Palestinian combatants who have joined together to work for peace, while Thursday will feature a work-in-progress exhibition of Soul Winter - The Brookline Holocaust Witnesses’ Project.
- Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond gets indie [My] Bakery in Brooklyn (apparently dropping the first word of its title to show up closer to the top of VOD menus), with Aimee Teegarden and Krysta Rodriguez as young women who inherit their aunt’s bakery but have very different ideas of how to run it, so they divide it in half and compete for customers.
On Wednesday, they shake up their Indian schedule by adding three movies: Singam 3 is a Tamil-language action movie featuring Suriya’s third go-round as righteous detective Durai Singam (note: Singham Returns, the movie I disliked a couple of years ago that seems to be the same series, is actually from the Bollywood version of the character; different thing). Raees is a Bollywood crime thriller starring Shah Rukh Khan, and a second Bollywood movie, Kaabil features Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam as two blind people who fall in love.
- The Harvard Film Archive starts a new retrospective on Friday, with Scenes from the Life of a Happy Man: TheFilms of Jonas Mekas celebrating the Lithuanian-American who was a crucial part of avant-garde cinema. This week’s selections are on 16mm, with Lost Lost Lost Friday night and The Brig Sunday afternoon. Around those, it’s the conclusion of Busby Berkely Babylon, with Whoopee! (Saturday 7pm on digital video), Varsity Show (Saturday 9pm on 35mm), Gold Diggers of 1937 (Sunday 7pm on 35mm), and For Me and My Gal (Monday 7pm on 35mm).
- The Museum of Fine Arts continues their Festival of Films From Iran on Wednesday this week; selections include 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds wtih Abbas Kiarostami (Friday/Sunday, including a new short by Kiarostami); Lantouri (Saturday/Wednesday); Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (Saturday/Wednesday); Radio Dreams (Sunday); Starless Dreams (Thursday); and Me (Thursday)
- The Regent Theatre has a very quick run (four screenings total on Friday, Satuday, and Sunday) of Reset, a documentary following choreographer Benjamin Millepied during his time as the Director of Dance at the Paris Opera House. That has to be a stage name, right - a dance pro with a name meaning “thousand feet” seems a bit too good to be true.
- Is The Call us Monsters the movie - a documentary about violent teenage offenders in California’s prison system - that finally gets me out to CinemaSalem? Probably not, but if you want to see it in the Boston area, that’s where you’ll have to go.
My plan is to actually get out to the movies this weekend, checking out XXX3, Split, Silence, and maybe The Founder. Tempted to check out Tower again, too.