- That would be the Boston Underground Film Festival, which kicks off at The Brattle Theatre starting Wednesday the 23rd, and I can vouch for three of the five programs on the first two days. Opening night is Alice Lowe’s Prevenge, a nifty little flick about an expectant mother whose unborn child is urging her to kill, and a 35mm print of Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, which may or may not be due for a reappraisal, but has a downright weird performance from Dwayne Johnson and some actual pretty great work from Seann William Scott. Thursday starts with an afternoon program of international shorts, “Disordered States”, followed by Australian short Hounds of Love, with the evening wrapping up with the genuinely creepy A Dark Song.
Before that, the Brattle will run Contemporary Color, a record of a David Byrne project that combined new music from a variety of artists with top color-guard squads, although there will be some holes in that schedule. Sunday has both a free presentation of ”Shortfish”, a selection of short films from Icelandic film festival “Stockfish”, and the Chlotrudis Awards, the (mostly) local film society of the same name’s annual recognition of fine independent films. On Monday, the DocYard welcomes Mary Jane Doherty for a program of her documentary shorts, ”Things Ricky Forgot to Teach But Somehow I Learned Them Anyway”, with the centerpiece being “Gravity”, after which she’ll be joined by that film’s subject, Nobel-Laureate-to-be Dr. Rainer Weiss, for a discussion. And, if that all sounds like a weird lead-up to BUFF, remember that Tuesday is Trash Night.
- Over at the multiplexes, you’ve got a lot of Beauty and the Beast, which from the trailers looks like an exceptionally close 3D live-action remake of Disney’s animated film from (gasp!) just over twenty-five years ago, although a well-cast one. It’s at the Capitol (2D only), Apple Fresh Pond, the Belmont Studio (2D only), West Newton (2D only), Jordan’s Furniture (Imax 2D/3D), Boston Common (including Imax 2D/3D), Assembly Row (including Imax 2D/3D), Fenway (including RPX 3D), Revere (including MX4D and XPlus), and the SuperLux.
Also opening in the multiplexes is The Belko Experiment, a sort of Battle Royale-in-an-office thing written by James Gunn and directed by Greg MacLean. It’s at Boston Common, Assembly Row, Fenway, and Revere.
- Over at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, the major opening is The Sense of an Ending, starring Jim Broadbent as a retiree who mostly keeps to himself, at least until an inheritance forces him to confront some events from his past. It also plays at the Kendall, the Embassy, and Boston Common.
With Friday being St. Patrick’s Day, the midnight programmers dig up Leprechaun, which just seemed like a dumb horror movie when released that still somehow spawned a bunch of sequels with Warwick Davis (including one, famously, in space), but later became noted as the embarrassing early work on Jennifer Aniston’s filmography. Saturday’s late show (it actually starts at 11:30 rather than midnight) is also sort of Irish, a 35mm print of The Departed. They’ll also be doing a Saturday morning screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for kids, while Sunday morning has a Goethe-Institut screening of Fritz Lang, which focuses on how his move from silents to talkies meant moving away from grand fantasies to crime pictures like M. There’s an Open Screen on Tuesday, a special free preview of Theory of Conflict with director Rahman Oladigbolu and some of the film’s subjects on-hand, and a group of Five Shorts as part of the Francophone Film Festival on Thursday.
- Kendall Square and Boston Common have Personal Shopper, which reunites director Olivier Assayas with actress Kristen Stewart, this time having her play the dresser of the title, only she is also a medium who may be getting more than she expects with her latest job.
If you want to get a jump-start on BUFF, the Kendall also has Raw, a gross but often fascinating film about a girl sent away to veterinary college who has not been told about the cravings she would inherit. That one’s scheduled for one week, which is probably the likely booking for Neruda, with Luis Gnecco playing the poet of the title and Gael Garcia Bernal as the policeman chasing him down in revolutionary Chile. There’s also a single screening of Tickling Giants, a documentary on comedy and satire in Egypt, on Tuesday evening.
- Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond continues Badrinath Ki Dulhani for fans of Indian cinema (there’s also Kannada-language Chowka on Saturday and Tamil-language Baashha on Sunday), but also has two small English-language films: Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness documents the 2016 CrossFit games (which I guess have been going on for ten years?), and plays twice a day; You Can’t Have It gets the tough matinees-only schedule, which looks mostly notable for some of the folks in smaller roles (Armand Assante, Dominique Swain, and New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski).
- The Harvard Film Archive finishes their Christophe Honoré series with In Paris (Friday 7pm), My Mother (Saturday 9pm), and CLose to Leo (Sunday 5pm), the first two on 35mm film. They also have the next entry in their Terence Davies retrospective with The Neon Bible, on 35mm at 9pm on Friday. In between all of those is a series of Contemporary French Alternatives, with Staying Vertical (Saturday 7pm) and Suite Armoricaine (Sunday 7pm). Another series starting this week ties in with the 75th anniversary University’s Houghton Library by showcasing films adapted from material in their collections, starting with The Miracle Worker on 35mm Monday night.
- The Museum of Fine Arts gives most of the week to their Boston Turkish Film Festival: There Where Atilla Passes (Friday), Blue Bicycle (Friday), The Half (Sunday), My Mother’s Wound (Sunday), Bad Cat (Wednesday), We Were Dining and I Decided (Wednesday), Private Cemetery (Thursday), and Wedding Dance (Thursday). They also have the second “Exhibition on Screen” presentation of I, Claude Monet on Sunday morning.
- The Bright Lights screenings at the Paramount Theater this week are both part of MIT’s Women Take the Reel Festival, with director Cheyenne Picardo discussing her film Remedy on Tuesday and director Mia Donovan there for her documentary Deprogrammed. The first screening of that series for this week - Daughters of the Dust at MIT - will not have the director there, but will have pizza.
- The Somerville Theatre continues their spring repertory series with a 35mm print of Downfall on Wednesday, and then will play host to the Irish Film Festival starting on Thursday, with Best Breakthrough Feature winner The Young Offenders - a comedy about bike thieves trying to get their hands on a missing bale of cocaine worth 7 million euros - playing with actor Dominic MacHale in attendance. It’s paired with short “Gridlock”, whose producer Simon Doyle will be there.
- Belmont World Film starts their 2017 program on Sunday night at the Studio Cinema with Tanna, the Oscar-nominated Vanuatu story of a forbidden love. Co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler will Skype in, and there’s a separate event offering a special Vanuatu dinner beforehand
- The Regent Theatre has “A Town Teen Video Contest”-winning shorts on Friday night, featuring work from young filmmakers in the Boston area.
I’m still in California through Monday, so my movie-going will likely be limited to an IFFBoston preview and the first couple nights of BUFF.