Friday, September 20, 2019

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 20 September 2019 - 26 September 2019

Here, we have a weekend that offers what looks like a blockbuster, what actually will be, and what once would have been.

  • The thing that's going to pack a bunch of theaters is the theatrical continuation of Downton Abbey, which has had special fan screenings, tie-in events, and all the other things usually associated with big superheroes and fantasies, but the folks who watched it religiously on PBS will almost certainly turn out for this new story in which both upstairs and downstairs must prepare for a visit from the Royal Family. It's at
    The Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Somerville, West Newton, the Lexington Venue, Kendall Square, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Revere, and the SuperLux.

    The Coolidge also goes all the way to their other extreme this weekend, welcoming Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA for Live from The 36th Chamber, in which he provides a hip-hop soundtrack to Gordon Liu in Lau Kar Leung's classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, answering questions after the 9pm shows on Friday and Saturday, though not the Saturday matinee. He may or may not be hanging around to introduce the weekend's midnight shows, which feature a 35mm print of Kill Bill Volume 1 (for which he handled the soundtrack) on Friday and his own The Man with the Iron Fists on Saturday.

    There's a different live show on Monday, with the Alloy Orchestra accompanying Joseph von Sternberg's Underworld as part of "Sounds of Silence". Tuesday is Cine Almodovar day, with this week's selection a 35mm print of All About my Mother, and they head out to Cambridge's Mount Auburn Cemetery for a double feature of Wings of Desire and The Royal Tenenbaums.
  • The thing that looks like the big blockbuster is Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut on a mission to save the Solar System from a top-secret project spearheaded by his father (Tommy Lee Jones). It's got all the giant screens and big crazy action, but it's also the latest from James Gray, whose epic stories have not always been mainstream, but are usually interesting. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax), Boston Common (including Imax), Fenway (including RPX), the Seaport (including Icon-X), South Bay (including Imax & Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax), the Embassy, Revere (including MX4D), and the SuperLux.

    And, maybe 25 years ago, Rambo: Last Blood, would have been a big deal, with this entry featuring Sylvester Stallone's troubled Vietnam veteran seeking vengeance on someone who killed someone else important to him. Paz Vega's in it. Apparently it's awful; I'm guessing if Stallone made more or less the same script with a different name, it would go straight to VOD like most of what Stallone does these days. Find out yourself at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, the Embassy, and Revere (including XPlus).

    With a bunch of screens, subscription programs to make more enticing, and a little more competition opening soon, some of the multiplexes also program some oddball genre movies: Fenway has Villains, in which a couple of small-time crooks played by Bill Skarsgaard & Maika Monroe break into the wrong house and discover that Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick are playing at a different level. Fresh Pond gives a surprisingly full slate to The Wedding Year, which stars Sarah Hyland and Tyler James Williams as a couple trying to keep their relationship going while attending seven weddings in a single year. Boston Common apparently liked what it saw during the premiere screenings of Promare, because they are giving this year's absolutely insane Fantasia closing night film a full week's run.

    That one alternated with Tokyo Ghoul S last week, and Fenway & Boston Common give that movie one last show on Friday night. There are special anniversary screenings of The Shawshank Redemption on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Fenway and Assembly Row, with Revere also showing it on Wednesday. Fenway, Boston Common, and Assembly Row will be showing the new 4K remaster of The Shining on Thursday (although only Fenway's screening specifies 4K projection). Tangled is the "Dream Big, Princess" show at Boston Common and Assembly Row this week.
  • In addition to Downton, Kendall Square also gets IFFBoston selection Ms. Purple, a story about a young woman working as a karaoke hostess to care for her dying father in L.A.'s Koreatown. It shares a lot with director Justin Chon's Gook but is also 180 degrees away in some ways..
  • The Brattle Theatre has a new restoration of Streetwise from Friday to Sunday; it's a 1984 documentary looking at the homeless and other sidelined populations of Seattle at a time when it was called America's most liveable city. Director Martin Bell didn't entirely move on after finishing that film, and Saturday's and Sunday's matinees can bee seen as a double feature with Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell, which follows one of the subjects over the next thirty years.

    In an example of how long independent films can spend in distribution limbo, Tigers Are Not Afraid, a terrific film that played the Brattle during the 2018 Boston Underground Film Festival, returns for its regular engagement with late shows Friday to Sunday and a later-evening show on Tuesday. They also have a DocYard presentation of The Seer and the Unseen on Monday, which follows an Icelandic seer said to communicate directly with the island's elves or "huldufólk", with both director Sara Dosa and subject “Ragga” Jónsdóttir on hand for a Q&A. Another documentary plays Wednesday, with Anthropocene: The Human Epoch looking like a visually stunning documentary of how humankind has transformed the Earth (it also plays Kendall Square that night).
  • Apple Fresh Pond continues to import a bunch of movies from India this week, including Hindi-language romantic comedy The Zoya Factor, starring Sonam Kapoor as a woman who finds herself in a high-profile romance with Nikhil Khoda (Dulquer Salmaan), the captain of India's national cricket team. They also get Tamil action-adventure Kaappaan, which also plays dubbed into Telugu under the title "Bandobast", and Telugu thriller Valmiki. Dream Girl, Gang Leader, and Chhichhore also hang around.

    Over at Boston Common, Tony Leung Ka-Fai's adaptation of the popular Japanese series Midnight Diner comes out, having apparently been in limbo a while but coincidentally got a release date when Leung said some nice things about the Chinese government during the Hong Kong protests. They also get Chinese youth comedy The Last Wish, in which two friends of a teen with muscular dystrophy help him do the "manly" things he can't before the disease takes him; director Tian Yu-sheng also did the Ex Files movies and will be co-directing next years sequel to The Mermaid. Nezha continues to play Boston Common.

    Revere bring El Equipito (whose full title includes a "chapter 1", but that may be part of the joke) in from the Dominican Republic; it teams Dominican stars La Insuperable and writer/director Roberto Angel Salcedo in a stolen-documents caper.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has nothing going Friday, but starts the day on Saturday with a $5 family matinee of Supa Mondo in which a sick Kenyan nine-year-old who loves Jackie Chan flicks is brought to her mother's home village to live out her short life, and whose sister decides to help her be Jackie Chan for a day. After that, they welcome filmmaker Godfrey Reggio for two of his most famous documentaries screening on film - Powaqqatsi on Saturday night and Naqoyqatsi on Sunday, both preceded by short films. They also continue The B-Film: Low-Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935-1959, with a Sunday afternoon double feature of Crime Wave (16mm) & Plunder Road (35mm) and a Val Newton-produced pairing of The Leopard Man & The Ghost Ship on Monday, both on 35mm
  • The Museum of Fine Arts wraps their "Festival Buzz" series this weekend, with The Ground Beneath My Feet (Friday/Sunday), The Nightingale (Friday), The Farewell (Saturday), and A Long Day's Journey into Night (2D Sunday). Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace also plays Saturday..
  • The Boston Film Festival runs at the Seaport through the weekend, with Whaling and The Wild on Friday, shorts packages Saturday & Sunday afternoons, She's In Portland on Saturday night, a free showing of In Their Shoes at the Boston Public Library on Sunday, ending back at the Seaport with The Dog Doc, Once Upon a River, and Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life on Sunday.
  • The Regent Theatre has The New York Cat & Dog Film Festivals this weekend, with the kitties Friday night and Sunday afternoon and the doggos all day Saturday. A couple days later, they bring out adventure-sports film This Is Moto on Tuesday and two shows of ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas on Wednesday. Boston Common also has it onThursday night, though it's not clear whether it's one-night-only for them or a night-before sneak.
  • The Somerville Theatre has one 35mm show of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Saturday (it's digital the rest of the week), and also busts out the projector for a "Silents, Please" show of Harold Lloyd's Girl Shy on Sunday afternoon, with "Jack Attack!" shows of The Evening Star and Mars Attacks! later in the day and another one of As Good As It Gets on Thursday.
  • ArtsEmerson is the latest place to show Toni Morrison: The PIeces I Am on Friday night in the Paramount's Bright Screening Room. Regular resident Bright Lights takes it back with Ask Dr. Ruth on Tuesday, crossing over with the Latino Film Festival on Thursday, as director Chelsea Hernandez is there to discuss her documentary Building the American Dream. Both of those are free and open to the public.

    The Boston Latino International Film Festival actually kicks off at the MFA with a sold-out screening of The Infiltrators, and also shows Siqueiros: Walls of Passion and Bakosó: Afrobeats of Cuba at the Tsai Auditorium on the Harvard campus on Thursday night.
  • It's The West Newton Cinema's turn to play host to a free GlobeDocs screening on Monday, with The Promised Band following a group of Israeli and Palestinian friends who use band practice as an excuse to hang out together, despite their questionable talent. Director Jen Heck and subject Viki Auslaender will be on hand, and reservations are required.
  • On Thursday, The Boston Women's Film Festival opens with Sister Aimee at the Brattle and Fast Color at the MFA
  • Cinema Salem has Jirga, about an Australian soldier submitting himself to village justice in Afghanistan, in their screening room. They also show the "Final Cut" of Apocalypse Now on Thursday night

    The Luna Theater a program of shorts from the GLAS Animation Festival on Friday and Saturday evening, The Farewell on Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening, The Nightingale Saturday afternoon, Labyrinth all day Sunday, and Cambodian rock & roll documentary Don't Think I've Forgotten on Monday evening. As usual, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Sunday's "Magic Mystery Movie Club", and Weirdo Wednesday are free surprise screenings.
  • Joe's Free Films still shows The Princess Bride playing outside on Friday night, along with a couple others.

Definitely Ad Astra, maybe Midnight Diner and Girl Shy, and I'm awfully tempted by RZA, seeing Promare on the big screen again, Anthropocene, and who knows how the rest will fit together.

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