Friday, October 23, 2020

Next Week in [Virtual] Tickets: Films sort of playing Boston 23 October 2020 - 29 October 2020

It's 2020, so the best movie to hit theaters this weekend (and maybe in a while!) comes with filmmakers saying that they, personally, wouldn't risk going to a theater to see it. And, honestly, the theatrical landscape gets weirder from there.

  • The Brattle Theatre has two new restorations this week: Nationland is William Greaves's thought-lost documentary about the National Black Political Convention of 1972; Sweetgrass is a 2009 film tracking modern-day ranchers bringing their sheep across the mountains to pasture. Their friends at the DocYard will also be streaming the 1992 documentary Feed - made up of raw footage from that year's election coverage not meant for air - starting on Monday, including a Q&A with fellow filmmakers Sierra Pettengill and Daniel Garber.

    They also open a new narrative, Ham on Rye, a surreal tale of a group of teens' unusual rite of passage. It and the docs join White Riot, La Haine, Once Upon a River, and Native Son in the virtual screening room.
  • No new releases at The Coolidge Corner Theatre this week, but they've still got Martin Eden, Belly of the Beast, Ganja & Hess, Totally Under Control, Aggie, Major Arcana, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life on-demand. It looks like the "Wednesdays with Wiseman" movies will be sticking around after that night, which is good, because sometimes Wednesday is just not the day you can watch a three-hour documentary like The Ballet. This week's selection is Sinai Field Mission, a 1978 look at the people manning the early warning system for hostilities between Egypt and Israel. It comes with a conversation with Errol Morris. The night before, Tuesday the 27th, they'll have a special conversation with author Adam Nayman on the subject of Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice.

    The weekend's "Quattro di Bava" entry is Black Sabbath, an anthology with three segments, while the last Coolidge After Midnite seminar of the spooky season has critic Katie Walsh talking about De Palma's Carrie on Thursday (find the best way to watch it, register for the talk Thursday night, and also see a special introduction). There's no drive-in shows this weekend, but they'll be at Rocky Woods shows for Evil Dead 2 and the Evil Dead remake on the 30th and 12 (sold out) hours of werewolf pictures on the 31st, returning there on November 13th for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Friday the 13th: Jason Lives.
  • Boston Asian American Film Festival started on Wednesday and continues adding new entries throughout the weekend, as well as short packages that will still be available for a week after the features go offline Sunday night. I can recommend Saturday's The Paper Tigers, a thoroughly entertaining movie about former martial arts prodigies trying to avenge their master after getting out of practice in middle age.

    That makes for an easy segue to Independent Film Festival Boston's "Fall Focus", which kicks off online Thursday (running through the following Sunday) with Minari, featuring Steven Yuen as a member of a Korean-American family that moved to Arkansas to farm in the 1980s. After they finish up, Boston Jewish Film will run from 4 to 15 November.

    The Weird Local Film Festival will be streaming a bunch of 1-minute films produced in the Somerville area on their YouTube page Saturday night. GlobeDocs is offering a stream of documentary short "Conviction" this weekend, which also includes a Zoom conversation with director Jia Wertz and subject Jeffrey Deskovic on Monday
  • Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson are two of the best folks making genre films, so the release of their new movie Synchronic is cause for excitement, but they're also genuinely good folks who have been up front with how they can't recommend seeing their movies in a theater right now. Still, if you're going to head out and see something on the big screen for a couple of hours, it is pretty terrific. It's at Kendall Square, Boston Common, South Bay, and Revere.

    There's also The Empty Man, hitting the big screen now because Disney is contractually obligated to release the movies they acquired with Twentieth Century Fox in theaters even if they might otherwise go almost straight to video, so why not throw exhibitors a bone with this long-delayed feature starring James Badge Dale as an ex-cop searching for a missing girl and maybe finding something unearthly. It's at Boston Common, Watertown, South Bay, Chestnut Hill, and Revere. Revere also gets documentary Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton.

    The Conjuring-in-whatever-order releases continue with The Curse of La Llornona and The Conjuring at Boston Common and South Bay, with just The Conjuring at Revere. This week's AMC DreamWorks feature is The Boss Baby, playing Boston Common and South Bay; Monsters Inc. joins The Nightmare Before Christmas for Disney Halloween stuff at Boston Common, South Bay (no Nightmare), Watertown, and Revere (which is also still hanging on to Hocus Pocus). Last year's animated The Addams Family also returns to Boston Common, Chestnut Hill, Revere. Revere also has It: Chapter Two and the director's cut of The Exorcist Boston Common, Chestnut Hill, and Revere have an encore of Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold: The Concert on Sunday. A 20th anniversary special of Thomas and the Magic Railroad plays South Bay and Revere on Saturday, with family-oriented indie When Last We Spoke at those places Tuesday and Thursday. PJ Masks: Halloween Tricksters plays Revere Saturday and Sunday; they also have the very cool anime anthology Short Peace on Monday, Bram Stoker's Dracula on Tuesday, and the NT Live version of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as the Doctor on Wednesday.

    France's A Mermaid in Paris and China's My People, My Homeland continue at Boston Common.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square looks like they're down to being open Thursday through Sunday for a while, and in addition to Syncrhonic, they pick up two new documentaries of a similar bent. Escape from Extinction covers the works being done by zoos and other zoological organizations to help species on the brink avoid disappearing, while I Am Greta is a profile of teenage activist Greta Thurnberg.

    And then there's After We Collided, which is the sequel to After, a youth romance from last year that I vaguely remember seeing previews for but never thought of as a hit (it opened in eighth place), but which is apparently based upon a hugely popular series of novels and which did solid business internationally, which not got it this sequel but which has two more after that in various stages of production. Good for them!
  • The West Newton Cinema and The Regent Theatre host Screaming Ostrich International Film Festival, with "Back to Normal" shorts at West Newton on Friday, a horror set at the Regent on Saturday with a real-life ghostbuster there to exorcise the haunted theater (wait, what?), and then two more short programs at the Regent on Sunday.

    The Regent will also live-stream a one-man TuttaCrums show with no seating on Tuesday, when they also switch their weekly streaming concert from The Hitmen to the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra. They also still have Chet's Last Call and Herb Alpert Is… available to stream through the end of the month, and also open a short run of Uncle Tom: An Oral History of the American Black Conservative on Thursday.

    West Newton is once again running a Friday through Sunday schedule this week, with the new addition being the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. That's alongside A Rainy Day in New York, Honest Thief, The Keeper, The Maltese Falcon (Sunday), Tenet, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Saturday), and Casablanca (Sunday), with curbside popcorn pick-up as available on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.
  • Bright Lights at Home offers Councilwoman on Thursday evening, with director Margo Guernsey joining for a post-screening discussion of her documentary about Carmen Castillo, an immigrant hotel housekeeper who won a city council seat in Providence, RI.
  • More dead links at The Somerville Theatre website that usual, as they are not gonna run From Dusk Till Dawn with live burlesque on Friday. The virtual screening room listings still include live links for The Fight, Amulet, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Pahokee, and Alice (no more discount). The Capitol is open for snacks, but the link to The Surrogate is the only one still live on their virtual theater page, and it's no longer supporting the theater.
  • The Brattle, the Coolidge, the Capitol, The Lexington Venue, and West Newton are also offering private rentals for small-size groups, with information on their websites (which often include other fundraising links) or by contacting them directly. The Coolidge has online booking through the 31th and the Brattle currently has slots available up to November 22nd.
I'll probably mostly stay in, though I am tempted to give Synchronic a little box office. I'll probably try and see if I can watch Robert Zemeckis's The Witches on HBO Max (if I have that) while shaking my head about how Warner Brothers has done a lot of dipping into the vault for theaters over the past couple months but won't throw them that bone.

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