Friday, October 29, 2021

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 29 October 2021 - 4 November 2021

It's Halloween weekend, which means fun spooky things, horror movies we've been waiting a year for, and, incidentally, another chance to see an anime release make absolute bank without ever seeming to break into mainstream pop-culture conversation.
  • The week's most anticipated release is probably Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho, a time-tripping movie that finds a would-be actress in modern London psychically cast back fifty-odd years to become entangled in a gruesome murder. It stars terrific young actresses Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy and looks like it finds a malevolence in Matt Smith's sharp features that Doctor Who utterly avoided. The Coolidge Corner Theatre has one of only a few 35mm prints in the country (check showtimes for when it's playing on screen #1, including a Sunday Masked Matinee); it also plays The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Kendall Square, Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    35mm Halloween celebrations at the Coolidge include a midnight show of Scream 2 on Friday night; a 12-hour all-film marathon at midnight Saturday, kicking off with composer Alan Howarth playing some of his themes and introducing Halloween III: Season of the Witch, followed by The Bride of Frankenstein and four or five more surprise films; plus a special Sunday-afternoon Big Screen Classic of Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. There's a Sound of Silents presentation of Nosferatu on Monday with Jeff Rapsis on the organ, and then Noirvember begins with Touch of Evil on 35mm Tuesday.
  • The preview for Scott Cooper's Antlers has been playing for a long time as it got caught up in the Twentieth/Disney purchase and then covid, but it finally hits screens with Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons as a schoolteacher and sheriff pulled into a student apparently being stalked by a monster in the Pacific Northwest. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and the Embassy.

    Amanda Seyfried stars in A Mouthful of Air as a children's book author who has to face some deeply-rooted issues when she has a child of her own, with director Amy Koppelman adapting her own novel; it plays Boston Common. Down the hall at Boston Common, Michael Shannon stars as a new crew coach at an Ivy League school in Heart of Champions, released just a week too late to tie into the Head of the Charles regatta; it also plays Arsenal Yards.

    Boston Common has one last surprise "Thrills & Chills" screening on Friday evening. There's the original Ghostbusters at Boston Common all week; The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Boston Common Friday to Sunday; A Quiet Place Part II at Boston Common Monday to Wednesday. This weekend's Universal Monster double feature includes Lon Chaney as The Wolf Man and Claude Rains as The Invisible Man, playing Saturday afternoon at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row. Potentially less spooky is The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68 Special Edition on Thursday evening at Fenway and Kendall Square.
  • My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission is the latest installment of a series of popular manga adaptations that have bounced between television and film, with this extra-sized adventure having the young superheroes tracking down a villain who has made superpowers go out of control. It has both subtitled and English-dubbed showtimes at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Kendall Square (dubbed Friday/Saturday/Tuesday/Thursday, subtitled Sunday/Monday/Wednesday).

    Apple Fresh Pond opens two Telugu-language films: Romantic is an action romance with Akash Puri & Ketika Sharma, while Varudu Kaavalenu is a romantic comedy starring Naga Shaurya & Ritu Varma. They also keep Tamil-language Doctor around, and have been pre-selling tickets for the new Superstar Rajinikanth film, known as Annaatthe in Tamil and Peddanna in Telugu, which opens next Thursday.
  • In addition to picking up The French Dispatch downstairs, The Somerville Theatre has The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday and a special 35mm presentation of the classic 1931 Dracula on Sunday with Jeff Rapsis providing a live soundtrack (the film itself is unscored; note that Jeff will be at the Coolidge the next night with Nosferatu). They also have Warren Miller's Winter Starts Now on Wednesday and Thursday. Oddly, none of these special presentations are listed as displacing other movies on their site, and they've got Slaughterhouse Society in the Crystal Ballroom on Saturday night, so I don't know if you should check back before buying a ticket for regular movies (Dispatch, Dune, No Time to Die), or if they can use the 30-seat Microcinema for that now.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square opened Netflix film Passing, Rebecca Hall's film about two Black women (Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga) in 1920s New York who could pass as white, on Wednesday.
  • The Brattle Theatre continues "Folk Horror Beyond The Wicker Man" series with Ganja & Hess (Friday), the original Candyman (Friday), Hereditary (Saturday), Alison's Birthday (Saturday), The With (Sunday), Kier-La Janisse's series-inspiring documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Sunday), Pumpkinhead (Sunday on 35mm), Lake of the Dead (Tuesday), Clearcut (Tuesday), Kuroneko (Wednesday on 35mm), Eyes of Fire (Wednesday), Marketa Lazarová (Thursday on 35mm), and A Field in England (Thursday). Taiwan's Detention, online at The Brattlite is a fairly modern sort of folk horror itself.

    On Monday, there's a special The DocYard screening with director Courtney Stephens pulling benshi duty and narrating her film Terre Femme live, with a Q&A afterward.
  • The feature portion of the online The Boston Asian-American Film Festival ended last week, but the five short film programs are available through Sunday night, with a pass that includes all of them only $30.
  • The Museum of Science has Friday/Saturday night screenings of Dune in the Mugar Omni Theater Dome through the end of November, although tickets sell out early.
  • Soy Cubana is this week's Bright Lights at Home feature, available for 24 hours starting at 7pm Wednesday (with free "seats" limited to 175). Streaming it also gives access to a Thursday-night Q&A with directors Jeremy Ungar & Ivaylo Getove and producer Robin Miller Ungar.
  • The West Newton Cinema adds at least two screens of The French Dispatch to Dune and No Time to Die. The Lexington Venue has No Time to Die Friday/Saturday and The French Dispatch Friday through Sunday.
  • Cinema Salem goes full-bore into Halloween with Last Night in Soho, Lamb, and Halloween Kills from Friday to Monday. One-offs include Scream and a "Night Light" show of Fulci's The Beyond on Friday plus A Nightmare on Elm Street and Carpenter's Halloween on Saturday and Sunday. They kick off their Noirvember celebration with The Big Sleep on Monday and Thursday. The online programming of The Salem Horror Fest continues through Halloween Sunday.

    The Luna Theater has Lamb Friday and Saturday (including a masked matinee): Let the Right One In on Saturday, Carpenter's Halloween on Sunday, and a free-to-members "Weirdo Wednesday".
  • This week's "Devour the Land" show streaming from The Harvard Film Archive is California Company Town available from Friday to Monday; Lee Anne Schmitt's film explores various abandoned towns that popped up around a specific industry and disappeared once that energy was spent.
  • Joe's Free Films has Field of Dreams screening outdoors at the Temple Emmanuel in Newton on Wednesday.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes.
I'll head to the Coolidge for Last Night in Soho on film, might go for Dracula and Nosferatu with Jeff Rapsis, and am eying the piles of discs that threaten to overwhelm the living room.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Just Made It Fit: Days and Prisoners of the Ghostland

The Brattle's schedule came out before I booked my trip to Washington, DC, so I did, in fact, spend a fair amount of time hemming and hawing about whether or not I wanted to fly 450 miles to see baseball the same weekend that would likely be the only time that these two movies from singular filmmakers would be playing in the area, let alone at one of my favorite venues (over and above "is it wise to get in a metal tube for a couple hours, for any reason, in 2021?"). Eventually, I settled for tweaking the dates on the trip so that I would return on the second-to-last day of their run. DC-to-Boston is only a couple hours on a plane, and I scheduled it for a reasonable hour, so I wasn't even a little wiped out when I headed to Harvard Square.

Oddly enough, the Brattle's Covid capacity was kind of perfect for Days, because it's a movie you want to see in a theater - it's gorgeous and has a couple of moments when it's nice to hear/feel other people react - but maybe not a packed one where you're sensing another person's presence that close to you or even accidentally touching hands. Movies about isolation are odd things - they don't feel quite right in theaters but feel like an attack when you're at home - so it's oddly appropriate to have a little of it imposed upon you to watch this one.

(I do wonder how many storyboards were necessary for this movie, though. A couple dozen? Fifty? More, but half of them for one scene?)

After that, it was a little bit of hanging around for Prisoners after that and, I'm not going to lie, it's not great. I think part of it is that I can just never get into the sort of disconnected-but-taking-stuff-in mindset that a lot of weird movies seem to require; if I'm noticing the cool stuff, I'm also noticing the bits of the plot that don't work. Maybe it's never going in for alcohol or weed or something. I'll probably get a copy on disc anyway - Sono/Cage deserves a second look and you want to encourage crazy stuff on 4K - but it's a bit of a letdown.

Still, between this evening and the double feature a couple days earlier, I had a week of movies by Justin Chon, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Tsai Ming-Liang, and Sion Sono, right before the start of Nightstream, which isn't a bad run at all.

Rizi (Days)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 6 October 2021 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

As much as I've enjoyed the work of Tsai Ming-Liang in the past, I purchased my ticket for Days based on a gorgeous still that came across my Twitter feed a few months ago. I eventually got that image, and it was part of a shot that was impressive itself, so, hey, success. Nevertheless, there were times leading up to that scene when I wondered if the filmmaker was having a laugh at his audience's willingness to embrace nothing happening, afraid to say that the emperor has no clothes, but Tsai eventually earns that inaction.

It opens with a middle-aged man, Kang (Lee Kang-Sheng) staring out a window, watching it rain, and Tsai holds that shot, as he tends to do throughout the film; then takes a bit of a nap in his bath, Elsewhere in Bangkok, the younger Non (Anong Houngheuangsy) prepares dinner for himself, a process that involves starting two or three fires in clay mounds. They go about their relatively solitary business until they inevitably meet, with Non hired to give Kang a massage in a hotel room booked especially for the purpose.

The film opens with an on-screen advisory saying that the film is intentionally unsubtitled, which depending on one's mindset can seem almost taunting at first, not just doing something pretentious and unconventional, but drawing attention to it. The actual effect is the opposite; it lets Tsai keep the audience's focus on the "action" and imagery rather than the bottom quarter of the screen without having to force the already-taciturn characters to be unnaturally silent. They're not saying of consequence, and it comes across whether you speak Mandarin or not. It's counter-intuitive, but Tsai has been doing this sort of thing long enough to know what he's up to.

Not every bit of deliberate minimalism is so obviously effective; those who have seen some of Tsai's movies before will not be shocked that he lets his scenes breathe, to put it mildly, even and especially when not much is happening. It's not that Tsai doesn't make some good use of this - he and cinematographer Jhong Yuan Chang frame some beautiful shots, and the frequent rain on the soundtrack is enveloping but not oppressive. Scenes go on long enough that one can't help but study them and the two men at the center. Kang is sphinx-like, often still, not particularly active until he starts prepping his hotel room for the massage. Non isn't exactly fleshed out, but one can see him concentrating on immediate concerns, not quite easy-going but pulling back a little as he gets set to do his job. The massage itself is almost comic in its elongation - a lot of attention paid to one particular area - and it's hard not to think back to that opening disclaimer when Kang is suddenly not talking, really, but making expressive noises.

During and after all that, one does eventually get to a sort of understanding of how numbed and repressed Kang is, only able to feel anything with a lot of groundwork and effort, only to see that sensation drain away almost immediately, though some of the film's most gorgeous moments happen in that window, as the camera pulls out and the city seems alive and full of connected people, even if it doesn't last. There's art in how that realization presents itself after two hours of impatience, blooming and fading until Kang things are back to where they started.

Its time on the big screen came and went quickly, but I'm not sure I could have watched it with a remote control in my hand; it demands one's entire attention but also encourages one's mind to wander until a viewer finds the thing that interests them in a scene. It likely works best in a theater because of its isolation, although there is more than enough striking imagery to make it an interesting watch at home.

Also at eFilmCritic

Prisoners of the Ghostland

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 6 October 2021 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

I don't know that there is ultimately more to Prisoners of the Ghostland than Sion Sono playing with cross-genre apocalyptic imagery and Sofia Boutella eventually reminding viewers that she moves better than just about anyone else on film. A more straightforward movie might not need more, but this one is so buried under messy world-building and thick accents that would have been comically but comprehensibly dubbed over in the 1980s crud it imitates that it's hard to enjoy the sheer weirdness on display.

It takes place in the sort of future where one can see Hero (Nicolas Cage) and Psycho (Nick Cassavetes) robbing a bank with the aesthetics of an Apple Store in one scene and then in the next see Hero caged up in the remains of a "Samurai Town" amusement park run by a local warlord - or "Governor" (Bill Moseley) - who offers him a deal: His foster daughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone off into the badlands, and Hero is the man to do it, outfitted with a special explosive costume that will blow off his arms if he tries to raise a hand to her, for example. Of course, rescuing her means overcoming his own demons, finding her amidst a village of cultists who believe complete nuclear annihilation will come if the town clock strikes the hour, and dealing with how she's retreated so far inward that she can't even speak, which is a problem because unless her voice resets it, the suit will blow Hero to smithereens rather than let him escape.

Director Sion Sono has been a mainstay for fans of Japanese cult cinema for decades now, in part because he has been so prolific that he would often have not just one movie at an annual genre festival, but two or even three (or that one would be a four-hour anything-can-happen thrill ride) and in part because he seemed to grow more energetic as he aged, setting a faster pace and filling his films more to bursting. This is his English-language debut, but his stamp is nevertheless all over the film: Even the silent or withdrawn characters have big personalities, he'll happily jump over anything that seems to be just marking time between the fun parts, and he'll give the viewer striking new sights regularly. He doesn't write the screenplay, and while at some points that hardly seems to matter - he's jumping from idea to idea and basically using it as a skeleton to play with images of the apocalypse and how they are used in film - at others one starts to wonder. The Ghostland is a jumble of genre archetypes, and mashing them together even if they don't quite fit is what these movies are often about, but his instincts don't always match the story by Aaron Hendry & Reza Sixo Safai. When a filmmaker as eccentric and talented as Sono creates something from the ground up, he knows how to skip to what feels like it should come next even if it leaves important information and events out, but he's seldom able to find that sort of rhythm here. It's the sort of chaos that highlights how little the whole thing seems to be fleshed out, rather than a pinball machine which rapidly redirects the audience but also has them wondering what the next bit of action will be.

The light shows he sets off are nevertheless often pretty good, of course. He and his crew build environments that always seem a bit more interesting than one might expect given that the basic idea has shown up a lot. There's just enough functioning neon in Samurai Town (and other decorations just beginning to show signs of wear) that the seemingly pre-apocalyptic bank is just within reach of making sense, for example, an outpost of the rich among those trying desperately to hang on. The mix of different forms of madness in the Ghostland never settles into one metaphor, but why should it? Some people facing the collapse of everything they know are going to worship false prophets, some are going to wrap themselves in a cocoon until they become mannequins, and others are going to try and turn back time. Sono and company aren't going to go particularly deep on any of these ideas, but the different forms of madness are both more and less overwhelming.

It also doesn't hurt that he's got Tak Sakaguchi and Sofia Boutella on-hand for when things start getting crazy. Tak is on-screen as the Governor's bodyguard with a troubled conscience, but he's doing just as much work behind the camera (under the name Toshiro Takuma) as Sono's action director. His signature quick movements and ability to handle a large crowd of extras are a good match for the director's fast pace and willingness to try anything. Boutella, as usual, makes great use of having entered show business as a dancer; whether being twisted and still in the way the average person without exceptional body control can't be early on or cutting through the action in the way few others can at the climax.

Nicolas Cage, meanwhile, is enthusiastic if not nearly so physically accomplished as those co-stars, and while many fans of his greatly enjoyed his relative restraint in Pig, even those who don't find his collaboration with Sono as a reason for giddiness would still be excited about his diving into a movie this crazy. The thing is, it seems as if Sono is as much a fan of Nicholas Cage as any other cult film nerd and more or less expects the magic to happen on its own, but Cage does actually need to be directed. This performance has moments of inspired madness but also plenty where Cage doesn't seem to know what variety of ham the scene needs. He's famous for his commitment to even the most out-there parts, but there's not a whole lot for him to commit to where Hero is concerned. There's no core for him to bring to the surface in garish fashion.

It's almost as if these two strong personalities were too deferential to the other when they needed to butt heads or have one clear vision. It's not enough to make Prisoners boring or not worth watching once - it's got too singular talents involved for that to happen - but if this is the only time that Sono and Cage work together, it will go down as one heck of a missed opportunity.

Also at eFilmCritic

Friday, October 22, 2021

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 22 October 2021 - 28 October 2021

Part of it is that they just got the new toy, but I notice that only the Somerville Theatre is bragging about their 4K projection, and that's kind of crazy to me. I know the Kendall has a 4K projector in screen 1, but they never point out when something is using it, for instance, and Fenway no longer highlights which shows are "RPX" on the Regal app (or which screens have 4K projection). Me, personally, I'm happier to sit in the Somerville with their basic seats and basic snacks but the best projection than the opposite, but so many theaters prefer to push the other way.

One projection thing to note that may be of interest to some: AMC has greatly increased the number of open-captioned shows they have, so if you're hard of hearing, have trouble with accents, or just like having the subtitles on when you watch movies, take note of those shows when booking tickets (and, of course, do the same if you find that distracting).
  • The big opening this week, after a year's delay and controversy over the same-day-streaming thing, Dune, the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel, this one from Denis Villeneuve and covering half of the first book with an eye on adapting the whole series. It plays The Somerville Theatre, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Kendall Square, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Fenway (including one RealD 3D show a day), South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, Chestnut Hill, and HBOmax.

    Ron's Gone Wrong has not been delayed quite as long, I don't think, but it seems like it's been kicking around a while. Set in the near future, it posits that most young people have a personal robot, although the one young Barney is given is a somewhat erratic refurb. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    There's also Becoming Cousteau, a documentary on the life of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, built in part around restorations of the copious footage he and his families and companies shot during his life. That plays The Capitol and Boston Common.

    Boston Common has surprise Thrills & Chills screenings on Friday and Wednesday, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday (Arsenal Yards, CinemaSalem, and The Coolidge play it that night as well). The annual Studio Ghibli Fest starts quite late this year, kicking off with Howl's Moving Castle at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row. Shows on Sunday and Thursday are dubbed; those on Monday are subtitled. There's also a Lupin the 3rd anniversary special at Boston Common at Monday, with a new dub of the very first episode and the first two of the new series. Insane Clown Posse documentary The United States of Insanity plays Tuesday at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row. An "Uncut Experience" of last year's thriller The Call plays Fenway on Wednesday.
  • Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch is finally hitting theaters after a year's delay, getting the rare both-big-screens openings at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (including a Sunday Masked Matinee). It stars just about everyone from his in his ever-expanding repertory company and then some in a series of vignettes about a magazine modeled on The New Yorker. The preview is a lot of what sometimes makes Anderson insufferable, but also a lot of why people love him. It's also at Kendall Square, Boston Common.

    The Coolidge's special engagements lean toward celebrating spooky season, with a 35mm print of Blacula at midnight on Friday and both An American Werewolf in London and Rocky Horror at midnight Saturday. The Big Screen Classic on Monday is the digital restoration of The Exorcist, and the Rewind! Show on Thursday is Scream. They also have their first 35mm screening of Last Night in Soho later that night (the AMCs are having Dolby Cinema previews on Wednesday).
  • Aside from the big openings, Landmark Theatres offers two streaming-service productions before they hit video. Kendall Square gets Amazon's The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the eccentric artist of the title and Claire Foy as his wife. The trailer, if I recall, is a visual knockout even if Cumberbatch is chewing all the scenery. Over at the Embassy, they get Netflix's The Harder They Fall, a Western starring Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, and Delroy Lindo, the latter as Lone Ranger inspiration Bass Reeves. Note that the Embassy is still only open Thursday to Sunday.

    The Kendall also has the 2021 Cat Film Festival on Wednesday night, which is also when they open Netflix's Passing, Rebecca Hall's film about two Black women (Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga) in 1920s New York who could pass as white.
  • Over at The Brattle Theatre continues the IFFBoston Fall Focus preview series through the weekend, with some shows sold out and just a few seats left for the rest, including Belfast on Friday; Happening, The Worst Person in the World, and Joy Ride (with Q&A) on Saturday; and Petite Maman and C'mon C'mon on Sunday.

    On Monday, they start a "Folk Horror Beyond The Wicker Man" series, anchored by Kier-La Janisse's massive documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror on Monday (and another show on Halloween), as well as The Blood on Satan's Claw on Tuesday, Night of the Eagle (on 35mm) and The Lair of the White Worm on Wednesday, plus Jug Face and The Wind on Thursday. The Brattlite continues Taiwan's Detention online, which isn't folk horror, but is still creepy as heck.
  • Cloudy Mountain isn't the biggest Chinese action movie of the season (I'm guessing Well Go or someone is looking for a good slot for The Battle at Lake Changjin), but it looks like fun, with a father and son racing against time to find a way to prevent a number of cascading natural disasters from destroying their home town. It's at Boston Common.

    Apple Fresh Pond plays host to Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival Boston, or the in-person portion, which includes has Telugu-language horror movie Kalkokkho (aka "House of Time") on Friday, Bengali drama Searching for Happiness (with Q&A) and Kannada-language drama Dollu on Saturday, and Malayalam drama AHR on Sunday (there's also a second location in Littleton and several films available on demand). The theater also continues the runs of Telugu-language romantic comedy Most Eligible Bachelor and Tamil-language Doctor.
  • The Boston Asian-American Film Festival continues through Sunday, with a "Filipino Friday" triple-feature of Wherever We May Be, The Girl Who Left Home, and Lumpia with a Vengeance; A Letter to A'ma, Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation, and Americanish, all with Q&A on Saturday; and closing night film Who Is Lun*na Menoh on Sunday. I can vouch for Americanish, which I saw at the New York Asian Film Festival.
  • The Museum of Science is going to be running Dune in the Mugar Omni Theater Dome on Friday and Saturday evenings for at least the next month - the first time they've done this with a feature film, in part because they've gone digital - although it looks like the first two weekends' worth are sold out. I believe "Ancient Caves" is a new-ish addition, with "Superpower Dogs" and "Back from the Brink" also continuing
  • Bright Lights at Home offers up one more chance to see Małni – Towards The Ocean, Towards The Shore, available for 24 hours starting at 7pm Wednesday. Filmmaker Sky Hopkina and professor Kathryn Ramey will call in for a Thursday-night Q&A, with shows free but slots limited.
  • The West Newton Cinema has Dune, The Velvet Underground, No Time to Die, and Shang-Chi.

    The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday, either with one screen or No Time to Die on both.
  • Cinema Salem is, as you'd imagine, all in on spooky stuff with Lamb and Halloween Kills from Friday to Monday. One-offs include The Craft and a "Night Light" show of Alice, Sweet Alice on Friday; Universal Monsters Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man on Saturday (plus a sold-out Rocky Horror), Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein on Sunday; Frankenstein and Dracula Saturday and Sunday; and An American Werewolf in London on Thursday. The Salem Horror Fest comes back to life with online programming from Friday to Halloween.

    The Luna Theater has Lamb Friday and Saturday: The Velvet Underground twice on Saturday (with the 1:35pm show a masked matinee), on either side of She Freak, The Lost Boys on Sunday, and a free-to-members "Weirdo Wednesday". There's live comedy on Thursday.
  • This week's "Devour the Land" show streaming from The Harvard Film Archive is "A Land for War" available from Friday to Monday; the featurette looks at California's Fort Ord over a decade of filming and archival footage from forty years earlier.
  • Joe's Free Films shows Coco playing outdoors on Palmer Street in Harvard Square (the organizers are not technically supposed to say what's playing for contractural reasons, but it's easy to figure out).
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes.
I'm gonna try and see Dune in 3D and at the Somerville, plus The Last Duel and maybe head out for some of the pre-streamers.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 15 October 2021 - 21 October 2021

I feel like we, as provincial Bostonians, should be more excited about a new Ben & Matt movie, even if it's not as Ben-and-Matt-y as it could potentially be.
  • It's kind of crazy that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck haven't co-written a movie since they won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting, but they both worked on the screenplay for Ridley Scott's The Last Duel, although apparently not quite so much as a team, with Affleck moving to a smaller part than his original co-starring role. It recounts the story leading up to the duel of the title three times, from the points of view of a knight (Damon), his squire (Adam Driver), and the former's wife (Jodie Comer), who claims the latter assaulted her. It's at The Capitol, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Kendall Square, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also opening is Halloween Kills, the sequel to the 2018 Halloween sequel which discarded all that came in between, with Michael Myers escaping from apparently being burned alive to menace Jamie Lee Curtis's family again. It's at The Somerville Theatre, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, Chestnut Hill, and on Peacock.

    Boston Common continues having "Thrills & Chills Surprise Screenings" on Fridays and Wednesdays, plus a Saturday night screening of Rocky Horror. They (and the Embassy) also get "musician scraping by" drama Hard Luck Love Song, along with animated film Koati, set in a Latin American rainforest and listed as English-language on IMDB but Spanish-with-subtitles on Fandango.

    Arsenal Yards offers matinees of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Friday to Sunday. There are 30th anniversary screenings of The Silence of the Lambs at Fenway, South Bay, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday and Wednesday.
  • E. Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin have mostly taken their documentary cameras to high, dizzying mountains, so what they do in The Rescue is a real switch-up, focusing on the recreational cave-divers who lent their extremely specialized skills to a seemingly impossible rescue operation of 12 stranded schoolchildren and their coach in Thailand three years ago. It plays at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (with Vasarhelyi on-hand for live Q&A for two shows on Saturday), Boston Common.

    Also opening at the Coolidge is Bergman Island, a fictional film which follows married filmmakers (Vicky Krieps & Tim Roth) to the island where Ingmar Bergman lived and shot his films, hoping to find inspiration. Mia Wasikowska is also in it, and she's never less than interesting.

    The Coolidge also makes a weekend field trip to Medfield State Hospital, where they will be running a pop-up drive-in and showing the original versions of Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Friday and Saturday. The After Midnite crew will leave a contingent behind, of course, showing Stephen Sommers's The Mummy late Friday night and Young Frankenstein late Saturday. There's a Science on Screen show on Monday, with Harvard astronomer Dr. Avi Loeb introducing a 35mm print of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, plus a "Stage & Screen" presentation of The Witch on Tuesday, plus a Cinema Jukebox presentation of Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free (The Making of Wildflowers) on Wednesday (also at Boston Common/Fenway/Kendall Square, with those locations also having Thursday shows).
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square has Todd Haynes's documentary on The Velvet Underground, as does West Newton. Kendall Square and Boston Common also open Mass, an ensemble film about two couples confronting each other after a tragedy.
  • Over at The Brattle Theatre is the primary home for The GlobeDocs Film Festival this weekend, although there are some shows at the Coolidge (only listed on the festival's website, not the theaters) and a number of the films playing both sites plus others also available online. All shows at the Brattle feature Q&A sessions. I can personally vouch for Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America on Friday evening.

    On Monday, they have a special benefit screening of Far From Afghanistan, with Tuesday featuring a selection of works by Barbara Hammer presented by Revolutions Per Minute. On Wednesday, the IFFBoston Fall Focus preview series starts with an already-sold-out show of The French Dispatch (don't worry, there's no Q&A and it opens the next Friday), with Sean Baker's Red Rocket playing Thursday and a very full program the next weekend.

    The Brattlite continues to feature Taiwanese horror Detention online.
  • Telugu-language romantic comedy Most Eligible Bachelor, starring Akhil Akkieni & Pooja Hegde, opens at Apple Fresh Pond and Arsenal Yards, with Fresh Pond also opening Telugu musical Pelli Sandad and action/adventure Maha Samudram, while also continuing Tamil-language Doctor.

    Chinese National Day flag-waver My Country, My Parents continues at Boston Common.
  • The Boston Women's Film Festival continue their virtual offerings through Sunday.

    The Boston Asian-American Film Festival is still all-virtual, kicking off on Wednesday with A Tale of Two Chinatowns, followed by Waikiki and Asian American - Eyz'd: An Immigrant Comedy Special on Thursday. All three feature Q&As after their initial streams, with the latter two available on demand for the length of the festival.
  • Bright Lights at Home has End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock for 24 hours starting at 7pm Wednesday. Director Shannon King and activist Pearl Daniel-Means dial in for a Thursday-night Q&A. Slots are free but limited.
  • The West Newton Cinema has The Velvet Underground, No Time to Die, The Addams Family 2, The Many Saints of Newark, Dear Evan Hansen (through Wednesday), Cry Macho (through Wednesday), and Shang-Chi. They're also showing Hitchcock's Psycho at 9pm Friday; no indication on their site if that's a one-off, something they're looking to do regularly, or an approaching-Halloween thing.

    The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday with No Time to Die and The Card Counter.
  • Cinema Salem has Venom 2 and Halloween Kills from Friday to Monday. The Friday "Night Lights" show is Cronenberg's The Brood, and they have extra spooky stuff: Mars Attacks! on Friday; Universal Horrors The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Creature from the Black Lagoon on Saturday and Sunday; Haunt with co-star Damian Maffei and the hosts of The Horror Squad podcast; and their first "Horrorlogical" show, Deathdream with co-star Richard Backus on-hand. The Salem Horror Fest has finished their in-person shows, but will return next week for virtual programming.

    The Luna Theater has a very straightforward schedule this week: The Velvet Underground on Friday evening, The Craft on Saturday (with the 2pm show a masked matinee), The Exorcist on Sunday, and free-to-members (with Secret Satellite Society memberships from $5/week to $80-120/year) screenings on "Weirdo Wednesday" plus Thursday.
  • The Harvard Film Archive continues the virtual program which complements the Harvard Art Museums' "Devour the Land" exhibit with O'er the Land available from Friday to Monday. There will be some live screenings, but you need a Harvard ID for those.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes.
I will probably catch The Last Duel, The Rescue, and maybe Halloween Kills while also trying to pick up a couple things that fell through the cracks while I was on vacation, watching baseball, or on vacation watching baseball - although with the Red Sox deep into bonus time where baseball is concerned (who figured they'd get this far?), it could cut into movie time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

A kind of weird thing about Marvel movies (mainline or not) is that they seem to turn around sequels much faster than studios had for the past twenty years or so. The pandemic sort of hides that in this case, but Venom 2 was meant to come out last year, just a couple years after the first, when three years had sort of become the traditional sequel turn-around time. I guess that when you're so locked into the idea of a franchise that you've cast the second movie's villain and shot a scene to introduce him at the end of the first, you're getting the wheels moving earlier.

Still, it's kind of weird that the result of Sony wanting a steady stream of Spider-Man-derived movies plus the pandemic has resulted in a spurt that has Regal offering a "see three in four months" deal for Venom 2 (October), Spider-Man: No Way Home (December), and Morbius (January), though I think the original plan would have still been pretty aggressive - 15 months instead of four - although maybe they've finally got some others close enough to ready to roll that it won't be a spurt and then nothing. I'm kind of intrigued by something in the Morbius trailer that ties it pretty definitively to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, although I'll be kind of annoyed if they're basically putting something from the mid-credit tease into the trailer because, geez, who wants to see a Morbius movie starring Jared Leto otherwise? It's interesting to see the hints that various areas of the Marvel Universe are possibly existing simultaneously but mostly out of each others' way in the way that the mutants, Avengers, Spider-folk, etc., do in the comics. Although…


I've spent a few too many brain cycles trying to figure out what the timing on the Venom 2 post-credit scene is. It feels like it should be the snaps, but that doesn't quite line up unless whatever Venom was doing at the time kept them out of the main timeline for a little longer. It could tie into whatever the deal is with timelines jumping the tracks in Loki, or maybe whatever's going to happen multiverse-wise in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but it would seem to be too early for that.


Anyway, I can't say I quite liked this as much as the first movie, but I'll probably be keeping an eye open to see if Sony is releasing a combined 3D/4K disc, because this is actually really nice in 3D - Shriek's cell in Ravenloft is clearly built to have layers, while all of the other gothic, creepy places (including the run-down church of the finale) are built to have a lot of depth and foreground/background contrast. Not bad for a conersion job, I say as the Last Person Who Likes 3D.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 10 October 2021 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

The first Venom movie was not, I suspect, what anybody involved wanted it to be; I'd love to know who thought they were making a sort of sci-fi horror movie, who was making a comedy, who wanted straight-ahead superhero action, and who saw a weird queer-ish romance underneath it all and decided to play that up. Somehow, don't ask me how, the movie worked better than it had any right to, even if it was not what one would call above-average. The sequel is clearly the result of Sony trying to reverse-engineer what happened and do it again, and deliberately replicating chaos doesn't come easy.

It's been some time since reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) fused with the intelligent alien symbiote "Venom", and in that time he's once again become respected as a reporter, although he naturally has to keep it hidden, which has meant a split with ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). Serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) will only give Brock his story, which leads to the pair finding where his missing victims are buried, but also to Cletus getting a symbiote of his own. With "Carnage" potentially more powerful than Venom, Cletus will stop at nothing to look for his long-lost and similarly psychopathic reform-school girlfriend Frances "Shriek" Barrison (Naomie Harris), whose mutant(*) sonic powers have had her locked up in a top-secret facility.

(*) I can only imagine what sort of legal wrangling was involved around this character given that Marvel had licenced "mutant" properties to Twentieth Century Fox and the "Spider-Man" characters to Sony, who I believe started work on this film which is not meant to be obviously connected to Spider-Man and which is very careful to use "mutation" rather than "Mutant" before Marvel parent company Disney acquired the former. Imagine being those lawyers.

As the most noteworthy villain in the Venom corner of Marvel's Spider-Man line, Carnage was teased at the end of the first movie, so returning writer Kelly Marcel (a frequent collaborator with star Tom Hardy, who shares story credit) was working from that on the one hand and the way audiences responded to Hardy blowing straight past Eddie and Venom bantering to play them as a strange romance with Venom clearly seeing Anne as potentially the third part of some sort of throuple. Squint, and you can see Cletus/Carnage/Shriek as a sort of twisted reflection of that, but it doesn't quite work; the Venom side is almost all weird breakup jokes and the Carnage side barreling through the plot at full speed. It takes a while for Cletus to get his symbiote with Eddie not having much to do while the audience waits, and despite all the eventual CGI slapstick, murder, and hints of something bigger with this mysterious mutant(*) prison, there's not all that much going on.

It doesn't really help that the cast seems out of sync, and not necessarily in a way where it's fun to watch people who think they're in different movies bump up against each other. Hardy's double act as Eddie and Venom is a little less its own thing and more familiar beats, but he's still entertaining in doing it. Naomie Harris has to work hard to outdo Woody Harrelson in chewing the scenery, but she manages, though Harrelson is doing a fine sort of bloodthirsty creep who thinks his disdain for human life makes him smarter than everybody else. There's a disconnect between Hardy and Harrelson, though; for all that Harrelson's trying to be repulsive as Kasady, Hardy's Brock seems a little too arch and able to interact with him as a normal human being, and it doesn't quite work with how he and Venom are fighting about the latter's desire to eat brains. He should be either a little more principled or uncomfortably hypocritical.

As a result, the movie really doesn't come together until the big climactic fight, when it doesn't have to try to figure out whether all the weird stuff of the first movie is going to be subtext or just right out there, and just has everybody yelling what's got them angry as they distort into grotesque shapes and pound each other. Unlike a lot of these movies, everybody has something to do (well, Williams is kind of stuck with hostage duty, but she at least seems annoyed by it) and can be cartoonishly thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious when they're not needed. Director Andy Serkis obviously knows something about making big motion-captured performances entertaining from the actor's side and is able to bring some of that to bear from the opposite end. The movie develops a little more personality when he and the crew can lean into pulpy creepy-building imagery, and those sequences are maybe half-a-star better when seen in 3D (it's a conversion job, but someone is having fun with depth and layers).

On top of that, the movie is 97 minutes long including credits and the inevitable mid-credit tease, which is something of a relief when so many of these superhero movies routinely stretch forty-five minutes longer out of sheer shagginess. Admittedly, that speed comes from the movie not having a lot to it because Marcel, Serkis, and the rest couldn't find more of whatever happenstance made the first sort of work, but there are many worse ways of being a mediocre movie than not wasting any more of the audience's time than necessary.

Also at eFilmCritic

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fantasia/New York Asian Film Festivals 2021.09: The Asian Angel and Joint

No 2021.08? Well, what can I say, 2021's weird - not much marked as "Day 08" for Fantasia that I caught, and then it was off to the Big Apple!
So, this would have seemed like a bigger deal if I were posting these updates in a timely fashion, what with having gone twice as far since, but even vaccinated for three months in mid-August, I did a lot of hemming and hawing about whether I wanted to get in a metal tube, travel four hours to New York City, and then sit in theaters for a few hours a day before getting into another tube and going home. I don't know as it's actually a lot safer now as I write this in mid-October, but at the very least, I've clearly made my peace with it.

The bulk of the New York Asian Film Festival's activity this year was at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, a nice spot in Manhattan that near as I can tell had its own strict Covid protocols on top of those of New York State/City, so nothing but water allowed in, meaning no reason to take off your mask. For many of the shows, the room was well below capacity, although I didn't get much of a sense of how much that was the venue/festival limiting tickets and how much was the audience not being ready to show up. I don't really know any of the people behind NYAFF now that it's not associated with Subway Cinema, so it could be either.

For all the nervousness at the start, though, it was kind of great. I've mentioned on the blog a few times that I haven't watched nearly as much as I thought I would since getting back from vacation last March, even though I had a bunch of unwatched discs on my shelf and the backlog has only grown over time, but both decision paralysis at the sheer number of options, but by it being just less fun at home than in the theater. Getting back to a theater, with a curated slate and a bunch of people who like the same thing was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.

Filmmaker Q&As! Friday's late show had director Oudai Kojima, co-star/producer Jin-Cheol Kim, and moderator Karen Severns there for Joint. Kojima grew up in New York but works in Japan, so this was coming home for him. The thing he was most excited about was his star, Ikken Yamamoto, who from what I gather didn't have many professional credits before this, but he was the sort of guy where you could see the charisma immediately and where there's a certain amount of real-life experience that a lot of professional actors don't have. He also talked about how he wasn't really influenced by a lot of yakuza films, and while I didn't necessarily see that as the case at the time - it sure feels like one in structure - I see where he's coming from now. It's a movie about data mining, replacing employees with contractors, and corporate consolidation at its heart. Truth be told, most yakuza movies have an interest in legitimate business, either as a target or a metaphor, and I kind of feel like Joint might have worked better if it did that more explicitly.

It's also pretty darn stylish, especially for a micro-indie-type thing. You can see the places where it's stretched thin, but it kind of transforms into a look and atmosphere, which you can't exactly do on purpose or even necessarily a second time once you get some attention, but it will be interesting to see what this team can do when they've got some more resources behind them.

The Asian Angel

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 13 August 2021 in SVA Theatre Beatrice (New York Asian Film Festival 2021, DCP)

The Asian Angel is almost, but not quite, two road movies in different languages that got stuck together and tangled up, which occasionally plays into how sometimes people need to get things out even when the idea of people hearing and understanding is awful. That there's a romance involved is unlikely, but the filmmakers fundamentally understand how rickety the whole thing is, and make no apologies for giving the audience the movie they came to see.

It involves widowed novelist Takeshi Aoki (Sosuke Ikematsu) arriving in Seoul with son Manabu (Ryo Sato) in tow despite neither of them speaking Korean and general tension between the countries as bad as they've been in decades, if not since World War II. Takeshi's brother Toru (Joe Odagiri) has been there a while, running a shading import/export business and giving Takeshi the impression that there's work and Japanese-language schools they can afford which may not be the actual case. Nearby, the Choi family has their own tensions; Seol ("Moon" Choi Hee-Seo) is seeing the last vestiges of her hopes to become a pop singer vanish, brother Jung-Woo (Kim Min-Jae) isn't really doing well with the family business that their parents left him, and just-past-teenage sister Po-Mu (Kim Ye-Eun) is bitter that there's not a lot left for her as a result. Their paths have already crossed a couple of times before they're on the same train - the Aokis chasing a deal that might save Toru's business, the Chois visiting their parents' grave - but Manabu's tendency to wander off and an encounter with Seol's agent winds up with the two groups thoroughly intermingled.

Writer/director Yuya Ishii tends to build his movies around lingering wounds, at least as far as the ones that have made the North American festival circuit go (which ironically does not include The Great Passage, his biggest hit, which appears more upbeat), and that's the case here: Whatever modest success Takeshi and Seol may have had at the starts of their careers is thoroughly spent, and their brothers' businesses are both a bad break or two from just not being there any more. These families haven't been broken, but don't necessarily have a lot to say to each other at the moment; everything to be said has been said, and while they need each other, Toru doesn't really know what he's got for Takeshi to do and Jung-Woo can't really articulate to Seol why he thinks visiting their parents' graves will help.

Finding themselves thrown together with the other family doesn't seem like it should work - early scenes of Takeshi and Seol talking past each other smartly play out as her recognizing his good intentions as being somewhat patronizing, and between Ishii and actors Sosuke Ikematsu and Choi Hee-Seo, even the subtitle-reading audience has a clear idea of what they understand and what they don't, and when they later discover that each speaks a little English, there's a bit of relief at finally being able to communicate, but also a need to be clear and put effort into their words. There's a sort of paradox to how these people are communicating - there are a lot of scenes where it's just a relief to get something out without or to listen and sympathize without details, but also care to how having to use a foreign language forces one to consider what they think and feel rather than just lean on expectations.

As introspective as that is, the movie and cast are often lively. Takeshi and Seol make an enjoyable pair because her cynical cool plays well against his haplessness, a shared frustration at things not going as they should uniting them. As the brothers, Joe Odagiri and Kim Min-Jae supply contrasting sorts of easygoing charm; Odagiri's Toru is almost convincing in his amoral detachment until his weakness for Korean girls shows up or he has to stand up for his friends and family but doesn't want to make a big deal out of it, the sort of layered performance that is kind of sneakily good because Ishii doesn't let him usurp Ikematsu as the movie's center, while Kim Min-Jae is kind of familiar in presenting Jung-Woo's working-class bluster while making his pride in Seol's talent the sort of genuine that annoys her but doesn't break into cringe for the audience. Kim Ye-Eun feels like she'd have something really interesting to do if this were just the Chois' story - Po-Mu is often sulky and snarky and she clearly resents being a side character even if she doesn't break the fourth wall about it.

Their stories are all mixed up, and it clearly takes a bit of effort to keep them that way. Ishii doesn't necessarily have to work hard to build things up in order to knock them over - there's something impressively well-calibrated about how he handles the line between "we're poor but stable" and "your car breaking down on a cold night is really dangerous" - but he puts the families into a number of small, disposable tricky situations to keep things moving, with the climax a more urgent one rather than something the others were building to. The angel of the title winds up serving as an odd bit of glue, like Takeshi, Seol, and their families need a little something extra to bind them than just a shared situation.

And yet even without it, the two bickering families have been so thoroughly intertwined by the end that imagining their journeys as merely parallel seems impossible, like this was one story from the start. It's an impressive bit of alchemy, even if it does, maybe, take a little extra time for the combined unit to settle and cool.

Full review at eFilmCritic


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 13 August 2021 in SVA Theatre Beatrice (New York Asian Film Festival 2021, DCP)

Joint is the sort of festival movie you grade on a bit of a curve - it's so thoroughly independent that even the middle-aged star is a complete newcomer and the strains on the filmmakers' resources are easy to see, but there's enough that feels new and unique done well enough that one is glad to have seen it. The film's flaws make themselves plain as it goes along, but it's filled with stuff worth giving a bit of attention.

It opens in somewhat familiar fashion, with yakuza associate Takeshi "Take" Ishigami (Ikken Yamamoto) being released from prison after two years. He takes a job doing construction from a reformed friend, but he's living in a motel until his parole is over and he can go back to Tokyo and his old work compiling lists of potential victims for the network's scammers, sourced in part by Korean immigrant Jung-Hi (Kim Jin-Cheol). It's a bit of a different world than when he went in - the crooks are making their cold calls from moving cars, the gangs are outsourcing more, and the investment he makes in a software start-up to launder his earnings may be his most successful job even if he doesn't really understand any of it.

For all that the director protested that this wasn't particularly influenced by other yakuza films, it nevertheless has a similar feel: From Battles without Honor and Humanity forward, at the very least, these movies have always been businesslike and dense with information; where the best-known films of this genre focus on gang leadership, director Oudai Kojima and writer Ham-R tend to cast their gaze a little lower on the totem pole. The film is pointed in examining how that milieu has changed, but then, these movies have been grappling with these gangs eyeing respectability for decades.

In fact, it arguably sticks too close to gangster tropes as it goes on. This genre has always been reflections of the legitimate world, and there's a neat angle here in how Take is effectively a contractor and the yakuza less the sort of loyal institutions that Japanese companies used to be (director Kojima grew up in New York, and I'm somewhat curious to what extent he's drawing from American versus Japanese experiences). The sharpest and most fascinating element may be how these scam artists and frauds are evolving into and merging with Big Data and venture capital, a new brand of hidden powers whose artificially-intelligent apps are direct correlations to Take's knack for pulling the useful items out of a mass of information. It's a parallel that intrigues but which Kojima and Ham-R can't quite make into a story, only lightly touching on what's going on at the software company and falling back on what's going on at the top of the gang during the last act, which isn't really important relative to what Take's up to.

And the audience is invested in Take, in large part because Ikken Yamamoto is a heck of a find. It's his first credited performance, let alone lead, but he walks through the film with a smile that's not just charming but signals that Take is completely at ease with who and what he is, cheerfully confused when his friend tries to get him to go straight and sitting in on business meetings with this perfect blend of ignorance and second-hand menace. There's an easy three-way chemistry between him, Kim Jin-Cheol and Kim Chang-Bak, work friends who split when it becomes clear just how amoral one is. On top of that, what seems like a side effect of indie film production and dicey continuity - Take's hair and the rest of his look changes between scenes as they're filmed weeks apart - becomes sort of meaningful, as his "legitimate" business takes the fore and he becomes a sort of chameleon even though he's clearly the same guy underneath.

The whole package isn't quite the sum of its best parts, but between Yamamoto and the angle Kojima takes in seeing the yakuza as something more specific than just corporate analogs, I'm hoping that someone with some resources sees Joint and decides to find out what this group can do with a budget, whether it's something along the same lines or not.

Full review at eFilmCritic

Friday, October 08, 2021

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 8 October 2021 - 14 October 2021

Is the movie coming out this weekend the most-pandemic-delayed or does it just seem that way because of all the delays it had before all that?
  • I speak, of course, of No Time to Die, Daniel Craig's farewell to James Bond and the first time that series has really had a finale (although, to be fair, Casino Royale was its first hard reset). It ties together a lot of threads from previous movies to make for the longest film in the series, a fairly-massive 163 minutes . It is at The Somerville Theatre, Fresh Pond, the Lexington Venue, West Newton, Boston Common (including Imax & Dolby Cinema), Fenway (including 3D), South Bay (including Imax & Dolby Cinema), Kendall Square, Assembly Row (including Imax & Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    The Capitol has a one-off screening of coming-of-age drama Runt on Friday night, while Arsenal Yards has "PinkFong & Baby Shark's Space Adventure" for a matinee on Saturday and Sunday. Scream is having 25th anniversary screenings (ahead of a video re-release) at Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row on Sunday and Monday. Fenway and South Bay also have a 35th anniversary screening of BMX flick Rad on Thursday.

    AMC is apparently doing "Thrills & Chills Surprise Screenings" on Fridays and Wednesdays all month at Boston Common; $5 and you find out what they're showing when . They also give After We Fell a regular booking; I guess those one-offs did all right.
  • Most of A24's weird supernatural stuff has seemingly been homegrown, but Lamb is an Icelandic import, but it looks like the same sort of combination between weird and classy that they go for. It features Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason as a childless couple who discover what is either a baby with the head of a sheep or a lamb that walks on two legs and try to raise it as their own. That is at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (including a Sunday Masked Matinee), the Capitol, Kendall Square, and Boston Common.

    The Coolidge also offers a few one-offs: Hocus Pocus plays at midnight on Friday on 35mm, Bram Stoker's Dracula is on 35mm film at midnight Saturday, Goethe-Institut offers The German Lesson Sunday afternoon, and Moonrise Kingdom is the Wes World 35mm show on Tuesday
  • Over at The Brattle Theatre hosts The Boston Women's Film Festival opening night on Friday with Fanny: The Right to Rock, with director Bobbi Jo Hart and June Millington (the guitarist of the mostly-forgotten all-woman rock group; the rest of the festival will be on-line.

    Saturday and Sunday, they bring back Małni – Towards The Ocean, Towards The Shore, which played virtually and as part of The DocYard's virtual series earlier this year. The DocYard's regular Monday presentation is Writing with Fire, a look at independent local journalism in India; a pre-recorded Q&A follows.

    The late show on Saturday and Sunday is one of my favorite's from last year's Fantasia Festival, Detention, a Taiwanese horror film about students trapped in their seemingly haunted school during a period when Taiwan was as much a dictatorship as the mainland, meaning the ghosts and monsters aren't all there is to fear (it is also available via their online site, The Brattlite). The rest of the week is a Deborah Kerr Centennial Tribute, with Powell & Pressburger's Black Narcissus on Tuesday, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant on Wednesday, and The Innocents on Thursday
  • The latest flag-waving anthology to hit Chinese screens for National Day is My Country, My Parents, and I must admit to being kind of curious about this; all four listed directors - Shen Teng, Wu Jing, Xu Zheng, and Zhang Ziyi - are better known as actors, and I think this is Zhang's directorial debut.

    Apple Fresh Pond opens Doctor, a Tamil-language action/adventure starring Sivakarthikeyan as a combat medic who finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping and trafficking plot while visiting Chennai. For Telugu speakers (and subtitle readers), there is Konda Polam, "an epic tale of 'becoming'" featuring Panja Vaisshnav Tej as a shepherd in Nallamala who must fight off both tigers and poachers.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square opened Fever Dream, a Peruvian film in which a woman remembers a mystery on her deathbed, this past Wednesday.
  • The Regent Theatre hosts The Lonely Seal International Film, Screenplay, and Music Festival, which actually kicked off on Wednesday and runs through Sunday with a program that is mostly short films, some in blocks attached to features, along with seminars and musical performances. Smack in the middle on Saturday night, but not part of the program, is New England Ska Summit, a documentary about the genre in New England with directors Dan & Jack Vitale on-hand for Q&A and a live performance from Rikki Rocksteady.
  • The second annual Nightstream virtual fest, co-produced by The Boston Underground Film Festival, adds new entries through Sunday, most of which will be available for a few days after, with the last ones expiring on Wednesday. I can recommend Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist, and especially Mad God (though I wasn't quite so taken with King Car, Stanleyville, and We're All Going to the World's Fair), and have Code Name Nagasaki, LandLocked, After Blue, The Taking, Cosmic Dawn, To The Moon, The Greenhouse, and All My Friends Hate Me lined up to watch myself.
  • Bright Lights at Home offers United States vs Reality Winner for 24 hours starting at 7pm Wednesday, with director Sonia Kennebeck and producer Ines Hofmann Kanna doing a Thursday-night Q&A via Zoom. Slots are free but limited.
  • The West Newton Cinema has a shiny new website, which shows No Time to Die, The Addams Family 2, The Many Saints of Newark, Dear Evan Hansen (Friday/Saturday/Tuesday), Cry Macho (no shows Saturday), Shang-Chi, and Summer of Soul (Monday/Wednesday/Thursday).

    The Lexington Venue is open through Monday (a holiday for some) with No Time to Die and The Card Counter.
  • Cinema Salem has Venom 2 and Titane from Friday to Monday. The Friday "Night Lights" show is The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Thursday's "Cinema Sounds" show is Psycho. They continue to host The Salem Horror Fest from Friday to Monday, and the festival also includes virtual events and a Night of the Living Dead marathon, along with other Romero oddities.

    The Luna Theater has John Carpenter's Halloween on Friday, Prisoners of the Ghostland twice on Saturday (masks required for the matinee) with Cryptozoo in between and the Teseracte Players later that night (probably doing Rocky Horror. Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street plays four times on Sunday, there's a surprise Weirdo Wednesday show, and Annihilation plays Thursday evening as part of UMass Lowell's Philosophy and Film series (first-come, first-serve, but free).
  • The Harvard Film Archive begins a virtual program to go along with the Harvard Art Museums' "Devour the Land" exhibit, with the first selection, The Annotated Field Guide of Ulysses S. Grant, available from Friday to Monday. There will be some live screenings, but you need a Harvard ID for those.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes.
I'm looking forward to checking out the upgraded main screen at the Somerville with No Time to Die and then maybe catching up with Venom 2, Titane, and maybe I'm Your Man if I can fit them in around the Nightstream stuff.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Movies on Vacation: Blue Bayou and The Wife of a Spy

Seeing movies on vacation is always a bit odd, because it's hard not to think "I didn't need to travel 450 miles to do this", but then again, what do most people do in the evenings on vacation? The museums all close at 5:30pm, only one of the baseball games I went to Washington to see was a night game (Red Sox sweep!), and I can't really see myself sitting in the hotel lounge. I started at 4:25 on Monday, in part because there was the chance of rain in the forecast.

And, besides, I'd been remiss in getting to Blue Bayou while it was playing back at home, so this was probably my last chance to catch it in a theater, while there doesn't seem to be any sign of The Wife of a Spy playing Boston at all, so…

That's Landmark's E Street Theatre, which doesn't particularly resemble the one at Kendall Square so much as the one at Embassy Square in Waltham; which is odd because both of them have the feel of being existing facilities they moved into, although it's enough like the Kendall once the pre-show starts that one does kind of think "am i away from home or not?" once you're a few minutes in.

Still, the crazy thing is what's across the street from the building it is, by and large, underneath:

That would be Ford's Theatre, and it's hard not to do a double-take when you walk by that because, geez, you'd think that "a member of the cast may murder you even if you are the President of the United States" is the sort of thing which would drive a place out of business as opposed to having it be a going concern 150 years later. That is, of course, not the whole story - according to its Wikipedia entry, "an order was issued forever prohibiting its use as a place of public amusement" and it was used for other purposes for the next hundred years before it was restored and reopened.

I kind of can't imagine seeing a play there - it's weird enough just seeing a movie across the street! - but then again, this place is across the street:

Lincoln's Waffle Shop. I guess it has lines in the morning and isn't bad food, but… kind of tacky? On the other hand, I probably would have eaten there at least once if I were able to get out of my hotel room before 11am or so most days. The area around the Mall is kind of intimidating in terms of getting something to eat when you're in a shorts and t-shirt combo for walking around, what with all the people in suits and ties because they work in and around the capitol. Tacky might be just what my sweaty self was looking for.

Anyway, I'm back home now, and hope someone in the Boston area will pick up Wife of a Spy; it's good stuff.

Blue Bayou

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 4 October 2021 in Landmark E Street #8 (first-run, DCP)

As a fan of Justin Chon's previous two films as a writer/director, I find myself a little disappointed by the slightly bigger, more ambitious Blue Bayou, even though he seems to be following the same path: Create a character and setting of the sort that he would like to play as an actor even if he doesn't often get the opportunity, hang just enough of a story on it for the movie to have a starting and ending point, and let his cast do their work. Blue Bayou can get by with that for decent stretches, but sometimes it needs a little more.

The part he's created for himself here is Antonio LeBlanc, a tattoo artist whose prior convictions for stealing motorcycles prevent him from getting better-paying work as a mechanic. He and wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) have a baby on the way, and he's a committed father to Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), Kathy's daughter from a previous relationship. That's where things get tricky; Jessie's father Ace (Mark O'Brien) is a cop and has been pushing for more time with his daughter, and when his partner Denny (Emory Cohen) decides to make a stink on his behalf, it's Antonio who winds up in jail - and then handed over to ICE to start deportation procedures, as he was adopted from Korea at the age of three over thirty years ago and apparently neither his adoption or his marriage made him a citizen.

Somewhat unusually, the procedural mechanics of all this and how the immigration system is often built to be an inescapable trap are not anywhere close to the primary focus, and there is good reason for that. Building a movie in that way often shifts the story away from the likes of Antonio and rests it on the shoulders of those fighting for him, and while most probably wouldn't mind Alicia Vikander and Vondie Curtis-Hall (as the LeBlancs' lawyer) having a little more to do, that probably shouldn't happen a the expense of Antonio. The issue is that Chon doesn't have a better structure to go with instead, so there's a number of loosely-connected episodes that let him explore different aspects of the character but which mean that Antonio isn't really driving his story, but it's also not being driven by how he's at the mercy of an uncaring-to-hostile bureaucracy either.

The funny thing about all that is that Chon certainly seems to have zeroed in on the heart of the film from the very beginning in Antonio's relationship with Jessie. The film is in no way subtle about how being repeatedly rejected and tossed aside as a child formed Antonio and how he is determined that the same doesn't happen to Jessie, who has seen her birth father ignore her and fears Antonio caring more about his biological child. They are great together as Chon shows Antonio full of warmth and maybe a little prone to overcompensate in a way that makes his tendency to dig in elsewhere an extension of that rather than a flip side. Sydney Kowalske makes Jessie the sort of kid in a tough situation most in the audience will recognize something in, seldom seeming precocious or over-rehearsed when she shrinks or screams in reaction to all the adult things she doesn't understand. The bond between these two comes into sharper focus as the audience learns more about them. It can't carry the entire movie - Jessie's about seven and isn't going to be making important decisions - so Chon shifts much of the latter half to how Antonio and Kathy don't always have an easy marriage, especially with this pressure, with Vikander not missing a beat moving forward - but the film ultimately has to circle back around to Antonio and Jessie.

And if Chon is ultimately marking time between Antonio's arrest and his hearing, he's doing it with material that is decent enough on its own even if it's not what the audience is going to be invested in. A thread with Linh Dan Pham as an unlikely woman looking for a tattoo is so loosely connected to the story that it has a hard time doing its job of exploring just how out of place Antonio feels in Asian spaces, especially given the nature of his vague memories of Korea are, even if Pham impresses and those memories are suitably dreamlike and haunting, a blur of Korea and Louisiana that looks great shot on 16mm film. There's a decently-staged but predictable bit of crime in the middle. Emory Cohen plays Denny as about the monster you'd expect, but it's surprisingly easy to imagine Mark O'Brien's Ace and Toby Vitrano's ICE agent Merk as protagonists in their own films about becoming a better father or recognizing one's complicity in various abuses. This film doesn't really need that - it might be better and more focused without it - but one gets the feeling that Chon has had enough one-note supporting roles that he'll give his co-stars better.

It's not quite enough, at least not in the right spots - Blue Bayou hits the expected beats where it could afford to be a bit more creative and goes off on tangents when the audience would probably be happy to watch the cast play a thing out. The cast and crew give their all to a film that never quite finds the right balance between railing at injustice and telling the story of those stuck within that injustice, making it a decent movie but not the one it could have been.

Full review at eFilmCritic

Spy no tsuma (Wife of a Spy)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 4 October 2021 in Landmark E Street #8 (first-run, DCP)

Almost all Japanese films are co-produced by television networks these days, and even if one doesn't recognize the logos before the film, Wife of a Spy has the look of a TV-movie or miniseries, specifically the sort of period mystery or World War II homefront drama imported from Great Britain that filled PBS or A&E schedules a few years back. It's both what it is and good camouflage for what director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and his collaborators are really up to, a sneakily clever little thriller that keeps the audience guessing but never in a way that undercuts what is being put front and center.

The year is 1940; the place is Kobe, and the film opens with Yasuharu "Taiji" Tsumori (Masahiro Higashide) overseeing a raid on the Raw Silk Inspection station, looking to arrest J.F. Drummond, a trader and suspected British spy. When he informs Drummond's contact Yusaku Fukuhara (Issey Takahashi) afterward, he isn't surprised, but dismisses the idea as absurd. Yusaku and his wife Satoko (Yu Aoi) - a childhood friend of Taiji's - are well-off enough to have servants with Yusaku quite cosmopolitan in his tastes, something Taiji warns Satoko about as Japan moves closer to direct conflict with the western powers. Comfortable and guileless, she doesn't think much of it until Yusaku and his nephew Fumio (Ryota Bando) return from a business trip to Manchuria: The beautiful young woman with Fumio, Kiroko Kusakabe (Hyunri) gives Yusaku a knowing look, Fumio suddenly quits his job to write a novel before he is drafted, and Yusaku starts evading questions.

And then there's the apparent murder.

That's where things start to get interesting and the audience can start to see Kurosawa's hand at play. He has, in the latter half of his career, branched out into more genres, but he made his bones in horror and thrillers, and even when he's doing something as seemingly conventional and non-supernatural as this, he's got a real knack for letting the audience feel a sort of pervasive wrongness, like the world has been knocked a few degrees off its axis and everybody is drifting further off course because their compasses aren't pointing in quite the right direction. It's the sort of thing that should mess with innocent Satoko in the same way it seems to have affected the men in her life, with Yusaku and Taiji seeming to grow a bit more determined under their friendly surfaces while Fumio loses his mooring, especially once she gets an idea of what's going on.

That's where Kurosawa and co-writers Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Tadashi Nohara get clever, though, withholding a pivotal scene in such a way that the audience can't miss that something is up, but making it hard to be sure exactly what that is. Has she thrown in with Taiji, looking for a way to follow her husband's treachery to other traitors, or is she doing exactly what she appears to be up to, joining his cause and thinking quickly on her feet to help him advance it? The film doesn't ever offer any particular hints that she's working some sort of double-cross, but its makers know that their audience knows the genre, and the fact that Satoko seemed a passable actress in her husband's amateur movie (a pulpy thriller that ends in betrayal, from the couple minutes shown) gives it credence and foreshadowing. Just that her initial instincts were to use some silk Drummond gave them as a gift to make kimonos rather than western dresses suggests that both options could be equally likely.

Either way, the viewer will realize that they have probably underestimated Satoko and start watching her extremely closely, and Yu Aoi turns in a performance that can hold up to that sort of scrutiny. There's never much doubt that the bubbly, charming Satoko of the opening is who she is under normal circumstances, but once the situation starts getting ambiguous, Aoi turns things up a notch rather than becoming sphinx-like, so demonstrative in her loyalty that one might suspect that Satoko isn't that good an actress, seemingly both thrilled at the possibility of transgression and adventure but worried about the very real danger and the stain of betrayal. There are two ways to read everything she's doing right until the movie finally makes the situation clearer, and even once the penny drops, the audience will be hard-pressed to look back and find anything in her performance or the story that was a complete red herring. As she's doing this, Issey Takahashi and Masahiro Higashide are keeping pace as former friends ever more committed to opposing principles, while Ryota Bando is a well-used counterweight to Aoi, playing the youth who seems smart and assured but cracks when he is challenged to reconcile his values.

That this is a TV movie and looks it is useful for catching the audience a bit off guard as well; even one knowing Kurosawa's reputation or the basics of the film can find oneself lulled into thinking along the lines of the cozier genres it initially resembles, so that once it takes a darker turn, it's genuinely unnerving, even though the film-within-a-film is hinting at a change from a caper to noir early. Kurosawa and his cast often tend to skew performances to feel a bit modern, perhaps to emphasize a message of free-thinking versus unquestioning loyalty. It's noteworthy that the limits of what can be shown in a television production limits some of what Kurosawa can show motivating Yusaku, especially since it seems to be relatively rare among Japanese imports in confronting the country's crimes in Manchuria, even obliquely.

Wife of a Spy has the raw materials to be an entertaining movie even if it were no more than what it appears to be at the start; instead, they build a movie that keeps the viewer guessing even as the end credits roll while still being thoroughly satisfying.

Full review at eFilmCritic

Friday, October 01, 2021

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 1 October 2021 - 7 October 2021

Everything that's being crammed into the next few months is kind of crazy - it's not like October is usually a dead period, exactly, but it kind of feels like all those freighters stretched out in a line for miles off the coast of California, all wanting a week or two on the Imax screens before the end of the year.
  • Next in line on that count is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, with Tom Hardy returning as the host to Marvel's Spider-Man-villain-turned-anti-hero-not-necessarily-connected-to-Spider-Man-for-the-movies, Woody Harrelson as a serial killer who gets his own symbiote, and Andy Serkis of all people directing the mayhem in a movie that will hopefully be as thoroughly bug-nuts as its predecessor. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Kendall Square, Boston Common (including Imax/Dolby Cinema/3D), Fenway (including 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax/Dolby Cinema), South Bay (including Imax/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    The week also gives audiences The Addams Family 2, a second animated feature which has the oddball family of the title heading out for vacation. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    I'm mildly curious as to how many folks will see The Many Saints of Newark in theaters; Warner's decision to do simultaneous digital releases this year has tanked everything but Godzilla vs. Kong, and this prequel to The Sopranos with James Gandolfini's son Michael playing young Tony (but mostly focusing on those around him) might be something people figure belongs on TV in the first place. It's at The Somerville Theatre, the Coolidge, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, Chestnut Hill, and on HBOMax.

    Universal is finally doing the thing that I figure they should be doing every Halloween - a theatrical double feature of the classic 1931 versions of Dracula and Frankenstein, which are so tight as to only take up two and a half hours between them - albeit as a Fathom presentation which plays Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Saturday. Studio Ghibli-fest comes a bit late this year, but starts with Spirited Away at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row, in English on Sunday/Wednesday and Japanese on Monday. After We Fell gets an encore at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Monday, while No Time to Die gets special early access screenings on Wednesday at Boston Common (Imax), Assembly Row (Imax) - before the regular early screenings on Thursday and next Friday's "release date". There's also 40th Anniversary screening of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead on Thursday at South Bay and Assembly Row.

    AMC Boston Common also has "Thrills & Chills Surprise Screenings" on Friday and Wednesday; they're $5, which isn't a huge amount to risk, I guess. They also have Skyfall and Casino Royale for those wanting to psyche themselves up for the new Bond, and Rocky Horror Saturday night - not sure if that's just-for-Halloween, or if it's back to being an every week thing.
  • Over at The Brattle Theatre, they offer up the latest by two guys at opposite ends of Asian cinema. The main offering, Days, is the latest from Taiwanese "slow cinema" auteur Tsai Ming-Liang and follows the connection between two solitary men in Bangkok; if nothing else, it looks gorgeous. It gets the main times, with Prisoners of the Ghostland mostly getting late shows as befits a collaboration between director Sion Sono and star Nicolas Cage, with a fun supporting cast including Sofia Boutella and Tak Sakaguchi accompanying Cage's mercenary on a rescue mission in Samurai Town.

    Neither plays Monday, as that's The DocYard's night. This week, they offer A Night of Knowing Nothing, with director Payal Kapadia dialing in afterward to discuss her film interpreting and expanding upon a set of love letters found at a film school. Note that it is not being offered on The Brattlite (passholders are getting a separate email as to how to see it), but last week's selection of Her Socialist Smile is, along with Eyimofe (This Is My Desire), What We Left Unfinished and Witches of the Orient.
  • Telugu-language thriller Republic opens at Apple Fresh Pond and Arsenal Yards, starring Sai Tej and directed by Deva Katta. Love Story, also in Telugu, sticks around at Fresh Pond, Kendall Square, and Fenway.

    Fresh Pond also picks up something called Witch Hunt, which posits a present day where witchcraft is real but also illegal, and follows one teenager helping others escape to Mexico. They've also got While We Sleep for matinees from Saturday to Wednesday (maybe Thursday), in which the investigation of a sleep disorder leads to an exorcism.
  • It's a surprisingly big opening for TItane, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes but is still the new film from Julia Ducournau, whose Raw was not for the squeamish, and whose new one promises similar intensity even if the plot is apparently more a sci-fi mystery about a missing child mysteriously returned after ten years. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, Kendall Square, Boston Common, Assembly Row, and the Embassy.

    The Coolidge switches up their After Midnite shows with The Phantom of the Paradise on Friday and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday, although musical horror-kitsch won't be the theme for the whole month. Sunday's Masked Matinee is The Many Saints of Newark, the 35mm Big Screen Classic on Monday is GoodFellas (not quite done with Scorcese yet!), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is also on film for Wes World on Tuesday.
  • On top of the wider releases, Landmark Theatres Kendall Square picks up Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster, a documentary from Thomas Harrison that I suspect delivers what it says on the box. On Wednesday, they open Fever Dream, a Peruvian film in which a woman remembers a mystery on her deathbed.
  • The Regent Theatre in Arlington has their final show of the Manhattan Short Film Festival 2021 program on Sunday.
  • This week's Bright Lights presentation is A Glitch in the Matrix; it will be available for 24 hours starting at 7pm Wednesday, with director Rodney Ascher and subject Paul Gude talking about the film (and likely the theory that our world is a simulation in general) via Zoom on Thursday evening.
  • The Boston Latino International Film Festival is online via ArtsEmerson's platform for its second weekend Sunday 3 October, adding Missing in Brooks County, My Darling Supermarket, and On the Divide for the second weekend.

    The Taiwan Film Festival of Boston has a full day at Boston Common on Saturday - Andre and His Olive Tree, My Missing Valentine, "My Way", Dear Tenant, "Mrs. Lin - The Retouching Lady", and The Great Buddha+ - and then has Heavy Craving, Turning 18, and See You White House available for 48 hours starting at noon on Sunday.

    The second annual Nightstream virtual fest kicks on Thursday, brought to you in part by the good folks at The Boston Underground Film Festival.
  • The West Newton Cinema is open all week, playing The Many Saints of Newark, Dear Evan Hansen, The Card Counter, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Friday/Sunday/Monday/Tuesday), Cry Macho (Friday-Sunday), Shang-Chi, and Summer of Soul (Sunday/Monday/Wednesday).

    The Lexington Venue is still Friday-Sunday with Dear Evan Hansen and The Card Counter.
  • Cinema Salem has Venom 2 and Shang-ChiFriday to Sunday, and has given the Friday night series a name ("Night Lights") with this week's entry Night of the Creeps. They also host The Salem Horror Fest from Friday to Sunday, and will be playing the Spanish-language version of Dracula on Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Prisoners of the Ghostland on Friday and Saturday, She Freak on Saturday (including a masked matinee), Cryptozoo on Saturday and Thursday, Beetlejuice on Sunday, and a Weirdo Wednesday.
  • The Harvard Film Archive will be offering virtual programs starting next weekend. Theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, The Embassy, West Newton, the Capitol, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes.
I'm on vacation for a few days, although I may wind up seeing a movie or two in the evenings, before heading home for The Days, Ghostland, and maybe Venom in 3D.