Friday, April 29, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 29 April 2021 - 5 May 2022

We're all shuffling between IFFBoston venues, right? No? Well, even if you're not (or want to sneak something else in along the edges), there's a bunch of "Fantastic Beasts wasn't the hit we expected but the Marvel movie doesn't open until next week" filler worth checking out.
  • But, as I said, the big local event is Independent Film Festival Boston, which has four screens between the Somerville and the Brattle from Friday to Monday and then narrows choices considerably for its last two days, with The Janes at WBUR CitySpace on Tuesday and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On closing it out at the Coolidge on Wednesday.

    Wicked Queer still has five features and 14 shorts packages streamable through Saturday night.
  • Possibly the most noteworthy non-IFFBoston opening is Petite Maman, Céline Sciamma's follow-up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire in which a young girl visits her mother's childhood home and, while exploring the woods, meets her mother as a child. Folks love it, in part because it's 72 minutes long and therefore doesn't have a chance to overcomplicate things. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (including a Saturday masked matinee), Kendall Square, and Boston Common.

    The Coolidge also wraps up its April kung fu midnights with a 35mm print of The Black Dragon's Revenge on Friday and a digitally-restored Sister Street Fighter on Saturday. Monday's Big Screen Classic is Kinuyo Tanaka's The Moon Has Risen, while there's a special presentation of Happening on Tuesday and a 35mm "Cinema Jukebox" show of Dazed and Confused on Thursday. There's also a "Coolidge Education" series of "Essential Fellini" starting Thursday, with classes running weekly at 10am.
  • Landmark's Kendall Square has another French import as well, with Anaïs in Love a romantic comedy in which the title character finds herself in a state of upheaval, and falling for the partner of her newest lover is probably not going going to make it easier.

    They also offer up The Duke, which stars Jim Broadbent as a taxi driver who steals a work from the National Gallery and holds it hostage; it also features Helen Mirren and also plays at West Newton and Boston Common. There's also Firebird, which tells the tale of two soldiers who fall for each other while serving in the Soviet military, with the penalties for being gay worse than just being discharged; it also plays Boston Common.

    The Kendall also switches their Tuesday repertory series up to "May Is for Mothers", kicking things off with Psycho.
  • Memory, meanwhile, is the sort of thing that fills the between-blockbusters hole nicely for theaters - Liam Neeson as an assassin who is beginning to get a bit fuzzy mentally, on the run because there are lines he won't cross, which a cast that include Monica Bellucci, Guy Pearce, and Ray Stevenson. It's at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    That gap also means Everything Everywhere All at Once gets a bump to the Imax screens at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row. Boston Common also has a Focus Features anniversary series, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Friday), the first Downton Abbey feature (Saturday), Brokeback Mountain (Sunday), Burn After Reading (Monday), Atonement (Tuesday), Harriet (Wednesday), and Darkest Hour (Thursday). Arsenal Yards picks up Viva Maestro! for late-afternoon showtimes through Wednesday and also has Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Monday.

    BUFF closing night film Hatching opens at Boston Common; it's a neat little Finnish thing about a girl who finds a mysterious egg and how the creature that emerges causes havoc when it bonds to her Kind of wants to be two horror movies when it might have been better served being one, but the core is good enough to make it work.
  • Fun movie-making anime Pompo the Cinephile had special events last week but has a regular release at Boston Common, and Fenway, with both subtitled and dubbed screenings. Boston Common still hangs on to anime Jujutsu Kaisen: 0, with all subtitled shows.

    Indian openings for Eid include Heropanti 2, a Hindi-language actioner described as more a "spiritual sequel" than direct follow-up to the film where Tiger Shroff first made a big splash; this one has him being sent on covert missions in Russia and plays Fresh Pond and Boston Common. Another Bollywood thriller, Runway 34, opens at Fresh Pond and Boston Common with Ajay Devgn as a pilot whose flight has more going on than it would appear (with Amitabh Bachchan possibly the mastermind). Apple Fresh Pond opens Telugu-language action/adventure Acharya, Malayalam-language drama Makal and Tamil romantic comedy Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal, with Marathi-language flick Sher Shivraj, a period action piece, opening on Saturday and Malayalm-language thriller CBI 5: The Brain opening Sunday. K.G.F.: Chapter 2 hangs around at Boston Common (Hindi).

    Vietnamese thriller Bay Ngo Ngao (Naked Truth) continues to play South Bay.
  • The Brattle Theatre is busy with IFFBoston through Monday, but fills out the week with a three-day celebration of Star Wars Day - the original (well, the current special edition) on Tuesday, The Empire Strikes Back on Wednesday May the Fourth, and Return of the Jedi on Thursday. They've also got two events in tandem with the Harvard Book Store with obvious movie tie-ins - John Waters will read from and sign his novel Liarmonth on Tuesday and Minnie Driver visits with memoir Managing Expectations on Thursday.
  • The Somerville Theatre returns from its IFFBoston slumber by wrapping "Travolta vs Cage" with a 35mm print of Face/Off on Tuesday before jumping right into the next rep series, "Crime Pays Double", with a double feature of Drive and To Live & Die in L.A., the latter on 35mm, on Wednesday.

    The Capitol is still only open Friday-Sunday, but this weekend that includes Charlotte, an animated drama with Keira Knightley as the voice of Charlotte Salomon, a Jewish painter in Berlin in the 1930s who endeavors to paint her life story before the Nazis come for her.
  • Belmont World Film continues with The Man from the Basement, featuring Bérénice Bejo and Jérémie Renier as a couple who convert their unfinished basement into a condo, only to find their new neighbor (François Cluzet) is more than they bargained for, online through 2 May with a Zoom discussion that night. Vera Dreams of the Sea takes its place starting the next night; that one is an Albanian drama about a woman fighting to retain her home after her husband's suicide.
  • All of the expected places will be showing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness starting Thursday night, but among the unexpected ones is The Museum of Science, which will be showing it on the Omni dome for about a month of weekend shows, including the Thursday preview. The Coolidge will also be getting their hands on a 35mm print for three nights only from the 6th to the 8th.
  • The Lexington Venue has The Bad Guys and Everything Everywhere All at Once from Friday to Sunday.

    The West Newton Cinema adds The Duke to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, The Bad Guys, Fantastic Beasts, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, The Rose Maker (no show Friday), Sing 2 (Saturday), and Encanto (Saturday). They appear to be closed on Monday

    The Luna Theater has Everything Everywhere All At Once from Friday to Sunday, along with the Weirdo Wednesday show and a UMass Lowell "Philosophy and Film" screening of Her on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem has Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Northman, and The Bad Guys from Friday to Monday (Monday's matinees captioned).
  • 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 and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes. Jordan's Furniture and the film program at the MFA are still in limbo.
My IFFBoston plans include The Pez Outlaw and How to Rob on Friday; Riotsville USA, Every Day in Kaimuki, Descendant, and maybe Piggy on Saturday; The Territory, A Decent Home, Mija, and One Second on Sunday; Hold Your Fire and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande on Monday; The Janes on Tuesday; and Marcel the Shell on Wednesday. That's probably enough, although Tuesday does leave a bit of room where I might catch Morbius before it leaves town or The Northman on a Dolby screen.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 22 April 2021 - 28 April 2022

Good golly, this week is going to be nuts if you like movies in Boston.
  • It's been three years since the event has been held in person, but Independent Film Festival Boston will be back in person starting Wednesday. It's a little pared down between the Somerville having two fewer screens and the independent film scene being a bit different from pre-pandemic times, but it kicks off on the Somerville's main screen with Emily the Criminal on Wednesday and expands to four screens Thursday, with We Feed People, A Love Story, Mojo Manifesto, and two shorts programs at the Somerville while Both Sides of the Blade and Flux Gourmet play the Brattle.

    Wicked Queer may be over in terms of in-person events, but has a number of shorts and "virtual encores" available online - some through the weekend (or part of it), and others through the end of the month.
  • Two of the big releases this week are the sort that overlap between the multiplex and the art house, and would even if the Kendall and Coolidge weren't showing more mainstream stuff than usual as the industry tries to get back on its feet post-pandemic. First up is The Northman, a grand Viking saga from the maker of The Witch and The Lighthouse which draws upon the story that inspired Hamlet for the tale of a young prince looking to return home and slay the uncle who murdered his father. It's got a killer cast - Alexander Skarsgaard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Bjork, Claes Bang - and looks both bloody and slick as heck. It's at The Coolidge, Fresh Pond, Kendall Square, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX late shows), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also playing to a broad audience is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, with Nicolas Cage playing a take on himself as still very much broke and clearly disillusioned, taking a gig appearing at the birthday party of a rich super-fan (Pedro Pascal) only for it to go sideways when the CIA recruits him to spy on his new benefactor. That's at The Coolidge (including a Sunday Masked Matinee), Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill

    For something more straightforward and family-friendly, there's The Bad Guys, the latest from DreamWorks Animation which has a crew of anthropomorphic animal crooks trying to go straight after helping someone out makes Wolf feel unexpectedly good. If nothing else, the animation style looks pretty distinctive, especially because it might be at odds with DreamWorks's usual 3D focus. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, the Lexington Venue, CinemaSalem, West Newton, Boston Common (including 3D), Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row (including 3D), Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    Arsenal Yards has The Lorax Friday and Sunday for Earth Day. There's also a special "Earth Day Call to Action" show of "The Last Glaciers" at the Imax screen at Assembly Row on Saturday. Saturday also features PJ Masks: We Can All Be Heroes, which I'm guessing my toddler nephew might go for, at Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards. K-Pop concert documentary Seventeen: Power of Love plays Saturday at Boston Common and Fenway. Back to the Future plays Arsenal Yards on Monday.
  • Landmark's Kendall Square also offers The Tale of King Crab, with Gabriele Silli as an Italian troublemaker exiled to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, where he searches for treasure but perhaps finds madness. Their Tuesday musical (the last of that April series) is Grease.
  • In addition to Northman and Massive Talent, The Coolidge Corner Theatre has a one-week run of Memoria, the new film from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which stars Tilda Swinton as a woman shaken by a strange sound, possibly to the point of synesthesia, while visiting her sister in Colombia. Weerasethakul's features tend toward the abstract, so this could be something very unusual. It's also worth noting that the distributor has no plans for online or home-video releases, and is moving this from screen to screen as a roadshow, so one might be wise to see it now (there is a return to the area at the Harvard Film Archive planned, but that is later in the summer).

    Midnights this weekend include The Chinese Connection (aka Fists of Fury) & a 35mm print of Cleopatra Jones on Friday and Saturday, respectively, for your kung fu needs, with The Room upstairs on Friday. There's a "Stand With Ukraine through Film" program featuring The Guide, live music, and speakers on Sunday afternoon, a 35mm print of My Own Private Idaho as the Big Screen Classic Monday night, and a special 35mm 20th anniversary screening of Funny Ha Ha with writer/director Andrew Bujalski on hand for Q&A afterward.
  • Vietnamese thriller Bay Ngo Ngao (Naked Truth) plays South Bay this weekend, the first import they've had in a while. It features four friends coming together for one's anniversary, only for secrets to start to surface.

    Boston Common still hangs on to anime Jujutsu Kaisen: 0, with all subtitled shows, while Pompo the Cinephile - which I dug as part of Fantasia last year - plays Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Wednesday (subtitled) and Thursday (dubbed).

    Apple Fresh Pond opens Hindi-language sports drama/romance Jersey, starring Shahid Kapoor as a former cricketer who decides to return to the game in his 30s to encourage his son. In holdovers, K.G.F.: Chapter 2 hangs around in multiple languages at Fresh Pond (Telugu/Tamil/Hindi), Boston Common (Kannada/Hindi/Telugu), and South Bay (Telugu). Tamil action flick Beast also continues at Fresh Pond, and Telugu-language action/adventure Acharya hitting the screen there Thursday..
  • The Brattle Theatre uses the week before IFFBoston to showcase a selection from last year's virtual edition, We're All Going to the World's Fair, a horror movie that unfolds via webcam as a teenager sinks deeper and deeper into a creepypasta. A bit of a too-slow burn for me, but it has a lot of fans.

    The run is briefly interrupted on Monday as The DocYard presents After Sherman with director Jon Sesrie Goff onhand to discuss his film that explores the land his ancestors acquired after Emancipation 160 years ago and how it fits with the places around it, including the plantation where his ancestors were slaves.
  • The Somerville Theatre offers a number of special presentations in the lead-up to IFFBoston, with It Happened One Night on Friday, a double feature of Rebel Without a Cause & The Wild One on Saturday, their first official "Silents, Please!" entry in a while with Lillian Gish and John Gilbert in La Boheme on Sunday, and the last "Travolta vs Cage" double feature on Tuesday in Broken Arrow & The Rock, the first in 35mm (although both will be represented in Face/Off next week).

    The Capitol finishes the school vacation matinees with Penguins of Madagascar (Friday) and Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Saturday/Sunda), and then it looks like they're back to only being open Friday-Sunday.
  • The Harvard Film Archive continues last weeks shows with two 16mm programs from the Yellow Ball Workshop - "Films By and About Kids" on Friday and "Films By Adults" on Monday - and documentary Expedition Content, which is mostly sound with a dark screen encouraging focus, in between on Sunday.
  • Belmont World Film has Zero Fucks Given with Adèle Exarchopoulos as a flight attendant recently laid off from an island-hopping airline, playing virtually from Friday to Sunday with an in-person screening at West Newton on Sunday Night, with an online discussion Monday night. After that, the next entry is The Man from the Basement, with Bérénice Bejo and Jérémie Renier as a couple who convert their unfinished basement into a condo, only to find their new neighbor (François Cluzet) is more than they bargained for. That one is online only through 2 May.
  • The Museum of Science has already sold out one special screening of mountain-climbing documentary The Sanctity of Space on Thursday, but has put a second late show on (though that may be sold out as well).
  • The Lexington Venue has The Bad Guys and Everything Everywhere All at Once from Friday to Sunday, and at least matinees on Thursday (depending what they do for previews that evening).

    The West Newton Cinema adds The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and The Bad Guys to a lineup including Fantastic Beasts, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, The Rose Maker, CODA, Sing 2 (Friday/Saturday), and Encanto (Friday-Sunday).

    The Luna Theater has Everything Everywhere All At Once from Friday to Sunday, along with the Weirdo Wednesday show and "Mondo Comedy" on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem has Everything Everywhere All at Once, Fantastic Beasts, and The Bad Guys from Friday to Monday (Monday's matinees captioned).
  • 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 and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes. Jordan's Furniture and the film program at the MFA are still in limbo.
For some reason, I foolishly booked my ticket for Memoria on the same night IFFBoston opened, so I'm crossing my fingers that Emily the Criminal opens theatrically. Ah well; guess I'll try and cram Northman, Unbearable Weight, Travolta/Cage, and Bad Guys in beforehand. Not sure I can catch up with Morbius and The Lost City and maybe head to Dorchester for the Vietnamese movie, but that's kind of on me.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Not Exactly Oneself: Everything Everywhere All At Once and Dual

I've totally been holding onto that review of Everything Everywhere All at Once so that I could pair it with another movie as opposed to being lazy and distractible for the past two weeks.

(Looks back and forth)

Not buying it, huh?

Anyway, it's kind of fun when a theme appears in one's viewing, in this case favorite actresses working with intriguing indie filmmakers to make movies where they get to have multiple takes on the same characters, although Daniels and Riley Stearns go about it in completely different ways: Everything Everywhere is as busy as its name implies, while Dual sands down everything that could really come across as a fun hook. In this case, it's hard to argue with how Daniels wears their hearts on their sleeves, keeping up a frantic pace for a crazy amount of time but giving the audience a lot of time to feel things even though they aren't shaking and demanding they feel this. Stearns makes a movie that begs to be examined and dissected, and while I found more going on than I was feeling while I watched it, I don't know that there is really that much there. It's got a layer or two, but only a layer or two.

It's kind of notable how they're sort of taking opposite release paths. Everything Everywhere is doing the sort of expansion one doesn't necessarily see that much any more - a couple screens in NYC/LA, some larger markets including Boston later - with the directors doing a lot of in-person shows with college kids and film-lovers that will talk it up if they like it - and then medium and wide releases following. Dual, meanwhile, got booked on one screen in the area tightly enough that I suspect it might be a four-wall (it's possible AMC figures there's just no audience for matinees, even on the weekend, but it's kind of odd), and its distributor is probably seeing this as an extremely brief stop before video. I'm mildly surprised RLJE hasn't announced an early-June release yet, but I guess it's gauche to do so before the first week is through, even if the window is down to 45 days.

Anyway - check out Everything Everywhere All at Once on the big screen if it opens nearby, preferably on the biggest one you can with people feeling emotions on every side. You're probably not going to have that for Dual, although you may find it interesting, even if it's not particularly intense.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 March 2022 in AMC Boston Common #2 (preview, Imax Xenon)

In their most notable previous collaboration, "Daniels" (the team of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) produced Swiss Army Man, a film with the memorable selling point of "Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse" (but with the film also surprisingly affecting), which would seem to be a tough one to top; most would go for something played straighter. They not only do not do this, but they make absurdity a fundamental part of how Everything Everywhere All at Once works, while also giving a great cast much more to do than get the audience from one crazy scene to the next.

It's built around Michelle Yeoh's Evelyn Wang, who owns a laundromat with husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). Her father (James Hong) has recently arrived from China, too ill to live alone anymore, and Evelyn Gong Gong that daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is dating a really nice girl (Tallie Medel). First, though, she's got to get through an IRS audit - at least, until things take a strange detour along the way when Waymond is seemingly possessed by his counterpart from another universe, telling Evelyn that she's the only person who can stop "Jobu Tupaki", a threat that has already ravaged other universes and is building something that endangers all of existence. To do that, Evelyn will have to "verse-jump", connecting with versions of herself that went down different paths and as such have different skill sets to access.

One does this, apparently, by doing something improbable, and that gives the Daniels the chance to not just stage kung fu action that is at once whimsical and impressively choreographed, but to make its every appearance feel unpredictable so that it never feels like a set piece that is most impressive for its technical skill. Once this movie hits its stride, it is just maximally weird, including what is one of the most bizarrely funny bits I've seen in a movie theater in some time. The movie keeps building to new ways of being ridiculous even when that seems impossible, though it finds spots to slow down and let the audience catch their collective breath even while another part of the brain is figuring out what this all means.

It works in part because it is also incredibly sincere while still being irreverent enough that this sincerity isn't used as a club (well, maybe it is toward the end) and because it is deft enough to build itself on a foundation of Michelle Yeoh being terrific at anything that might be thrown at her by giving her a heroine who is often a screw-up without making that cheaply endearing. There's some sly use of her movie-star power here, because the audience who knows her being ready to see her claim her due power and be awesome helps build anticipation, but the whole thing would fall apart if being human and fallible both on top of and underneath that gives the movie a target and helps the film with its musings about the scale of everything.

Her star power also lets the rest of the cast kind of sneak up on the viewer, even when they shouldn't. James Hong, for instance, has seemingly been playing cantankerous old Chinese men since he was young, but it's a delight to see him play with those tropes and suddenly take charge of a scene without making it any less Yeoh's. Ke Huy Quan, meanwhile, has not been on screen nearly as much as one might like since a couple memorable roles as a kid, but he also reinvents himself from scene to scene while still finding common ground. Same goes for Stephanie Hsu, who in some ways has the trickiest roll, in that Joy's multiple iterations have to seem incredibly far apart even though the crux of it is that it's the same person underneath.

That's the nut of it, really - that what's pushing all versions of all these characters is kind of the sameI and relatively universal, even if a lot of the details are specific to Chinese families. Small, bizarre details can send them off into wildly different directions but much of it's the same. That said, a big part of what impresses is that the Daniels don't just take their grand sci-fi premise and use it to explode a tight circle's concern to giant-screen size, but allow themselves and the audience to stand in awe of how mindbogglingly incomprehensible and indifferent the universe can be while still finding value in the chaos.

It's a special movie for that, able to grasp at the grandiose without making the mundane feel inconsequential. It's sentimental as movies come, but doesn't have to minimize anything to make the pieces one can grasp important.


* * (out of four)
Seen 14 April 2022 in AMC Boston Common #12 (first-run, DCP)

Considering how much I've enjoyed writer/director Riley Stearns's previous movies and like Karen Gillan, I found Dual tremendously disappointing. This movie takes an intriguing premise and does nothing with it so aggressively that one can't even find it clever any more. The bland numbness of it all is obviously part of the design, but ultimately to no particular end.

In it, a woman named Sarah (Gillan) suddenly finds herself taking ill, and it's not good news - she's got a rare condition that will kill her painlessly relatively soon. Fortunately, she lives in a world where "The Facility" can clone someone in such a situation, and this new copy will be like a sponge, learning all she can and ready to step in without a hitch so that her boyfriend (Beulah Koale) and mother (Maija Paunio) will be able to continue on without their lives being upended. The thing is, Sarah's Copy isn't exact - she's got a different eye color, soon develops different tastes, and over the coming months, becomes so close to boyfriend Peter that they're kind of getting impatient for her to die. But the disease goes into an unlikely remission, and while most clones are blithely deactivated under these circumstances, Sarah's Copy wants to live, and the law gives her the option to challenge Sarah to a fight to the death - which makes Sarah as ready to fight for anything as she's ever been, even if she can only afford an inexpensive instructor (Aaron Paul) to train her.

Stearns and his crew create a world that in some ways evokes Repo Man in its aggressively generic, un-slick aesthetics - nothing has a brand name, and while a lot of the technology is fairly modern - smartphones and DVD players and the like - there's a sort of IBM PC-style design to what we see on the screens, monochrome images with 8x8 character sets. The characters all speak in simple declarative sentences, with anything that may be a witty rejoinder or sly self-knowledge carefully removed from the script, and though there's a stray reference to California early, the characters have a mishmash of flat accents and mismatched ethnicities. It's canny in a certain way; it establishes a world where one seldom exactly questions the idea of people being replaceable so much as whether replacing Sarah is really necessary.

One can sort of see the thinking behind a lot of these choices, but even when one sees what Stearns is going for, that's all they are, choices that don't always land or intrigue. When the whole film is so determinedly flat and the metaphor is so clear, it's natural to want there to be more: Some sort of world-building, a storyline that has Sarah questioning the world around her, some sharper satire or intrigue or a chance for Gillan to really play with how Sarah is seemingly already dead inside before her guts start to rot versus Sarah's Copy being fresh and curious. Stearns seems too locked into playing up the dreary emptiness of the world he's skewering to create that sort of excitement, as if afraid that too many corners where one can see potential will undercut the rest.

So one has to treasure the moments where he does get aggressive - there are a couple of scenes where the decent black comedy pulls out an unexpected knife, like the Facility's recruitment video or a small child telling a horrific story. There are also the scenes where Gillan gets to show a little emotion and one wants more, because she absolutely connects when Sarah is shaken out of her stupor. There's a chemistry between her and Aaron Paul that intrigues in part because it's there despite how stunted they are - it's not entirely unlike the folks in The Art of Self-Defense, in some ways, except that there's deliberately less to this group.

It's a worthy effort, but the deadpan just doesn't work most of the time, whether because there's nothing for it to play off or some other reason, and the end is too carefully but obviously constructed to knock anyone for a loop. Stearns has been making a career out of these stories of people disconnected from the world, and it's for the most part been intriguing stuff, but this particular film is just too detached for its own good.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 15 April 2021 - 21 April 2022

Huh, looks like I should have hit that Indian movie earlier. Just left everywhere in a rush to make room for the next big things
  • Landmark's Kendall Square will welcome Viva Maestro! director Ted Braun for the 6:50pm show Friday night to discuss his documentary about conductor Gustavo Dudamel. They also offer up Paris, 13th District, , which is about four young folks in the titular area pairing off - or coming up with more complicated arrangements. There is apparently no giant wall or parkour, though.

    On Tuesday, they have the weekly musical - Mamma Mia! - and a preview of Petite Maman. There's also a special reprise of Robert Eggers's The Witch on Wednesday ahead of his new film The Norseman.
  • Hong Kong movie theaters seem to be just reopening after having been closed for a few months - Omicron is beating the heck out of the SAR - but we get some new Hong Kong action internationally, with Man on the Edge presenting a cast including Richie Jen, Alex Fong, Patrick Tam, and Ron Ng, with Simon Yam, Sammo Hung, Karena Lam apparently there for support. It's at Boston Common. The Common is the last place for anime Jujutsu Kaisen: 0, all subtitled shows.

    K.G.F.: Chapter 2 seems to have absorbed all the screens that RRR was on, playing in multiple languages at Apple Fresh Pond (Kannada/Telugu/Tamil/Hindi), Boston Common (Kannada/Hindi/Telugu), and South Bay (Kannada/Telugu). Tamil action flick Beast also continues at Fresh Pond after opening Wednesday.
  • Riley Stearns's new one, Dual opens at Boston Common. It stars Karen Gillan as a woman who orders a clone to replace her after being diagnosed with a terminal disease, but must prepare for a duel to the death when she goes into remission and the clone opts not to go quietly.

    There's also Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and it was all well and good when these Harry Potter follow-ups were keeping Eddie Redmayne and Johnny Depp out of other movies, but now it's got Jude Law and Mads Mikkelson. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Fenway, Kendall Square, South Bay (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill. Father Stu opened on Wednesday and plays the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Arsenal Yards has The Lorax for their Monday afternoon show. "Inspirational drama" The Mulligan plays Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row Monday and Tuesday. Korean music doc/concert movie Seventeen Power of Love: The Movie plays Boston Common and Fenway on Wednesday.
  • Wicked Queer continues through Sunday at the Brattle and the Bright Screening Room at ArtsEmerson's Paramount Center from Friday to Sunday, with online presentations available through the end of the month.

    After that, The Brattle Theatre offers 35mm Muppet Madness during school vacation, with The Muppet Movie on Monday (digitally-projected sing-along) and Wednesday, The Dark Crystal (Monday/Tuesday), and Labyrinth (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday).
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre shuffles three movies among four screens, because some of them are long-ish and that lets them overlap. Meanwhile, they've got 35mm prints of Blade II (Friday) and Big Trouble in Little China (Saturday) for the midnight martial arts movies, masked matinees of CODA (Saturday) and Everything Everywhere All at Once (Sunday), a Big Screen Classic show of The Godfather on Monday, Alphaville as the French New Wave selection Tuesday, and a 35mm print of Cabaret on Thursday.
  • The Somerville Theatre picks up Aline and continues their slate of 35mm special presentations: The Deer Hunter on Friday, Casablanca on Saturday, a Travola-vs-Cage double feature of Get Shorty & Leaving Las Vegas on Tuesday, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Wednesday. They also have a special presentation of independent film Walk with Me on Thursday, with writer/director/editor Isobel de Rosal on hand for a Q&A afterward.

    The Capitol has school vacation screenings of Boss Baby (Sunday/Monday), Trolls (Tuesday/Wednesday), and Penguins of Madagascar (Thursday)
  • The Harvard Film Archive has two programs playing for the next couple of weeks, with the mostly-audio documentary Expedition Content playing Friday and Monday, while Saturday offers up a selection of 16mm "Films By Kids" from the Yellow Ball Workshop.
  • Belmont World Film has Tom Medina streaming through Monday, featuring David Murga as a man on probation looking to start a new life in rural France; a live discussion will take place Monday night.
  • Bright Lights has Flee on Thursday, which had the interesting hat-trick of being nominated for the Documentary, Animated, and Foreign-Language features at the recent Oscars. As always, the show is free at the Paramount Center in the Bright Screening Room, tickets available day-of, with post-film discussion.
  • The Lexington Venue offers The Rose Maker and Everything Everywhere All at Once from Friday to Sunday.

    The West Newton Cinema is closed for Patriot's Day on Monday, but adds Fantastic Beasts Sonic the Hedgehog 2, The Rose Maker, CODA, Cyrano, Parallel Mothers (no show Thursday), Sing 2 (no show Friday), West Side Story (no show Tuesday), Licorice Pizza, and Encanto (Friday-Sunday).

    The Luna Theater keeps going with X Friday and Saturday nights, with Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché and All My Friends Hate Me earlier on Saturday. Sunday is the "Halfway to Halloween" Monster Movie Marathon with four tightly-packed showtimes, so I'm guessing it's classic Universal stuff, but who knows? Then later in the week, it's Weirdo Wednesday, with The Witch playing Thursday.

    Cinema Salem has Everything Everywhere All at Once, Fantastic Beasts, and Sonic 2 from Friday to Monday (Monday's matinees captioned).
  • 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 and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalemand many of the multiplexes. Jordan's Furniture and the film program at the MFA are still in limbo.
I hit Dual last night (eh), so I'll probably look at Man on the Edge and do some catching-up this week. Plus - baseball! It's going to be nice to get back to Fenway.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 8 April 2021 - 14 April 2022

I feel as if I have grown as a person in recent years in that there's a second movie coming out based on a video game that I enjoyed with an actor that I've been a fan of, and I can look at it and say "I don't really need this".
  • That movie would be Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with Jim Carrey returning as Doctor Robotnik and challenging Kenneth Branagh for the year's most gloriously absurd facial hair. Other characters from the games, including Tails the Fox and Shadow the Echidna (voiced by Idris Elba!), join up for a quest involving Chaos Emeralds. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Row (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill.

    For a guy who directs big expensive movies, Michael Bay has been surprisingly prolific, cranking 15 movies out since Bad Boys in 1995; they by and large haven't been good but they're the sort of things that take some effort to mount. His latest is Ambulance, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a veteran recruited by foster brother Jake Gyllenhaal for a heist that goes spectacularly wrong, with them being chased through Los Angeles in an ambulance with a nurse (Eiza Gonzalez) and a wounded cop. This seems like the sort of thing that would be a great 90-minute Corman flick, so of course it's half-again that long. It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Boston Common (Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon), Arsenal Row (including CWX), the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    On Wednesday, Father Stu opens, with Mark Wahlberg as a boxer with a rough past who opts to become a priest. It's got Mel Gibson in a supporting role and his long-time partner Rosalind Ross writing and directing. That will be at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row.

    Singin' in the Rain gets 70th anniversary screenings at Fenway, South Bay, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday and Wednesday; Arsenal Yards has a Monday-afternoon show of Jesus Christ Superstar. Documentary Navalny plays Monday and Tuesday at Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards (Monday only), following Alexei Navalny, himself a Russian documentary filmmaker, as he recovers from an attempted murder by nerve gas and returns home to continue his investigations. The AMCs at Boston Common and Assembly Row have an "Investor Connect" preview of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent on Wednesday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre is the latest location to find a spot or two on its schedule for CODA following its Oscar win, on one of the bigger screens Friday & Saturday evenings (plus a Sunday Masked Matinee) and one of the the smaller ones Sunday through Thursday.

    At midnight, they taunt me by playing 35mm prints of One-Armed Boxer (Friday) and Master of the Flying Guillotine (Saturday) as I head out of town for a day to, uh, see Hong Kong action on 35mm film. Saturday afternoon features a combined Goethe-Institut/Panorama presentation of Paul Robeson: I'm A Negro, I'm an American, including post-film discussion. The first of two Big Screen Classics screenings of The Godfather plays Sunday afternoon, while Monday night features a subtitled Science on Screen show of Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, with BU professor Pamela Templer relating its themes to environmental catastrophe. Tuesday's French New Wave film is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Wednesday's "Sounds of Silents" is The General with Jeff Rapsis on the piano and Camera Man author Dana Stevens doing a Q&A afterward, and Thursday's Cinema Jukebox show is a 35mm print of Purple Rain.
  • Landmark's Kendall Square and Boston Common open Mothering Sunday, which features Odessa Young as an maid with dreams of being a writer and a supporting cast including Colin Firth, Olivia Colman, and Glenda Jackson. I forget whether the word from the UK last fall was "pretty good" or "ugh, another thing full of pretty houses and nice uniforms for the old ladies".

    One of the more peculiar releases is Aline, where writer/director Valérie Lemercier plays a French-Canadian chanteuse who is "freely inspired by" Celine Dion, which is an interesting way to play it; I wonder how much she makes this "her-but-not" thing part of the film. It's at Kendall Square and Boston Common.

    A week after his last "heading home really quick" movie opened, Chris Pine is back in All the Old Knives, with Pine playing a spy investigating whether former partner and lover Thandiwe Newton is a double agent. It's at Kendall Square, the Embassy, and on Amazon Prime. Kendall Square's "Retro Replay" musical on Tuesday is Cabaret.
  • Apple Fresh Pond opens Telugu-language boxing drama Ghani with Varun Tej in the title role on Friday Tamil-language actioner Beast, starring Vijay and Pooja Hegde, opens there on Tuesday (also in Telugu).

    K.G.F.: Chapter 2 is the next really big Indian opening, though, with Yash returning as "Rocky", now running the underworld of the Kolar Gold Fields. I don't remember Chapter 1 playing particularly wide, or locally at all, back in 2018 (it's streaming on Prime), but this one does, hitting Fresh Pond (Kannada/Telugu/Tamil), Boston Common (Kannada/Telugu), and South Bay (Kannada/Telugu) on Wednesday.

    RRR - Rise Roar Revolt continues at Fresh Pond (Telugu/Hindi/Tamil), the Lexington Venue (Telugu?), Boston Common (Telugu), and Assembly Row (Hindi). The Kashmir Files also continues at Fresh Pond through Monday.

    Anime Jujutsu Kaisen: 0 continues at Boston Common, Fenway, Kendall Square, South Bay, and Assembly Row; pretty much all showtimes are subtitled now. Joe's Free Films also shows one more free screening of Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle at MIT on Friday; MIT also has an overnight sci-fi film festival on Saturday night which includes The Iron Giant, Paprika, and Beauty Water.
  • The Somerville Theatre is putting Everything Everywhere All at Once (mostly) on the main screen this week, and it should look phenomenal. They'll be playing IFFBoston alum On These Grounds (aka Spring Valley) on Monday in association with Justice for Flavia, with post-film discussion. Tuesday's "Travolta vs Cage" double feature offers up a 35mm print of Pulp Fiction in addition to Red Rock West; they'll also be screening Wings of Desire on Thursday. Note that their sister cinema, The Capitol, is only open Friday through Sunday at the moment (although it looks like they'll be moving back to seven days for school vacation week)
  • The Brattle Theatre is all about Wicked Queer this week, with one notable presentations including a free screening of Cop Secret in association with Taste Of Iceland on Saturday. The festival also has a screening of Greek Retro-Futurist Experimental Opera ORFEAS2021 at The ICA on Friday and shows at ArtsEmerson's Bright Screening Room in the Paramount Center from Friday to Sunday, plus the free Thursday Bright Lights screening of Rebel Dykes.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has their first "Cinema of Resistance" presentation in a couple of years on Sunday and Monday with Maidan, in which Sergei Loznitsa documented Ukraine's "Euromaidan" protests starting in November 2013, a movement that led to the country's Russia-friendly leadership being deposed.

    (Aw, man, because it played back in 2014, the synopsis on their site is credited to the late David Pendleton! Miss that guy.)
  • Belmont World Film has two offerings this week - Bootlegger is set in a First Nations community in Northern Quebec deciding whether to allow the sale of alcohol, and will be available to stream from Friday evening to Sunday evening, with an in-person show at the West Newton Cinema on Sunday, plus a Zoom conversation with producer Catherine Chagnon on Monday. Tom Medina starts streaming on Tuesday, and will be available through the next Monday, when it will have its own Q&A
  • The West Newton Cinema and The Lexington Venue open The Rose Maker, a French comedy starring Catherine Frot as the owner of a venerable flower farm which is on the verge of bankruptcy but which (I'll bet) has a chance to avoid it if things go just right.

    West Newton also opens Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to play alongside CODA, You Won't Be Alone, Cyrano (no show Saturday/Sunday), Parallel Mothers, Sing 2 (Saturday morning), West Side Story, Licorice Pizza, and Encanto (Friday-Sunday); the Venue adds RRR.

    The Luna Theater once again has X Friday and Saturday evenings, plus more horror with the original Friday the 13th on Sunday. There's a Weirdo Wednesday, plus Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem has CODA, Morbius, and Sonic 2 from Friday to Monday.
  • 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 and Somerville, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes. Jordan's Furniture and the film program at the MFA are still in limbo.
As mentioned, I'm heading to Manhattan for Hong-Kong-a-Thon III on Saturday (postponed from January!), which I suspect will wreck me for most of the week, although I'm planning on Travolta vs Cage on Tuesday (I don't think I've ever seen Red Rock West). Who knows what I'll be up for around that?

Friday, April 01, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 1 April 2021 - 7 April 2022

Rejoice, moviegoers! Not only do you get to see something terrific this weekend, but you won't see the trailer for another movie which seems to have been playing constantly the whole pandemic
  • The terrific movie is Everything Everywhere All at Once, which comes from the makers of Swiss Army Man and features Michelle Yeoh as a frazzled woman who is told to tap into versions of herself from alternate timelines to save the multiverse in the middle of a tax audit. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (including a Sunday masket matinee), Boston Common, and Kendall Square.

    Also opening at The Coolidge, Boston Common, Kendall Square, and West Newton is You Won't Be Alone, which opened Boston Underground a week and a half ago and also deals with fractured identities, in this case of a Macedonian girl cursed to become a shapeshifter but not exactly knowing how to fit into the world in any form.

    The Coolidge's midnights for the April feature classic kung fu and the movies they influenced, kicking off with a new restoration of Game of Death on Friday and The Last Dragon on Saturday. Sunday afternoon features a Goethe-Institut presentation of Next Door, with star Daniel Brühl directing and playing a version of himself, albeit one menaced by a neighbor to whom post-unification Germany has not been so kind. The big screen classic on Monday is a 35mm print of My Man Godfrey with Carole Lombard and William Powell, while a French New Wave series begins Tuesday with Agnes Varda's Le Bonheur
  • Sony's latest Spider-Adjacent flick, Morbius, offers up Jared Leto as "The Living Vampire" whose idealism is at war with his newfound craving for blood (and, presumably, some less ambiguous villains). This means you've probably seen the last of the preview, although it sure looks like Bob's Burgers is ready to take that spot. It's at the Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Fenway, Kendall Square, South Bay (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Xenon & Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), the Embassy, Chestnut Hill, and CinemaSalem.

    The Devil You Know features Omar Epps as an ex-con trying to both go straight and protect his brother from being caught in a crime, with Michael Ealy as the investigating detective; it plays Boston Common. Chris Pine action flick The Contractor is apparently only set for a one-week run at Boston Common before heading to Showtime.

    Beyond the usual Thursday previews, there two Wednesday sneaks: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is at Boston Common (Dolby Cinema), South Bay (Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (CWX); plus a "Fan Event" including a Q&A for Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore at Assembly Row (Imax Xenon). Boston Common also has 25th Anniversary shows for Selena on Thursday, which may be a one-off or may be the night-before shows for a re-release. Fenway has soccer drama High Expectations on Thursday.
  • Landmark's Kendall Square offers French film Gagarine, which follows a group of kids attempting to save their housing project from demolition, shot with the cooperation of the residents whose real-life home faced the same fate. The Kendall also starts a weekly "Retro Replay" series, with April featuring musicals and kicking off with The Wizard of Oz on Tuesday.

    Their sister theater in Waltham, The Embassy, is the only place in Boston where one can see Netflix film The Bubble on the big screen; it's directed by Judd Apatow and features Karen Gillan, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Pedro Pascal, and others as actors trying to complete their next movie despite being quarantined in a hotel.
  • The optimistically named Attack - Part 1 opens at Boston Common; it stars John Abraham as India's first super-soldier engineered to fight terrorists. Apple Fresh Pond opens Telugu-language family adventure Mishan Impossible and Manmadha Leelai (which appears to be a romantic comedy of some sort) on Friday. Marathi biopic Mee Vasantrao plays once Saturday afternoon.

    Juggernaut RRR - Rise Roar Revolt continues at Fresh Pond (Telugu/Hindi/Tamil), Boston Common (Telegu), Fenway (Telegu), South Bay (Telugu), Assembly Row (Telegu/Hindi), and Arsenal Yards (Telugu). The Kashmir Files also continues at Fresh Pond.

    Anime Jujutsu Kaisen: 0 continues at Boston Common, Fenway, Kendall Square, South Bay, and Assembly Row. Check showtimes for whether it's playing dubbed or subtitled. The annual Studio Ghibli series starts with Princess Mononoke at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards - dubbed Sunday/Wednesday, subtitled Monday. Joe's Free Films also shows free 35mm screenings of Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle at MIT on Saturday and Sunday
  • CODA gets a victory-lap release at The Capitol, the Embassy, West Newton, and CinemaSalem. The Capitol also has Hong Kong documentary Revolution of Our Times on Saturday and keeps the anniversary rerelease of The Godfather going for another week.

    The Somerville Theatre's Tuesday "Travolta vs Cage" double feature is one of the odder "is anyone seeing both?" combinations, with 35mm prints of Look Who's Talking and the NC-17 cut of Wild at Heart.
  • The Brattle Theatre spends their weekend digging into "The Roots of Mullholland Drive", with Gilda (Friday/Saturday), Sunset Boulevard (35mm Friday), 3 Women (Friday/Saturday), The Wizard of Oz (35mm Saturday/Sunday), Persona (Saturday/Sunday), and finally Lynch's film itself, sold out Sunday but screening on 35mm Tuesday.

    The DocYard presents "Three Shorts from Morgan Quaintance" on Monday, with the director on-hand for post-film Q&A. Then on Thursday, it's the opening night of Wicked Queer, with Canadian First Nations (Mi'kma'ki) coming-of-age story Wildwood.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has Solomon Fellow RaMell Ross on-hand to screen Hale County This Morning, This Evening on Friday. They then conclude their McMillan-Stewart Fellowship spotlight of Flora Gomes with The Children's Republic on Saturday afternoon and a 35mm print of The Blue Eyes of Yonta on Sunday. On Monday, they present a 35mm print of Thursday Till Sunday, including a remote conversation with director Dominga Sotomayor.
  • Belmont World Film has The Heroics available online through Monday, when they will have a streamed discussion.
  • The Bright Lights show this Thursday is Golden Arm, with director Maureen Bharoocha on-hand to discuss her comedy about a baker roped into training for the Women's Arm-Wrestling Championship. As always, it's free and open to the public with tickets able to be reserved on the afternoon of the show.
  • The Oscar Nominated Shorts hangs on with Animation playing at the Kendall, while The ICA has one last chance for the Live-Action and Animation on Sunday.
  • The West Newton Cinema is once again stuffed to capacity with CODA, You Won't Be Alone, The Lost City, The Batman, Cyrano (no show Saturday), Drive My Car (no shows Tuesday/Thursday), Parallel Mothers (Saturday/Monday/Wednesday/Thursday), Sing 2 (Saturday/Sunday), West Side Story (no show Sunday), Licorice Pizza (Saturday-Wednesday), and Encanto (Saturday/Sunday).

    The Lexington Venue has The Outfit, Drive My Car, and Infinite Storm this weekend.

    The Luna Theater has X Friday and Saturday evenings, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché and All My Friends Hate Me on Saturday, The Birds on Sunday, and a UMass Lowell Philosophy & Film presentation of World War Z on Thursday. No Weirdo Wednesday on the site, but that may just be an oversight.

    Cinema Salem has CODA, Morbius, The Lost City, and Drive My Car from Friday to Monday.
  • 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 and Somerville, The Venue, and many of the multiplexes. Jordan's Furniture and the film program at the MFA are still in limbo.
I'm a sucker, so I'll probably see Morbius; I may also try to get out to Arlington for Revolution of Our Times and CODA, stick closer to home for Wild at Heart, and catch some of the things I missed during BUFF.