Friday, December 30, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 30 December 2022 - 5 January 2023

Barely worth a post this week, at least in terms of new releases. Boston doesn't even get any just-under-the-wire awards qualifiers this year, and with how quiet those have been, I wonder to what extent that's the new normal.
  • Apple Fresh Pond has four new movies from India this week: Lucky Lakshman is a Telugu-language comedy with Syed Sohel Ryan as a young man trying to juggle two girlfriends and two best friends; Top Gear is a Telugu-language action flick, presumably with a bunch of fast cars; and Raangi is a Tamil-language human-trafficking thriller. Kushi is a Telugu-language romantic comedy about college students who try to match their friends up only to find themselves drawn to each other, plays one show Friday night, and Sembi, a Tamil-language drama about passengers on a bus (narrated by the bus, though probably not in a Doom Patrol way) opens Saturday.

    Among holdovers, Cirkus continues at Fresh Pond and Boston Common; Connect and Dhamaka play Fresh Pond, and 18 Pages is still at Boston Common.
  • The Brattle Theatre finishes 2022 with two more days of "Everything Everything Everywhere All at Once", with that movie paired with Kung Fu Hustle (on 35mm) and The Heroic Trio on Friday, plus 2001: A Space Odyssey on Saturday.

    Sunday is the tradition New Year's Day Marx Brothers Marathon, where you can hang around all day and watch A Night at the Opera, Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and, hey, maybe they'll let you stick around for A Night at the Opera again.

    On Monday, they begin a series of new restorations with Krzysztof Kieślowski's "Three Colors" trilogy: Blue plays Monday and Tuesday; White on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Red on Monday and Wednesday. On Thursday, they shift gears and present Infernal Affairs (that one just gets the first film of three, but it's really all you need).
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre bumps EO up to the bigger rooms, so I guess it's been doing pretty well there.

    Friday's midnight movie is New Year's Evil, although the theater closes early for New Year's Eve on Saturday. Saturday and Sunday offer matinees of The Shaun the Sheep Movie for the kids. Their first repertory program of 2023 is "Projections" featuring art-house science fiction, with a 35mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey on Tuesday and David Cronenberg's eXistenZ on Wednesday.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square has a Retro Replay of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb on Tuesday, the first of a month-long Kubrick series
  • At the multiplexes, there's an early screening of A Man Called Otto on Wednesday at Boston Common and Assembly Row; it apparently opens in some local theaters next Friday despite all the posters saying January 13th.
  • The Somerville Theatre has Slutcracker shows Friday and Saturday, so The Menu rejoins Babylon and The Whale on Sunday (and Empire of Light has just one afternoon show on Sunday).
  • The Museum of Science has its last show of Wakanda Forever on the Murgar Omni dome on Friday.
  • The Lexington Venue is open through Monday with Puss in Boots and The Fabelmans.

    The West Newton Cinema has showtimes for I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Babylon, Avatar 2, The Fabelmans, Aftersun, The Banshees of Inisherin (Saturday only), and Tár, and appear to be open on Mondays again.

    The Luna Theater has All the Beauty and the Bloodshed on Friday and Saturday, The Inspection on Saturday afternoon and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On all day Sunday. No Weirdo Wednesday listed right now.

    Cinema Salem has Babyon, Puss in Boots, and Avatar: The Way of Water 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, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes.
I have been a sluggardly lump during my staycation, so I'm still looking at The Whale, Puss in Boots, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Cirkus, The Pale Blue Eye.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 23 December 2022 - 29 December 2022

Huh - no Christmas Day openings this year. There were some last year, even though it was just one day off a normal Friday opening rather than two. I wonder if studios have just sort of en masse decided it doesn't get them much, or if there's just fewer movies to do that with between Avatar being a juggernaut and production being slow during a pandemic.
  • Babylon, the new three-hour-plus juggernaut from Damian Chazelle, with Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Brad Pitt, and many more as movie stars and others in the business during the silent era, when Hollywood was anything-goes and chaotic. It's opens Friday at the Coolidge, the Somerville, the Kendall, West Newton, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also opening is I Wanna Dance with Somebody, with Naomi Ackie playing Whitney Houston as Whitney Houston in a biopic directed by Kasi Lemmons, which from the trailer looks to focus more on her rise than the end of her life (although I tend to trust Lemmons not to make omit anything important). It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    The Whale opened last week at the Coolidge (with a Saturday masked matinee this weekend), the Kendall, the Somerville, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row.; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish at Boston Common (including RealD 3D/Spanish language), Fenway, South Bay (including RealD 3D), Assembly Row (including RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards, Lexington, and Chestnut Hill, adding the Capitol, West Newton, and CinemaSalem on Friday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre has EO in the screening room, telling the life story of a donkey from the animal's point of view.

    There's also one last Christmas midnight at the Coolidge with Rare Exports playing on 35mm Friday night.
  • Six new South Asian movies at Apple Fresh Pond this week: Cirkus (also at Boston Common) looks to be the big one; directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Ranveer Singh as one of two sets of identical twins separated at birth and just missing each other when they arrive at the same down; it co-stars Pooja Hegde and Jacqueline Fernandez. 18 Pages (also at Boston Common) is a Telugu romance in which a man finds the diary used by a woman with short-term memory issues; Dhamaka is a Telugu-language thriller where a radio news anchor gets threatening phone calls on the air; Connect is a Telugu (?) exorcism thriller; Laththi is a Tamil (?) movie where a cop and his son must escape from a besieged building; Kaapa is a Malayalam-language crime flick.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square opens The Pale Blue Eye on Friday, before its Netflix run; the new film by Scott Cooper features Augustus Landor as a detective trying to solve a murder at West Point in 1830 with the help of Edgar Allen Poe. Documentary Wildcat opened on Wednesday.
  • The Brattle Theatre rings out the year with "Everything Everything Everywhere All at Once", with daily(*) shows of the Daniels' flick paired with its influences: Ratatouille on Friday (with their prior movie, Swiss Army Man, playing separately); The Goonies on Sunday & Monday; a 35mm print of In the Mood for Love on Monday; Big Trouble in Little China on Tuesday; A Fish Called Wanda and Police Story 3: Supercop, both on 35mm Wednesday; Holy Motors and Mind Game on Thursday.

    (*) Note that, as is tradition, they are dark on Christmas Eve so employees can do last-minute shopping, and it doesn't look like they're open to sell gifts as they have been in previous years.
  • The Regent Theatre has sing-along shows of The Sound of Music from Monday to Thursday - matinees all week, evening shows Monday and Tuesday.
  • The Somerville Theatre is back up to three screens this week (although the Slutcracker will be back next weekend), with The Whale getting the main screen.
  • The Museum of Science has Wakanda Forever on the Murgar Omni dome this and next Friday, with no more Saturday shows scheduled.
  • The Lexington Venue is open all week (except Christmas Day) with Puss in Boots and The Fabelmans.

    The West Newton Cinema gets Avatar 2, The Fabelmans, and the CGI Grinch (Saturday/Sunday). Hanging around are Strange World, Aftersun (no show Friday/Saturday), The Menu, The Banshees of Inisherin (Saturday/Sunday), Lyle Lyle Crocodile (Saturday/Sunday), and Tár. Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Decision to Leave and The Inspection on Friday afternoon and Home Alone Friday evening/Saturday morning, then takes the holiday off until Weirdo Wednesday.

    Cinema Salem has Babyon, Pus in Boots, and Avatar: The Way of Water from Friday to Monday. There's also a special screening of Billy Wilder's The Apartment on Thursday.
  • For those still not ready to join random people in a room for two hours, theater rentals are available at Kendall Square, West Newton, the Capitol and Somerville, The Venue, CinemaSalem, and many of the multiplexes.
I will likely hit The Whale, Puss in Boots, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Cirkus, The Pale Blue Eye and some of the goodies at the Brattle, since I'm on a use-it-or-lose-it-PTO staycation next week. May also head out to the furniture store to see The Way of Water on that screen.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 16 December 2022 - 22 December 2022

I feel like we've been making jokes about Avatar 2 not being a real movie that will ever come out for over a decade, and now here it is, playing on pretty much every large screen in the area.
  • Anyway, lots of Avatar: The Way of Water all over the place, and by all accounts, you want to see it on the biggest/best 3D screen, possibly with high-frame-rate (HFR) projection, as James Cameron has brought everything he's got to bear, including what's being described as a much better script. It's at The Capitol (including RealD 3D), Fresh Pond (including 3D), Jordan's Furniture (Imax 3D), West Newton (2D only), CinemaSalem (2D only), Boston Common (including Imax 3D/Dolby Cinema 2D & HFR 3D/RealD 3D), Fenway (including HFR RealD 3D), Kendall Square (2D/RealD 3D), South Bay (including Imax 3D/Dolby Cinema 3D/RealD 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax 3D/Dolby Cinema 2D & 3D/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill (including HFR RealD 3D). Note that I've only included HFR where it's specifically stated (apart from the Dolby screen at Boston Common where I saw the first that way in September) - I suspect the Dolby screens are all HFR, and wouldn't be shocked if the laser projection at the Reading Imax was, but they're not advertising "3D Plus" the way they were for Gemini Man a few years back.

    Apple's Spirited - a musical take on A Christmas Carol starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell - arrives at Apple Fresh Pond after being on their service and at various Showcases for the past month. Still no Emancipation anywhere nearby, though.

    Puss in Boots: The Last Wish opens Wednesday at Boston Common (including RealD 3D/Spanish language), Fenway, South Bay (including RealD 3D), Assembly Row (including RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards, Lexington, and Chestnut Hill. South Bay has a preview of I Wanna Dance with Somebody on Wednesday before it opens later in the week.

    Elf and The Polar Express play mornings at Fresh Pond; Express and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation play through Sunday at Arsenal Yards. 75th Anniversary Shows of It's a Wonderful Life play Fenway, South Bay, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday and Wednesday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre opens Holy Spider, a European-produced thriller set in the Iranian city of Mashhad, as a journalist investigates a serial killer targeting sex workers. It's Denmark's submission for the Oscars, and there's a special Panorama screening on Sunday afternoon.

    The much-anticipated The Whale opens on Tuesday at the Coolidge, the Somerville, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row and Wednesday at the Kendall, with Darren Aranofsky directing Brendan Fraser under something like 200 pounds of makeup as an obese teacher attempting to reconnect with his daughter before his body gives out.

    Midnights for the weekend at the Coolidge include Anna and the Apocalypse and The Room on Friday and a 35mm print of Die Hard 2: Die Harder on Saturday. The Muppet Christmas Carol plays Saturday & Sunday mornings, and there's a Rewind! screening of Elf on Thursday.
  • Boston Common gets Korean period thriller The Night Owl, featuring Alienoid star Ryu Jun-Yeol as a masseur who is blind during the day but has perfect night vision investigating the death of the crown prince.

    Hong Kong thriller The Sparring Partner hangs around for a show or two a day at Boston Common.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square opens documentary Wildcat on Wednesday, which follows two young folks at a wildlife sanctuary in the Amazon.
  • The Brattle Theatre has its annual It's a Wonderful Life shows this weekend, running on 35mm film through Sunday. As usual, they are also running a "Holiday Adjacent" series of less-obviously traditional Christmas movies, including Bob Clark's original Black Christmas (Friday), a 35mm print of Die Hard (Saturday/Sunday), In Bruges (Monday), Spencer & Passing (Tuesday), and Wings of Desire (35mm Wednesday/Thursday). Note that the Bruges replaces the originally-scheduled L.A. Confidential
  • The Regent Theatre has sing-along shows of White Christmas from Monday to Wednesday.
  • The Somerville Theatre has the Slutcracker every day but Tuesday, and more wholesomely a Holiday Craft Fair in the Crystal Ballroom on Saturday. They also pick up Empire of Light, and interestingly show that most screenings of Spoiler Alert for the week are in "Moviehouse 4", which I presume is what they're calling the Micro instead of "Moviehouse 0", unless they've carved a new screen out of the Museum of Bad Art.
  • The Museum of Science has Wakanda Forever on the Murgar Omni dome Fridays and Saturdays through the end of December.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Devotion, The Banshees of Inisherin and The Menu, and also re-opens Wednesday and Thursday with Puss in Boots and The Fabelmans.

    The West Newton Cinema gets Avatar 2, The Fabelmans, and the CGI Grinch (Saturday/Sunday). Hanging around are Strange World, Aftersun (no show Friday/Saturday), The Menu, The Banshees of Inisherin (Saturday/Sunday), Lyle Lyle Crocodile (Saturday/Sunday), and Tár. Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has The Inspection at various times on Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; It's a Wonderful Life Saturday & Sunday; matinees of Concert for George on Monday & Tuesday; Decision to Leave Monday to next Friday; Christmas Bloody Christmas on Wednesday afternoon; plus Weirdo Wednesday that evening. I don't know that this place has ever had such a full schedule!

    Cinema Salem has She Said, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Triangle of Sadness Friday to Monday. There's also a special screening of Billy Wilder's The Apartment on Thursday.

    The Showcase in Dedham has Emancipation, among the usual suspects!
  • 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.
Already have a ticket for Avatar on Sunday, and will probably go for The Night Owl at some point (though its showtimes are scattered due to Avatar having All The Screens)., plus maybe a trip or two to the Brattle.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Film Rolls, Round 5: Luca and Stage Fright

The top row is a weird place, because there's a point where you jump from very early western movies to fairly recent ones, and then soon after you jump from very recent ones to reasonably early. Like so:
That ten gets Mookie right at the end of the first row, which was (at the time) basically "stuff that didn't make it into theaters during the pandemic". And, yes, I bought a copy of Luca even though I've got Disney+ and don't really figure on dropping it any time soon, although it's kind of messing with my thought process on this.
Meanwhile, Bruce was already on the second row (remember Dragonwyck?) and has rolled a seven, so he's just dipping his toe into the 1950 and a Hitchcock I hadn't seen yet, Stage Fright.

So let's see how that went!


* * * (out of four)
Seen 22 April 2022 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, 4K Blu-ray)

That Pixar would, to some degree, become simply one of several quite impressive animation studios was probably inevitable, and arguably a good thing overall: We want a lot of people out there doing good work, even if the top dog is not so restrictive in tone and style as one might fear. So it's okay for Luca to be a pretty good movie rather than one which pushes the technology forward or has a brilliantly abstract premise.

And Luca is, in fact, pretty good; the designs for the undersea society are more complete and creative than a DreamWorks "like New York but _____" while the town above the waterline is the sort of period construction that seems beautiful and nostalgic but never quite crosses the line of too good to be true. There's nice chemistry between the three main kids, who are all smart and focused in their own ways but also volatile in the way that tweens can be. There are entertaining adventure bits, the inevitable Terrific Pixar Chase, and an earnest and upbeat feeling even through the sadder material.

Does it have the sort of surprising gut punch that Pixar is often known for, or the ability to sort of get more out of its metaphor through its fantasy elements? Not quite, I don't think: There's nothing like how "When She Loved Me" has a million different ways to gut-punch you in Toy Story 2 and the absence of Alberto's family never quite reveals itself as the sort of hole director Enrico Casarosa seemingly intends it to. The film is ultimately a little glossier than its makers perhaps intend it to be.

Which is fine - Pixar's allowed to make films that are pretty good, if not necessarily special the way their greatest successes have been. I can imagine kids enjoying this and their parents being fairly charmed as they watch alongside, and that's not exactly easy!

Stage Fright

* * * (out of four)
Seen 23 April 2022 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, Blu-ray)

I was mildly surprised to realize that I hadn't seen this particular Hitchcock when it showed up for pre-order on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive label; Hitch is a staple of the local repertory houses, after all, and I try to camp out there whenever one has a Hitchcock series. This one, though, falls between the silence and early English talkies that get programmed as his early days and the point when he was so well-established that he got big budgets and star-studded casts, everything he did being regarded as a potential classic at the time, both temporally and in feel.

Indeed, it's possible that seventy years later, being directed by Hitchcock works against it; with some journeyman director, a viewer might more easily appreciate how it's got elements of both film noir and a sort of classic British mystery. You can probably draw a pretty straight line between Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady and this, and if Jane Wyman's amateur sleuth isn't quite the delight that Ella Raines is in that movie, Marlene Dietrich is enough femme fatale to make up for it and Alastair Sim is the sort of cozy character actor whose very presence smooths out some of the film's more convenient contrivances. Not a bad little minor genre film, but the Master of Suspense never really did much in the way of the cozy mysteries this often recalls; indeed, his tendency was almost always to play them as comedy, at least until it was time to put the screws to someone.

Which is why the final sequence is so surprisingly good; no longer worried about having the audience get ahead of Wyman's Eve, he spends the final scenes putting her in genuine danger from a killer freed to be monstrous, setting the whole thing in the bowels of a theater among all the costumes, props, and other materials actors use to create characters for our entertainment and which the killer used to hide in plain sight even as Eve used them to go undercover. After an hour or so of playing nice, we're suddenly in the middle of a psychological thriller where Hitch is playing with people presenting false faces for the purposes of good and evil while playing a vicious game of cat and mouse.

Maybe it's better that he holds back and sort of springs it on us in the last act, plunging the audience into a darkness that lurks behind their safe, comedic murder mysteries, but the fact that the film feels relatively ordinary for so long likely keeps people from really associating it with the classics that appear around it in his filmography (it's a couple years after Rope and one before Strangers on a Train).

So that's a pleasant couple days in April, although they're evenly-matched enough to not affect the standings at all:

Mookie: 20 ¼ stars

Bruce: 22 ¾ stars

Bruce still leads, both in accumulated stars and on the path:

The next round, though, has a pretty major effect…

Friday, December 09, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 9 December 2022 - 15 December 2022

So, do you think the thinness of the last few months is more about the supply drying up because there was limited shooting when people were sensibly worried about Covid, general slowdown due to streaming/merger nonsense, or something more sinister?
  • Anyway, happy "not seeing the Spoiler Alert trailer before every movie" day to those who celebrate. If you haven't been to the movies that much, it's a romance with Ben Aldridge and Jim Parsons that takes a turn when the former's character finds out he has a terminal illness. Sally Field co-stars and Michael Showalter directs (and, yes, he also did The Big Sick; kind of crazy how busy he's been lately considering there was a point 10 years ago when he was hosting a game show on NESN). It's at the Somerville, Boston Common, Kendall Square, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    Boston Common picks up three documentaries this week, all from notable directors: To the End, Rachel Lears's follow-up to Knock Down the House, follows Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others working to improve US climate policy. 2nd Chance from Ramin Bahrani tells the story of Richard Davis, who invented the concealable bullet-proof vest and shot himself 196 times to demonstrate its effectiveness. And Luca Guadagnino made Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, with Michael Stulbarg narrating the story of Salvatore Ferragamo, who clad the feet of everyone in old Hollywood, though that one is mainly matinees (and seems like it would be an odd double-feature with Guadagnino's Bones and All).

    Boston Common and South Bay also have a re-release of Father Stu.

    Fresh Pond has matinees of Elf and The Polar Express. Arsenal Yards, meanwhile, goes with evening shows of Krampus Friday to Sunday. Boston Common and South Bay have National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Friday, The Polar Express on Saturday, the Ron Howard/Jim Carrey Grinch on Sunday, the Illumination/Benedict Cumberbatch Grinch on Monday, and Elf on Tuesday. Tuesday's Christmas Retro Replay at Landmark Theatres Kendall Square is Batman Returns.

    Moonage Daydream has Imax screenings Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening at Boston Common. Conan the Barbarian has 40th anniversary screenings at South Bay and Assembly Row on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Empire of the Sun is the big awards-contender thing opening this weekend; it comes from Sam Mendes and stars Olivia Coleman and Michael Ward as cinema employees dealing with various frustrations in the Thatcher era. This Love Letter to The Movies™ plays at The Coolidge Corner Theatre (including a Saturday Masked Matinee), Kendall Square, and Boston Common.

    Also at the Coolidge is All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, a documentary following activist and artist Nan Goldin as she pushes back against the Sackler family and the opiate crisis they exacerbated. A special "Panorama" screening, featuring people included in the film and other prescription-additction activists, plays Saturday afternoon.

    Midnights at the Coolidge this weekend include 35mm prints of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Friday and Santa's Slay on Saturday. Everything Everywhere All at Once plays a "Science on Screen" show Monday, with Harvard Astrophysicist Dr. Grant Tremblay there to introduce the idea of a multiverse. There's Open Screen on Tuesday, a Sound of Silents show with Jeff Rapsis accompanying Rin Tin Tin in The Night Cry on Wednesday, and a 35mm print of The Thin Man, including a special pre-film seminar with DigBoston critic Jake Mulligan.
  • Just a ton from South Asia this week at Apple Fresh Pond: Vadh is a Hindi-language thriller with Sanjay Mishra & Neena Gupta as a couple living a quiet life until their son goes to school in America and gets in some sort of trouble; Salaam Venky is a Hindi-language medical drama; Naai Sekar Returns is a Tamil comedy; Vijayanand is a Kannada-language rags-to-riches biography; Panchatantram, a Telugu-language drama; Gurthunda Seethakalam, a Telugu-language romance starring Satyadev Kancharana & Tamannaah Bhatia; Malayalam-language drama Saudi Vellakka; and Last Film Show, India's Oscar submission, which is a Gujarti-language story of kids falling in love with moviemaking.

    But that's just Friday! On Sunday, Nepali film Hijo Aja Ka Kura plays, as does a twentieth-anniversary re-release of Baba, a SuperStar Rajinikanth vehicle in which an atheist gains magical powers and uses them to take on corrupt politicians that was, apparently, a controversial bomb in 2002.

    They also keep Telugu crime flick HIT: The 2nd Case, Hindi action comedy An Action Hero, Hindi werewolf comedy Bhediya, and Drishyam 2 (the latter at Boston Common as well).

    Hong Kong thriller The Sparring Partner, about a grisly murder where the two people involved turn on one another in court, plays Boston Common.

    Hideaki Anno's Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time has one last show on Sunday at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    Park Chan-Wook's Decision to Leave continues at The Capitol and Lexington.
  • The Brattle Theatre has "The Adventures of Antoine Doinel" this week; four-and-a-half films by François Truffaut starring Jean-Pierre Léaud as his on-screen alter-ego over a period of twenty years. They include The 400 Blows (Friday-Sunday), "Antoine and Colette" & Stolen Kisses (Saturday), Bed and Board (Monday), and Love on the Run.

    On Sunday, they have three short film programs by two different groups. RPM Fest presents "Attention Wonders" by the late Robert Todd in the afternoon, with several colleagues on-hand to introduce and discuss. In the evening, there are two separate packages from Grrl Hau Cinema, including several local films.
  • The ICA has a 95-minute program of Sundance Film Festival Shorts from this year's event on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
  • Bright Lights closes out its fall season on Thursday with Fire of Love, the pretty darn terrific National Geographic documentary about married French volcanologists who would eventually perish together in an eruption but did valuable work together for decades. Director Sara Dosa will be on-hand, and it's open to the public at the Paramount Theater complex with tickets available that afternoon.
  • The Harvard Film Archive is on Christmas break for in-person shows, but the Kaidu Club Experimental Shorts package of 1970s Han Ohki works is available to stream through Monday.
  • The Somerville Theatre is, as is often the case in December, down a screen with The Slutcracker taking the main stage most nights (Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday/Thursday this week), which means that most screenings of Violent Night will be in the micro-cinema.
  • The Museum of Science will be showing Wakanda Forever on the Murgar Omni dome Fridays and Saturdays through the end of December.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Decision to Leave, The Banshees of Inisherin and The Menu.

    The West Newton Cinema has a listing for independent short "Family Feud" whose description matches a French-Canadian feature but the runtimes don't match, so I'm not sure what it is, really. Otherwise they keep Strange World, Aftersun (no show Friday), The Menu, The Banshees of Inisherin, Wakanda Forever, Lyle Lyle Crocodile (Saturday/Sunday), Armageddon Time (Saturday/Sunday), and Tár. Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Joe Begos's Christmas Bloody Christmas Friday, Saturday, and Thursday; White Christmas Sunday; plus Weirdo Wednesday.

    Cinema Salem has She Said, The Banshees of Inisherin, Triangle of Sadness The Menu, and Violent Night Friday to Monday. The Thin Man plays Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and there's a "Cinema Sounds" screening of Gremlins on Thursday with music producer Richard Guerin talking Jerry Goldsmith and his score before the film. If you're up for heading out to the Showcases in Woburn or Dedham, you can catch Emancipation, with Antoine Fuqua directing Will Smith as a runaway slave - but that's apparently further than the T will easily take you!
  • 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.
Seeing The Sparring Partner and should probably try to catch up with Violent Night, White Noise, She Said, Devotion, and/or Bones and All before James Cameron more or less grabs every screen on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Irish Movies in Ireland: The Banshees of Inisherin

Amusingly, sort of, this is the movie I put off watching near home because I figured it might be kind of fun watching it with a local audience and getting an idea of what lands and what doesn't, and it's the last one I got to. I was kind of tickled to see this marquee before I'd even gotten off the bus from the airport to my hotel:
I actually took this the night I saw it a few days later, which means that the Irish movie which opened a month earlier was still being treated as the main attraction even though the gigantic Marvel movie had opened in the meantime, as you can see a Wakanda Forever sign somewhere below the big one. At any rate, it's a nice urban multiplex with a basic concession stand rather than a cafe - albeit one that is combined with the box office - and though Cinema Treasures confirms that it was one giant screen cut into smaller spaces over the past century (which likely makes it not quite old enough to be open during the time the film is set), it's one that's still got some lobby and lounge space rather than just being hallways.

The time in question is the Irish Civil War, which few of the historical spots I went to really discussed until I visited Kilmainham Gaol, where the guide straight-up said that it's something they don't mention much, because it doesn't have the British as external villains in the way the potato famine, Easter Uprising, and the fight for independence do, although it plays as a crucial part of their history in retrospect, a reminder that a people can repress and do violence to themselves just as well as outsiders can - or, at least, the sort of history that gets put in museums and presented to tourists. That's not the way it's played in the film, ultimately, but Martin McDonagh has other interesting uses for that background.

After this, I figured I might wind up checking out the Marvel movie on one of the city's premium screens, just to avoid internet spoilers, but it turned out that Twitter was inward-focused enough to put that in my face and I wound up not doing so. Then it was back home, and doing work and such.

The Banshees of Inisherin

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 13 November 2022 in Savoy Cinema (Dublin) #7 (first-run, DCP)

There are many delightful things about The Banshees of Inisherin, but what makes the whole thing especially delicious is that, while the film reveals more the closer one looks at it, the filmmakers are well aware that one's commitment to art is not helped by pretense or snobbery. It's tremendously entertaining as well as dense, and doesn't treat genius as an excuse for a lousy attitude.

Is Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) a genius? Maybe not, but he's serious about his craft as a fiddle player, easily the best on this particular member of the Aran Islands, and he's come to decide that doing so means cutting friend Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) out of his life. Pádraic isn't a bad fellow, even if he can be unpleasant after a few too many drinks, but he's no intellectual and Colm figures spending so much time with him prevents him from doing and being more. Pádraic can't really comprehend this - hanging out with the dimmer-but-also-amiable Dominic (Barry Keoghan), who has a pretty serious crush on Pádraic's book-smart sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) isn't the same - so he keeps trying to reconnect. Colm then delivers an ultimatum: Leave him alone, or he'll start cutting off his own fingers, even if that would make playing the fiddle all but impossible.

Banshees could have been set during a number of periods, but writer/director Martin McDonagh sets it during the Irish Civil War, which split the country between those unwilling to even temporary compromise on their goal of a unified, independent Ireland and those willing to accept more gradual change. This doesn't exactly map to Colm and Pádraic, the latter in particular, but it's an interesting place to start, especially once McDonagh starts connecting to other things, such as how Siobhan's opportunities will come from leaving the island. This is a time where things should be triumphant, and yet this little society is tearing itself apart by the seams: Friendships that were perhaps a matter of circumstance are fraying or violently unwinding, people with power, like Dominic's father Peadar, are now homegrown rather than coerced monsters, emigration is depriving the community of some of their best and brightest, and painting the red British post boxes green doesn't cover the place's real problems.

There's more to a movie than just setting up a metaphor, and it's the performances here that may be the most metaphor, most noticeably with McDonagh re-uniting his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who make hitting a couple of tricky marks look almost effortless: For Farrell, it's a sort of well-meaning foolishness that doesn't quite put Pádraic at a remove from the audience, constantly making the clear wrong decision in a way that the audience can still emphasize with. The trick is to see how Colm and others could find him tedious and frustrating without making him a nuisance or the object of pity. There's often an interesting comparison to Barry Keoghan's Dominic, who is genuinely dim (compared to how Pádraic is often described as "dull"), but more pure-hearted, such that one might feel bad about finding him irritating.

Gleeson, meanwhile, has to make Colm a bit more opaque; there are occasional comments about how this is maybe not the first time he's sunken into a self-destructive depression, but McDonagh doesn't lay much more than that out directly. Instead, Colm is a mass of interesting contradictions, having lost all patience for Pádraic but not only not wishing him any ill will, but jumping in to defend Pádraic when it comes to blows. There's this sort of deep misery about his place in the world that gets pushed back when he has a chance to create. In a modern setting, people would talk about his mental health, but here he knits it together into a character whose behavior might not be consistent even if his thoughts are. One might expect Kerry Condon's Sibhan to be a kindred spirit, whatever is misfiring in his brain seems to be working in hers; she, perhaps, hasn't internalized the idea that difficulty or dangerous eccentricity correlates with genius to the point where she indulges it like Colm does (and aside from all that, McDonagh allows her to be sharp and risible enough to totally fall into the cliché of the woman who keeps the three men with their various forms of immaturity in line).

Condon and Gleeson get the more enjoyably chewy bits of dialogue to work with, the sort that reminds a viewer that McDonagh first found success as a playwright, although a big part of what works is that their lines mix well with the more plain-spoken lines given to Farrell and Keoghan, making many scenes a mix of considered explanation and sputtering confusion. McDonagh and his collaborators do lots of nifty things with the setting to help it tell the story: While the Súilleabháin home is snug, it's not oppressive, while Colm's cottage has the dimensions for two floors but isn't divided that way, managing to feel cluttered but with a great big empty space inside, on top of having no neighbors but being near a crossroads. One can occasionally see gunfire from the war on the shore, both far-off and unsettlingly close, and McDonagh quietly cranks what starts as an odd situation up to a surprisingly tense one by the finale.

Not that all this is exactly news; Banshees is one of the most anticipated and well-liked movies of the year, and the biggest surprise is how it hits its marks not just squarely but comfortably. Like Decision to Leave, it's an awards contender where one almost feels the need to point out that it's not just impressively constructed but a very funny movie that goes down easily.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 2 December 2022 - 8 December 2022

It's an exceptionally dead period between Thanksgiving and Avatar and Netflix isn't extending Glass Onion's run, so let's see who is ready to pick up the money they're leaving on the table.
  • The big opening this weekend is Violent Night, with David Harbour as Santa Claus, who finds himself in the middle of a Die Hard-ish robbery when a kid on his Nice List is taken hostage. It sounds like something more suited for a trailer parody than a full film - indeed, that's what the trailer feels like - but that describes a lot of the films by director Tommy Wirkola which have worked better than they have a right to, and the action is choreographed by the guys who did Plan B. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Fenway, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX).

    Universal covers its Christmas-movie bases by also re-releasing Love Actually at Arsenal Yards (through Sunday). There are Christmas matinees at Boston Common and South Bay of Love Actually (Friday), Elf (Saturday); the Illumination Grinch (Sunday); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Monday); The Best Man Holiday (Tuesday); the Jim Carrey Grinch (Wednesday); and The Polar Express (Thursday). Top Gun: Maverick also gets a "hey, there are screens open" re-release at Boston Common and South Bay.

    There are 40th Anniversary screenings of The Dark Crystal on Sunday and Wednesday at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row. Broadway Rising, a documentary about the New York theater scene reopening after the pandemic, plays South Bay and Assembly Row on Monday. Another documentary, Johnny Cash - The Redemption of an American Icon is at Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row Monday to Wednesday. Moonage Daydream returns to Boston Common (Imax Xenon) Wednesday. Greek film Smyrna plays Fenway, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Thursday.
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square picks up two streaming productions: Amazon's Nanny stars Anna Diop in the title role, a Senegaliese immigrant who watches another family's child while saving up money to bring her own son over, although both families are under some strain. Netflix has White Noise, Noah Baumbach's adaptation of Don DeLillo's book about a family trying to keep it together with a potentially apocalyptic event on the horizon.

    They also have Memories of My Father, a film about a Colombian activist told from the point of view of his son, who would become a noted writer, although only for matinees. Neil Young: Harvest Time plays Sunday afternoon (also at Boston Common and Fenway). Tuesday's Retro Replay is Gremlins, starting a run of holiday-themed movies.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre is billing their run of A Couple in their smaller rooms as an exclusive booking, and it's unusual, a small film from Frederick Wiseman - an hour-long narrative rather than a sprawling documentary, following Sophia Tolstoy as she walks a garden, discussing her fraught marriage.

    Midnight movies include The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the 2019 Black Christmas on Friday and Krampus on Saturday (doing holiday movies this month). Babe is the Saturday morning matinee, while Goethe-Institut selection The Silent Forest plays Sunday morning. There's a special presentation of Children of Las Brisas (Los Niños de las Brisas) on Monday evening with director Marianela Maldonado, producer Luisa de la Ville, and others on-hand for a Q&A afterward.
  • Six new South Asian movies start Friday at Apple Fresh Pond: Telugu crime flick HIT: The 2nd Case features Adivi Sesh as a detective on the trail of a serial killer; Hindi action comedy An Action Hero (also at Boston Common) follows a movie star who has gone into hiding; Gold is a Malayalam comedy; Yaara Vey is a Pakistani romance; DSP and Gatta Kusthi are Tamil-language comedies; and Bhediya is a Hindi werewolf comedy. Bangladeshi sports film Damal has an encore on Saturday.

    Drishyam 2, Love Today, and Uunchai continue at Fresh Pond; Drishyam 2 is also at Boston Common.

    The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie, the finale of the popular series, plays Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row Friday to Wednesday (except Monday), some shows dubbed and some subtitled. Hideaki Anno's Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time has shows Tuesday and Thursday at Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards (no show Thursday).

    Hong Kong romantic comedy Love Suddenly plays Boston Common; the poster makes it look like the same sort of "overlapping romances" as Love Actually, so maybe folks won't be too upset if they buy a ticket to the wrong one. Director Mak Ho-Pong and writer/producer Edmond Wong Chi-Mun did the Breakout Brothers movies and also worked on the Donnie Yen Ip Man series.

    Park Chan-Wook's Decision to Leave continues at West Newton and Lexington, and opens at The Capitol and Luna Lowell. Korean music/concert doc NCT Dream the Movie: In a Dream plays Boston Common and Fenway on Saturday.
  • The Brattle Theatre kicks off the holiday season on Friday with "Kevin Geeks Out About Christmas" and then a secret screening on 16mm (although they leave enough clues to figure out what it is).

    After that, they have a week of "Damn Fine Cinema: The Films of David Lynch", with The Straight Story (35mm Saturday/Monday), a package of short films in a double feature with Eraserhead on 35mm (Saturday), Inland Empire (Saturday), Lost Highway paired with Mulholland Drive (both on 35mm Sunday), Blue Velvet & 35mm Wild at Heart (Monday), The Elephant Man (Wednesday), Dune (35mm Wednesday), and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (35mm Thursday).
  • The Harvard Film Archive wraps their fall season with EAMI on Friday, with director Paz Encina on-hnad for a Q&A. They also have last week's Kaidu Club Experimental Shorts directed by Han Ohki in the 1970s available to stream through the 12th.
  • The Regent Theatre has outdoor adventure film program "Mountains on Stage: Winter Edition" on Wednesday.
  • Bright Lights has Long Live My Happy Head on Thursday, with directors Will Hewitt & Austin McCowan on-hand to talk about their film a Scottish cartoonist who starts making autobiographical comics after learning he has an inoperable brain tumor. Free to the public, tickets available starting noon the day of the show.
  • The ICA has a 95-minute program of Sundance Film Festival Shorts from this year's event on Thursday evening, with more shows during the coming weekend.
  • The Somerville Theatre is, as often happens in December, down a screen with The Slutcracker taking the main stage on weekends (Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Thursday this week). They've also got a special show, "Kevin & Ken Save Christmas!", with audience voting for which holiday special, clip, TV episode, or short plays next, on Saturday.
  • The Museum of Science will be showing Wakanda Forever on the Murgar Omni dome Fridays and Saturdays into December.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Decision to Leave, The Banshees of Inisherin and The Menu.

    The West Newton Cinema has Strange World, Aftersun, Amsterdam (Saturday/Sunday), The Menu, The Banshees of Inisherin, Wakanda Forever, Lyle Lyle Crocodile (Saturday/Sunday), Armageddon Time (Saturday), Decision to Leave (Sunday), and Tár. Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Decision to Leave Friday, Saturday, and Thursday; Concert for George Saturday afternoon; Die Hard Saturday night and all day Sunday; plus Weirdo Wednesday.

    Cinema Salem has The Menu, Violent Night, and Strange World Friday to Monday. There's also a show of Elf hosted by Miz Diamond Wigfall Friday night with a more kid-friendly matinee on Saturday, with VideoCoven running the original Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night on Thursday.
  • 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.
I am down for Violent Night, White Noise, and Love Suddenly, maybe catching up with Devotion and Bones and All. I probably should fill in some David Lynch-shaped holes as well, and we'll see if I catch up on the rest of Evangelion to the point where I go see the finale (I mean, I did see the other three, even if I didn't love them).