Friday, December 29, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 29 December 2023 - 4 January 2024

If you saw your fill of what came out last week, it's slim pickings this weekend. But, like me, you probably haven't.
  • Hong Kong action thriller The Goldfinger reunites Infernal Affairs stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai with Andy Lau Tak-wah with the film's writer Felix Chong (who also directs) in a pre-Handover game of cat and mouse; it's apparently pretty big-budget as these things go but appears to have sat on the shelf for a couple years. It's at Boston Common. From the mainland, Chinese crime drama Endless Journey continues at Causeway Street, and The Invisible Guest continues to play one show a day at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. There's also a preview of Shining for One Thing on Sunday at Boston Common and Causeway Street before it opens wide-ish next weekend.

    Telugu-language action movie Devil, starring Nandamuri Kalyan Ram as a British secret agent, opens at Apple Fresh Pond. Also hanging around are Salaar Part 1: Cease Fire (Telugu and Hindi) at Fresh Pond & Boston Common, Dunki (Hindi) at Fresh Pond & Boston Common, Animal (Hindi) at Boston Common, and Neru (Malayalam) at Fresh Pond. Telugu-language romance Bubblegum is out at the Liberty Tree Mall.

    From Japan, Godzilla Minus One continues at Boston Common and Assembly Row. The Boy and the Heron is still at the Coolidge, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Causeway Street, and Assembly Row (subtitled only).

    Korean hit 12.12: The Day hangs around for a third week at Causeway Street.
  • It's very quiet at the multiplexes/mainstream places. Jordan's Furniture (and other Imax theaters) are bringing Wonka back to the giant screens, not necessarily completely displacing Aquaman 2, but taking at least some matinee showtimes away.

    Chestnut Hill has the 9pm show of The Color Purple on Sunday labeled a "New Year's Eve Event"; not sure what the special screening entails.

    Self Reliance, starring writer/director Jake Johnson as a contestant on a life-or-death reality show and co-starring Anna Kendrick, has a one-night preview at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Wednesday before showing up on Hulu later in January There's also an AMC Screen Unseen mystery preview at Boston Common, Causeway Street, and Assembly Row on Wednesday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre keeps more or less the same bookings, including Fallen Leaves in the Goldscreen. They close out the year's midnights with a 35mm print of David Cronenberg's Shivers on Friday and Get Out on Saturday. There are also early-morning Kids' Shows for the weekend, with Despicable Me on Saturday and the original animated One Hundred and One Dalmatians on Sunday. They kick off the new year with Citizen Kane on Monday, and start the January "Projections" series of classic science fiction with The Terminator on Tuesday and the Director's Cut of THX 1138 on Wednesday, both on 35mm film. Thursday's Big Screen Classic is the digital restoration of Chungking Express
  • The Brattle Theatre continues "Warner Brothers in the '80s: Enter the Blockbuster" with a 35mm double feature of Purple Rain & Under the Cherry Moon on Friday, Superman II & Batman '89 on Saturday, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure & David Byrne's True Stories on Sunday (both 35mm), Risky Business & The Lost Boys on Tuesday, Stand and Deliver on 35mm and (separately) Mad Max II: The Road Warrior on Wednesday, finishing with a 35mm Martin Scorsese double feature of GoodFellas & After Hours on Thursday.

    New Year's Eve finishes with the new restoration of Stop Making Sense on Sunday night, with the traditional Marx Brothers Marathon (The Cocoanuts, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup) on Monday.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport has one screening per day of Burn it Down, a documentary on how Woodstock '99 went horribly wrong, at least through Wednesday. The rep calendar has a When Harry Met Sally brunch on Sunday, The Apartment and Go on Monday, and a pair of A Town Called Panic specials on Tuesday. The latter is the only one not currently listed as sold out, but maybe folks will cancel or they'll open the front rows or something.
  • The ICA has a second week of free (with museum admission) Kids Flicks programs from the New York International Children's FIlm Festival on Saturday and Sunday - an international program for ages 5 and up at 11am and a Latinx-focused "¡Hola Cine!" show at 1pm for ages 8 and up.
  • Last call for Oppenheimer on the dome at The Museum of Science this Friday and Saturday evening.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Poor Things and Maestro, plus Trolls: Band Together on Friday & Saturday.

    The West Newton Cinema keeps Migration, Poor Things, Wonka, Maestro, Saltburn (Sunday/Tuesday), and The Holdovers.

    The Luna Theater has Dream Scenario Friday, Saturday, and Thursday, and doesn't currently list anything else (including Weirdo Wednesday) on the site.

    Cinema Salem is open through Monday with Wonka The Iron Claw, Ferrari, and The Color Purple.
Tickets already reserved for The Goldfinger and A Town Called Panic!, and I'll probably hit the Brattle for True Stories, GoodFellas, and After Hours, and hopefully catch up with Poor Things, Society of the Snow, and The Color Purple. There's probably no way The Invisible Guest is worth the trek out to Danvers, though.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 22 December 2023 - 28 December 2023

Me earlier this week: "I've fallen behind watching some stuff but I should still have a little time to catch up since a whole bunch of nothing has come out the past few weeks and the pattern will probably continue, letting them stick around."

Studios: Here's six new movies on Friday, another three on Christmas, and some Chinese & Indian imports on top of that, so clear everything else off those screens!

  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is likely the last DC Comics movie spinning out of Zack Snyder's Superman & Justice League pictures, and the fourth to come out this year, although Warner Brothers is relaunching the whole thing under James Gunn's eye soon enough. This one reunites director James Wan with star Jason Momoa and much of the cast of the first, with Black Manta targeting Atlantis with a magical superweapon. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax 2D/3D), Boston Common (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D, Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Causeway Street, (including RealD 3D), the Seaport (including 3D0, South Bay (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/Colby Cinema 2D/RealD 3d), Assembly Row (including Imax Laser 2D & 3D/Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill.

    The next-biggest opening on Friday is Anyone But You, starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell as two people who have a rotten blind date but later find themselves thrown together at a friend's wedding and decide to fake being a couple. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Causeway Street, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    For the kids, there's Migration, the latest animated film from Illumination which follows a family of ducks getting lost the first time they try to leave the pond that has been their only home. It's at the Capital, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Causeway Street (including RealD 3D), the Seaport (including 3D), South Bay (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    The last wide release opening Friday is The Iron Claw, which stars Zac Efron as one of wrestling's Von Erich brothers, whose signature move made them famous though the family was laid low by tragedy and an ambitious father/coach. It's at The Somerville Theatre, Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, Causeway Street, Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Poor Things also expands on Friday, adding the Somerville, the Seaport, Arsenal Yards, the Lexington Venue,The Embassy, and West Newton to its runs at the Coolidge, Kendall Square, and Boston Common.

    Arsenal Yards has a "Polar Express Pajama Party" Saturday morning.

    On Monday, Christmas Day, there are three major openings. Ferrari comes from director Michael Mann and stars Adam driver as the former racer turned automaker whose business and life were posed to implode in 1957. It's at the Somerville, Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common. Causeway Street, Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Also opening Monday is The Color Purple, which adapts the stage musical based upon Alice Walker's book, starring Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Fantasia Barrino, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, and more. It's at the Capital, Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), Causeway Street, Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    The final wide release on Monday is The Boys in the Boat, playing at the Capital, Boston Common, Causeway Street, Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, the Embassy, and Chestnut Hill; George Clooney directs Joel Edgerton in the story about college students in Washington State who joined the rowing team for tuition and board and make their way to the Olympics despite starting as rank novices.
  • Landmark Kendall Square, the Coolidge, and Boston Common open American Fiction on Friday; it stars Jeffrey Wright as a writer whose career is stalled until he writes the stereotypical Black book people expect.

    Kendall Square also opens a Netflix release on Friday, Society of the Snow, with director J.A. Bayona taking on the story of a 1972 airplane crash that stranded 45 people in the Andes.
  • On top of all that, The Coolidge Corner Theatre opens IFFBoston Fall Focus selection Fallen Leaves on Friday; it's the fourth in a thematic trilogy of working class tales by Aki Kaurismäki (sometimes, you circle back around)this one involving two Helsinki residents who meet one night and try to reconnect. It's in the Goldscreen, so get one of the 14 tickets for its shows early!

    The Coolidge has two midnight shows on Friday - a 35mm print of Buffalo 66 and a digital restoration of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 - and a 35mm print of Beyond the Black Rainbow on Saturday. Saturday and Sunday also feature early shows of The Muppet Christmas Carol.
  • The big Indian opening this week is Salaar Part 1: Cease Fire, a Telugu-language film (also screening in Hindi) starring Prabhas as a gang leader who vows to a dying friend that he will eliminate the other gangs; it's at Fresh Pond and Boston Common . Also opening semi-wide at Fresh Pond and Boston Common is Dunki, a Hindi-language comedy starring Shah Rukh Khan as one of a group of Bengali friends seeking to visit the UK despite not having visas, only to find getting home is more difficult. It's at Fresh Pond. Apple Fresh Pond also opens Neru, a Malayalam-language drama about a blind woman having difficulty finding justice through the legal system. Animal continues at Boston Common (through Sunday).

    Chinese crime drama Endless Journey opens at Causeway Street, starring Zhang Yi as the leader of a team of disgraced detectives who, after being sentenced to prison for killing a suspect during an interrogation, set their sights on the member of the gang who got away. If you can make it out to the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, they have Chinese locked-room mystery The Invisible Guest for one show a day.

    From Japan, Godzilla Minus One continues at Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, Causeway Street, South Bay, Assembly Row; The Boy and the Heron at the Coolidge, the Somerville (dubbed through Sunday), the Capital (subtitled through Sunday), Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem (dubbed only), Boston Common, Causeway Street, the Seaport, South Bay (dubbed only), Assembly Row (subtitled only), Arsenal Yards (through Sunday), and the Embassy (dubbed only through Sunday). Kore-Eda's Monster has two afternoon shows at Boston Common on Friday and Saturday

    Korean hit 12.12: The Day continues at Causeway Street.
  • The Brattle Theatre marks the 25th anniversary of the Reconstructed Version of Touch of Evil by bringing it back on 35mm Friday and Saturday. As per usual, they are closed Christmas Eve, then begin the latest Warner 100 series, "Warner Brothers in the '80s: Enter the Blockbuster", with Gremlins & Lethal Weapon on Monday; it continues with The Shining on Tuesday, Crossing Delancey & Private Benjamin on Wednesday (both on 35mm film), and Beetlejuice on Thursday.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport is packed pretty solid with new releases, with the rep calendar showing Thief on Friday, Miami Vice on Saturday & Wednesday, It's a Wonderful LIfe and Elf on Sunday, and Carol on Monday, but all sold out. Maybe they'll staff up to the point where they can use the whole theater and folks can go to something on relative impulse and free up some seats soon, though.
  • The Regent Theatre has sing-along shows of White Christmas on Saturday and The Sound of Music Tuesday to Thursday, with costume contests and goodie bags for the latter.
  • The ICA has two free (with museum admission) Kids Flicks programs from the New York International Children's FIlm Festival on Saturday and Sunday - an international program for ages 5 and up at 11am and a Latinx-focused ¡Hola Cine! show at 1pm for ages 8 and up.
  • Two more weekends of The Museum of Science continues showing Oppenheimer on the dome on Friday and Saturday evenings through the end of the year.
  • The Lexington Venue is open all week (except Christmas) with Poor Things, Maestro, and Trolls: Band Together.

    The West Newton Cinema gets Migration and Poor Things on Friday, keeping Wonka, Maestro, Saltburn (no show Sunday/Monday), and The Holdovers. Note that they're apparently only doing matinees on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

    The Luna Theater has Dream Scenario Friday, taking the holiday off until Weirdo Wednesday.

    Cinema Salem is open all week with Wonka The Iron Claw, The Boy and the Heron (through Sunday), Godzilla Minus One (through Sunday), Ferrari (opening Monday), and The Color Purple (opening Monday). They haveRare Exports: A Christmas Tale on Friday night, and Scrooged on Saturday.
Not saying that I'm taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off just to watch movies - my employers has a use-it-or-lose-it vacation situation, although I think the state may override that - but that's pretty much what I'll be up to. Heck, might even get out to Danvers!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Seoul Under Siege: 12.12: The Day and Concrete Utopia

As mentioned in This Week's Next Week post, this was an unusually busy week for Asian cinema here in Boston, with six films from three SE Asian countries actually playing in AMC multiplexes in the city proper, plus the Indian films. It's partly a function of studios releasing a whole ton of nothing between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I also kind of wonder if AMC is sort of poking around these two theaters roughly a mile apart and seeing what distinguishes their audiences. The results of this weekend's experiment suggests that there's more interest in Korean films at Causeway Street than Boston Common - not-bad turnout for something with no advertising on Friday night versus pretty much just me on Saturday afternoon - but that could also have something to do with 12.12: The Day being a current release - and massive hit - in South Korea while Concrete Utopia opened in its home territory back in August, so students could have seen it then and had months to pirate.

(Meanwhile, Boston Common got a trailer and standee for Noryang: Deadly Sea but Causeway street didn't, for all that means!)

Anyway, it's an interesting sort of split double feature that makes one wonder how the true-life events in 12.12 influenced Utopia, in that they both feature would-be dictators who don't exactly seem to start with that as their goal but get pretty far despite kind of being lunkheads. As Americans, we've always favored the conniving, opportunistic genius (who may secretly be behind it all), and it's been frustrating - galling, even - to see that often, these guys are not so bright. South Korea, though, has lived with some of these guys, and it strikes me that if you look at their cinema, there's a pretty big clear pattern of cynicism about their autocrats, from royals to future post-apocalyptic warlords. I've probably known this since The President's Last Bang, a movie I love enough that I initially approached 12.12 as a sequel, at least subconsciously.

Looks like one more day of Concrete Utopia (Wednesday 20 December), but 12.12: The Day is booked straight into January, in part because nobody releases anything the week after Christmas.

Seoul-ui bom (12.12: The Day)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 15 December 2023 in AMC Causeway Street #3 (first-run, laser DCP)

It's a curious sensation to watch a film, get keyed up at the thrills (or, in the case of Full River Red, slapstick escalation), and then realize from the captions at the end that the film's local audience probably knew exactly where it was heading from the start: You are not, necessarily, enjoying the same movie that the filmmakers made, although given than 12.12: The Day and Full River Red were two of the biggest hits of the year in South Korean and China, they clearly don't need to rely on an unknown outcome. Which is a long way of saying that while I enjoyed 12.12 as a suspenseful military thriller, it clearly also works if your knowledge of 20th Century Korean history extends beyond the broad strokes.

For those lacking even the broad strokes, President Park Chung-hee was assassinated on 26 October 1979, ending 17 corrupt years in office. Heading up the investigation is Chun Doo-gwang (Hwang Jung-min), a pugnacious general who was also the leader of the Hanahoe secret society within the Korean military. In an attempt to counter Chun's influence, Army Chief of Staff Jeong Sang-ho (Lee Sung-min) appoints a reluctant general Lee Tae-sin (Jung Woo-sung) as head of the Capital Garrison Command, responsible for defending Seoul itself, and plans to diminish Hanahoe's influence by assigning Chun and ihs compatriots to backwaters as the investigation winds down. In response, Chun sends troops to arrest Jeong, who was present at the assassination, on trumped-up charges; without new President Choi Han-gyoo (Jung Dong-hwan) authorizing them, Lee recognizes this as a power grab, and mobilizes the forces not controlled by Hanahoe to arrest Chun.

A bit of Wikipedia diving indicates that "Lee Tae-sin" is a composite character primarily based upon General Jang Tae-wan, although most of the rest appear to be the actual figures involved. Director Kim Seong-su and his co-writers likely streamline the history in other ways; look away from the subtitles for a moment and you might miss that the coup was timed to interfere with announcements planned for the next day, for instance. Indeed, there are moments where the sheer pettiness of it all may take one aback - is Kim suggesting that General Chun is putting all this into action, with a large portion of the army backing him, as a tantrum brought on by being sidelined? Well, perhaps not explicitly, but as with Ridley Scott's Napoleon, there's certainly an intent to home in on how these "strongmen" often seem to arise less through brilliance than being in the right place at the right time, with the sort of amorality that lets them put troops in harm's way and not worry much about losses.

Actor Hwang Jung-min takes the idea that Chun is a small man with a loud voice and runs with it, spending much of the movie practically screaming at people trying to rein him in, manifesting a chip on his shoulder where Tae-sin and others who attended college rather than passing through the military academy are concerned, or almost ready to scratch his skin off while meeting with the President, as if unable to believe that this frail-looking civilian has the power to tell him no. It's initially easy to read this as stupidity, but as insecure as this picture of Chun might be, he's not that; he may be a blunt object, but he's one canny enough to know where smashing through norms can be a superpower. It's what makes Jung Dong-hwan's General Lee an interesting counterpoint; he's measured and reluctant, and there's a delight to how he can't entirely hide his distaste for Chun and his gang of thugs, with a bit of hubris to how he underestimates the Hananoe group. Jung doesn't play to the balcony quite so much as Hwang does, but his performance is pointed and quietly charismatic in a way that lets one cast Lee as the protagonist and Chun as the scenery-chewing villain.

It will, of course, be the result of the conflict that ultimately decide whom history will cast in those roles, and Kim stages them very well indeed, no small thing considering that both sides are ROK soldiers and thus can't be easily color-coded. Though he's not entirely immune to some gimmicks - he and the effects crew occasionally augment maps of battle plans with digital overlays that occasionally make them look like anachronistic flat-panel screens, even if it's clear the characters can't see them - he and his crew know how to suggest the to suck people in: He creates the sense of things happening in real time without stating it, for instance, and gives the proper sort of recurring momentary attention to things which obvious effect events (how will the United States and North Korea react to all this troop movement) without overcomplicating the action. The combat is well-staged, with Kim pulling the neat trick of making the action clear to the audience but necessarily blurry to forces who don't have the sort of real-time communications and telemetry that exists in the twenty-first century. The moments where things rest on individual action amid all the automatic weapons fire seem especially precarious.

It does all exhaust the audience at certain points, when the sheer number of senior officers to keep track of starts to pile up and the battle starts to turn but still needs to be played out. As with Napoleon, this film is often committed enough to the theme of these generals being thuggish that it's hard to see how they could inspire loyalty. Even with that, 12.12 is an often-electrifying snapshot of its events, even for those who know how it all ends.

Concrete Utopia (Konkeuriteu yutopia)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 16 December 2023 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, DCP)

Hey, have you heard the one about the small community of post-apocalyptic survivors who scavenge the ruins, turn on outsiders, and eventually display humanity's worst traits as the situation gets tighter? Oh, you have? Well, of course you have - it's a classic! The folks who made Concrete Utopia have, too, and they retell it well enough, although I suspect that Concrete Utopia lost a bit of what makes this version special somewhere in the adaptation to cinema.

Mere moments into the film, a massive earthquake strikes Seoul, practically leveling the city during an especially cold winter, although one apartment block - Hwang Gung Apartments - remains upright. Up on the eighth floor, civil servant Min-Seong (Park Seo-Joon) and wife Myeong-hwa (Park Bo-young), a nurse, figure they have supplies for a week, but still take in a woman and her son when nobody else would answer the door. Min-seong also rushes into a burning apartment to fight the fire alongside Kim Yeong-tak (Lee Byung-hun), who is taking care of his ailing mother (Kang Ae-shim) on the ninth floor. As help fails to materialize, the residents start to organize, with Yeong-tak as "Building Delegate", although another resident, Keung-ae (Kim Sung-young), does most of the organization. Eventually, the residents vote to expel outsiders, while Yeong-tak leads expeditions to forage for supplies. It's a precarious situation, and that's before the arrival of Moon Hye-woon (Park Ji-hu), a teenage resident who had been away from home when the disaster struck.

The credits describe this as adapting the second volume of a webtoon, which simultaneously could explain a lot and seems deeply confusing: There's an opening segment about how renting rather than purchasing apartments makes society unstable (but in terms of people being social-climbing strivers rather than potentially having their life collapse under them), suggesting that maybe other volumes had a different focus, but also that the series must have taken a heck of a turn after the first volume. It's structurally weird in other places, with two flashbacks to the earthquake that are jarring because the opening implies it happened at night, and also because the one featuring one character has much less obvious effect on their actions than the one featuring another; it's also odd that Myeong-hwa doesn't have one despite being just as central a character as Min-seong and Yeong-tak.

Those flashbacks to before the earthquake are also kind of odd-feeling, visually, less like a contrast to the present than bits of some other movie spliced in. The filmmakers have a bit of trouble finding the right tone in a few other places; such as when a turn to more obvious satire briefly interests (a classic South Korean genre-jump), but then the film settles back into the gray and morose. All of the disaster movie stuff feels a bit familiar, like nobody came up with really novel scenarios but just did the standards. It's ably-executed enough, at least, selling the on-the-ground reality well enough that one never spends a lot of time asking what's happening, say, five kilometers away from Hwang Gung Apartments or if there's a functioning government anywhere. The irony-to-principle balance in the finale is way off.

By coincidence - they were released three months apart in Korea - Concrete Utopia is an interesting pairing with the other Korean film hitting North America this weekend (12.12: The Day) in that both of them feature men taking power seemingly not so much cunning as being well-placed and amoral, with Lee Byung-hun toning down the movie star charisma to make Yeong-tak look kind of woozy, like he's stumbled into this situation with PTSD and a possible concussion but those don't dull everything that is problematic about him. Park Bo-young's Meong-hwa is the opposite side of the spectrum, practical but believably rising to the various challenges to her basic decency; the actress doesn't have many flashy scenes until the end, but she always gives the impression that she's considering things before acting. Park Seo-joon, meanwhile, has to play his nominal protagonist as weaker, and it's uncomfortably easy to recognize oneself in his good intentions that can nevertheless be swayed. There's a nice cast around them, too, especially Park Ji-hu whose late entry feels like it can change the game just through attitude as opposed to what Hye-woon means for the plot, although the situation is fraught enough that there's not a whole lot for the rest to do, just different shades of being weighed down.

It's never quite boring, and it's often good enough that one can easily imagine a movie where the whole thing is as good as its best part. Despite that, Concrete Utopia never quite that movie, playing much closer to standard genre fare despite aiming for importance.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 15 December 2023 - 21 December 2023

Still kind of a bunch of nothing this weekend, although, as a result, how crazy is it that we have three films from Japan, two from Korea, and one from Vietnam, and that's just at the big multiplexes?
  • We do get a major release this week, Wonka, a prequel to 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (and, I suppose, every other version of that story), with Timothée Chalamet as the chocolatier when he was just getting started. It looks like a bad idea, but it's from Paddington director Paul King, and those two movies are the sort of adorable this needs to be. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax), West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Causeway Street, the Seaport, Kendall Square, South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Laser/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), The Embassy, and Chestnut Hill.

    For Christmas shows, Die Hard continues at Boston Common, Causeway Street, South Bay, (and maybe Assembly Row); The Polar Express plays Arsenal Yards; Elf plays Boston Common (Friday-Wednesday); the 2018 Grinch is at Boston Common (Friday-Wednesday); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation shows at Boston Common (Monday-Wednesday); and Just Friends plays Arsenal Yards (Friday-Sunday).

    There's a preview screening of The Boys in the Boat at Boston Common, Causeway Street, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Saturday and one at the Seaport on Sunday. There's also a Dolby Cinema preview of Ferrari at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Wednesday.
  • Yorgos Lanthimos's riff on Frankenstein (among, I assume, other things), Poor Things, has Emma Stone as a young woman resurrected as a blank slate, who leaves her benefactor (Willem Dafoe) to see the world with a lover (Mark Ruffalo), and the previews are anything to go by, it will at least be gorgeous. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, Landmark Kendall Square, and Boston Common, before expanding next week.

    Midnights at the Coolidge feature a new restoration of the 1974 Black Christmas and Fando y Lis, Alejandro Jodorowsky's first film, on Friday (the latter in the screening room), with a 35mm print of Gummo on Saturday. Monday's Big Screen Classic is a digital restoration of the 1994 LIttle Women, Tuesday's Big Screen Debut is François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, with a pre-show seminar from critic Jake Mulligan, Wednesday has a 35mm print of Big Night, and Thursday's "Rewind!" is Jingle All the Way.
  • The latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda, Monster, opens at Boston Common, Causeway Street; it digs into school bullying, with a mother discovering that the source in this case may be faculty. Also from Japan: Godzilla Minus One at Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, Causeway Street, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards; as well as The Boy and the Heron at the Coolidge, the Somerville, Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem (dubbed only), Boston Common, Causeway Street, the Seaport, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and the Embassy (dubbed only).

    Korean blockbuster (and Oscar submission) Concrete Utopia, starring Lee Byung-hun, Park Seo-joon, and Park Bo-young as residents of the only apartment block left standing in Seoul after a cataclysmic earthquake, opens at Boston Common. Up the Green and Orange Line at Causeway Street, 12.12: The Day, a drama which takes place in the aftermath of the 1979 Presidential assassination, following an officer who does not want the military to become involved in politics.

    Kaathal - The Core, a Malayalam drama about a couple whose husband runs for local office, opens at Apple Fresh Pond. Held over at Fresh Pond are Animal (also at Boston Common), Sam Bahadur (also at Boston Common); and Hi Nanna. If you can make it to the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, they have Telugu-language horror movie Pindam.

    Vietnamese drama The Last Wife continues at South Bay.
  • The Brattle Theatre has its annual screenings of It's a Wonderful Life this weekend, Friday to Monday, from a 35mm print. When that's not playing, they have the "Holiday Adjacent" program, including Die Hard (35mm Friday), Go (35mm Saturday), Rare Exports (Sunday), Eyes Wide Shut (Tuesday), Night on Earth (35mm Wednesday), and The Green Knight (Thursday).
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport picks up Eileen (I guess they're going to be a screen things expand to rather than from), with the rep calendar including shows of Night of the Hunter (Friday/Tuesday), Brazil: The Director's Cut (Monday/sold out Sunday), Deep Cover (Monday), Elf (Tuesday/sold out Sunday), 2046 (Wednesday), and a preview of The Iron Claw with live-streamed Q&A Tuesday.
  • The Harvard Film Archive has its last screening of the semester on Friday with a 35mm print of The Go-Between, but has also begun streaming Cinema Before 1300, an expanded lecture by Jerome Hier that considers stained glass as a precursor to cinema, on their website; it will be available for all through 15 March.
  • The Somerville Theatre takes this month's "Attack of the B-Movies" double feature, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians & Little Shop of Horrors '60, downstairs, what with the Slutcracker on the main stage, for a matinee on Saturday and an evening show on Tuesday.
  • The Regent Theatre has documentary Full Circle, which follows two skiers, Barry Corbet and Trevor Kennison on parallel journeys fifty years apart after each suffered broken backs, on Wednesday.
  • The Museum of Science continues to show Oppenheimer on the dome on Friday and Saturday evenings through the end of the year.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Eileen, Maestro, and The Holdovers, plus captioned shows of the latter two on Thursday. There's also a Friday night show of The Rocky Horror Picture show (with the request folks don't throw crap).

    The West Newton Cinema picks up Wonka and Maestro, also keeping Wish, Saltburn (no show Friday), The Holdovers, Eras (Friday/Saturday), and Barbie (Saturday).

    The Luna Theater has It's a Wonderful LIfe Friday to Sunday, Weirdo Wednesday, and Black Christmas '74 on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem is open Friday to Monday with Wonka Eileen, The Holdovers, The Boy and the Heron, and Godzilla Minus One. They haveBlack Christmas '74 on Friday night, a Miz Diamond Wigfall show of Elf on Saturday (and a regular one Sunday), a free mystery-movie (in two senses of the word) ugly sweater party on Wednesday (RSVP recommended), and Scrooged on Thursday.
  • Joe's Free Films shows BU screening two sets of student films at the George Sherman Union on Friday afternoon (animation) and Tuesday afternoon (presumably live-action).
Not often I get to use the whole AMC A-List allotment on foreign films without China being involved, but that looks to be the plan here, with 12.22: The Day, Concrete Utopia, and Monster all on tap. I'll probably also catch Wonka on a fancy screen, maybe finally see Eyes Wide Shut, and one or two other things.

Monday, December 11, 2023

In Broad Daylight

I don't really have a whole lot to say about this movie - it is, like 90% of what manages to make its way to multiplex screens, reasonably watchable, if not always exceptional, and I suspect that the challenge of being a movie critic for a publication over the long haul is finding ways to say "eh, it's fine" without looking like you're slacking off or giving into hyperbole - but I do kind of want to publicly scratch my head a bit over what AMC is doing with movies like this in Boston right now.

Firstly, it's the second Chinese film to release here since AMC re-opened the Causeway Street multiplex that had started as an Arclight, rather than on the Common, and I don't quite understand the thinking there; Boston Common is right next to Chinatown, and while North Station is just three stops or so along the Orange Line, it's odd to move specialty films away from their audience like that, although for all I know there's an audience for it near North Station that I don't see because it's not actually named "Chinatown". It might also be the case that as they ramp up Causeway Street, the chain putting the niche material there as they build up - this place doesn't seem to be as obviously hobbled by being under-staffed as the Alamo in the Seaport is, but it is awful quiet every time I go.

(The apparent trouble they're having getting enough people to fully open at the Seaport is something else again!)

Second, there are a lot of things that have been getting weekend-only shows over the past few months - Eras is the big one, but also Renaissance and Waitress: The Musical in recent weeks, and as much as I expect them to sort of cannibalize the smaller movies like this first during the weekend days, it's weird to me that these don't get more chance to find audiences during the week. But, no - it's playing at 5:30pm on Monday and Tuesday and 4:30pm on Wednesday, so not much chance to capitalize on any word of mouth it might have generated, or give folks who can't see it on the weekend an opportunity to catch it.

In summary I don't get what's going on in terms of assigning things showtimes any more, but it feels like it's becoming harder to see specialty films even when it should be easier.

In Broad Daylight

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 December 2023 in AMC Causeway #8 (first-run, laser DCP)

More often than not, In Broad Daylight seems to slide comfortably into that category of earnest movies focusing on a societal ill that one might worry about its earnest intentions being its greatest asset: It drops "based on a true story" on the audience right away, its style isn't particularly slick or an electrifying documentary realism, and it's focused on the facts of the case more than the other ideas that are a part of the telling. On the other hand, its un-remarkability can often be an asset, letting filmmaker Lawrence Kan Kwan-Chun do some interesting things on the edges and often reining in potential excesses.

As it starts, Ling Hiu-Kay (Jennifer Yu Heung-Ying) arrives at Rainbow Bridge Care Home to visit grandfather Chow Kin-Tung (David Chiang Da-Wei), having just come to Hong Kong for a few weeks' stay after being in Canada for a decade, which is why the deteriorating Tung wouldn't recognize Kay. Seeing how woefully understaffed the place is, with nearly 80 residents but only manager Cheung Kim-Wah (Bowie Lam Bo-Yi), Miss Ho (Mimi Kung Chi-Yan) and a second nurse on staff, she offers to come in and help, getting to know the residents. Except, she's not Tung's granddaughter at all - she's a reporter known as the "Queen of Undercover" in her newsroom, where she and a team including Leung (Leung Chung Hang) and rookie Jess (Hui Yuet-Sheung) are acting on a tip from a former nurse, and also learning how many of the care homes in Hong Kong are over-crowded and not technically licensed, although the Social Welfare Division has never revoked a license or a waiver.

Kay also has some drama at home, as her grandfather has recently died and butting heads with her mother (Pau Hei-Ching) has her a little more apt to consider the idea of how taking care of one's family can be a burden too big to bear, despite her typical objective detachment. Though Kan almost never minimizes the abuse and failure of the social safety net in order to focus on Kay's personal turmoil, he and Jennifer Yu make sure that there's always enough going on with Kay to make scenes interesting There are moments when her placid visage reveals a reporter who has a killer instinct, and her growing affection for Tung and the rest of the residents interacts with her professionalism in more interesting ways than simply turning her back on it. It's an interesting pairing with David Chiang, who I suspect has attained That Guy status in Hong Kong - Tung is maybe not so senile as he seems, which means that most scenes with Chiang and Yu are two people maintaining a mask, but smart enough to see through them and giving the audience a chance to muse on whether the bond forming is between the people they pretend to be or the actual selves underneath.

There's a train of thought that would make this the most important part of the film, and it is almost certainly the part that the cast finds most interesting to work with, but Kan mostly uses it as flavor for the rest. He doesn't necessarily find the right balance of tones where he can make the viewers shocked and angry at the abuse of the society's most vulnerable without also delivering a sort of thrill at seeing horrible things depicted or allowing the audience to sink back into complacency as bland statistics are recited, but he does better than most, especially with an ending that highlights how feeling bad and maybe taking one small step can mostly cause negative disruption, and if if many of the performances for the mentally-handicapped characters is broad, they mostly favor how this is an unsettling thing to have as part of one's life as opposed to a hammy innocence. There may be moments when the film feels more exploitative than informative, but there's at least an awareness of the line.

A strong supporting thread is the general nervousness about the future of journalism; newspapers in Hong Kong are in an especially perilous position and there's a sort of hum in the background about how the owner of "A1 News" isn't particularly interested in this story, or if there will be another one after it; and editor asks Jess why she didn't become an entertainment reporter. Kay and her group are clearly frustrated at how this thing in which they've invested weeks or months of hard work will be a quick flash with only minimal impact even when throngs of reporters are mobbing Cheung Kim-Wah. There's an interesting scene toward the end when Kay is moving through the newsroom and the motion detectors seem inverted, turning out the lights as she passes, a symbol of reporters pressing ahead as the business shutters.

It all ties together reasonably well - everything in Kay's life is hollowing out, whether it be her workplace, her target, or her family, and there's frustration as she tries to continue to do important work. This never overshadows the outright abuse, but it at least allows Kan to paint a picture of a system that's failing on multiple levels even as he focuses on one specific set of crimes: Even if Rainbow Bridge shuts down, there will still be much work to do.

Friday, December 08, 2023

The French Blockbusters of Christophe Gans: The Brotherhood of the Wolf and Beauty and the Beast '14

I've probably shared these anecdotes on this blog before, but they fit:

Back in 2001, the Boston Film Festival was a thoroughly different beast than it is now - it had different ownership, commandeered multiple screens in the Loews Copley Place (now a Saks Fifth Avenue), running a lot of things that played TIFF a few days earlier, and for the most part, things would sit on a screen for roughly a day - two evening shows, three matinees the next day. You could see everything. Anyway, 9/11 happened right in the middle of the festival, so there was some disruption to the festival, as you might imagine. My first film of the day was Sam the Man, a comedy starring Fisher Stevens (who I was kind of surprised didn't have the accent from Short Circuit) directed by Gary Winick (I thinkI'd liked his The Tic Code). However, the prints were in the wrong place, so when me and another handful of people sat down for that movie, we instead were served up Brotherhood, and if I hadn't been planning to see that next, holy crap! They eventually seated us in the right theaters and restarted the movies, but yes, that made Sam the Man feel even less impressive.

I would spend the next four months or so before its January release. If you want to dig, you can probably find reviews at either Ain't It Cool (I filed dispatches from Boston Film Festival one year under the name "Paul Revere", as one did then) or Home Theater Forum, but, well, there's better uses for your time and mine than finding them.

Flash forward a dozen years, and I'm in Paris, using some vacation time that won't roll over just before Christmas, spending some evenings watching English-language movies that may or not get released in the United States, and one of the trailers I get is for a version of La Belle & La Bete directed by Gans, and my eyes go wide like saucers, because, unimpressed as I'd been with Silent Hill, this looks amazing even if I'm only sort of half-comprehending the French-language dialogue. I'm not sure quite how much the Disney live-action remake is rumored versus set at this point, or if I knew Gans was doing this, but I figured it had to be getting an American release, right? Folks know Gans, they know Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel, it looks amazing, etc., etc.

It doesn't, at least not in Boston - apparently there was a very limited release in late 2016, two and a half years after it played France, and then it hit video the next year, when the Disney remake arrived. I ordered a copy, naturally, but the same thing happened as with most discs I order - it wound up on a shelf, sticking out slightly to remind me I hadn't seen it, and remaining there because most nights I go see something in the theater or watch baseball or am trying to catch up on something else. This week, I figured to watch something from my "seen before, new discs" piles, and hit on Brotherhood, and somehow came up with the idea of watching Beauty and the Beast as a pairing. This, it turns out, is a pretty good idea, since all the scenes of Vincent Cassel hunting a beast in flashback tie it even more closely to Brotherhood.

And it's fun! Maybe not quite the movie it could have been, but it's an enjoyable family movie (although one with a French level of ambient sexiness), and kind of fascinating in how Gans and company are taking a fairly well-known fairy tale and seeming to do as much as they can to distinguish themselves from the Disney version without doing the "we've got a horror guy directing this, let's make it twisted!" thing. Considering how Disney would soon be doubling down on every decision they made in the early 1990, and how that owes a clear debt to the Jean Cocteau version, seeing this now has everything a bit more exciting and unexpected.

Back in 2017, I kicked around the idea of getting my nieces the Cocteau & Gans versions and saying "hey, every other relative is going to get them the Disney versions, this is what I'm for". Chickened out, though. They've kind of aged out of that now, although I'm still tempted.

Between 2013 and now, though, there have been no new films from Gans; if the Silent Hill sequel shows up next year as expected, it will be ten years between new movies, which really seems like a lot. I'm not plugged into what's going on in French film to know if maybe he's got a reputation as a bad guy. Sure, that doesn't always seem like it would be a particular problem in France. I also don't know what the exact box-office calculus is in France; I could sort of see a situation where Brotherhood and Beauty are very expensive movies, relative to the local norms, but not exactly hits. Meanwhile, Silent Hill wasn't a hit either - it did well enough to spawn a cheaper sequel - so he's not making a leap in the USA.

On top of that, it's extremely hard to get a movie made, especially if you've got the sort of ambitions Gans has. He's been attached to various things - something called The Adventurer with Mark Dacascos, a movie based on the Fatal Frame games - and it's worth noting that Silent Hill is the only movie where he's worked from someone else's screenplay. If he's not taking work-for-hire, it's probably not hard to spend years developing something only to see it not pan out, several times. He would have been a great get for Marvel when they were doing canny buy-low moves to hire really talented people who hadn't quite hit it big or hadn't had a hit in a while, but that's not really their MO anymore, and who knows if Gans would be up for it?

So, here's hoping that Return to Silent Hill is good and he gets a chance to do something big again - these are fun movies, and for all that Gans wouldn't be the only one-hit wonder of this sort in cinema, it still seems very strange that someone could make this sort of international splash and then only make two other movies over the next 20+ years without much in the way of overt controversy.

Le pacte des loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 3 December 2023 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, 4K Blu-ray)

Brotherhood of the Wolf is a bit flabbier than the non-stop thrills I remember from first viewing, and not just because some scenes have been added for the "director's cut" on the 4K disc (those, oddly, all feel necessary): There's a fair amount of not getting anywhere in the first hour which, coupled with the authentic casual racism of the 18th-Century aristocracy, awkwardly countered, can make one wince. Did this really knock me flat when I first saw it, just because I'd never seen that sort of French genre film before (because anything in French hitting theaters in Worcester, MA or Portland, ME was art-house stuff)?

Yes, it did, and still kind of does, because the things that make it awesome and cringe-worthy are more or less the same things: Christophe Gans approaches this movie like he hit some sort of lottery in terms of being able to make it and goes all-in as if he knows he might never get a chance to do this sort of grand pulp adventure again: It's got horror, martial-arts, heaving bodices, conspiracies, and more, a slick presentation of cheerily disreputable pulp material that never winks at the camera like Gans wants to make sure the audience is in on a joke - he is earnestly enthusiastic, whether punctuating a conversation by exploding pumpkins with various weapons or cross-fading from Monica Bellucci's breasts to a snowy mountain range. It's a Hammer movie being made by someone in the Raimi/Woo mold, but who is also very much French, bringing a different flavor of cool cynicism and sexual energy to the story.

It can be a little much, especially for an American for whom the conflict with royal and papal power seems like a lot of noise in the background, like there are more factions and conspirators than the movie really needs to make the action explode out of simmering conflict. When it does, though, Gans and his cast throw themselves into it, especially once Samuel Le Bihan's Fronsac has the whole thing spread out before him and ready to rampage. The filmmakers hit a nice balance between using the Beast sparingly and revealing it, keeping the story somewhat mythic - though I do wonder just how much FX work has been reword for the director's cut, as the Beast seems much more digital than I remember.

It's fortunate that Gans did put it all in this movie, because he really hasn't had much chance to do something similar. This may no longer be the surprise it was when it came out, but it's still a darn entertaining monster movie.

La belle et la bête '14 (Beauty and the Beast)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 5 December 2023 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, 4K Blu-ray)

Christophe Gans's take on Beauty and the Beast is very much the take on this classic story that one might expect from the maker of Brotherhood of the Wolf, generally more for better than worse. It's great-looking, exciting, and makes a conscious effort to do things differently than other versions of the fairy tale, whether that means returning to the source or envisioning something new; it's also got enough going on that the simple beauty of the story can occasionally get buried.

Take the beginning, where we learn that Belle (Léa Seydoux) is the youngest of six children, and that her father (André Dussollier) was a wealthy shipping magnate brought to ruin when his three ships sink on the same voyage - well, by "ruined", forced to move from the city to their country estate, which suits Belle fine. An attempt to revive his business has the father fleeing town after a run-in with Perducas (Eduardo Noriega), whom gambling-addicted oldest son Maxime (Nicolas Gob) owes a great deal of money, winding up at a mysterious castle which presents him with a chest of treasure, but when he takes a rose for Belle, he angers the estate's beastly resident (Vincent Cassel), who gives him a day to make his farewells before being killed, lest the beast kill the whole family. Belle chooses to return in his place, and could be the key to breaking the curse upon the manor and its master.

That's a lot of story for a tale that is at its heart so simple that almost anybody can articulate its events and themes Belle's family is so large that I'm not sure if one brother got either a name or signature personality trait, and there's a whole thing about Perducas's lover Astrid (Myriam Charleins) having some sort of mystic abilities that kind of gets batted around in the finale but seems like an big thing to ultimately have so little impact. There is also a lot of work put into delivering flashbacks to Belle about how the Prince became the Beast, and some of that effort would likely have been put into looking at how he and Belle draw closer together, maybe differentiating Belle from his first great love (Yvonne Catterfeld).

When Gans gets down to business and focuses on the title characters, it's terrific. Vincent Cassel is at his cocky, roguish best in the flashbacks, making his younger prince a font of passion and charisma but possessed of enough selfishness that it is no surprise that he will need to be taught a terrible lesson. It's a nifty balance of him deserving this but still being redeemable, and while one might feel Cassel is under too much makeup as the Beast, there's perhaps some logic to it: He has, by this point, more or less been consumed by the worst aspects of masculinity, and Cassel doesn't hold back on the Beast being a monster until Belle can see him as otherwise.

The best thing in the film, though, is Léa Seydoux as a Belle who is at no point a naïve ingenue: She knows full well how apt her name is and is going to make the Beast work for her affection. Seydoux's Belle is playful and kind, but also sure enough of herself that she can bristle at the idea of being a replacement for anybody, whether it be her mother or the princess, and without getting into too-modern language, she presents a sharp contrast in her body language and attitude between when she's given a sexy dress to wear so that the Beast can look at her during dinner and when she's chosen something beautiful herself.

That last dress is a rose that envelops her, maybe impractical but certainly a great visual considering how important the flowers have been throughout the film. If there are times Gans and his crew are perhaps visibly trying too hard to avoid the choices of other adaptations, particularly Disney's animated classic, he's still got the eye for a striking image that often elevated Brotherhood (as well as carrying over a disdain for hunters who kill gratuitously) and horror-movie instincts that let him make the castle and its grounds scarier than one might expect from a family film, though there are times when the magical isolation enhances the fairy-tale quality as well. There's plenty of visual invention on display, and he's able to make the inevitable gut-punch at the end of the flashbacks work even though everyone in the audience knows where it must be leading.

Inevitably, Gans's version of this tale exists in the shadow of two masterpieces (the Disney and Cocteau versions), and for all that the filmmaker is not timid, one does occasionally wonder if he occasionally worked a little too hard at doing something different and so didn't give the actual romance of the title characters as much attention as he could have - as with Brotherhood, he might have figured this was his one shot at a family blockbuster and poured everything into it. Even with that, it's an impressive production that manages to feel modern but not anachronistic, and an interesting contrast to other takes on the story.

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 8 December 2023 - 14 December 2023

Releases are weird this weekend, to the extent that the box office report on Monday could potentially have two Japanese imports at the top. Probably won't, but Godzilla Minus One is getting a second week and actually hit #1 for a day or two during the week, so who knows?
  • The other import from Japan is the latest (last?) by anime grandmaster Hayao Miyazaki; The Boy and the Heron (aka "How Do You Live?"). The Wind Rises had been intended to be his final film, but something about this tale of a young boy who discovers a thin line between the worlds of the living and the dead near his new home compelled him. It plays, subtitled and dubbed, at the Coolidge, the Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon), Causeway Street, the Seaport, and South Bay; dubbed-only at The Embassy and CinemaSalem.

    After that, it's mostly Christmas tie-ins: Family comedy The Perfect Christmas plays South Bay, albeit in very limited showtimes. There are full re-releases for Die Hard at Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), the Causeway, South Bay (Dolby Cinema), and Assembly Row (Dolby Cinema); Love Actually at Boston Common and Arsenal Yards; and Elf at Assembly Row (Imax Laser through Sunday plus Wednesday) and Jordan's Furniture (Imax), which also plays Boston Common (Saturday/Sunday/Tuesday) and Arsenal Yards (Monday to Thursday); the 2018 The Grinch at Jordan's (Imax), plus a show at Boston Common (Friday); and The Polar Express at Jordans (Imax 3D), plus Boston Common (Saturday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday). Less full runs include National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at Boston Common (Friday/Monday/Tuesday); A Christmas Story at South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday & Wednesday; and Tokyo Godfathers at Boston Common (subtitled Monday & Wednesday/dubbed Tuesday).

    The filmed stage production of Waitress: The Musical plays through Monday at Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards (which also shows a Tuesday showtime), Chestnut Hill. Oppenheimer returns at Boston Common (70mm), Causeway Street, and the Seaport; it never went away at Fresh Pond, playing the weekdays when the concert films are off, and is also on the dome at the Museum of Science Friday & Saturday. The Oath, an action/adventure about a Hebrew warrior in North America ca. 400AD based upon Mormon mythology, plays Boston Common.

    There's an Early Access show of American Fiction at the Kendall and Boston Common on Saturday, another at the Seaport with livestreamed Q&A Monday, and an IFFBoston preview at the Brattle on Wednesday; an AMC Sight Unseen mystery preview at Boston Common and Assembly Row on Monday, and an early screening of The Iron Claw on the Dolby CInema screens at Boston Common and Assembly Row Wednesday.
  • Also opening is Eileen, with Thomasin McKenzie as a woman working in a state prison whose life gets a little more interesting with the arrival of an intriguing psychiatrist (Anne Hathaway), playing at Landmark Kendall Square, the Lexington Venue, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, and Assembly Row.

    There's a Christmas Retro Replay of Rare Exports at the Kendall on Tuesday, and Yórgos Lánthimos's The Favorite on Wednesday before his new film opens next weekend.
  • The Brattle Theatre has Orlando, My Political Biography for most of the week; it's a documentary where director Paul B. Preciado uses Virginia Wolff's Orlando as a jumping-off point to look at the lives of present-day trans, non-binary, and gender-fluid people.

    The weekend has matinees from their quick Roald Dahl series, with a 35mm double feature of James and the Giant Peach & Fantastic Mr. Fox on Saturday and The Witches paired with Matilda on Sunday. They've also added a presentation of Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan to mark the musician's passing on Tuesday, and have the latest package of Grrl Haus Cinema shorts on Thursday.
  • Netflix's Maestro, starring director Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein, opened at the Kendall last week and expands to The Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Seaport, this weekend as they prepare a major awards push.

    The weekend's first midnight show on Friday is Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro, the first film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which would often hide that it was part of a franchise in the USA because MIyazaki (directing his first feature) was so much better known here than Monkey Punch's manga. On Saturday, the midnight is The Babadook, Jennifer Kent's thrilling story of a monster from a pop-up book. Sunday morning's Geothe-Institut film is Sisi & I, starring Sandra Hüller as Austria's famed, controversial Empress, here putting a new companion through the wringer before they return home to Vienna. Monday's Science on Screen show is a 35mm print of Phantom Thread with science historian Brad Bolman on-hand for an introduction. There's Open Screen on Tuesday, Big Screen Debut presentations of Shiva Baby (Tuesday) and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Tuesday), and a Sound of Silents show with Jeff Rapsis accompanying Buster Keaton in "The Goat" & "Why Worry?" with Harold Lloyd on Wednesday.
  • Apple Fresh Pond picks up Telugu action movie Extra Ordinary Man; Hindi man-on-the-run story Joram; and Tamil thriller Parking, in which two the two residents of an apartment building feud over the building's sole parking spot. Marathi comedy Jhimma 2 once again plays Saturday & Sunday.

    Held over are Animal in Hindi at Fresh Pond & Boston Common; Sam Bahadur at Fresh Pond, expanding to Boston Common; Hi Nanna at Fresh Pond.

    Hong Kong drama In Broad Daylight, starring Jennifer Yu as a reporter who discovers systematic abuse at an elder-care facility, plays Causeway Street.

    Vietnamese drama The Last Wife plays South Bay.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport has documentary The Disappearance of Shere Hite Friday through Sunday plus Wednesday, at somewhat more accessible times than Boston Common had it last week, and Elf on Friday to Sunday & Tuesday/Wednesday. Their calendar shows sold-out brunches for White Christmas (Saturday) & Little Women (Sunday), but also Gremlins Monday & Tuesday and Batman Begins Monday.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts has two more encores from the most recent French Film Festival, with Louis Garrel's comedy The Innocent on Friday and caper Masquerade on Saturday. They also show The Nightmare Before Christmas on Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening.
  • The ICA has a package of Sundance Film Festival Shorts on Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Regent Theatre has Immediate Family, Denny Tedesco's documentary about the next wave of studio musicians after the ones he chronicled in The Wrecking Crew, from Tuesday to Thursday; it also plays Tuesday night at Kendall Square.
  • Locally produced film Merry Good Enough plays The Somerville Theatre on Tuesday.
  • Bright Lights wraps their fall slate at the Paramount's Bright Screening Room on Thursday with Shortcomings, Randall Park's adaptation of Adrien Toomie's graphic novel Shortcomings on Thursday, with Emerson professor Ed Lee and comedian Nate Shu (an alumnus) leading discussion afterward. Free and open to the public.
  • The Museum of Science continues to show Oppenheimer on the dome on Friday and Saturday evenings.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Eileen and The Holdovers. On Friday and Saturday, they have free matinees of Don Siegel's Oscar-winning short film "Star in the Night", with popcorn for everybody who brings an unwrapped toy or canned food for charity. Locally produced comedy Magic Spot plays Tuesday, with a post-film Q&A featuring producer/co-writer/actor Matt Farley.

    The West Newton Cinema has Wish, Napoleon, Saltburn, The Holdovers, Trolls: Band Together, Eras, and Barbie (no show Saturday/Sunday/Thursday).

    The Luna Theater has Priscilla on Friday & Thrusday, Black Christmas '74 on Saturday, Die Hard on Sunday, and a Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem is open Friday to Monday with Eileen, The Holdovers, The Boy and the Heron, and Godzilla Minus One. They mix Christmas shows up a bit with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on Friday night.
  • Joe's Free Films shows two student film programs this week, each with two screenings: Harvard has theirs twice Friday afternoon at the Archive, and RPM Festival's New England Student Showcase is at Goethe-Institut twice on Thursday evening (RSVP required).
Down for Elaine, The Boy and the Heron, and In Broad Daylight, maybe seeing Godzilla again because that schedule is kind of barren. Might go for Die Hard on a fancy theater, even if I kind of want to wait until it shows at the Brattle, which has been doing holiday-adjacent programming for years and must be looking at the 'plexes encroaching on their turf with annoyance.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 1 December 2023 - 7 December 2023

Genuinely weird couple weeks coming up at the movies in terms of mainstream releases - it's like we've hit some "natural lull" plus "studios not making so many awards contenders" plus "pandemic production delays" plus "stuff pushed out because of the strikes" situation.making for a weird December. This week, at least, it manifests as odd/interesting releases at the 'plexes.
  • Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is still kicking around well after its run was expected to end, and it's joined this weekend by Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé, which I gather has more behind-the-scenes documentary footage than the Swift movie has, but should still be a lot of fun for her fans, and there are a lot of them. It's also only playing Thursday to Sunday, opening this week at the Coolidge,Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), the Causeway, South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (Imax Laser/Dolby Cinema), and Chestnut Hill.

    The latest Godilla movie from Toho, Godzilla Minus One, hits American theaters just a month after opening in Japan, and it's easily top-5 in the series, a banger in which writer/director Takashi Yamazaki moves the time frame up to the end of World War II and the aftermath and builds the human half of the story around a fighter pilot trying to atone for abandoning his kamikaze mission in the last days of the war. It's at Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax), CinemaSalem, Boston Common, the Causeway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards (including CWX). It picks up some Dolby Cinema showtimes at Boston Common and Assembly Row and Imax shows at South Bay from Monday to Wednesday with Renaissance resting.

    John Woo's first American-produced film in twenty years, Silent Night, opens at Boston Common, the Causeway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards. It features Joel Kinnaman as a man whose vocal chords were destroyed in the same gang attack that took his son going on a dialogue-free rampage - the trailer is basically "John Woo knows action; here's some violence".

    Also opening is The Shift, with Kristoffer Polaha as a man brought to a parallel world by a mysterious figure (Neal McDonough) looking to return to his wife; given that McDonough's character was literally Satan in the original short and it's being distributed by Angel Studios, I am guessing it's a bit heavy-handed. That plays Fresh Pond, Boston Common, the Causeway, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Horror comedy Don't Suck, which stars Jamie Kennedy as a stand-up whose new opening act may be a vampire, plays one show a night at Fresh Pond. Documentary The Disappearance of Shere Hite plays limited shows at Boston Common. Simón is back at Arsenal Yards for one show a day.

    Norwegian family comedy Teddy's Chrstmas plays matinees at Boston Common, apparently dubbed in English with Zachary Levi as the voice of a teddy bear that a little girls spots at a Christmas fair that is apparently alive and looking to land with a rich family. Other Christmas bookings include The Polar Express at Boston Common (Friday/Saturday/Monday/Tuesday); Elf at Boston Common (Friday/Saturday/Monday/Tuesday); Arthur Christmas at Arsenal Yards (Friday); A Bad Moms Christmas at Arsenal Yards (Friday/Saturday/Sunday); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Sunday/Monday/Tuesday) at Boston Common; the Jim Carrey Grinch at South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday & Wednesday; and the CGI Grinch at Boston Common (Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday).

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail has "quote-along" shows at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Kendall Square, Assembly Row on Sunday and Wednesday. The Abyss: Special Edition plays Wednesday at Boston Common (Dolby Cinema), South Bay (Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (Dolby Cinema), and Arsenal Yards (CWX). Waitress: The Musical starts a five-night run at Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill on Thursday. The Boy and the Heron has previews at Boston Common on Monday (Imax Xenon) and Wednesday.
  • Remember that bit about studios not really doing prestige pictures any more? Landmark Kendall Square has historically specialized in that but are leaning heavily on Netflix previews for those movies right now, with Maestro, Bradley Cooper's film about Leonard Bernstein (and Carey Mulligan as his wife/beard), joining May December and Leave the World Behind this weekend.

    They also have the first of a couple Christmas Retro Replays on Tuesday in Scrooged, and a $5 Yórgos Lánthimos catch-up screening of The Killing of a Sacred Deer on Wednesday.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport has one of my favorite's from this summer's Fantasia Festival, Raging Grace, playing once a day through Wednesday, with that final screening featuring director Paris Zarcilla for a live Q&A (which was pretty good in Montreal). It's a nifty thriller about an undocumented Filipina maid in the UK and her daughter who suspects her new job is too good to be true, as the woman who hired her may be poisoning her elderly uncle.

    Their calendar shows Saturday's "Movie Party" screening of The Polar Express, Sunday's movie brunch for The Holiday, and Tuesday's movie party of Elf as sold out, but there are tickets for Monday's 3D screening of I, The Jury, Tuesdays sensory-friendly show of The Bride of Frankenstein, and both The Holiday and The City of Lost Children on Wednesday.
  • Three new Indian movies at Apple Fresh Pond this week: Animal is a jumbo-sized action film starring Ranbir Kapoor as a man who lets his feral nature run free to avenge his father, with showtimes in Hindi and Tamil (Hindi and Telugu at Boston Common); Sam Bahadur is a Hindi-language film starring Vicky Kaushal as a General leading India's army during the war with Pakistan; and Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food is a Tamil-language film starring Nayanathara as a woman aiming to become a master chef despite coming from a very traditional family. Marathi-language comedy Jhimma 2 plays Saturday & Sunday, and Telugu-language family romance Hi Nanna opens on Wednesday
  • The Brattle Theatre has two new restorations this weekend: Victims of Sin, playing Friday to Monday, is a Mexican film noir/melodrama/musical from 1951 with Ninón Sevilla as a cabaret dancer who adopts an abandoned baby but must outwit the father when he is released from prison. A 35mm print of Messiah of Evil, a gonzo horror film celebrating its 50th anniversary, plays Friday to Sunday.

    There's also a special screening of Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow on 35mm Friday; it's based on a book by Ursula Parrott, and biographer Marsha Gordon will be there to introduce the film. On Sunday, they and RPM Festival welcome Douglas Urbank for "The Space Between", a program of his short films. There is also a quick Roald Dahl series, with a 35mm double feature of James and the Giant Peach & Fantastic Mr. Fox on Tuesday and The Witches alone on Thursday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre continues playing Napoleon on 70mm for the shows on the main screen, which isn't all of them this week, so check your showtime. Midnights are 35mm print of Night of the Living Dead on Friday and the original The Evil Dead on Saturday. Monday's Big Screen Classic is Being There, after which it's Big Screen Debuts: Christopher Nolan's Following on 35mm Tuesday, This Is Spinal Tap on Wednesday, and Eraserhead on 35mm Thursday, including a seminar led by BU professor Jonathan Foltz
  • The Museum of Fine Arts has Rise (En Corps), featuring ballerina Marion Barbeau in her acting debut as a dancer whose life in Paris crumbles, leading her to rediscover herself in Brittany, on Friday evening; the first of three encores from the most recent French Film Festival.
  • The Harvard Film Archive finishes "Under the Underground - The Visionary Cinema of Kanai Katsu" with presentations of The Kingdom and The Stormy Times on Friday night, both on 16mm film. Also wrapping is "Out of the Ashes - The US-ROK Alliance", with encore screenings of The Marines Who Never Returned (Friday) and Aimless Bullet (Sunday), plus a 35mm print of Female Boss on Sunday evening. On Monday, they have a special presentation of "The Oath of the Sword", a Japanese-American three-reeler from 1914 long thought lost but now restored on 35mm film, with Robert Humphreville providing a live soundtrack and post-film discussion with Denise Khor & Alexander Zahlten
  • The Regent Theatre has two encore screenings this week: Musical documentary Elis & Tom plays on Wednesday and adventure film package "Mountains on Stage" plays Thursday.
  • The Bright Lights selection on Thursday is Playland, a free-form film set at Boston's Playland Café that merges narrative, documentary, and fantasy. Writer/director Georden West will be on-hand for discussion. Free and open to the public.
  • The ICA will be presenting a package of Sundance Film Festival Shorts starting on Thursday.
  • The Museum of Science still has Oppenheimer on the dome on Friday and Saturday evenings
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Napoleon and The Holdovers.

    The West Newton Cinema also holds steady with Napoleon, Saltburn, The Holdovers, Trolls: Band Together, Eras (Friday to Sunday), and Barbie (no show Sunday/Thursday).

    Though not listed on their site, The Irish Film Festival is presenting documentary Between Worlds, a documentary on composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, on Sunday night. The screening is free but RSVPs are requested.

    The Luna Theater has Priscilla on Friday, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on Saturday, White Christmas on Sunday, Weirdo Wednesday, and a free UMass Lowell Philosophy & Film show of Night of the Living Dead on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem is open Friday to Monday with Trolls Band Together, The Holdovers and Napoleon, and Godzilla Minus One. The Salem Horror Festival has a special double feature of The Sacrifice Game & Satranic Panic on Sunday evening (note that The Sacrifice Game also pairs with The Holdovers, so maybe see that in the afternoon). There's also a special advance screening of Merry Good Enough, which was shot locally last year and will have filmmakers on hand for a Q&A.
I am tempted to hit the furniture store to see Godzilla on a genuine Imax screen, can't miss Silent Night, already have a ticket for I, The Jury, and will probably fit Victims of Sin, May December, and Following in as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 22 November 2023 - 30 November 2023

Ah, Thanksgiving, a great long weekend to see movies. And your family, but this blog is concerned with movies, and since most of them open on Wednesday this week, that's when we do this, even though some places haven't posted what they'll be showing this weekend yet.
  • The big release this weekend is Napoleon, Apple's second entry of the fall where they have a major filmmaker make an epic film in hopes of getting some awards love and maybe a little money. This time, it's Ridley Scott taking on the French Emperor with Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. The Coolidge Corner Theatre has a 70mm print; it's in various digital formats at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax), West Newton, Kendall Square, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon), the Causeway, the Seaport, South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Laser/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    The Coolidge continues Noirvember with Brick on Wednesday, a new restoration of The Night of the Hunter on Monday, with pre-film seminar by Kaj Wilson, and Blood Simple next Wednesday. There's a Kids' Show of The Lego Movie on Saturday & Sunday mornings (speaking of bricks). Saturday's midnight is Grindhouse on 35mm, at this moment notable for including the original fake-trailer version of Thanksgiving. On Thursday, there's another Big Screen Classic, with Sarah Keller giving a seminar before a 35mm print of Bringing Up Baby.
  • Wish is described as Disney's 100th Anniversary animation presentation, with Ariana DeBose as the voice of a girl who discovers a wishing star, which could undermine the the reign of Magnifico (voice of Chris Pine), who maintains a hold on granting wishes for the kingdom. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, The Embassy, West Newton, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), the Causeway (including RealD 3D), the Seaport (including 3D), South Bay (including Dolby Cinema 2D), Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also opening is Saltburn, Emerald Fennell's follow-up to Promising Young Woman which apparently riffs on The Talented Mr. Ripley with Barry Keoghan as an Oxford student from a working-class background who stays at a wealthy classmate's estate for the summer and, well, the rich are different. It's at the Somerville, the Coolidge, Kendall Square, Boston Common, the Causeway, the Seaport, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Dream Scenario expands to Assembly Row after opening last week at Kendall Square, Boston Common, and the Seaport.

    Christmas-oriented one-offs include Dr. Seuss's The Grinch at Boston Common (Friday/Wednesday the 29th) and Arsenal Yards (Friday/Saturday); Elf at Boston Common (Saturday/Tuesday); Violent Night at Arsenal Yards (Saturday), The Polar Express at Boston Common (Sunday), and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at Boston Common) (Tuesday).

    Documentary Triangle Park, based on the first NFL game, plays Boston Common Wednesday evening. There's an AMC Screen Unseen secret preview at their Boston Common and Assembly Row theaters on Monday. Wednesday the 29th has early previews for The Shift with live-streamed Q&A at Assembly Row, plus Godzilla Minus One at Boston Common (Imax Xenon), South Bay (Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (Imax Laser)
  • Landmark Kendall Square picks up a second Netflix preview to go with May December, with Leave the World Behind featuring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali colliding at an AirBNB during what may be a massive cyberattack.

    Tuesday's "Thanks for Hanks" show is Sleepless in Seattle, and the Yórgos Lánthimos movie on Wednesday the 29th is the Lobster.
  • Thanksgiving is not an Indian holiday, so Apple Fresh Pond opens their movies on the usual Friday schedule, with four new ones: Dhruva Natchathiram Chapter 1: Yuddha Kaandam is a Tamil-language action movie starring Vikram as an undercover cop in New York trying to rescue his unit's captain; Sound Party is a Telugu-language family comedy about a not-so-bright father/son pair whose restaurant is being shut down; Aadikeshava (also at Boston Common) is an action movie whose hero has a chirpy lady sidekick; Kota bommali PS, also in Telugu, has three cops framed for murder. The latter two only play through Sunday.

    Telugu slasher Mangalavaaram wraps at Fresh Pond on Wednesday, Kannada-language drama Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side B and Tiger 3 play Fresh Pond through Thursday, the latter sticking around Boston Common for the next week.

    Vietnamese drama Song of the South (Dat Rung Phuong Nam) plays at South Bay; it may raise eyebrows from its English name, but it's based on a fairly well-known book by Doan Gioi about a kid in the colonial period seeking his missing father.
  • The Brattle Theatre has a special screening of the new restoration of JFK assassination documentary Rush to Judgment on Wednesday, as well as the end of their "Give Thanks to Tupac" series, Poetic Justice.

    On Thanksgiving, they kick off "Lost in Alphaville", which looks at the overlap between science fiction and film noir, starting with a double feature of Alphaville itself & Blade Runner: The Final Cut on Thursday & Friday, Kiss Me Deadly on Saturday (second feature Split Second is unfortunately canceled), The Anderson Tapes (35mm) & The Conversation on Sunday, The Net (35mm) & Johnny Mnemonic (the new B&W version) on Monday, Ex Machina on Tuesday, Seconds & Possessor next Wednesday, and Caché (35mm) & Lost Highway next Wednesday.

    There's also a free "Elements of Cinema" show of Real Women Have Curves on Tuesday, playing on 35mm with post-film discussion.
  • The Somerville Theatre picks up what is presumably the 35mm print of The Holdovers that has been playing at the Coolidge (after playing a preview at the Somerville), and will be using it for their shows Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and probably just those four days - there's a concert Friday, and then it looks like they're making the main room ready for The Slutcracker. They also have a 35mm screening of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure on Saturday afternoon, with clips from Pee-Wee's Playhouse before and a big post-screening show upstairs at the Crystal Ballroom, including comedy, drag, and live music.
  • The Museum of Science has Oppenheimer on the dome on Friday and Saturday evenings, with "The Heart of New England", "Jane Goodall - Reasons for Hope", "Everest", and "Train Time" taking the other slots.
  • The Harvard Film Archive is dark while the students are on break, but returns Monday with an "Under the Underground - The Visionary Cinema of Kanai Katsu", show of Good-Bye on 35mm.
  • Bright Lights is also off on Thanksgiving night, but returns on the 30th with Lakota Nation vs The United States with post-film discussion. Free and open to the public.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport shows every time as sold out through Sunday, although I suppose it's possible some may open up, because there are whole rows not being sold for most of these shows as they staff up. In addition to the wide releases, their calendar shows the new restoration of Fulci's The House by the Cemetery on Friday & Saturday, a brunch show of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on Sunday, and Fantasia selection A Disturbance in the Force (a documentary on the Star Wars Holiday Special) on Tuesday & Wednesday, and the start of a run of one I really liked at Fantasia, Raging Grace, on Thursday.
  • The Lexington Venue is open Friday to Sunday with Napoleon and The Holdovers.

    The West Newton Cinema picks up Napoleon and Saltburn, keeping The Holdovers, Trolls: Band Together, Eras (Thursday to Sunday), and Barbie (no show Thanksgiving).

    The Luna Theater has Weirdo Wednesdays on the 22nd & 29th, Elf on Friday the 24th and Sunday, and Priscilla on Saturday.

    Cinema Salem is open Wednesday to Monday with Trolls Band Together and Thanksgiving. The Marvels and Priscilla play Wednesday and Thursday, with The Holdovers and Napoleon opening Friday. Friday also has a Night Light show of C.H.U.D..
Quick trip to Maine on Thursday, but around that, Napoleon in 70mm, Wish, Saltburn, May December, Alphaville, The Anderson Tapes, Leave the World Behind, and maybe Johnny Mnemonic

Friday, November 17, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 17 November 2023 - 21 November 2023

Man, it looks like the fire inspectors in Boston got their act together or something, because not only is Friday (re) opening day for the Alamo Drafthouse in the Seaport, but AMC apparently got the doors back open on Causeway Street on Thursday. By my count they're not quite playing to capacity yet, and we're still down Fenway since the start of the pandemic (to say nothing of the Showcase in Revere or the Belmont Studio), but this is 20+ screens more in the city than we had last week, which will hopefully translate to more fun things to see on top of more places three T stops apart to see the same movies.
  • We could use more screens, because it's a big weekend for openings, with the big releases all sequels or remakes of sorts. The biggest is probably The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel set in the early years of Panem and the titular deathmatch, with Rachel Zegler a cockier tribute, Tom Blyth as the seemingly-decent guy who will age into being Donald Sutherland, and Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Jason Schwartzmann running the show. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax), Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema), Causeway Street, Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay (including Imax/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (in Imax Laser/Dolby Cinema), Arsenal Yards (CWX), and Chestnut Hill.

    Trolls: Band Together is the third in that series, whose musical pair must reunite their families (with part of the fun being that the family of the guy voiced by Justin Timberlake is voiced by the other members of N*Sync, with new music on the soundtrack for the first time in years). It's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema 2D/RealD 3D), Causeway Street (including RealD 3D), the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row (including RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill. There's also "Concert Experience" shows at Assembly Row on Saturday and Sunday.

    Taika Waititi adapts a documentary I quite enjoyed to the fiction feature Next Goal Wins, with Michael Fassbender as a soccer coach hired to steer the American Samoa National Team, which famously has never scored a goal in international play and once got creamed 31-0 by Australia. It's at the Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Causeway Street,Kendall Square, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards. And Eli Roth takes the fake trailer he made for Grindhouse and expands it into Thanksgiving, where a pilgrim-masked maniac stalks Plymouth as revenge for a Black Friday trampling. That plays Fresh Pond, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, Causeway Street, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    The Holdovers expands to The Embassy, the Lexington Venue, West Newton, Causeway Street, and South Bay; it is already playing at the Coolidge (some shows 35mm), the Somerville, Boston Common, Kendall Square, Assembly Row, and Chestnut Hill.

    Disney's latest animated feature, Wish, has early-access shows at Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Saturday. There are 25th Anniversary screenings of Saving Private Ryan at Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row on Sunday and Monday, plus Arsenal Yards on Monday only. Billy Idol: State Line at Hoover Dam has an encore show at Boston Common on Sunday.
  • The Netflix preview at Landmark Kendall Square this week is May December, the new film from Todd Haynes, which features Julianne Moore as a woman whose scandalous affair with a younger man was a tabloid sensation twenty years earlier and Natalie Portman as the actress who has come to research her for her part in the movie about the affair.

    Dream Scenario opens at Kendall Square, Boston Common, and the Seaport in limited release before going wide later; it stars Nicholas Cage as a nebbishy professor who inexplicably starts appearing in people's dreams, although these merely odd cameos become more sinister as he becomes aware of them and embraces the notoriety. Interestingly, director Kristoffer Borgli's previous film about poisonous fame, Sick of Myself, played BUFF earlier this year, which makes for a fast turnaround for his first American picture.

    Tuesday's "Give Hanks!" show at Kendall Square is A League of Their Own.
  • Apple Fresh Pond has two new ones from India this post-Diwali week: Mangalavaaram is a Telugu-language slasher, while Kannada-language Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side B is a ten-years-later follow-up to Side A (which played two months ago), with the first film's couple crossing paths again after one served a prison sentence. Jigarthanda DoubleX continues at Fresh Pond, with Tiger 3 held over at Fresh Pond and Boston Common.

    Chinese drama Be My Family, in which two brothers must care for the daughter of the man who holds the mortgage on their family business, opens at Causeway Street, although it looks to just be around until Monday. Chinese legal thriller Last Suspect continues to play Boston Common.

    Vietnamese film LIVE (Phat Truc Tiep), set among the country's live-streaming "mukbangers", has a very limited release at South Bay, with matinee shows on Friday, Sunday, and Monday.
  • The New England Aquarium adds "Arctic: Our Frozen Planet" to their rotation of 3D Imax films, including "Blue Whales: Return of the Giants", "Great White Shark", "Incredible Predators", and "Secrets of the Sea".
  • The Brattle Theatre hosts Wicked Queer Docs from Friday through Monday, a full weekend and then some of enough queer-themed documentaries to make up an auxiliary film festival. The festival also has screenings at the MFA on Saturday and streaming encores beginning on Tuesday.

    The Brattle also has a quick "Give Thanks to Tupac" series before the holiday, with Gridlock'd & Juice on Tuesday and Poetic Justice on Wednesday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre is pretty quiet this week, prepping for the big Thanksgiving weekend, which is probably why The Killer can hang around for the last two 35mm Fincher midnights, with Panic Room on Friday and Zodiac a bit early (11:30pm) on Saturday. Sunday morning has a Goethe-Institut presentation of Alaska, while a 35mm print of Kurosawa's High and Low plays that afternoon as part of Noirvember. A Woman Under the Influence is Monday's Big Screen Classic.
  • The Somerville Theatre has a busy Saturday, with a $5 Attack of the B-Movies double feature of Catwomen of the Moon & Missile to the Moon in the afternoon (and an encore Tuesday evening), Sleepaway Camp with post-film discussion in the evening, and Divinity on 35mm film at midnight (the last midnight of the year). On Sunday, they've got Farewell My Concubine playing on the big screen in 4K
  • The Harvard Film Archive continues "Out of the Ashes: The US-ROK Alliance & South Korean Cinema" with Madame Freedom (Friday with introduction/Sunday), The Hand of Destiny (35mm Sunday), and Aimless Bullet (Monday). They also begin a new series, "Under the Underground - The Visionary Cinema of Kanai Katsu", with a 35mm print of The Deserted Archipelago on Saturday, preceded by "Holy Theater".
  • The Museum of Fine Arts plays About Dry Grass, a Turkish feature about teachers in Anatolia, on Friday evening, although the show is listed as sold out. It's presented in conjunction with the Boston Turkish Festival, whose Short Film & Documentary Competition has 26 finalists available to stream online starting Saturday.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse Seaport appears to have completely sold out its opening weekend - which, I won't lie, is a sentence I couldn't imagine saying about this theater under previous management; I never saw a crowd there when it was a Showplace Icon location - so this is kind of a reminder to those who already have tickets and to regularly check their calendar for stuff you might dig, because some of the screens where they're showing the off-the-beaten-path stuff apparently only seat 30. This week, that rep/limited material includes Cat Person, a thriller about a college student dating an older man she met online, once a day from Friday to Tuesday; The Iron Giant on Friday & Saturday; Gregg Akari's Nowhere (never available on DVD/streaming in the USA) on Friday, Neil Breen's Cade: The Tortured Crossing on Saturday & Monday; Elf and The Bling Ring on Sunday; and The Servant on Monday.
  • The West Newton Cinema is apparently only open through Sunday this week, with The Holdovers and Trolls: Band Together joining The Marvels, Killers of the Flower Moon, Eras, Paw Patrol (no show Friday), and Barbie.

    The Lexington Venue has The Eras Tour (Friday/Saturday) and The Holdovers (Friday to Sunday).

    The Luna Theater has Anatomy of a Fall on Friday and Saturday, Stop Making Sense and Dicks The Musical on Saturday, Zardoz on Sunday, and the weekly Weirdo Wednesday show.

    Cinema Salem keeps The Marvels and Priscilla while opening Trolls Band Together and Thanksgiving for regular shows through Monday.
So, I did manage to snag tickets for Nowhere and The Servant at the Seaport, and Be My Family as a reason to check out the Causeway (including whether it's even got a working concession stand, as you can't order snacks ahead on the app). I'll likely try to catch May December, Dream Scenario, and maybe Next Goal Wins, although there's even more turnover coming with the Wednesday openings before Thanksgiving.