Friday, April 28, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 28 April 2023 - 4 May 2023

It's festival week, so pick your poison. Which may happen to be "what can maybe do something for a week or two before the big Marvel movie wipes things out".
  • Independent Film Festival 2023 keeps going on, having all three screens at the Somerville plus the Brattle through Tuesday, and then closing at the Coolidge with Past Lives on Wednesday. Some of the scheduling is a bit unusual - slots where there's just one movie, early starts on Monday and Tuesday - so check the schedule carefully and remember that the T is probably still making the Red Line slower than usual if a day includes getting from Davis to Harvard or back.
  • Perhaps the biggest opening of the week is Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., an adaptation of Judy Blume's young-adult novel - maybe the first YA novel to really attain "classic" status? - from director Kelly Fremon Craig, with Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret and Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Benny Safdie in the grown-up roles. It's at Coolidge Corner, the Capitol, Fresh Pond, West Newton, Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    Also opening is Big George Foreman, a religious-skewing biography with Khris Davis as the legendary boxer, Forest Whitaker as his trainer, and George Tillman Jr. directing. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, South Bay, Arsenal Yards, and Assembly Row.

    Sisu gets a pretty big opening for a Finnish film, but it's an over-the-top action flick about a veteran who strikes gold during the Lapland War and has to fight his way through a ton of Nazis to get it to town. It's at Boston Common (Dolby Cinema), Kendall Square, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), and Assembly Row (Dolby Cinema).

    Return of the Jedi returns to theaters for a 40th anniversary run leading into May the Fourth, playing at Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row. Flashdance also celebrates its 40th, playing South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Sunday. Documentary Nuclear Now, an advocacy thing directed by Oliver Stone, plays Boston Common on Monday; mental-health/disability doc plays Boston Common Wednesday & Thursday. Boston Common and South Bay have an Imax Guardians of the Galaxy Marathon, featuring all three films but probably not the Christmas special from the runtime, on Wednesday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre and Boston Common pick up Polite Society, in which a Desi London teen who dreams of being a stuntwoman decides to rescue her older sister from the family she's marrying into by proving they are up to no good.

    Midnights at the Coolidge this weekend, come from Stan Winston, with a 35mm print of Pumpkinhead with an intro-via-Zoom from Winston's son Matt on Friday and A Gnome Named Gnorm on Saturday. They start May's Jim Jarmusch rep series on Tuesday with a 35mm print of Stranger Than Paradise, while Thursday's Big Screen Classic is a new restoration of A Place in the Sun.
  • The weekend's big opening from India is Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two (aka PS-2), the second part of a historical epic whose first entry came out about six months ago. Apple Fresh Pond has both Tamil and Telugu showtimes, while Boston Common's Tamil showtimes include Imax screenings. Fresh Pond also opens Agent, a Telugu-language spy thriller, and Pacachuvum Albhuthavilakkum, a Malayalam road-trip comedy. Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan and Virupaksha also continue at Fresh Pond.

    Born to Fly his Boston Common the same day it opens in China; it features Wang Yibo and Zhou Dongyu and was originally meant to come out six months ago as a response to Top Gun: Maverick, but got pulled back to have its effects work upgraded once folks actually saw Maverick.

    Anime Suzume continues at the Coolidge, Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards. It's subtitled-only, by and large, so check before reserving tickets. The Ghibli-fest selection this week is Spirited Away, playing Boston Common Tuesday (subtitled).
  • Landmark Theatres Kendall Square has the new(ish) film from François Ozon, Everything Went Fine, featuring Sophie Marceau as a woman whose father has recently had a stroke and asks her to help and his life. Ozon has had two more films released in France since this one, but apparently French art-house films still take their time crossing the Atlantic.

    The Tuesday Retro Replay is Taxi Driver, the first of a Scorsese/De Niro series for May.
  • Jordan's Furniture has Avatar: The Way of Water back on the giant Imax screens in Reading & Natick for the weekend, and will be open Thursday for Guardians 3.
  • The Somerville Theatre is all IFFBoston, all the time through Tuesday, but hosts the Fly Fishing Film Tour on Thursday. One of the films features local fly-fishers, who will be there along with a local guide service for a meet-and-greet.

    The Capitol teams with "Monstahxpo" and The Spooky Picture Show for an anniversary screening of Night of the Demons on Friday night, with star/horror icon Linnea Quigley on hand.
  • The Brattle Theatre is hosting IFFBoston until Tuesday, but has Rogue One on Wednesday and Thursday for "May the Fourth".
  • The Harvard Film Archive is taking a break this weekend, but has two programs of student films at 7pm Friday and noon Saturday.
  • Belmont World Film streams Chile '76 through Sunday, with an in-person screening at Arsenal Yards on Monday (including guest speaker Juan Mandelbaum). French/Spanish thriller The Beasts begins streaming on Tuesday, ahead of its in-person show next week.
  • Joe's Free Films shows an early outdoor screening with Ten Things I Hate About You on the lawn at Tufts Friday night; the school is also showing student films Monday to Thursday.
  • Wicked Queer continues to stream some encores through Sunday night.
  • The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday with Air and Chevalier.

    The West Newton Cinema opens Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret and Beau Is Afraid, otherwise slimming down to Chevalier, Air, Super Mario Brothers, and Everything Everywhere All at Once. Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater appears quiet, with John Carpenter's original Halloween on Sunday (halfway there!) and a free UMass Lowell "Philosophy and Film" presentation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Thursday the only things on the website.

    Cinema Salem is primarily hosting the Salem Horror Fest from Friday to Sunday, but also has How to Blow Up a Pipeline and Super Mario Bros. through Monday. They're "May the Fourth" presentation is Mel Brooks's Spaceballs on Thursday.
The festival is eating all my time through Wednesday, and then I probably won't have a chance to catch a matinee before heading on on vacation on Thursday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Say I Do to Me

Huh, just two weeks after the last Chinese movie about social media deception to arrive in Boston months after playing its native territory, but with only crappy showtimes. I half-wonder if someone at AMC's booking department looked at the surprisingly good turn-out for Post Truth that day and said, okay, let's try that again, even if Hong Kong movies generally don't do as well as mainland ones there.

The "Hong Kong movies" of it is what attracted me a little more; director Kiwi Chow Kwun-Wai was one of the filmmakers who made Ten Years back in 2015 and also Revolution of Our Times more recently, with the former causing the People's Republic to have a censorious meltdown, not just refusing to broadcast the Hong Kong Film Awards that year and then cutting away the next at another film one of the contributors directed. It's got Chapman To Man-Chat as presenter, one of the more unambiguously pro-democracy folks in the Hong Kong film scene, to the point where he's more or less blackballed (I've read he's working in Taiwan, but nothing that has made it into IMDB or the like; maybe he's doing theater). There are also a ton of logos in front of the film, and not knowing where the distributors stop and the production companies start, it seems entirely possible that this was produced in part by one of the two companies in Texas among those logos.

As you might expect, this has not been released in the People's Republic and probably won't be, although a little digging suggests Chow and some of his collaborators are no longer as radioactive as they might have been in the immediate wake of Ten Years. The amusing part of this is that it's a pretty darn innocuous movie; not getting anywhere close to something like The Sparring Partner in terms of commentary that might rub the PRC the wrong way.

It is a bit of a messy movie, but like with The Sparring Partner and a few other recent HK flicks that have made it here, it's exciting to see this younger generation of filmmakers emerging in the place after so many people seemed to have their eye on the mainland and the reduced backing available for strictly local productions seemed to center on established names. There are some growing pains, but this seems to be an exciting time for Hong Kong cinema.

Jatjan fanlai (Say I Do to Me)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 23 April 2023 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run; DCP)

Say I Do to Me is far from the first youth-oriented movie that makes me wonder if I am too old to understand YouTube/streaming culture at all, and given that it's here to stay, it probably won't be the last. There's something kind of interesting in that, and maybe instructive: When you think of the great romantic comedies, they're often the works of old pros and increasingly feature middle-aged or senior citizen protagonists, but movies like this feature young characters in situations their parents don't really understand. It's messily current rather than sweetly nostalgic, and maybe that's better.

It opens introducing the idea of "sologamy", a sort of self-wedding or pledge to love oneself, before introducing Ping Cheung (Sabrina Ng Ping), a cute twenty-ish YouTuber planning her own. She's not alone in this project, though - she has an off-screen boyfriend, Dickson (Kelvin Chan Kin-Long), who works the camera and edits her videos - and they're seeking sponsors as well as views. Enter Charles Ko (Mixon Wong), the handsome heir to a local hotel chain looking for something to tie in to their "Be You" slogan; Lok Yee (Candy Lo Hau-Yam), a florist with OCD supported by husband Kenneth (Gregory Wong Chung-Yiu); and Daniel (Tong Hoo Yin), a Christian with a long-term crush on Ping, helping her find a venue.

Filmmaker Kiwi Chow Kwun-Wai and co-writers Frankie Chung Wang-Kit & Isis Tso Yin-Sin set up a strong romantic comedy premise in the opening stretch - as soon as Ping meets Charles, there's an immediate spark even before his assistant Kitty (J Lou) all but uses the words "I've always loved you, stupid" - but they want to do more, winding up with a lot more characters than they need and kind of fuzzy ideas about what self-confidence and authenticity mean in their situations. What could be a fast-paced farce or increasingly complicated love triangle bogs down and loses track of its destination. The film also kind of grinds to a halt with a long flashback that explains a lot of the plot but doesn't flesh out the characters.

And yet, Sabrina Ng Ping is still kind of terrific, a manic pixie dream girl with her own inner life who may be using "cute" to shield herself from heavier things and is just getting a handle on how separate but intertwined her online persona and true self is, especially when you dig into her relationship with a mother (Isabel Chan Yat-Ning) who is apparently a star of some sort herself has always made Ping call her "Big Sis". Ping is charming and sweet and kind of a wrecking ball because she doesn't necessarily have that sense of when to be honest and when to put up artifice, and Ng handles all that pretty well for someone plucked off the same sort of streams as her character. She doesn't really have a lot of people working on the same level - Candy Lo Hau-Yam and Gregory Wong Chung-Yiu are nice as Yee & Kenneth, but more interesting together than as sort of a side story in Ping's orbit, and the evasive heart-to-heart with Isabel Chan Yat-Ning's immature mother/big-sis Stephanie is good enough to make one want that relationship closer to the center of the movie. None of the guys meant to be romantic interests really seem like full people, though Mixon Wong is at least given something to work with as Charles, while Chan Kin-Long and Tong Hoo Yin are just okay as Dickson and Daniel.

It's odd that Kiwi Chow's last credit was the Hong Kong protest documentary Revolution of Our Times - both because he and his anonymous collaborators were often able to piece together something thrilling and as kinetic as any Hong Kong action movie out of available footage and because he seems to push for the anti-gritty here: The whole film is bright colors, cheerful (literal) clowning around, and lots of scenes taking place in fancy hotel suites or a one of those studio apartments with room for a camera to move around despite it being stuffed with pop culture knick knacks that have become a bit of a cliché in Hong Kong comedies of late, and that's well and good. It's just strange that Chow often kind of muffs telling the story through people doing things - there's a sequence with Dickson following Ping's first meeting with Charles via a drone that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and by the time characters are actually throwing cakes at each other, it feels like we're just supposed to laugh at how they've actually gone for a cake fight most of the time rather than blocking and staging the slapstick to really work.

I get it, in a way; a lot of folks involved here have been protesting and sounding alarms and both want and deserve to get their silly sides out. And for the most part, this is a fun ensemble and an agreeably bright, whimsical take on young Hong Kongers, and both the film's big ideas and romcom instincts are solid. Those two elements are often working at cross purposes, though, instead of building each other up, and it sure feels like it could have been much better.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 21 April 2023 - 27 April 2023

Is it IFFBoston season already? Time is flying, and not just because I've probably overbooked myself for some stuff coming up.
  • To answer the rhetorical question first, yes, Independent Film Festival 2023, the twentieth annual event (give or take a global pandemic) kicks off at the Somerville Theatre this coming Wednesday with Love to Love You, Donna Summer, with director Brooklyn Sudano expected to be on-hand and a Donna Summer dance party at the Crystal Ballroom upstairs afterward. On Thursday, the Somerville starts playing shorts, as well as features All Men Are Wicked, Stephen Curry: Underrated, and Free Time, while the Brattle has Master Gardener and Charcoal. After that, the festival continues for most of the next week, until Wednesday the 3rd.
  • A jumbo-sized film from Ari Aster, Beau Is Afraid, opens at Boston Common (including Imax Xenon), Kendall Square, South Bay, and Assembly Row; it features Joaquin Phoenix as a man with tremendous mother issues and fear of the world around him, with his attempt to visit her becoming a strange odyssey.

    The latest attempt to revive Sam Raimi's horror series, Evil Dead Rise, has the Necronomicon transforming a recently deceased mother into a Deadite, her family trapped in a high-rise apartment building with her. It comes from Lee Cronin, whose The Hole in the Ground was pretty good if a different sort of flick. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common (including Dolby Cinema), South Bay, Assembly Row (including Dolby Cinema), and Arsenal Yards.

    Director Guy Ritchie gets his name tacked on the front of The Covenant, a wartime thriller that has Jake Gyllenhaal as a US Army officer looking to rescue the Afghan interpreter (Dar Salim) and his family who hid him. It's at Boston Common, Kendall Square, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row, and Chestnut Hill.

    Boston Common gets Somewhere In Queens, with star Ray Romano writing and directing in addition to playing a man who throws himself into helping his son attain a basketball scholarship after previously dismissing college as an option; Laurie Metcalf plays his wife. They also play To Catch a Killer, with Shailene Woodley as a misfit uniformed cop recruited by and FBI agent (Ben Mendelsohn) to help capture a serial killer. Boston Common and South Bay re-open Avatar: The Way of Water in 3D.

    Concert film Coldplay - Music of the Spheres: Live at River Plate encores at Kendall Square, Boston Common, Assembly Row on Sunday. Fortieth-anniversary screenings of Flashdance play Assembly Row, South Bay, Arsenal Yards on Wednesday. There are preview screenings of Polite Society at Boston Common on Saturday, Sisu at Boston Common on Monday.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Capitol, West Newton, the Lexington Venue, Boston Common, and Kendall Square all pick up Chevalier, starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. as a Black musician who climbed high in Parisian society before throwing his lot in with the Revolution.

    The Coolidge also has late-afternoon shows of documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything, for those who would like more stories of great musicians, this one focusing on the man Elvis called the true king of rock & roll. The weekend's midnights include 35mm prints of Aliens on Friday and The Relic on Saturday, which is maybe not quite so obvious a pattern. Buried dangerous things? Monday's Big Screen Classic is the director's cut of Eve's Bayou, with Globe critic Odie Henderson giving an optional pre-screening seminar. Tuesday's anime presentation is Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue (the 7pm show sold out, but a second is scheduled for 9:45), while Mamoru Hosoda's lates, Belle, closes out the series on Wednesday (though Suzume is still playing).
  • Apple Fresh Pond turns over their South Asian selection for Eid, with the big opening Hindi action-romantic-comedy on Friday being Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, with Salman Khan as the oldest of several brothers who has opted not to marry in order to fight crime, so his brothers try to set him up because they're ready and you apparently do these things in order. There's also Telugu thriller Virupaksha, with the investigation of various occult-related deaths, and Malayalam haunted house movie Neelavelicham. They appear to be bringing back The Legend (or opening a remake) starting Saturday, about a foreign-educated philanthropist fighting a local mafioso.

    For Urdu/Pakistani audiences, there The Legend of Maula Jatt on Friday and Money Back Guarantee on Saturday and Sunday.

    Hong Kong comedy Say I Do to Me, featuring Ng Ping as a vlogger who arranges a "wedding to herself" for clout only to have it actually result in some self-discovery. Interestingly, director Kiwi Chow Kwun-wai also worked on Ten Years and Revolution of Our Times, which means this getting a prime Lunar New Year release in Hong Kong (and playing here) kind of surprising.

    Anime hit Suzume continues at the Coolidge, Boston Common (including Imax), South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards. Subtitled and dubbed showtimes in many locations, so check before reserving tickets. The Ghibli-fest selection this week is the Japanese stage production of Spirited Away, playing Boston Common Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday
  • The Retro Replay at Landmark Theatres Kendall Square this week is Woman of the Year, the first romantic comedy to pair Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, here playing married newspaper reporters.
  • As is traditional, The Brattle Theatre more than bides their time until IFFBoston with the rest of The Emperor & the Wolf: The Films of Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune. This week's 35mm presentations of The Hidden Fortress & Throne of Blood on Friday, Red Beard on Saturday, Seven Samurai on Saturday and Sunday, The Lower Depths on Sunday, I Live in Fear on Tuesday, and a twin bill of Yojimbo and sequel Sanjuro on Wednesday.

    On Monday, they have a free screening (RSVP required) of Oscar-winning documentary Navalny presented by the Shorenstein Center of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with a post-film discussion.
  • The Harvard Film Archive begins Still LIfe with Hong Sangsoo this weekend, featuring the prolific Korean director's most recent seven films, reaching back to 2018 (there was a pandemic in there to slow him down, after all). This week's selections are Walk Up (Friday/Sunday), Introduction (Friday), and In Front of Your Face (Sunday). They also have one from Med Hondo, with Fatima, the Algerian Woman of Dakar playing Monday on 35mm film.
  • Joe's Free Films shows "BlackBox" film Festival at BU on Friday and Femocracy at Goethe-Institut on Wednesday.
  • The Somerville Theatre again has live events in the main room before IFFBoston, which mean's Saturday's Midnight Special of Caged Heat is downstairs on screen #3.

    The Capitol wraps its April vacation film series with DC League of Superpets Friday through Sunday, and also picks up Refield when the festival bumps it from Somerville on Wednesday.
  • Wicked Queer pops back up for one last in-person screening, with Lie With Me playing at the French Library on Friday evening, and still has virtual encores of many of this year's festival selections available to stream through the end of April.
  • Boston Jewish Film has a special screening of Vishnaic at West Newton on Sunday for Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a Zoom Q&A with filmmaker Laura Bialis afterward.
  • Belmont World Film continues to stream Farewell Mr. Haffmann through Sunday, before the series moves to Arsenal Yards for its second half with an in-person screening on Monday. The next film in the series, Chile '76, begins streaming Tuesday night.
  • GlobeDocs has a virtual screening and discussion of Sacred Cow: The Nutritional, Environmental, and Ethical Case for Better Meat; RSVP for a link to watch the film over the weekend and then join the discussion on Monday afternoon.
  • The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday with Air and Chevalier.

    The West Newton Cinema adds Chevalier to Air, Super Mario Brothers, Dungeons & Dragons, Women Talking (Saturday), A Man Called Otto, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans. They also screen An Egypt Affair, a location-shot thriller by a director apparently best known for travel films, on Thursday, preceded by a short written and directed by that film's screenwriter, "Love Don't Fade Away". Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Little Richard: I Am Everything on Friday and Saturday; Paint on Saturday, Enys Men Saturday evening, The Birds on Sunday, and a Weirdo Wednesday mystery show.

    Cinema Salem is open through Monday with How to Blow Up a Pipeline and Super Mario Bros.. They also play host to the Salem Horror Fest from Friday to Sunday. I don't know that I can make it out, but a friend co-wrote the "Bruja" segment in anthology feature Pendulum, so check that out if Salem is more doable for you than it is for me!.
So much to see/catch up with even if I skip all the Kurosawa and Perfect Blue! I am intrigued by Say I Do to Me, Evil Dead Rise, Farewell Mr. Haffmann, and Little Richard and would normally go for The Covenant and Beau Is Afraid in their first weekends, but it's just too busy before even thinking of getting out to Salem.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Suzume, and Makoto Shinkai becoming the one of biggest names in anime

I mentioned in the "Next Week" post that it's kind of crazy to me that Makoto Shinkai is such a big deal now. I saw The Place Promised in Our Early Years at the first Fantasia festival I attended, and "Voices of a Distant Star" soon afterward (in my head, it's in the other order, but nope), and really liked them, although I didn't imagine that Shinkai would blow up like he has. It was much more a feeling of finding the guy who is totally on your wavelength when such things seem rare than getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing.

(As an aside, I recently found out that another movie I saw at that first trip to Montreal, Please Teach Me English, is having a 20-year-anniversary Blu=ray release in South Korea, making me wonder if I'd really been doing this for so long. I haven't - it had a November 2003 release in its native land and then bounced around the festival circuit for some time after that, until it played Fantasia in mid-2005. Things worked differently, then, in that local distributors might watch how things played at festivals and then make deals even at that late date, because the lack of social media with automated translation meant territories could be siloed from all but the most rabid enthusiasts abroad, and there weren't big global companies grabbing worldwide rights to things pre-release. In a lot of ways today is better, because there is so much access, but it's probably not as stable.)

You could see the enthusiasm building for Shinkai, though - after being gobsmacked by just how he edited 5 Centimeters per Second, I remember putting Children Who Chase Lost Voices on the top of my list of things to see at Fantasia a few years later, while some friends thought it looked interesting and came out slack-jawed, like they'd seen the heir to Hayao Miyazaki. After that, "The Garden of Words" was a smaller project, but attracted a ton of interest, and then Your Name hit and his career entered a new phase.

If you look at the posters for Your Name, Weathering with You, and Suzume, you can see that the marketing departments have hit upon a look that is probably meant to signal "from the director of Your Name" at just a glance, but it goes deeper than that. "The Garden of Words" is the first time I recall the really fanatical real-world detail that became a hallmark of Shinkai's style, but it's with Your Name that he found the formula that's kind of been repeating, of young people falling in love in a world that increasingly seems to be teetering on the brink of destruction. It's probably the first film he initiated work on after the Fukushima disaster, and like a lot of other Japanese genre pictures, it reflects that event even if it doesn't mention it. Young people around the world are looking at potential climate disasters and other things that could bring the world to a tipping point, but the Japanese have recently lived through one, and movies like Shinkai's that both assure them that there's something they can do and say that it's still worth caring about everything else are likely very welcome.

Even as Suzume is Shinkai's most Miyazaki-like film since Lost Voices, it's still very much his, grounded in the modern and looking toward the present and future than some imagined or mythical past when mankind and nature were in harmony, and I must admit, I'm starting to wonder if these three movies will start to blur together a bit over time. It might be a good moment for Shinkai to shake things up a bit with his next film.

On the other hand, I'm curious about how long it will be until theaters start doing Shinkai series the way they do Ghibli ones now. He's only got five features (and two that aren't quite feature length but could be paired), but they skew slightly older, and maybe they'd be good for the Ghibli off-season - fall/winter compared to Miyazaki's spring/summer.

Suzume no tojimari (Suzume)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 15 April 2023 in AMC Boston Common #2 (first-run; subtitled Imax Xenon)

So, just literally saying your movies are in Miyazaki-town now, huh, Shinkai? Is that how it is?

"Miyazaki" is, in fact, the name of the town where Suzume opens, and where the title character (voice of Nanoka Hara) lives with her aunt Tamaki (voice of Eri Fukatsu). One morning on the way to school, she meets a young man, Souta (voice of Hukoto Matsumura) who is looking for a ruin, pointing him to an abandoned district. Curious, she cuts class to see what that's all about, only to find a mysterious door in the middle of a one-time bathhouse, and something unearthly on the other side. Her actions lead to a giant "worm" which only she and Souta can see emerging, as well as the appearance of a mysterious talking cat (voice of Ann Yamane). That's when things get really weird, as "Daijin" makes Souta disappear but an old three-legged chair built by her late mom becomes animated with his spirit, and the pair chase the cat (photogenic enough that it becomes a social-media hashtag they can follow) across Japan, with other doors opening it its wake.

There are, of course, worse places to be and modes to operate in than those that recall Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator that even those with no taste for genre material tend to recognize as a master, especially since this is very much Makoto Shinkai's take on this sort of fantasy: Yes, it's a coming of age story with a determined heroine encountering creatures that are cute and powerful without it being cloying, a recognizable house style and strong fundamentals, but Shinkai's films are different than Miyazaki's: This is modern, sharply rendered, and looking back just enough to get one's bearings to eventually move forward. If Shinkai switches things up with his next film, this will form a fine trilogy with Your Name and Weathering with You as three tales of young love flourishing despite the twenty-first century feeling like unusually apocalyptic times.

And as one might expect, he's got some of the work of this down to a science. Suzume is a girl with a practical ponytail and a tendency to hurdle over obstacles right from the start, simple animation choices that define who she is rather than what's happened to her quickly, even though she could easily feel like her whole personality is defined by her traumatic past. The filmmakers get a huge amount of personality from a sentient three-legged chair without a lot of outright cartooning; chair-Souta moves frantically and if his "face" is unmoving, the character always comes across as one that would narrate his frustration or overestimate his capacity (while underestimating Suzume's) even in his cursed state. A cat's tail resembles a hand just enough to let her emote a little more, and Radwimps contributes another score that feels earnest and poppy but ramps up to epic nicely.

I do think Shinkai falls into a trap of giving the audience the ending it wants rather than going where the story was leading here, like he was nervous about leading up to "you can handle what life throws at you because of what you bring" as opposed to having someone else by her side, almost to the point of self-awareness, as a character gruffly tells Suzume not to disrespect someone's sacrifice even as the script eventually works very hard to back out. And while this may simply be me, as an American, not understanding the resonances certain things may hold for a Japanese audience, the mythological elements tend to become big things fighting as opposed to mythology that represents something by the finale. The end is satisfying in one way but not as much in another, not quite getting under one's skin the way Weathering does, for example.

It's still a thrilling, entertaining adventure, and I wouldn't be surprised if the self-awareness that more than creeps in around the edges, from knowing that something sort of has to have a face to one of the film's rotating supporting character commenting on fitting road-trip needle-drops to the situation, means that Shinkai is aware that he's gone to this well enough for it to become a pattern. I won't complain if he continues to do so - he is really quite good at this sort of thing - but it might be time to stretch again.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 14 April 2023 - 20 April 2023

Something I saw at my first Fantasia getting a 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release the other day was a heck of a thing, but something else I discovered there hitting the big time is pretty cool.
  • It's kind of crazy, really, that I saw Makoto Shinkai's first feature there and thought it was a kind of niche thing, but now Shinkai's latest, Suzume is opening pretty wide, including premium screens. This one's trailer was delightfully vague, but it appears to follow a girl visiting various disaster sites through mysterious doors. It's at the Coolidge, Boston Common (including Imax), South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards. Subtitled and dubbed showtimes in all locations, so check before reserving tickets.

    Apple Fresh Pond picks up three from India: Rudhran is a Tamil action flick about an IT guy who comes upon a criminal network; Soppana Sundari is a dark Tamil comedy about a young woman whose contest win leads to more trouble; and Shaakuntalam is a romantic fantasy about lovers reunited after a curse causes King Dushyant (Dev Mohan) to forget Shakuntala (Samantha Ruth Prabhu), with some of its showings in 3D. They also hold over Viduthalai Part 1.

    Fresh Pond also gets matinees of Once Upon a Time in Ukraine, presumably a big hit in that area when it opened Christmas 2020.
  • My favorite film from the recent Boston Underground Film Festival, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, opens at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, Kendall Square, and Boston Common. It's a pretty terrific little thriller about (mostly) Gen-Z radicals who have decided that peaceful protest will not sufficiently deter corporate interests defiling the environment and opt to take more direct action.

    The Coolidge's midnights this week feature films from the books of Michael Crichton, with a 35mm print of The Lost World on Friday and a DCP of Congo on Saturday. Aside from Suzume, there's even more anime on Saturday (a 35mm print of Rintaro's adaptation of Tezuka's Metropolis) and Wednesday (Katsuhito Otomo's Akira). On Sunday, there's Goethe-Institut presentation The Ordinaries, a fantasy about a "supporting character" who dreams of being a lead. Monday's Big Screen Classic is a 35mm print of Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine, while Tuesday's "Shakespeare Reimagined" presentation is Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. And on Thursday, which I'm sure just happens to be 4/20, there's a "Rewind!" presentation of of the live-action Scooby Doo.
  • Lots of monsters opening otherwise. Perhaps the screwiest is Renfield with Nicholas Hoult as Count Dracula's long-suffering familiar and Nicolas Cage as the count himself, with Awkwafina as a New Orleans cop and Shoreh Aghdashloo as the local crime boss. It's at the Somerville, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Kendall Square, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    There's also The Pope's Exorcist, with Russell Crowe playing the title role and being dispatched to deal with what appears to be no ordinary demon - from the trailer, it seems to be targeting the priest himself, hoping to gain the pontiff's ear It plays Fresh Pond, Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row. If that's not enough demonic possession for your weekend, there's also Nefarious, with Sean Patrick Flanery as a death-row claiming he's a demon and Jordan Belfi as the psychiatrist sent to examine him, at Boston Common.

    If you're not up for supernatural stuff, Mafia Mamma opens at Assembly Row, a comedy starring Toni Collette as a Jersey housewife who discovers she is the granddaughter (and heir) of an Italian crime family, with Monica Bellucci guiding her through the sticky situation she has inherited. It's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Also opening at Boston Common is Sweetwater, with Everett Osborne as the first Black player to sign an NBA contract, with a heck of a group of That Guys in supporting roles (Cary Elwes, Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Pollak, Mike Starr, Eric Roberts, Jeremy Piven).

    There are 25th anniversary shows for The Big Lebowski on Sunday and Thursday at South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards. This week's religious film is Mirando al Cielo, which plays South Bay Assembly Row on Tuesday. Concert film Coldplay - Music of the Spheres: Live at River Plate plays Kendall Square, Boston Common, Assembly Row on Wednesday. There are also early shows of Guy Ritchie's The Covenant at Boston Common on Sunday; Beau Is Afraid at Boston Common (Imax Xenon) on Tuesday; and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. at Boston Common, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill on Wednesday
  • The latest collaboration between director Kelly Reichardt and star Michelle Williams is apparently much lighter than some of their usual work - Showing Up has Williams playing a sculptor with a new show while dealing with friends and family who apparently also need a lot of attention. It plays Landmark Theatres Kendall Square and Boston Common.

    Tuesday's Retro Replay at the Kendall is Dark Passage, which pairs Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a thriller which is shot first-person until Bogart's character gets plastic surgery so that he can take his new face on the lam.
  • As is traditional, The Brattle Theatre celebrates Patriots' Day weekend with the Muppets and other creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop: The Muppet Movie (35mm) Friday/Saturday, Where the Wild Things Are (35mm) Friday/Saturday, The Great Muppet Caper & The Muppets Take Manhattan as a 35mm double-feature Saturday, Babe Saturday/Sunday, a The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth double feature Sunday, plus the Muppet Marathon on Monday with The Muppet Movie, Caper, Take Manhattan, Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.

    After that, they offer The Emperor & the Wolf: The Films of Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune all the way to IFFBoston, all on 35mm. The series kicks off with Stray Dogs & Drunken Angel Tuesday, The Bad Sleep Well (get out of work early) & High and Low Wednesday, and Rashomon on Thursday.

    Later on Thursday, they host the latest GRRL HAUS CINEMA program, a collection of international and Boston-area shorts, with many of the local filmmakers in attendance.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts and RoxFilm have a special shorts program Friday night, "On Being Black Outdoors", which has three shorts that are part adventure film, part something else.
  • ArtsEmerson's has two "Shared Stories" presentations in the Bright Screening Room this weekend, with Landfall examining post-hurricane Puerto Rico on Friday evening, A Letter To A'Ma following a Taiwanese art teacher back to her hometown Saturday afternoon, and "Meet and Eat and Lee's Garden" recalling one of the first Chinese restaurants in Montreal outside of Chinatown Saturday evening. All three will have post-film discussion and are pay-what-you-can.

    Bright Lights gets the room back on Thursday to show Women Talking, with post-film discussion with faculty. Admission free at the door.
  • The Boston International Film Festival runs through Monday at AMC Boston Common, and while as usual some of it looks good, the website really does not make learning about what's showing straightforward.
  • The Harvard Film Archive continues Med Hondo and the Indocile Image this weekend with West Indies (newly-restored DCP) and Soleil O playing separate shows Friday night, 35mm prints of Watani and West Indies on Saturday, and a 35mm print of Les Bicots-Nègres, vos voisins Sunday evening. They also wrap their "Reimagining Latin American Cinema: Chilean Film 1963-2013" series with The Wandering Soap Opera Sunday afternoon and The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror on Monday evening.

    There's also a free screening of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed listed on Joe's Free Films, though it is not on the main HFA website, so it is likely presented by some other campus organization and just using the room
  • The Somerville Theatre has some live events making use of the big room on Friday/Saturday, but does use it to show a 35mm print of Jawbreaker as Saturday's Midnight Special and Reefer Madness on Thursday (heh, 4/20).

    The Capitol has an April vacation film series with Minions: The Rise of Gru Sunday and Monday and Space Jam Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Belmont World Film offers Turkey's Burning Days (with BU prof Roberta Micallef) at Fresh Pond on Monday, and then will start streaming Farewell Mr. Haffmann on Tuesday, before its in-person screening in Watertown next week.
  • The Regent Theatre two adventure-film programs this week: The Trail Running Film Festival on Wednesday and Mountains on Stage on Thursday.
  • The Museum of Science adds "Sea Lion 4-D" to its offerings in the 4D room starting Saturday.
  • Wicked Queer has virtual encores of many of this year's festival selections available to stream.
  • The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday with The Quiet Girl, Air, and Champions.

    The West Newton Cinema is the only local screen playing Only in Theaters, which follows the Laemmle family, which has been exhibiting films since the start of the medium, and will have director Raphael Sbarge on hand for a Q&A after Sunday's 3:30pm show. In addition to that, they are showing Air, Super Mario Brothers, Dungeons & Dragons, Women Talking (Saturday/Sunday), A Man Called Otto, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans (no show Thursday). Closed Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Enys Men on Friday, Saturday, and Thursday evenings; Paint on Saturday, Night of the Living Dead on Sunday, and a Weirdo Wednesday mystery show.

    Cinema Salem is open at least through Wednesdayfor April vacation, with Air, Close, Dungeons & Dragons, Linoleum, and Super Mario Bros.. There's a Miz Diamond Wigfall show of Legally Blonde Saturday night.

    If you can make it to the Dedham Community Theatre, they have Róise & Frank, an Irish-language film about a widow who believes a stray dog is her reincarnated husband.
I am down for Metropolis and Suzume this Saturday, Showing Up and Air at some point, and we'll see just how much Kurosawa I can get to. Would kind of like some assurances that the 3D Indian film is subtitled.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Recent from China: Full River Red and Post Truth

I wonder, idly, if piracy is less of a concern now than it was when Chinese movies started playing day-and-date in America roughly 12 years ago, because this year's Lunar New Year have been doled out over the past couple months as opposed to all dropping within a week or two. I've always figured that this was in part to avoid piracy, or perhaps to capitalize on expats who were still sort of on China scheduling, as in reading news and getting advertising for what's playing in Beijing rather than in Boston (for example).

Apparently, that's less of a concern now; maybe nobody having a DVD player hooked up means there are fewer bootleg DVDs and thus less need to get ahead of that, while the Great Firewall of China keeps piracy from spreading. Or a lot of folks who would otherwise pirate figure they can find a legit stream somewhere, especially if they don't mind ads (and if you don't mind a bad rip, you maybe don't mind ads). And that's how we wind up getting China Film Bureau entry #2023-002 two months after #2023-001.

And #2022-090 even after that, which was even more of a strange release, because it got an extremely tiny run (one matinee a day) on the weekend Jackie Chan in Ride On was expected to be released, but it seems to be skipping Boston. Not upset about Post Truth showing up - I liked Jian Bing Man and City of Rock, and when I looked up after the movie finished, the theater was pretty darn crowded. It's just odd, especially considering that I tend to presume that part of the reason Mandarin-language films do is that much of the young audience is students form the People's Republic, and they could have seen that on break. Ah, well; these are two pretty entertaining movies. Full River Red is from Zhang Yimou, and I once again find myself wondering if Zhang Yimou has any art house cred left, because this didn't seem to get a whole lot of notice on that front.

Manjianghong (Full River Red)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 19 Match 2023 in AMC Boston Common #18 (first-run; DCP)

So, I'm guessing from that title at the end that I was the only person in the theater that didn't know where this twisty mystery movie was eventually going to end up. Not necessarily that the mostly-Chinese audience could predict where Zhang Yimou and company were going with it from moment to moment - this could very well be a legend that leaves a whole lot of room for new materials to be grafted onto it - but a movie with this title set in this period was always going to have the finale it does, with Zhang figuring that his job was to make the route there unpredictable.

He sets the scene at 3 July 1146, with various factions vying for the Emperor's favor, and now a Jin envoy has been murdered during a meeting with Song prime minister Qin Hui (Lei Jiayin). There are no leads until middle-aged soldier Zhang Da (Shen Teng) mentions seeing a secret letter being exchanged. The minister pairs him with ambitious guard Sun Jun (Jackson Yee Xiang Qianxi), who just happens to be Zhang's cousin, and gives them two hours to discover the letter and who murdered the envoy. There's no end of suspects, but also seemingly no end of red herrings and other intrigue going on in the fortress.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about a film that has a great deal of surprises on tap is that, for much of the runtime, it is as much a dark comedy as anything else, with Zhang bringing a Coen Brothers sensibility to the fancy-armor genre as Zhang and Sun stomp their way through passageways with anachronistic music on the soundtrack and an all-access pass in front of them. The pair don't banter, really - there's more of an edge to the insults and begging that one finds in this sort of film than that - but they're each funny and full of themselves in ways guaranteed to piss the other off. It's a buddy cop movie where they can't really become buddies. Zhang and co-writer Chen Yu don't just regularly turn things on a dime, but always make sure that characters are dispatched or made invaluable in jaw-droppingly absurd ways. There is a scene with a bird near the climax that is brilliantly ridiculous even as you see the people involved are dead serious.

Being a Zhang Yimou film, it's gorgeous. If it seems strange that he has somehow seemed to become more productive during a global pandemic - this is his fourth release in as many years and second Lunar New Year release in a row with another already in the can - it's likely in part because he's got a phenomenal team behind him, building an opulent world that also has plenty of room to feel poor and messy once you get away from the rich government officials. Action, when it happens, is quick but exceptionally clear, and the setting is restrictive while featuring room to breathe and spread out.

It's all eventually too much, though, even if it's tightly-edited and fast-moving to the point that it doesn't really feel like it's closer to three hours than two. The film started as a dark comedy but develops an even meaner streak as it goes on without having the satiric barbs to make that cruelty interesting as opposed to just the next bloody step on the way to the finale. I'm not sure at exactly what point this movie had too many twists; the amount of reversals and plans within plans eventually takes away from the fun, fast-paced situation the film stays out with, eventually burning through its dark absurdity as folks reveal agendas and turn on each other. Zhang stages a few darkly comic moments in the finale, but there's a grim end to it all that makes me wonder what the younger, more rebellious version of the director would do with this tale. There's such waste of effort and life here, but he doesn't seem able to call it out as such, because there's a patriotic message on the other end.

(I wonder, a bit, if maybe this is deliberate, same as I did with the second Lake Changjin movie, like having the violence of the noble sacrifice be so over-the-top as to be off-putting is as close to subversive as a Chinese film can get these days.)

Zhang is too good to let Full River Red come out a disaster, and as an American I'm not particularly able to judge how well it does by the poem which inspired it. It may well hit completely differently with the proper cultural context.

Bao ni ping an (Post Truth)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 9 April 2023 in AMC Boston Common #7 (first-run; DCP)

The title "Post Truth" winds up being a good enough pun that English-language filmmakers should be ashamed for not getting there first, to be honest. Beyond that, it would be nifty if other filmmakers picked up "Da Peng" Dong Chengpeng's sneakily clever writing and keen sense of how the internet and social media has made a lot of things weird, and ability to get that across without having the characters spend all that much time on their phones.

As with Dong's previous films to reach North America, the action takes place in the city of Ji'an, where ex-con Wei Ping'an (Dong) seems to have things mostly together, until he shows up an hour late to his daughter Moli's school band recital and winds up getting a call from the office, where he and longtime friend Qi Zhifu (Wang Xun) sell cemetery plots. Ms. Feng (Ma Li), whose brother is buried there, is demanding they dig up the woman in the next plot over, saying Han Lu (Victoria Song Qian) was a prostitute - and the Feng family owns the land on which the cemetery is situated. Ping'an, for all his faults, doesn't want to betray his client's trust even after her death, so he sets out trying to find the source of that rumor in hope that he can change Ms. Feng's mind. Meanwhile, Moli (Wang Shengdi) frets about something she saw backstage at the recital - a classmate's fancy pen is lost only to be found in another student's instrument case - with the potential to become a big mess.

Da Peng has a keen, careful eye on how he limits the stakes here; for as much as this may all be important to the people involved, with rich and powerful people occasionally getting pulled into messier situations, neither father nor daughter winds up on the trail of something really big. The filmmakers pile more and more on top of these seemingly minor things until the big finale is kind of crazy without ever feeling like they've lost control or gone into unbelievable territory; the absurd bits are pointed in how they're deployed. The parallel story with the main guy's daughter is that in miniature, crazy little stakes that nevertheless become consuming. There's something very universal about the themes - it could be set thirty years ago and barely mention the internet - but there's something to how that material is handled here that seems particularly well-observed, in how gossip can bounce from one corner of a country the size of China to another, not just being distorted but landing in the hands of people with illogical incentives to make it their own but sometimes seeming to evaporate as it does so. It amplifies the scale and speed of everything but also seems to evaporate almost immediately.

Not that Da Peng and co-writer Su Biao ever stop to ponder this out loud; they're more interested in dropping Ping'an into funny situations. Da Peng sets his character up as a goofball that gets into ridiculous positions on his own but is likable as he doggedly (but sometimes kind of stupidly) tries to get out of them. He's played and written this kind of guy before - the frantic ne'er-do-well with the shaggy dyed hair is kind of a stock character in Chinese comedies - but he's got what seems like a good handle on what happens when that guy is divorced, turning forty, and has a kid who finds him kind of embarrassing even if she loves him. If he's a little more aware of his shortcomings, he's got Li Xueqin helping accelerate things even farther as his sister; she gets some of the broader jokes while capturing how siblings can wind each other up even if they've also got each other's backs. Ma Li takes a somewhat more subdued tone than she often has here, as Ms. Feng has recently lost her brother even if there's the potential to be wry lurking behind that, while Wang Shengdi makes Moli an authentically moody tween without ever being alienating. One likes that kid. Victoria Song makes a great impression in Ping'an's memories of Han Lu, her part is brief and yet one can easily see how his crush can become that sort of loyalty even as she's just mysterious enough to make one wonder about her past.

The filmmakers squeeze every bit of humor they can out of goofy setups without milking them dry, with what I suspect are plentiful guest stars who add to their scenes and then quietly exit, much as was the case with the director's previous films. The bits go from some creative auto repair to a profane bird to a government official working remotely, and there is at least one absolutely brilliant bit where a whole bunch of ground-laying one might have missed pays off in terrific fashion. The film introduces Ping'an in a scene full of jittery energy and lets it ebb and flow a bit until he's finishing with a chase that seems a little off-kilter, and never loses that feel even when they slow the pace down for Moli's scenes where even the smallest thing has this dead-serious earnestness.

For whatever reason, Post Truth got a really random and buried release in the Boston area at least - one early show a day months after it played China - but it was well worth going out of my way for. It's smart and very funny without over-reaching, and seems to understand its time but doesn't seem likely to become dated.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 7 April 2023 - 13 April 2023

I guess I kind of did a bunch of the work for this last week, but I honestly thought more would be coming out this weekend than just the two big ones. Ah, well.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie opened Wednesday at the Capitol (including RealD 3D), Fresh Pond (including 3D), Jordan's Furniture (Imax), West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Kendall Square, South Bay (including Imax Xenon/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Assembly Row (including Imax Laser/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), and Chestnut Hill; it's gonna make all the money because folks have loved these games for forty years and there's been no mainstream kids' movies since Christmas.

    There's also Air, Ben Affleck's new movie and the first time he's directed friend Matt Damon, with Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Affleck, and more along for the ride. It's at the Somerville, the Capitol, the Coolidge, Fresh Pond, West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common, Kendall Square, South Bay (Saturday preview), Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards, and Chestnut Hill.

    Young adult adaptation Beautiful Disaster - which already has a sequel in production - plays Boston Common, South Bay and Assembly Row on Wednesday and Thursday. Metallica: 72 Seasons Global Premiere gives audiences a preview of the band's new album at Boston Common on Thursday. There are also the first of several 20th Anniversary shows of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Thursday at South Bay and Assembly Row. There are early screenings of Mafia Mamma at Boston Common,South Bay, and Assembly Row on Tuesday plus Renfield at Assembly Row on Wednesday, ahead of the regular previews on Thursday and the "real" opening on Friday.
  • Paint, which I'd initially pegged as a regular Bob Ross biopic, but which instead ha Owen Wilson playing a guy with a similar perm who finds his public-access painting show being usurped by a younger woman who also happens to be a better painter. It's at Landmark Theatres Kendall Square, Boston Common.

    The Kendall also has a preview of Little Richard: I Am Everything and a Retro Replay show of Swing Time on Tuesday (also at the Somerville and Boston Common). They also show documentaries American Hospital: Healing a Broken System on Wednesday, with a number of expert guests on-hand for discussion, and The Lost Weekend: A Love Story on Thursday, with Beatles archivist Erik Taros discussing this film about the exceptionally productive period in John Lennon's career that coincided with his being paired with assistant May Pang (also at Boston Common with no guests).
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre opens Tori and Lokita in the GoldScreen this weekend, and I wonder if it would have gotten a bigger room if the two new screens were ready. It's the new one from the Dardenne Brothers, following two young African immigrants facing danger as their off-the-books work at a restaurant intersects with drug traffickers.

    At midnight, they have two of Schwarzeneggar's most iconic films, with a 35mm print of The Terminator on Friday and Predator on DCP Saturday. Monday's Science on Screen presentation has dream scholar Deirdre Barrett introducing a 35mm print of Richard Linklater's Waking Life, which is technically part of "Ani-Mania!" - that includes Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell on Tuesday and a 35mm print of Satoshi Kon's Paprika on Wednesday. There's also an Open Screen on Tuesday night, and they appear to be closed on Thursday.
  • Three new films from India at Apple Fresh Pond has this week: Ravanasura is a Telguu-language thriller; Gumraah is a Hindi crime flick where the prime suspect is revealed to have a doppelganger; and Meter is a Telugu-language action-comedy about a reluctant police officer facing off against corrupt bureaucrats.

    Viduthalai Part 1 and Dasara continue at Fresh Pond; as do matinees of German (but likely dubbed) kid flick The School of Magical Animals.

    Boston Common for some reason does not get the new Jackie Chan movie despite having a standee up for weeks but does get Post Truth, the latest comedy from writer/director/star Dong Chengpeng, who made the pretty darn good Jian Bing Man and City of Rock, though only for matinees.

    Boston Common has high school archery-club anime Tsurune: The Movie Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, though I'm only seeing it on their app and not Fandango (though it is not eligible for A-List).
  • The Brattle Theatre continues to host Wicked Queer through Sunday. Other shows are at The Museum of Fine Arts and ArtsEmerson's Bright Screening Room, with virtual encores streaming through the rest of the month and a free showcase at BU on Wednesday.

    After that, the Brattle takes another few days to show off their new sound system with an "About the Sound" series of films that explicitly demonstrate how good sound works. There a 35mm double feature of Blow Out and The Conversation on Monday & Tuesday, late shows of Berberian Sound Studio on Wednesday and Thursday, plus a 35mm print of The Birds on Thursday. In between, RPM Fest welcomes Mary Helena Clark for a program of several short films.
  • The Somerville Theatre is not messing around with their rep stuff on the big screen this weekend, offering up a double feature of Johnnie To's Michelle Yeoh/Maggie Cheung/Anita Mui superhero flicks The Heroic Trio & Executioners through Sunday, while a $5 "Attack of the B Movies" double feature of Gamera The Invincible & Gamera vs Barugon plays early Saturday and Monday evening. They also offer Frankenhooker as a Midnight Special on Saturday

    and Little Richard: I Am Everything on Tuesday. The Capitol picks up The Quiet Girl second-run.
  • Rwandan filmmaker Kivu Ruhorahoza wraps his visit to the The Harvard Film Archive (where he was awarded the McMillan-Stewart Fellowship on Friday with separate screenings of Europa, "Based on a True Story" and Things of the Aimless Wanderer. Saturday features two from Med Hondo: Black Light (on 35mm film) and the restoration of Sarraounia. On Sunday evening, they have a double feature of two hour-long films by Valeria Sarmiento, A Man, When He's a Man & Planet of the Children, the former on 16mm film and the latter digital. And on Monday, they welcome Alice Diop to present her recent first fiction film, Saint Omer
  • Belmont World Film is streaming The Worst Ones, which looks like a multi-level meta take on "art house director hires non-actors to give his movie authenticity", through Sunday night, and then will present it in-person at Fresh Pond on Monday, with post-film discussion.
  • The Regent Theatre has a double feature of movies about jazz musicians built around interviews on Wednesday: Rewind & Play combines a 1969 performance by Thelonious Monk in Paris with an apparently-condescending interview done for French television that preceded it, while The Key Man: Dave McKenna is built around the interviews the New England musician did with Boston Globe writer Jay Thomas
  • Joe's Free Films shows a free screening of The Flight at the Goethe-Institut on Wednesday, including and introduction and post-film discussion of East German cinema.
  • Holy crap, director Phil Tippett is at Bright Lights on Thursday to present Mad God, the surreal work of stop-motion horror/dark fantasy that the special-effects legend spent twenty years or so constructing (as is producer Golin Geddes)! As always, tickets are free and open to the public with doors opening at 6:30pm.
  • The Lexington Venue is open through Sunday with The Quiet Girl, Air, and Return to Seoul.

    The West Newton Cinema picked up Air and Super Mario Brothers, streamlining their schedule offerings down to Dungeons & Dragons, John Wick 4, Women Talking (Saturday/Sunday), A Man Called Otto, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans (no show Tuesday), . No shows Monday.

    The Luna Theater has Paint on Friday, Saturday, and Thursday. From Dusk Till Down plays Sunday, and there's a Weirdo Wednesday on the schedule too.

    Cinema Salem is open through Monday with Dungeons & Dragons, John Wick 4, Air, and Super Mario Bros.. The original King Kong plays Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday.
Yeah, I'm watching Super Mario in 3D, as well as Air, Post Truth, and the Gamera movies. I'd also really like to get Shazam 2 and a second viewing of Avatar 2 in before they leave theaters, but don't know if I'll have the time.