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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

IFFBoston 2023½.03-04: Robot Dreams, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, and Tótem

As I said the other day, I missed the first night of IFFBoston 2023½, reading a tweet that it was sold out as I was on the subway. The closing night film was sold out well ahead of time, and I discovered the next film after Robot Dreams, Evil Does Not Exist was sold out when I got out of the first and went to get another ticket. I killed some time in the square, saw Monster was sold out, and then took the train to the Common for Under the Light.

Sunday, I tried to get tickets for everything at the start, and was told only the first two films had seats left. End result was only four films seen out of twelve, but it's not that huge a bummer, even if I was interested in most. You can't necessarily assume these things will all have Boston-area releases, true - the Kendall is basically a regular multiplex that has a couple limited releases on screens 8 & 9 these days, while the Seaport and Causeway Street reopenings being stalled means things need to be release-date-lucky to get a screen at Boston Common because it's bearing the whole load for Boston proper - but the odds are pretty good for most of them, especially if they get Oscar nominations That lets me basically treat this as a fundraiser for IFFBoston - a worthy cause! - and basically shrug it off in the case that I didn't get in Someone did, and that means they've maxed out, right?

In the meantime, this has taken long enough to post that All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is already opening at the Kendall this weekend. The release date for Robot Dreams is fast approaching, too, although I don't know if it gets screens on the 22nd with both Disney and DreamWorks have big animated movies. It feels like it could have benefitted from staking out a date right between big releases and hanging around for matinees for the better part of a month, although maybe not; it's not family-unfriendly, but not necessarily made specifically for kids, either, although who knows - it looks like the sort of thing showing up on the Alamo Seaport schedule for one show a day, although I don't know how linked they are with Neon.

Anyway - good movies! Glad IFFBoston could preview them, and enjoying their rollout!

Robot Dreams

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 21 October 2023 in the Brattle Theatre (Independent Film Festival Boston Fall Focus 2023, DCP)

Robot Dreams is thoroughly my sort of thing, from its Atari-playing canine protagonist to its somewhat surprising ending. It's cute as can be without being saccharine and revels in its authentic small details without ever seeming to try to score points for 1980s nostalgia.

That protagonist is Dog Varon, alone and lonely in Manhattan's East Village, what he sees in neighboring buildings appearing to remind him of what he doesn't have. An advertisement for the "Amico 2000" companion robot plays on late night TV, and soon he's assembling a new best friend, who activates with a childlike wonder at the world that gets Dog seeing it with new eyes. They go to a public beach, but Robot's body does not react well to the sand and salt water, leaving him immobile as it's time to leave. Dog reluctantly returns home without Robot, intending to return the next day, but…

Well, that's the end of the first leg of a movie that splits pretty naturally into three parts, although without ever having a hard break or discontinuity. The first segment, in particular is close to pure fun, filled with blink-and-miss-it visual gags, the robot's sheer joy at every new discovery New York City has to offer, and the chance to identify with Dog's new sense of contentment, before that day at the beach sends the middle part of the movie into surreal territory. That allows screenwriter/director Pablo Berger to use the same style for different ends without creating a crazy tonal shift as the movie becomes sort of dark but allows the comedy and character evolution to continue without it actually becoming a dark comedy.

It works, in a way, because Robot is a robot, even if the temptation is to read them as a pet, roommate, or mail-order bride. It would be a cruel film otherwise - and likely still reads that way for many - but this does let it read as sad rather than mean. And that sadness is a part of life that the film acknowledges, and which is massive the point: That you can be surrounded by people in the city and struggle to make a connection, and sometimes they will be broken in ways you choose, have forced upon you, or stumble into. Dog has a perfect friend in Robot, but things change, and the why is less important than how everyone keeps going. That knowing Robot has Dog more willing to put himself out there in different ways could be played as betrayal, but instead it's growth.

That could be maudlin, but it's never the case, really. The film has a lot of 1980s Saturday morning cartoon DNA, from the character designs that seem more or less unchanged from Sara Varon's graphic novel to the pacing of it, with a ton of little comedic gags and offset but not overwhelmed by more serious moments. The film's anthropomorphic-animal-populated city is just grounded enough to allow for an occasion gag around Dog wagging his tail or the like (the clearances team must have worked overtime so that everything in the background could feel like the right detail rather than a pun on a real brand name). The lack of dialogue, with just a little reading needed, does something similar from a different direction, letting audiences of all ages wrestle with the emotions and how real they feel without forcing a viewer to get bogged down in details.

Yes, it's a bit heavier than the typical Saturday morning show, but its makers aren't intent on upending or subverting that too much. It's more inclined to be fun than sad, or at least find something hopeful in that sadness, and manages that quite well.

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 22 October 2023 in the Brattle Theatre (Independent Film Festival Boston Fall Focus 2023, DCP)

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt does the thing where the filmmakers weave wisps of story into large amounts of imagery until there's something feature-length, which isn't always to everyone's taste. It does so very well, at least, resulting in something very solid when the same technique can often result in something that tries one's patience.

Filmmaker Raven Jackson initially introduces the audience to MacKenzie (Kaylee Nicole Johnson) as her father Isaiah (Chris Chalk) takes her and sister Josie (Jayah Henry) fishing, with mother Evelyn (Sheila Atim) showing how to clean and gut it. She's got a crush on a local boy, Wood (Preston McDowell), but when we see them as adults (Charleen McClure & Reginald Helms Jr.), they didn't wind up together, though that brief reunion may be what leads to Mack's pregnancy, even though she may not see herself as prepared for the responsibility.

The film starts by teaching patience, letting the audience patiently watch Isaiah show Mack how to cast, wait for a bite, and then reel her catch in without losing it, which in addition to setting the pace also allows the film to initially present itself as a set of images that ask for little aside from the audience giving things a close look. Closer than one might expect, at times, as Jackson and cinematographer Jomo Fray often crop faces out to focus on other details. That it is intriguingly composed and beautifully photographed is enough, at least for a while.

For some time, Jackson seems to be primarily concerned with capturing a specific place and time - rural Black life a few decades back - until something happens to shake young Mack's life, and she never really stops shaking. At that point, the film sort of becomes unmoored in time, jumping backwards and forward, sometimes in a purposefully jarring way, like Jackson doesn't want lines to be drawn that are too straight. Charleen McClure shines as the adult Mack in part because she almost never lets the woman's fragility appear front and center; she plays Mack as incomplete and just uncertain enough that her father and sister accepting it seems natural enough, but isn't showy about it. She entirely settles from her trauma until late, when she's not only become wise enough to recognize her lack of wisdom, but to recognize that she may be more capable than she thought.

That's sort of all there is to the film, but it's enough. The images are beautiful, and while some may be familiar, some are odd or fragmented in an interesting way. A particularly notable one is a a wedding, where the camera doesn't linger on the ceremony but initially concentrates on the elder women in the pews, marking the important event, but winds up shooting the bride and groom in the distance, out a window. Mack is part of this community, but cannot entirely engage with it directly, no matter how but young Kaylee Nicole Johnson's performance initially implies she'll grow up different than she does.

Mack doesn't have a journey so much as she grows and ultimately understands the world we live in a little better, and the audience comes to understand that. It's just personal enough to not feel anthropological, but also stands back enough that a viewer feels like they're giving Mack the space she needs.


* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 22 October 2023 in the Brattle Theatre (Independent Film Festival Boston Fall Focus 2023, DCP)

It seems like you seldom see the child performers in movies like this listed in the credits in a way that highlights their actual importance; they're usually tucked away after the notable adults, or given an "Introducing... where a grown-up might have an "and..." This one puts newcomer Naíma Sentíes right up first, though, which is impressive, because the movie is designed to feel like an ensemble piece.

She plays Sol, seven or eight years old, whose mother Lucia (Iazua Larios) is dropping her off at her grandfather's house, where much of the rest of the family is gathering to celebrate the birthday of Sol's father Tonatiuh (Mateo Garcia), notably his sisters Alejandra (Marisol Gasé) and Nuria (Montserrat Marañon), whose daughter Ester (Saori Gurza) is a couple years younger and a bit of a troublemaker. As the adults prepare, Sol wanders a bit, looking at snails, insects, birds, and other creatures. "Tona", on the other hand, seems determined to stay in his room, as he is very sick and needs the assistance of his caregiver Cruz (Teresita Sánchez) for almost everything.

If filmmaker Lila Avilés (who, in addition to writing, directing, and producing, also appears to have a casting credit) hadn't found such a good Sol, she probably could have put together quite a fine movie about the adults hanging on by a thread: The sisters, for example, are a kind of fascinating pair, Montserrat Marañon playing Nuria as sensible and organized, even when things are going wrong, while Marisol Gasé's Alejandra seems like pure comic relief, but the way Nuria has worn down by the end while Alejandra hasn't, and there's tension as a result. There's grandfather Roberto (Alberto Amador) who seems annoyed by all this, even hostile, and Mateo Garcia not only looking like he is always on the verge of physical collapse but further burdened by shame. It's a family that is not broken or dysfunctional, but also clearly one that is not hanging out in each other's kitchens every day.

That would have been a pretty good movie, but Avilés always comes back to how, ultimately, this little girl wants to see her dying father, but he feels too ashamed of his illness and the extended family's noise is hard to cut through, and every time she does, the movie feels sharper, like her main priority is making sure that the audience understands that this is the important part and so it gets just enough more attention to really pop. Senties gives Avilés what she needs every time, from how she studies various animals with tremendous concentration to how she pours out her knowledge of them when given a chance. For all the chaos around her, there's a potentially comic scene that feels like genuine horror when Sol breaks something and worries a bit about getting into trouble but also seems to sense that something worse than "trouble" is in the air.

And, man, that last scene, where she suddenly looks terrifyingly grown up, as if the reason why this has become such a big party hits her. Just a really tremendous gut punch, and absolutely the culmination of everything Avilés and her crew have done so well - a combination of perfect lighting, framing, and wordless performance - which also both seems to connect every thread that has been running through the film and letting the less important ones fall away. Avilés puts Sol at the center in this last moment, and she and Senties do not disappoint.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Last Suspect

The last big Chinese movie released around here, Under the Light was directed by Zhang Yimou, and Last Suspect is directed by his daughter, Zhang Mo. I ask you, my friends - is communism not supposed to prevent this sort of thing? Certainly, it's not out of the realm of the possibility that two of the five hundred or so people in a nation of one and a half billion best suited to direct films released in a given year would be father and daughter - coincidences happen! - but is it likely? Especially when you see that the father is in many ways a legend and the daughter is not exactly at his level?

The somewhat interesting thing about the father/daughter angle is that Zhang Yimou was often seen as making art-house films with an eye to an international audience and eventually made a couple for American studios that were straight-up looking to be pan-Pacific hits, and Zhang Mo has made a pretty Western film here as well - as I mention in the main review, it feels like a certain variety of Hollywood thriller that used to be more prominent at the box office, and I suspect the courtroom scenes aren't particularly Chinese, even beyond how much of the signage is in English. She went to film school in New York City, so one wonders how much of the culture and tropes she soaked up.

It also means, amusingly, that she's credited with the English subtitles for the film, and I wonder how many other filmmakers are given that opportunity to oversee a foreign-language version of their work so closely.

Zheng jiu xian yi ren (Last Suspect aka Who's the Suspect?)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 November 2023 in AMC Boston Common #4 (first-run, DCP)

It seems like Ashley Judd used to star in a movie like this every week, and now we've got to import them from China. A sad state of affairs, Hollywood. Not that this sort of film is usually particularly noteworthy or likely to hit anybody's top ten lists at the end of the year, but it's the sort of thing that people enjoy seeing or reading, and this delivers the good reasonably well.

This one quickly introduces Vicky Chen (Zhang Xiaofei), a top attorney in the city of Kuapuar who has a string of 30 successful criminal defenses, many against prosecutor Cui Myung-ji (Liu Huan), which keeps her busy enough that her eight-year-old daughter Eng (Wang Yixuan) sometimes feels neglected. On the other hand, when Eng is abducted during her school's field day, Vicky throws herself into the kidnapper's demands to defend Daniel Cek Khas (Eason Hung Junjia), who has appealed his death sentence for the murder of Rebecca Liang Xinyuan (Bao Shang'en). The trial begins in five days, and she's fortunate that her old friend Kim Ji-woong (Lee Hong-Chi) has a well-timed suspension from the police force to help her dig, but someone seems to want alternate suspect Jimmy Ahmad (Boogie Wang Ziyi) kept clear as badly as Eng's kidnapper wants Daniel exonerated.

Last Suspect is, as such things often are, not bad, the sort of mystery thriller that sort of cranks along despite not really having any characters that are defined well enough to be suspects or enough alternatives that Vicky and Kim have to eliminate them. It puts a premium on the protagonists running after something well - in this case, the film goes out of its way to establish that both Vicky and Kim are well-equipped to keep a foot pursuit close - or looking kind of worn out between clues popping up. The process is reasonably enjoyable and smooth, which it has to be, on the way to some courtroom theatrics that make me wonder just where this thing is supposed to be set that the preceding make any sense.

(The credits indicate that much of the film was shot in Macau, though I suspect "Kuapuar" is meant to suggest Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where enough of the population is ethnically Chinese that you don't have to confine action to Chinatown but it likely wouldn't be unusual to see all that English-language signage and a fair amount of conversation done in that language. I'm guessing that legal procedure is thoroughly made-up, though!)

Zhang Xiaofei and Lee Hong-Chi are good enough at all of that to keep things moving, hitting the spot where they both seem capable but also stressed and potentially in over their heads. The film is stocked with similarly well-cast characters - Eason Hung makes Daniel feel railroaded but also like a guy a jury would be inclined to convict; Boogie Wang projects the sort of spoiled smarm that would crack quickly under pressure. Liu Huan and Ken Tong Chun-Yip certainly feel like they could be regular courtroom nemeses to Vicky if we had a whole series of these cases. Kara Wai Ying-Hung makes a good, solid impression as the victim's grieving mother.

The story kind of hits a paradox where five days seems on the one hand like an absurdly short time to prepare for this sort of trial but also a long time for this sort of hostage situation to go on, and director Zhang Mo does her best to try and use various action bits to inject enough adrenaline into the whole thing that a viewer's heart might race enough that they don't look at what's going on too closely or gripe over what's being kept off-screen to preserve later twists. It is, after all, the sort of movie that has bonus crazy when it seems like everything has been laid out at the end, but the half-dozen or so writers quite manage to make that work, especially when they flash back and say that, despite the insanity it just served, there's also some sense (but there's really not). The last bits have some weird sympathies on display as well, working hard to show one character as kind immediately after establishing derangement and doing very little to flesh Rebecca out in flashback - the movie talks a good game about how she was a complicated, interesting person but has little time for her as a character aside from the carefully laying out the details of her being drugged, raped, and murdered.

Still, there's some undeniable fun to the last-actg reversals and increasingly unlikely explanations of how they happened. You kind of appreciate that sort of thing after an hour and a half of basically doing what this sort of movie is supposed to do, even if the whole of the story barely survives sitting through the credits.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 10 November 2023 - 16 November 2023

Happy Diwali to all those that celebrate! Was someone at Disney being clever putting the Marvel movie about heroes with light-based superpowers on this date or is it just a weird coincidence?
  • That big Marvel movie is The Marvels, with Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Photon seeing themselves intertwined by what look like Nega-Bands so that they will switch places whenever they use their powers; at 105 minutes, it looks to be the tightest Marvel production yet and is hopefully more fun adventure than universe-shaking epic. It's at The Capitol, Fresh Pond (including 3D), Jordan's Furniture (Imax 2D/3D), West Newton, CinemaSalem, Boston Common (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/RealD 3D/Dolby Cinema), Kendall Square, South Bay (including Imax Xenon 2D & 3D/RealD 3D/Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row (including Imax Laser 2D & 3D/Dolby Cinema/RealD 3D), Arsenal Yards (including CWX), Chestnut Hill.

    Horror-comedy It's a Wonderful Knife, in which a final girl wishes she had never been born and apparently sees a world where the killings never stopped, plays Boston Common, South Bay. Another one, As We Know It, in which a recently-jilted screenwriter must also deal with a zombie-virus outbreak in the late 1990s, plays a couple shows daily at Fresh Pond.

    Religious holiday musical Journey to Bethlehem gets a bigger release than such things usually do, playing Boston Common, South Bay. It's somehow roped Antonio Banderas in to play King Herod. Simón, about a Venezuelan rebel living in Miami exile, plays at Arsenal Yards.

    The Holdovers expands to the Somerville, Assembly Row, Chestnut Hill; it was already playing the Coolidge (some shows 35mm), Boston Common, and Kendall Square.

    Scarface has 40th Anniversary shows at South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards on Sunday and Wednesday. Documentary Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story plays South Bay, Assembly Row, Arsenal Yards on Tuesday. There's a "First Listen Event" for Dolly Parton Rockstar on Wednesday at Boston Common, Kendall Square; Billy Idol: State Line at Hoover Dam plays Boston Common Wednesday. There's an early screening of Saltburn on Saturday at Boston Common.
  • The big event for Diwali is Tiger 3, which reunites Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif reunite as married former secret agents for India and Pakistan, once again called out of retirement to face a threat to both countries. It's the first entry in the series since it was retroactively made part of the "YRF Spy Universe", so it will be interesting to see if it becomes the same sort of big crazy adventure as War and Pathaan. It opens Saturday at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, South Bay (opens Monday).

    Three others open on Friday: Japan, a Tamil adventure about a master thief who steals something sensitive from a politician's house, which plays Fresh Pond (also in Telugu) and Boston Common; Jigarthanda DoubleX, a Tamil-language action comedy where a director teams with a gangster to try to make a western in 1975 Tamil Nadu, which is at Fresh Pond and Boston Common; and Bandra, a Malayalam-language mystery where a detective investigating the suicide of a Bollywood icon finds much more than she bargained for, which is at Apple Fresh Pond. Telugu action-comedy Keedaa Cola is held over at Fresh Pond.

    Last Suspect, a Chinese legal thriller directed by Zhang Mo (daughter of Zhang Yimou), plays Boston Common.
  • Landmark Kendall Square opens All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, which certainly feels like a movie from a poet, but Raven Jackson's look at rural Black life is all the better for it.

    Tuesday's Hanks-Giving Retro Replay at the Kendall is Joe Versus the Volcano, and a Yórgos Lánthimos retrospective begins on Wednesday with Dogtooth; both films $5.
  • The Coolidge Corner Theatre has Godfrey Reggio's featurette "Once Within a Time", one of two Steven Soderbergh-produced oddities in the corners of theaters' schedules this weekend. This one is a post-apocalyptic fantasy with a score by Philip Glass. They also pick up Rustin, Netflix's drama about an often-overlooked civil rights leader.

    They also keep The Killer around as it hits Netflix, the better to pair with their midnight Fincher Flicks, with Fight Club on Friday and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Saturday, both on 35mm. Noirvember features include The Hitch-Hiker on Sunday afternoon and The Maltese Falcon with a pre-show seminar from Jake Mulligan on Wednesday. There's also a 35mm "Stage & Screen" presentation of The Band's Visit on Monday and open screen on Tuesday, and a "Rewind!" presentation of The Notebook on Thursday.
  • The Brattle Theatre celebrates "The Fifties at Warners" with Foster Hirsch, who recently wrote a book on the subject, in attendance for an umber of shows. Movies include Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (Friday), a 35mm Looney Tunes program (Saturday), Them! (35mm Saturday/Monday), I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. (35mm Saturday), A Streetcar Named Desire (Saturday/Sunday), Calamity Jane (Sunday), The Bad Seed (35mm Sunday), House of Wax (Monday), Auntie Mame (35mm Tuesday), and the original Ocean's 11 (35mm Sunday).

    Also on the schedule: A Found Footage Film Festival show on Friday night and The Case of the Vanishing Gods with the filmmakers doing an introduction on Saturday.
  • As mentioned, The Somerville Theatre picks up The Holdovers, which is extra fun because the film shot a scene or two there (doubling for a spot across the river) and was used to screen films for the cast and crew during filming. They also have the other Soderbergh produced oddity, black-and-whack sci-fi madness Divinity, playing on 35mm film at midnight Saturday. Jeff Rapsis accompanies a 35mm print of The Big Parade on Sunday as a slightly-belated Armistice Day "Silents, Please!" presentation, and Foster Hirsch crosses the river that evening to introduce The Searchers to fit an extra screening into the Brattles "Fifties at Warners" series. In The Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50 plays Monday and Tuesday afternoon.
  • The Museum of Science opens a new film made specifically for their Omnimax dome, "The Heart of New England", on Saturday after member previews on Friday; Udo Aduba and Mindy Kaling narrate a film that looks at the Gulf of Maine's ecosystem, the Marathon, the Panawahpskek people, and more items of local interest. They also bring back "Train Time" as part of the Omnimax rotation with "Everest", "Serengeti", and "Jane Goodall: Reasons for Hope", with advance tickets on sale for Oppenheimer on the Omnimax dome on Friday nights between Thanksgiving and New Year's. "The Polar Express" and "Thomas and Friends" also return to the 4D theater for Christmas/train time.
  • The Harvard Film Archive welcomes Zelimir Zilnik for the final two entries in his "Filmmaker, Guest Worker" series: A West German Short Films program on Friday and Logbook Serbistan on Saturday. "Out of the Ashes: The US-ROK Alliance & South Korean Cinema" continues Sunday with The Marines .Who Never Returned and The Widow. Then on Monday night, Robert Humphreville accompanies Elvira Notari's silent The LIttle Girl's Wrong, which is followed by shorts "Italy Has Risen" and "Naples, Singing Mermaid".
  • The Boston Jewish Film Festival has two more days of in-person screenings, with Finding Light at West Newton on Saturday, while My Architect and Perfect Strangers play at The Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday. Certain selections will be available to stream Monday to Wednesday.

    The MFA also has the first weekend of Wicked Queer Docs on Friday and Saturday, with another screening at the French Library before settling in at the Brattle next weekend.
  • The Regent Theatre plays documentary UnCharitable on Wednesday.
  • Bright Lights has Chasing Chasing Amy on Thursday, with director Sav Rodgers and producer Riley Rodgers on hand to discus their film about both the making of Kevin Smith's film and the impact it had on queer kids in the heartland. Free and open to the public, but remember that the Bright Screening room in the Paramount kind of a small auditorium.
  • The West Newton Cinema has a special screening on Sunday afternoon of America's Family with director Anike Tourse on hand to discuss her film about an immigrant family torn up by ICE on Thanksgiving Day. They also open The Marvels and Priscilla, continuing Killers of the Flower Moon, Eras (through Sunday), Paw Patrol (through Sunday), Golda (Saturday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday), Barbie, and Oppenheimer (Monday-Thursday). Open all week, although for just the one evening show Monday to Thursday.

    The Lexington Venue has The Eras Tour (no show Sunday), What Happens Later, and Priscilla from Friday to Sunday.

    The Luna Theater has Stop Making Sense on Friday and Saturday, Dicks The Musical on Saturday, The Holy Mountain on Sunday, the weekly Weirdo Wednesday show, and a free screening of Aujourd'hui, featuring poet Saul Williams as a dying man, courtesy of The Department of World Languages and Cultures at UMass Lowell on Thursday.

    Cinema Salem finally adds The Marvels and Priscilla to Killers of the Flower Moon and Anatomy of a Fall for regular shows through Monday. There's also a Night Light show of Mulholland Drive on Friday.
Ticket already reserved for The Marvels in Imax 3D, and I've spent enough time catching up on its predecessors this past week that I'd better see Tiger 3. I'll probably catch a Warner Double Feature on Saturday because it looks like one of the prints is about to be retired per the Brattle's newsletter, then trying to see what fits in around them

Monday, November 06, 2023

Murderers' Missions: The Killer '23 and Bad Blood

I didn't necessarily plan this as a double feature, but the previous week's jury duty kind of clobbered me, or the commute did, and I wasn't even making much attempt to get out of the recliner until late Saturday. But, it's not like either of these movies are going to be around long - The Killer is from Netflix, and there's an eyebrow raised when one of those gets a second week Bad Blood is from Vietnam, and I was mildly surprised to see it playing Boston Common as well as South Bay, where the Vietnamese movies usually show up. Maybe they thought it would draw some more of us kung fu fans? At any rate, it looked like it was just me when the movie was close to starting.

Still, it's a natural-enough, with two people who are very good at violence tracking down the people who hurt their families, although the vibes are very different, with The Killer saying right off that you've got to be patient and then demonstrating, while Bad Blood has immediate machete violence. These movies are two sides of the same coin in many ways, and together a bit of a Rorschach Test in terms of what you may consider important in your crime flicks: The Killer is fancyish, kind of arch, maybe not quite as clever as it thinks it is (though probably smarter than I initially thought it was); Bad Blood is direct and pretty much maxes out "action" at the expense of everything else. I had more fun with Bad Blood that afternoon; though I'll probably talk about The Killer more over the next however many years.

Surprisingly, considering I saw them a week ago, both are still kicking around theaters: The Killer got held over at both Boston Common and the Coolidge, which may well keep it around for 9:30pm shows in the Screening Room until their Fincher midnights finish; Bad Blood is at South Bay, which I suspect has a decent Vietnamese immigrant population nearby.

The Killer '23

* * * (out of four)
Seen 29 October 2023 in Landmark Kendall Square #5 (first-run, DCP)

The Killer is absolutely a "David Fincher film that Netflix also puts in a few theaters" situation: The film is impressively shot, meticulous in its construction, and all that good stuff, but there is also seldom much going on that's really essential; you can fold your laundry or screw around on your phone until some bit of character acting breaks through to grab your notice, and you pay full attention for the next five or ten minutes until Michael Fassbender murders that character. Then repeat; it's divided into chapters if you can't do a full (almost) two-hour movie at once.

It starts with Fassbender's multi-named Killer on a job in Paris, staking out an apartment that he knows his target will eventually return to, narrating how patience is paramount, talking about the lengths he goes to be invisible, and how not everybody is cut out for this sort of thing. But when the moment comes, his shot misses the target, and he must quickly abandon the job. Arriving at his isolated home in the Dominican Republic, he discovers that his employers have already made arrangements to eliminate him, but struck too fast, when only his girlfriend (Sophie Charlotte) was home. So, what to do, but work his way up the ladder, paying visits to the law professor who recruited him as an assassin back in college (Charles Parnell), the team sent to dispatch him (Sala Baker & Tilda Swinton), and the client (Arliss Howard).

That it seems built for how people consume Netflix rather than theaters isn't exactly me saying it's bad, so much as it's Fincher working in his chosen medium and trying to get the most out of it. Those bits of character acting, more or less building up to Tilda Swinton's piece are quite enjoyable, and even if half the point of the opening is to try the audience's patience so that they understand that, yes, this work does require enduring boredom and not cracking through lack of patience, the use of Rear Window framing is at least a little fun. Even when this guy is at his most detached, he is good enough at his job to be interesting to watch (and, yeah, I kind of think that applies to Fincher, Fassbender, and the Killer, which is why they all connect to this project and wind up on the same wavelength).

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (working from the bande dessiné by Alexis Nolent & Luc Jacamon) gives Fincher and Fassbender plenty of fun material to chew on; it is certainly entertaining to hear his misanthropic monologues in voice-over, and you can certainly see how this brace of enjoyable actors - Charles Parnell, Kerry O'Malley, Arliss Howard, and Tilda Swinton, most notably - signed on; it's a script they can chew on for however many days they're on set. Fincher can stage the heck out of an action sequence, too, though one in near-darkness is probably going to be brutalized by compression algorithms once it hits its forever home on the streaming service.

If you want to be generous, I suppose you could posit that the whole thing is a satire: Right from the start, Fassbender is presenting the image of the cool, methodical assassin who lives outside the rules, but the whole thing is built around how he basically screws up at the crucial moment - Fincher and director of photography Erik Messerschmidt are careful to show how, after working hard to make sure he has a clear shot and how he knows he will only have one, he instead kills a bystander. As he flies from location to location, he uses a series of fake identities taken from famous sitcom characters, which is not exactly him being memorable. It's just in-your-face enough to arguably be about undermining the mystique of these characters - if you've ever watched the John Wick movies and wondered if there are really enough murders of this sort for it to be a whole underground economy, Fincher and Waller may be on your wavelength - but if so, it's the sort of satire that perhaps doesn't do enough separate itself from the thing it's sending up. Fassbender and Swinton, for instance, fit the template too well. In other moments, it seems like he's reaching for something but can't quite get there, like there should be some commentary on how the title character can hang out in this WeWork space that's under construction for a couple weeks without being noticed, but it doesn't resolve into anything.

Still, I'm not sure this movie actually draws a reaction until the epilogue. A flinch and narration where the title character thinks he understands something - but probably doesn't, but in the way a non-psychopath does - is actually interesting, for a moment, but then the movie is done. It's fine, better than this sort of hitman movie made by less talented people, but maybe a bit too muted.

Ke an Danh (Bad Blood)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 29 October 2023 in AMC Boston Common #5 (first-run, DCP)

This is some pretty classic old-school martial arts action here - more or less every beat goes as expected based on the Taken template, but the action is darn solid in terms of being quick and brutal but easy to follow while also doing things like putting its hero against various modern art installations. It delivers what it promises and with style.

It opens with Lam (Kieu Minh Tuan) as a young man, having just seen his family killed and quite capable on avenging them as he storms the home of crime boss "Scarface" along with a whole mess of minions, but he takes the dying gangster's words that he'll continue to lose those he loves if he continues to be a killer to heart, and twenty years later, he's living a quiet life, poor, but mostly happy with wife Hanh (Van Trang) and stepdaughter Tien (Thua Tuan Anh), even if doing day labor occasionally gets him involved in jobs like helping Lu (Mac Van Khoa) and his company of "movers" who have not exactly been hired by an apartment's residents. One night Tien does not come home from a job interview in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, so he starts nosing around.

From there, you kind of know the deal - the young punks of the area do not have any idea what kind of guy is living in their midst, there's an ongoing investigation that doesn't need some lone wolf getting involved, and maybe he still has some friends from the old days. If it diverges from the path laid down by a few dozen movies with the same basic story, it's maybe because one can forget just what a mean streak this genre can have when stringing together action sequences is more the aim than, say, validating the father's pride and worth, as well as a the need for the police to not look entirely like they need vigilantes to do their work. Writer/director Dan Trong Tran knows the movie he's making, and if it means not messing around that much between fights or having a villain merry-go-round that keeps Lam from actually having an opposite number (the film kind of settles on Quoc Truong's art enthusiast), well, that's not really important.

What's important, obviously, is the action, and that's solid as heck; there's been good action coming out of Vietnam for 15 years or so, and while it's Dan Trong Tran's first film as writer/director (he has mostly produced for director Le-Van Kiet), he's got a decent eye and a solid action director in Kefi Abrikh; between the hard hits and the inventiveness of some of the settings, they manage to evoke the sort of Hong Kong pre-handover vibe intended. The movie is probably also a notch or two better than most at genuinely convincing the audience that this guy, underworld legend that he may have been at one point, is in fact 20 years past his prime and out of practice. He recovers soon enough, sure, but he also spends a lot of time getting the crap beat out of him. There's much less ego than usual here.

I must admit, though, that I'm mildly disappointed they didn't come back around to reference constipated civet-poop coffee that one character serves another early on, perhaps as a reassurance that the daughter will be stronger for having gone through this. That would be the sort of dorkily-earnest but kind of messed-up bit that would really cement Bad Blood as that sort of classic "great fights, weird elsewhere" movie.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 3 November 2023 - 9 November 2023

Hey, check it out - Alamo Drafthouse Boston is actually putting tickets on sale for two weeks from now, roughly a year from when it was first expected. Looks like they may have enough nifty special programming to have their own section here. In the meantime…
  • The Holdovers will be opening wider in a couple weeks, but it has a decent size for its initial wave, maybe in part because it's set and shot nearby. It stars paul Giamatti as a boarding school teacher charged with looking after those who can't go home for the holidays, both despite and because of how he loathes the privileged brats. It's a reunion with Sideways director Alexander Payne and a ton of fun. It's at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, Kendall Square, and Boston Common. The Coolidge has got a 35mm print for screen #1, so check showtimes on the site.

    Ahead of its opening next week, the Coolidge has a special screening of Godfrey Reggio's featurette "Once Within a Time" on Friday night, with a post-fim Q&A from producer Steven Soderbergh and co-director Jon Kane.

    Midnights at the Coolidge in November feature the films of David Fincher on 35mm, with Alien 3 on Friday and Seven on Saturday. Monday's Science on Screen show is Danny Boyle's Sunshine, also on 35mm. Tuesday's Noirvember show includes a 35mm print of Thief on Tuesday, with pre-show seminar from BU professor Justin Liberman. On Sunday, they welcome Foster Hirsch for a screening of Rebel without a Cause, which kicks off a "The Fifties at Warner" series that will also include screenings at the Brattle and Somerville Theatres.
  • All three of the wide releases this week, interestingly, are led by women, starting with Meg Ryan's feature directorial debut, What Happens Later, in which she and David Duchovny play a former couple who meet up, years later, during a delay in an airport and get marooned there (security, apparently, be damned). It opens at the Lexington Venue, Boston Common, South Bay, and Assembly Row.

    Sophia Coppola has a new film out, with Priscilla starring Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley, who married Elvis very young and thus found herself at the epicenter of something no teenager is ready for. It's at the Somerville, Boston Common, the Kendall, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards.

    The Marsh King's Daughter features Daisy Ridley as a woman who spent the first ten years of her life being raised by the man (Ben Mendelsohn) who kidnapped her mother, who now has a daughter of her own to defend when her father breaks out of prison. It plays Boston Common and Assembly Row.

    South Bay and Assembly Row have Oppenheimer back on their Imax screens; Gran Turismo plays late shows at Boston Common ahead of Tuesday's home-video release; Arsenal Yards brings back Top Gun: Maverick (including CWX).

    Trolls: Band Together has early access screenings at Boston Common, Assembly Row, and Chestnut Hill on Saturday. The Last Waltz has 45th Anniversary shows at South Bay, Assembly Row on Sunday; concert film K-Love Live at Red Rocks is at Assembly Row on Monday and Tuesday; Tuesday music documentary The Stones & Brian Jones plays the Regent, Boston Common, and Kendall Square Tuesday. AMC starts a "Screen Unseen" series of mystery previews on Monday, with shows at Boston Common, Assembly Row.
  • This week's Netflix opening at Landmark Kendall Square is Rustin, which stars Colman Domingo as one of the key figures in the Civil Rights Movement who organized the 1963 March on Washington, Director George C. Wolfe, notably, last made Chadwick Boseman's final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

    The month's Retro Replay series at the Kendall is "Thanks for Hanks", with The 'Burbs playing for $5 on Tuesday.
  • The Brattle Theatre has the new restoration of Chen Kaige's Farewell, My Concubine, featuring Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi as two men who grow up in the Peking Opera Academy, dawn to each other although one would marry a courtesan played by Gong Li. It plays Friday to Monday plus a matinee on Wednesday, and several shows are already listed as sold out.

    There are also late shows Friday to Sunday and Wednesday of Where the Devil Roams, the latest horror indie from an upstate New York family, involving a murderous family that travels with the carnival. I saw it at Fantasia, and it's an interesting novelty, at least. On Tuesday, they team with RPM Festival to welcome Sarah Friedland and her "Movement Exercises Trilogy", a collection of three short films with a post-screening Q&A. Wednesday has a special premiere of music documentary In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50.
  • Three new ones from India open at Apple Fresh Pond on Friday: Malayalam film Garudan is a drama where a college professor must work with a cop to solve a crime. Telugu action-comedy Keedaa Cola has a group of scammers getting much more than they bargained for when they fake finding a cockroach in a soda, and Telugu horror movie Maa Oori Polimera 2 has the heroes discovering black magic in a small village. On Saturday and Sunday, they also have Bangladeshi drama 1971 Shei Shob Din, Odia-language action flick Pratisodh, and Bengali thriller Dasham Avatar. Leo: Bloody Sweet also continues at Fresh Pond with shows in Tamil & Telugu.

    Mexican drama Radical opens at Boston Common, starring Eugenio Derbez as a teacher fighting for his students in a corrupt border town.

    Anime The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes opens at Boston Common this weekend; it involves a mysterious tunnel which grants one's heart's desire at the cost of years of one's life. Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning plays Boston Common, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Arsenal Yards on Wednesday (dubbed) and Thursday (subtitled); Boston Common has an AXCN show of Ghost in the Shell (not sure which revision) on Wednesday (subtitled) and Thursday (dubbed).

    Vietnamese action film Bad Blood continues at South Bay.
  • The Somerville Theatre appears to be down a screen this week, not showing anything on #2 until Wednesday, when Warren Miller's All Time, a compilation of skiing film from 74 years, grabs the big screen for two days.

    The Capitol hosts the Arlington International Film Festival through Sunday, with full programs on two screens all weekend.
  • The Harvard Film Archive begins "Out of the Ashes: The US-ROK Alliance & South Korean Cinema" this weekend, taking a close look at Korean film in the postwar period in particular. The Flower in Hell plays Friday evening (with short "Nakdong River") and Sunday afternoon (no short), with 35mm prints of Holiday in Seoul and Yongary, Monster from the Deep playing separately on Saturday evening, and a collection of US Information Service-Korea shorts playing Sunday night.

    On Monday night, Robert Humphreville accompanies the first of two recently restored silent features by Elvira Notari, The Holy Night, which plays on 35mm film alongside the (digitally projected) short "Soldier's Fantasy"; a second will screen next week.
  • The Regent Theatre has The Stones & Brian Jones on Tuesday, Joan Baez: I Am a Noise as the "Midweek Music Movies and More" show on Wednesday (though I don't believe there is a guest this week), and Advice for Girls: An All-Woman Ski Film on Thursday.
  • The Boston Jewish Film Festival continues through the week, with in-person shows at the JCC Reimer-Goldstein Theater (Saturday/Sunday), the MFA (Sunday), Orchard Cove in Canton (Monday), West Newton (Tuesday/Thursday), the Coolidge (Wednesday), and the Brattle (Thursday).
  • Bright Lights has postponed the week's intended screening, Israelism, until next February considering the subject matter, although the filmmakers will be hosting a virtual screening Sunday night (RSVP information here soon).
  • The Museum of Science has tickets on sale for Oppenheimer on the Omnimax dome on Friday nights between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
  • The West Newton Cinema opens Beyond Utopia, the documentary about defectors from North Korea. They also continue Killers of the Flower Moon, Eras (through Sunday), Paw Patrol (Saturday/Sunday), Golda, Past Lives (no show Thursday), Barbie, and Oppenheimer (Saturday/Sunday). Open all week.

    The Lexington Venue has The Eras Tour, What Happens Later, and Anatomy of a Fall from Friday to Sunday.

    The Luna Theater has Dics: The Musical on Friday and Saturday, Clue on Sunday, and the weekly Weirdo Wednesday show on the schedule.

    Cinema Salem finally gets Killers of the Flower Moon and Anatomy of a Fall now that Halloween is done, though they keep A Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus (it is Salem, after all).

    If you can make it out Davers's Liberty Tree Mall, they've got Divinity, an absolutely crazy (but fun!) sci-fi flick that was so out there that the Boston Underground Film Festival made it the midnight show.
A fair amount of catch-up to do, but I'm also looking forward to checking out Farewell My Concubine, The Marsh King's Daughter, Sunshine, Rustin and maybe Priscilla and What Happens Later.