Before he had them kill off a billion people in War
of the Worlds (2005), Steven Spielberg was more optimistic about
aliens. In fact, they signified redemption. For example, in Close
Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), Richard Dreyfus plays a
family man seized by visions that take him to a terrifying and ecstatic
rendezvous with the mother ship.
heroes of each of the following three films at the Brattle, separated by five
decades, are outsiders who are wiser than they appear. Gary Cooper plays the
title free spirit in Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes To
(1936); he inherits a fortune and is besieged by scalawags until
he meets an honest woman (Jean Arthur) - or is she? In Gregory La Cava's My Man Godfrey (1936) William Powell plays a Depression-era bum - or is he? - picked up in
a scavenger hunt by a wealthy woman played by Carole Lombard.
Reputedly even more disgusting than Centipede, Srdjan Spasojevic's notorious A Serbian Film
has tested the stomachs of even the most hardcore splatter-porn fans around the
world. In other words, don't miss it. (For more insight into ASF and its extreme-horror bretheren, see Simon Paul Augustine's essay in this week's Phoenix
Born in 1912,
he's probably the oldest Japanese director you've never heard of, making the Masterworks of Kaneto Shindo
at the HFA essential viewing. The films include Shindo's harrowing and
controversial Children of Hiroshima
(1952; 7 pm), an uncompromising look at the A-bombing of Japan; his
masterpiece, Onibaba (1964; 9 pm) a Marxist parable about social
breakdown set in medieval Japan; and his most recent film, Postcard
(2010; May 30 @ 7 pm ), an autobiographical drama about a Japanese soldier who
sends his wife the title missive as he's shipped out to the Pacific in World
Is the prevalence of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in the
recently released Indie film Hesher a reference to David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986)? Dennis Hopper's endorsement of
that product, not to mention his use of a gas mask, are only a couple of
reasons to see one of the greatest surrealist movies since Un
chien Andalou It all starts with an ear that Kyle MacLachlan's
callow hero finds in a field, and ends with the blue bird of happiness, with
Laura Dern and Isabella Rossellini making erotically confusing appearances
along the way.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY (cited on A-Word-A-Day by Anu Garg):
"It is well to know something of the manners of various
peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that
everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who
have seen nothing are accustomed to think."
Since Stanley Kubrick died, Terrence Malick has had no
rival when it comes to obsessive, visionary directors who take forever to make
a movie. You can catch most of his œuvre in "Three Films By
Terrence Malick" at ArtsEmerson: his first and perhaps best, Badlands
May 20 @ 7 pm + May 21 @ 9 pm), the only crime-spree film to rival Bonnie
and Clyde; Days of Heaven (1978; May 20 @ 9 pm
+ May 21 @ 7 pm), perhaps the most visually beautiful American film ever; and The
New World (2005; May 21 @ 2 pm + May 22 @ 7 pm), which, well,
has lots of foliage.
What's the world coming to when a filmmaker can't joke about
the Nazis and the Final Solution during a Cannes
press conference? Lars Von Trier is a Dane and Denmark's decidedly non-Jewish king
put on a yellow star during the war, bravely defying the Nazis. Does this offer
residual protection for inane rambling by depression-prone provocateurs who
make movies in the 21st century? Nah --
but Von Trier is a Nazi like Britney Spears is an intellectual.
It's a shame that the world, according to Rapture experts, ends May 21 because that
means we'll miss some interesting end of the world movies. Not necessarily films in which the world ends with a bang, like "Armageddon" or '2012," but more the whimper
kind-- reflective and philosophical.
Like Lars Von Triers's "Melancholia,"
which just premiered at Cannes.
Two prototypical New York artists collaborate in Public Speaking (2010), Martin Scorsese's documentary
portrait of acerbic writer and irrepressible conversationalist Fran Lebowitz. She discusses culture, politics, and
decades of New York memories while presiding over her booth in Manhattan's
The master of philosophical carnage, Park Chan-wook reaffirmed the ongoing world-class
status of Korean cinema with Oldboy (2003). In a precursor to Saw, a man finds himself inexplicably imprisoned in
a whimsical kind of solitary confinement. Fifteen years later, he's plenty
pissed off, so when he's released and given five days to find his tormentor,
he's ready for revenge.
The City Below (2010)
Every four decades or so, some German
filmmakers stir themselves into a frenzy of creative energy and revitalize
world cinema. Could this be happening with Christoph Hochhäusler and Isabelle
Stever, who are showcased in the Harvard Film Archive weekend program "The Berlin School Now"?
Stever's Gisela (2005; May 13 @ 7 pm) looks at
how the stolid existence of a suburban mom is disrupted, or maybe not, when a
knucklehead from her school days shows up.
In the tradition of Dogtoothand Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mexican director
Jorge Michel Grau's We Are What We Are (2010) explores what happens when family values are taken to an extreme. A father drops dead in the street, leaving the role of breadwinner to the eldestson, a fractious teenager. It's a lot to be responsible for, especially since
the family's bread of choice is human flesh.
The Cannes Film Festival started yesterday, and our crack correspondent Lisa Nesselson is on the scene. Here's her first dispatch:
There are people who don't much care for Woody Allen, but is
that any reason for U.S. Navy SEALS to track him down and kill him?
Allen's latest romp, "Midnight in Paris" opened the 64th Cannes Film Festival on
the night of May 11th.
If you missed the Boston
Underground Film Festival, the Independent Film
Festival of Boston, and are in the process of missing the ongoing
LGBT Film Festival at the MFA, what the
heck are you doing with your life? If a short attention span is the problem,
take the time to drop in on inFEST,
a program of "weird and wonderful" shorts from local filmmakers that screens tomorrow at