The Belmont World Film series continues its must-see
programming with a screening of Vittorio and Paolo Taviani's compelling and
brilliant Caesar Must Die (2012), a
quasi documentary about hardened inmates in a Roman prison who are putting
together a production of Shakespeare's
Julius Caesar. The film works on several levels: as a version of the play,
as an account of how the play was staged, and as a reflection of the lives of
the inmates in the cast.
This Is Spinal Tap
(1984) is tomorrow tonight's Science on Screen
featured film, and following the screening, the painful medical procedure of
the title will be demonstrated on some lucky member of the audience. ...Well,
maybe some other time. Instead, Christopher Shera, a fellow of the Acoustical
Society of America, will discuss the film and its relationship to studies about
how the ear amplifies, analyzes, and transmits sound.
The last awards ceremony of the year may well be the best,
and not just because Phoenix film
editor Peter Keough is one of the presenters. For the 19th year, the Chlotrudis
Society will present awards to the best of the year's offbeat, obscure, and
independent films in a program notable for its puckish humor and musical
ingenuity - just try writing a song with the name of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in the
Her Zero Dark Thirty
got robbed at the Oscars, but you can console yourself by watching some of
Kathryn Bigelow's earlier films in this triple feature at ArtsEmerson. It
includes Blue Steel (1989; 1 pm), in
which Jamie Lee Curtis crushed Hollywood female stereotypes playing a cop out
to get a serial killer; Point Break (1991;
6 pm), a genre-scrambling thriller in which Keanu Reeves is cast against type
as an FBI agent who infiltrates a gang of surfing bank robbers; and The Weight of Water (2000; 9 pm), an
adaptation of the Anita Shreve novel, in which the lives of those investigating
a century-old murder intermingle with those of the people being researched.
Compare any of today's so-called romantic comedies with the
elegant confections of Ernst Lubitsch from eight decades ago and you'll
probably get depressed. So just forget about them and enjoy the offerings in
the Brattle Theatre retrospective series The
Lubitsch Touch. It starts tomorrow tonight with Ninotchka
(1939), in which Greta Garbo plays a Soviet commissar whose party-line
propriety is shattered when she visits Paris on assignment and falls for the
couture and the charms of a class enemy, a Count played by Melvyn Douglas.
You might recall Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas from when
his terrific Battle in Heaven (2005)
was cited recently by the Phoenix for
featuring one of the 55 Worst Sex Scenes of the 21st Century ("Saddest blowjob
in the world"). His latest film, Post
Tenebras Lux (2012), may not be as transgressive, but it nonetheless bears
the stamp of a unique and visionary artist in its depiction of a privileged
family whose façade of respectability melts into hallucinatory chaos.
Still from "Landfill 16" by Jennifer Reeves
One of the most innovative and intriguing film series
around, Balagan doesn't disappoint with tonight's program, DIY Dystopia. It includes
experimental shorts, made the old fashioned way -
on celluloid, that draw parallels between the doom of traditional filmmaking and
the downfall of the environment.
A festival nestled in a sleepy suburb has grown into one of
the area's best-programmed and most rewarding film events. Now in its 12th
year, the Belmont World Film Festival, which runs through April 29, opens
tonight with Argentinean director Sebastián Borensztein's Chinese Take-Away (2011). In it, a reclusive Buenos Aires oddball whose hobby is
collecting bizarre news stories uncharacteristically helps out a stranded
Korean director Seung-Jun Yi's documentary Planet of Snail (2011) traces the outer
and inner lives of an extraordinary couple: Young-Chan, a deaf and blind poet,
and his wife Soon-Ho, whose body is shrunken to the size of a child's from a
spinal disorder. Together they overcome life's obstacles, such as changing a
light bulb, while sharing a life of poetic imagination.
Made while he was dying, Raoul Ruiz’s final film, Night Across the Street (2012), epitomizes
the themes he had been exploring in the hundred-plus films of his career and
serves as a surreal affirmation of the power of cinema and the imagination. An
ailing office worker reminisces about his hallucinatory past — involving
unlikely encounters with Beethoven, Long John Silver, and assorted phantasms — and
opens a labyrinth of cryptic, interconnected narratives.
Maybe Brian De Palma's best film and, next to The Shining, the best adaptation of a Stephen
King novel, Carrie (1976) remains the
scariest depiction of a difficult adolescence on film. Sissy Spacek plays the
tormented teen of the title who will not suffer long the bullies in school or her
Bible-thumping mother (Piper Laurie).
Many of you will get your first taste of the visionary,
disturbing, and seductive cinema of Park Chan-wook with his first Hollywood film, Stoker,
which opens Friday. For the full course, you should sample
his Vengeance Trilogy, which will be screening as a triple bill at
the Brattle Theatre on Wednesday, March 6.
The title The Bitter
Buddha, a documentary about alt-comic Eddie Pepitone, sums up a certain style
of standup comedy: a core of Zen calm surrounded by snide hilarity. This wacked-out,
veteran comic's comic has not attained the marquee status of some of those he has
inspired, many of whom, including Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, and
Patton Oswalt, are interviewed in the film to explain his impact and appeal.
It's hard to believe, after Life Is Beautiful and all the other the unwatchable films he has
made since that inexplicable Oscar winner, but Roberto Benigni used to be a
funny guy. At least, he is in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986), where he, Tom Waits, and John Lurie play a trio
of prison mates who escape and torment themselves as they slog through the Louisiana bayous in a
hilarious search for some kind of redemption.
Booze, drugs, sex, and genius - the life of the late great
auteur Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel
Without a Cause, In a Lonely Place,
and many other iconic masterpieces, had the stuff of several Hollywood legends,
and his wife Susan shared a lot of it. She'll be a guest of Phoenix
critic Gerald Peary at BU Cinémathèque's An
Evening with Susan Ray