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.
These days it's easy to get discouraged when trying to
make a dent in the miseries of the world. But those battling Apartheid decades
ago in South Africa faced
far more daunting challenges and prevailed, and following their example today
are young activists in South
Africa, battling to protect shantytown
dwellers threatened with eviction.
Despite the title, you won't find any Sergio Leone
style gunplay in Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,
but you might find the same embrace of barren vistas and troubled souls. In it,
a small caravan of police vehicles trails through the wastes of the title
region, with detectives taking a pair of accused murderers in search of the
body of their victim.
It seems like only yesterday that film fans first got
a look at both The Princess Bride
(1987; Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 25 at 5:30 + 9:30 pm), the now beloved
meta-fairy tale directed by Rob Reiner and written by William Goldman; and Mel
Brooks's now classic Star Wars parody
(1987 | Thursday, May 4 at 5:30 + 9:30 pm, Friday, May 25 at 7:30 pm).
Before there was Iron
Man, there was Robert Downey Sr.,
the father of the actor and one of the iconic figures of '60s independent
filmmaking. His Putney Swope (1969;
screens Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 pm), a savage satire of American materialism, greed,
and racial acrimony, is even more timely now than when it came out.
Now that the fog of St. Patrick's Day has cleared
somewhat, it's a good time to take a deeper look at the culture of the Olde
Sod. The 13th Boston Irish Film Festival opens tomorrow night at the
Brattle Theatre with Stella Days, a thoughtful cultural fable in which a priest
in a small Irish town in the '50s decides to open a theater to show Hollywood movies and expand his parishioners' provincial
Another excursion into esoteric cinema excellence by
the good people at Balagan, A Visit from Bruce Bickford showcases the work of the
avant-garde filmmaker who takes claymation far beyond the realm of Gumby or
even Aardman Animations and into a world of fecund, polymorphous perversity - a
kind of cross between Looney Tunes and Hieronymous Bosch.
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Two of the darkest, twistiest noirs grace the Brattle
screen Sunday, March 11 and Monday, March 12. Orson Welles epitomized exquisitely baroque decadence
and sumptuous treachery in The Lady From Shanghai (1947; Sunday at 12:30 + 5
pm, Monday at 7:30 pm), in which he also stars as a wayward but naïve sailor
bewitched by Rita Hayworth's chi-chi femme fatale.
Given the topnotch
film programs and local talent in the area, it's no wonder that Boston has been developing
into a hotbed of independent filmmaking. Take, for example, Party
Like It's A Verb, writer/director and B.U. graduate film school
alumnus Rob Peyrebrune's "unromantic" comedy about a crotchety,
suddenly single would-be lothario (Jeff Stern) who poses at a party as an
Are on Indian Land (1969)
The Occupy Boston protest raised a lot of issues
regarding haves and have-nots and the nature of democracy. It also touched on
the murky subject of public land ownership - who gets to say what happens with
a public place like the Rose Kennedy Greenway if not the people? To shed light
on that discussion, the cutting-edge Balagan Films people present Whose Land? on Tuesday, February 7, a selection of a half dozen short
documentaries ranging from Mort Ransen and Mike Mitchell's You
Are on Indian Land (1969) to Josh Gibson's Kudzu
Now in its fifth year, the Boston Society of Film
continues to provide a homespun, quirky, surprising, moving, and funny
alternative to all those other awards shows. This year they've snagged as a
guest their Best Screenplay co-winner, Stan
Chervin, co-writer of Moneyball, and will also be
screening that terrific more-than-a-baseball movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah
Hill, incidentally also nominated for a Best Picture and other Oscars.
Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis
Balagan continues to represent the cutting edge in
avant-garde cinema in these parts, as demonstrated in their latest program at
the Brattle, Balagan
Presents: A Visit From Daichi Saito.
It's a selection of shorts by the Japanese/Canadian philosopher auteur,
including Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis, winner of the top prize
at the 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival.
The House by the Cemetery (1981)
That mingling of coziness and terror that we call home is
the subject of the Brattle's Dead Of Winter: Haunted Houses on Film series. It starts today with a
preview screening of Ti West's The
Innkeepers (2011; 7:30 pm), about a pair of employees at an old New England inn who want to prove that it's haunted.
Long before he was tackling the big questions with
cosmic imagery and ceaseless voiceovers in The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick had made
one of the greatest crime films since Bonnie
and Clyde. Starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as real life
serial killer Charlie Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate,
Malick's first film Badlands (1973; 7:30 pm Monday, January 9 + 5:30 and
9:30 pm Tuesday, January 10) hauntingly evokes the twisted soul of the American heartland.
The holidays inspire both romantics and cynics, and
the Brattle Theatre is offering films for both points of view. If you decide to
catch the screening of Rare
tonight - and subsequently need a good dose of authentic holiday cheer - then
you can counter that with a viewing of Frank Capra's classic It's
A Wonderful Life (1946), which screens through December 20,
starting this afternoon.