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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some experiences need to be shared to be endured. The
Academy Awards is one of them. Every year the Brattle Theatre complies by
throwing a pre-program bash. Okay, it's $75, but it goes to a good cause, the
Brattle Foundation, and it gives you a chance to put a buzz
on before Oscar-show host Seth MacFarlane starts reprising his Family Guy voices and so that even if Les Misérables wins Best Picture, you'll
be having such a good time you won't care.
In Carlo Guillermo Proto's documentary El Huaso (2012), the director's father, Toronto
retiree Gustavo Proto, returns to his native Chile to fulfill his dream of
becoming the rodeo star of the title. But tests suggest that he might have
Alzheimer's, which could complicate, or maybe simplify his plans, since he intends
to end his life once his condition becomes hopeless.
It's a lot shorter than the Oscar show later this month, and
it's a lot more fun, as well. The Boston Society of Film Critics Annual Awards
and Screening takes place tomorrow night at the Brattle Theatre, and the featured film
will be Best Documentary winner How To
Survive a Plague (2012), with the director, David France, accepting his
award in person and sticking around for a Q&A after the screening.
This Is Not a Film
Under house arrest in Tehran, Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi managed
to smuggle his film This Is Not a Film
(2012; 7:30 pm ) out of the country by putting it on a flashdrive and sticking
it in a cake. Under house arrest in China, world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei
gets his message out via Twitter and other ironic acts of subversion, as seen
in Alison Klayman's Ai Weiwei: Never
Sorry (2012; 5:30 + 9:15).
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Benh Zeitlin's debut feature Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012; 3:30 + 7:30 pm)
raised some eyebrows by scoring Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director,
Actress, and Screenplay. Eagle-Tribune
film critic Greg Vellante will explain the appeal of this sui generis, magical-realist tale of moonshine, squalid poverty,
childhood innocence, and environmental disaster as it opens the Brattle
Theatre's "(Some of) The Best of 2012" series.
Documentaries remain the hottest genre in filmmaking today,
and The DocYard continues to bring the best and most recent to their series at
the Brattle Theatre. On Monday night they present Jason Tippett and Elizabeth Mimms's
debut feature Only the Young (2012),
a poetic study of teenagers growing up in the economically blighted setting of
a small, Southern California desert town.
Well, it's not so different now, as many have tried and
failed to reproduce the surreal, absurdist hilarity of the ingenious clowns
celebrated in Monty Python Week! at the Brattle Theatre. Every evening, in
tandem with screenings of A Liar's
Autobiography: The Untrue Story of
Monty Python's Graham Chapman, Bill (son of Terry) Jones's documentary
about the late member of the troupe, they'll present a classic film from the
Python canon, starting Saturday, January 26 with - what else? - the potpourri of skits that
made them famous, And Now for Something
Completely Different (1971).
The Brattle's "Dead of Winter: Satan on the Screen" comes to
a diabolical climax with Roman Polanski's sardonic, twisted masterpiece, Rosemary's Baby (1968). Adapted from
the Ira Levin novel, it doesn't need many special effects to evoke the chill of
pure evil in its story of a young couple (Mia Farrow and John Cassavettes) who
make friends with some interesting neighbors when they move into the creepy
Dakota (a/k/a "Bramford") building in an otherworldly Upper West Side
The cold weather makes everyone long to visit someplace
warm, but the Brattle might be taking that impulse to infernal extremes with
their series "Dead of Winter: Satan on Screen." Their round-up of hellacious
hits begins today with the European cut of Ridley Scott's Legend (1985), in which Tom Cruise plays a hero who must save his
land from a demon played by Tim Curry.
Not so long ago Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliant, bizarre,
and beautiful parable about a whacked-out WWII vet (Joachim Phoenix) and the
charismatic founder of a Scientology-like cult (Philip Seymour Hoffman) was
seen as an Oscar shoo-in. It's since been eclipsed by other wannabes, but don't
be surprised when in a decade or two it makes it into Sight & Sound's Ten Best List.