It seems obvious now, but it took the programming geniuses
at the Brattle to pair these two movies for Mother's Day. Perhaps Alfred
Hitchcock's scariest film, Psycho (1960; 7:15 pm) demonstrates
the terrible things that can happen when Oedipal obsession, voyeurism, taxidermy,
and motel management come together under one spooky roof.
Still from Andrews' short film "The Haunted Camera"
Sometimes an artist can transform painful,
debilitating experiences into something visionary. In 2005 Nancy Andrews
suffered a near-fatal illness, and it inspired her to make films that probe the
far reaches of consciousness. One such is Behind
the Eyes are the Ears, a surreal exploration of reality, fantasy, and
identity that combines eerie animation and live action footage.
Massimo D'Anolfi and Martina Parenti fittingly evoke
Franz Kafka, the paranoid master of modernism, with the title of their
documentary, The Castle (2011). This scary exposé examines the draconic
anti-terrorism measures taken at Italy's Malpensa airport, where the latest Big
Brother technology and tactics are developed.
It's your typical, feel-good, inspirational story
about a poor kid whose dream comes true through his own hard work and the help
of an inspiring mentor. Except it doesn't quite happen that way in real life.
In Gemma Atwal's Marathon Boy (2010), a four-year-old kid escapes from his
squalid origins Slumdog Millionaire-style
when he's trained to become India's
As the distinctions between good and bad movies blurs, the
Brattle Theatre's Schlock Around the
Clock series might be the last arbiter of quality. But are they serious
about including Team America: World Police
(2004; midnight) as schlock? Trey Parker and Matt Stone's obscene, brutal, and
hilarious parody of action films and the world at large looms like auteur
genius over the so-called respectable crap on the screen these days.
One of the most influential and beloved of independent
films, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1979) tells the stark and wrenching story of a
stockyard worker in Watts whose ennui and frustration threatens to destroy his
family and his life. Few filmmakers have so successfully recreated the
enervating reality of everyday existence and its fleeting glimpses of
transcendence and beauty.
We've seen police interrogations simulated on TV shows
and have heard stories about how they coerce and manipulate innocent people
into incriminating themselves. Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's Scenes of a Crime distills into 87 minutes one such 10-hour grilling, which
resulted in a disputed conviction for a child murder in New York.
John Dies at the End
Never a disappointment for those seeking
transgressive, provocative, ground-breaking, or just plain entertaining movies,
the Boston Underground Film Festival opens on Thursday, March 29 with the
spoiler-defying John Dies at the End (2012; 8 pm) , a horror
film of sorts about a newfangled drug called Soy Sauce that sends users on a
trip from which they don't return - though something does.
A Moment in Her Story:
Stories from the Boston Women's Movement
As hard-hitting as its acronym, the WAM! (Women, Action & the Media) Film Festival (this Saturday, March 24) presents films by and
about women tackling tough issues and injustices. The films include The
Fruit of Our Labor (1 pm), a trio of self-produced short docs about
Afghan women; Catherine Russo's A Moment in Her Story:
Stories from the Boston Women's Movement (2012; 7 pm), an account of local participants
in the second wave of feminism starting in 1968; and Melissa Johnson's No
Look Pass (2011; 9:30 pm), an inspiring portrait of a lesbian
Burmese immigrant who wants to play professional basketball.
Forever exploring new cinematic frontiers, the DocYard
series presents Bombay Beach (2011), the debut non-fiction feature
by video artist Alma Har'el. It's a visually stunning and aurally hypnotic
portrait of the derelict California
resort town of the title and the bereft, fascinating, and determined people who
42nd Street (1933)
Back in the Depression days Hollywood
knew how to turn economic and social injustice into entertainment. Mervyn
LeRoy's Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933; 5:30
+ 9:30 pm) starts with Ginger Rogers wearing only gold coins as she sings and
dances in Busby Berkeley's saucy and satiric "We're in the Money" number.
Spoiled boys and girls
demanding extravagant gifts for the holidays might better appreciate their good
fortune by watching Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's City of Lost Children (1995), though they may want to take their parents
along, as it's R-rated. A mad scientist kidnaps kids and takes them to the
island asylum of the title where he extracts their dreams to rejuvenate himself
via a kind of psychic vampirism.
Before the tryptophan from your roast turkey does you
in, you might want to top off your Thanksgiving Day by treating yourself to Labyrinth (1986), Muppeteer Jim Henson's
unheralded gem in which a young Jennifer Connelly stars as a girl who must
enter the surreal, Escher-like maze of the title, inhabited by some really big,
ugly Muppets, to rescue her brother from the Goblin King, played by David Bowie
having a bad hair day.
Sometimes it's hard to
explain why something becomes a pop-cultural phenomenon. Like the chimerical
heroes of Steve Barron's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), which - even
before this movie and its three sequels - dominated the '80s as a comic book,
Nintendo game, TV series, Pez dispenser, and so on.