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.
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).
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.
When you think of the land that gave us Heidi, cuckoo
clocks, and cheese, the topic of child abuse is not likely to come to mind.
Nonetheless, from 1800 to the 1950s Switzerland farmed out hundreds of
thousands of orphans and wayward youths to workhouses where they served as
virtual slaves. In a presentation by the Goethe Institut, Swiss filmmaker
Markus Imboden dramatizes this Dickensian injustice with this tale of Max, a
12-year-old boy sold to a farm family, where he is forced to work and treated
The Coolidge Corner Theatre continues its Django Unchained-inspired blaxploitation @fter Midnite movie series with Jonathan
Kaplan's Truck Turner (1974). Like Django,
Truck (Isaac Hayes) is a bounty hunter, but he's not as much of an idealist. He
doesn't seek justice, or even the rescue of his beloved, but rather $1000 for
bringing in a pimp named Gator.
The Master of Suspense got a raw deal in the lousy, recent
biopic bearing his name, but the Coolidge Big Screen Classics series showcases
his greatness with its screening of Rebecca
(1940). In it, Joan Fontaine plays a fresh-faced ingénue whose fairy-tale
marriage to a morose, elegant widower, played by Laurence Olivier, is disrupted
by two women, one of whom is dead.
Why is it that of all contemporary filmmakers ,none has as
keen and capricious an insight into the adolescent spirit as Wes Anderson,
director of the Oscar-nominated
Maybe Steven Schlozman, MD, Associate Director of Training for the Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program at the MGH among other distinguished
credentials, has the answer.
The Coolidge's @fter Midnite series
is screening The Bird with the Crystal
Plumage (1970), the first feature by maestro of suspense and shaman of
shocking violence, Dario Argento. Here an American visiting Rome with his girlfriend gets caught up in a
police manhunt for a killer. That's pretty scary, but what's even more
disturbing is the guy who eats cats.
Nearly all of David Lynch's films are inscrutable
masterpieces, but this mammoth adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic is
considered by some to be an inscrutable mess. As such it is also very
entertaining, with Kyle MacLachlan hamming it up as an intergalactic desert
warrior leading a jihad against an Evil Empire.
Those ambivalent about having children might consider
watching David Cronenberg's meditation on the subject, The Brood (1979). A woman with anger issues consults a therapist
whose experimental treatment results in her sprouting demons of wrath from her
body. They kill people, and they never call and never send flowers on Mother's
As we arrive at the Mayan deadline for the end of the world,
one of our last regrets is that the Coolidge chose Michael Bay's
Armageddon (1998) as its @fterMidnite
send off. Or maybe not; the gleeful absurdity of the premise (bunch of space
jockeys try to detonate deadly asteroid), the explosive special effects, and
Ben Affleck's Animal Crackers scene,
make this a dumb but entertaining way to spend the end.
Before his magic act of turning The Dark Knight Rises into cinema gold, Christopher Nolan made The Prestige (2006), the story of two
rival magicians in Victorian London and their relationship with wizard Nikola
Tesla (David Bowie), the eccentric genius who invented pretty much everything
It's 1980 in pre-fall-of-the-Wall East Germany, and the eponymous
character in Christian Petzold's Barbara (2012),
a pediatric surgeon in a backwater hospital, makes plans with her West German
beau to escape to freedom. But then there's Horst, the appealing head of her
department - is he wooing her or spying on her, or both? Top-notch suspense and
melodrama from one of Germany's
It's not as good as George Romero's 1978 original, but it
does have Sarah Polley blowing away zombies with a shotgun and one of the last
uses of found-footage horror that actually is scary. Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004) uses the same
premise as Romero - a random group of strangers holed up in a shopping mall
fending off hordes of zombies - except here the zombies are superfast and the
cultural commentary minimal.