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.
The approaching end of the movie award season is a good time
to be reminded of the past masterpieces that this year's winners will
ultimately be compared to. Like Luis Buñuel's surreal/neo-realist Los Olvidados (1950; 6 pm), a tender,
and brutal, study of doomed delinquents, and Satyajit Ray's tragicomic The Music Room (1958; 9 pm), a tale of a
cultured nabob fallen on hard times whose final gesture of refinement is one
last concert in the title salon (1958; 9 pm).
Kimberly Peirce, now wrapping up her remake of Brian De
Palma's thriller Carrie, first came
on the scene with this groundbreaking 1999 true story about a young woman who
preferred to be a man, much to the confusion and brutal outrage of a small Nebraska community. It won
Hilary Swank a Best Actress Oscar, and proved a landmark in gaining tolerance
for alternative sexual lifestyles.
Has Spike Lee has been living up to the title of his breakthrough
hit, Do the Right Thing (1989)? These
days he seems to be putting more effort into knocking other filmmakers than in
making good films. This might be his best - a funny, flashy, thoughtful fable
in which he stars as a goofball pizza deliveryman in Brooklyn who gets caught
up in the racial strife simmering during the hottest day of the summer.
While Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained offers a highly satisfying, simplistic,
wish-fulfillment fantasy about achieving racial justice, Stanley Nelson's
documentary Freedom Riders (2010)
shows what the arduous, perilous struggle was really like. In 1961, hundreds of
activists put their lives on the line peacefully challenging segregation on
public transportation in the Deep South,
achieving more than guns and vengeance ever could.
And you thought your holiday was difficult. Woody Allen
balanced his talents for the comic and dramatic in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), in which he also plays the
ex-husband of the title sibling, played by soon to be ex-flame Mia Farrow. They
join Hannah's two sisters played by Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey for a
family Thanksgiving dinner with extra helpings of infidelity and neuroses.
The Hurt Locker
Paul Thomas Anderson said that his film The Master, in which a shell-shocked WWII vet tries to return to
normal life, was inspired in part by William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946; 6 pm), the revered classic
dealing with the same subject. If you haven't seen it, here's your chance,
likewise Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning Iraq War masterpiece The Hurt Locker (2008; 9 pm).
What would Hollywood
do without the Bard? For one thing they'd have to come up with another premise
for Gil Junger's 10 Things I Hate About
You (1999), in which Shakespeare's The
Taming of the Shrew has been updated to a modern high school. Julia Stiles
and a pre-Joker fame Heath Ledger star.
There's a whole world of great movies out there that
we'll probably never see, not even in a cinema-savvy town like Boston, unless
we have the means to go to, say, the Locarno Film Festival or the Istanbul
International Independent Film Festival. French director Valérie Massadian won
top prizes at both of those events for her debut film Nana (2011), and thanks
to ArtsEmerson's "Festival Focus" series you can see why.
ArtsEmerson's outstanding series Gotta Dance: The
American Movie Musical 1929-1953 continues with Roy Del Ruth's Kid
starring then-superstar and enduring legend Eddie "Banjo Eyes" Cantor. He plays
a poor Brooklyn boy who inherits a fortune from an archeologist uncle but must
journey to Egypt
and endure fanciful escapades to claim it.
You can see how far Hollywood has come in its depiction of
African Americans by comparing the multiply-Oscar-nominated The Help with
Hearts in Dixie (1929 | 6:30 pm), screening as part of the ArtsEmerson Gotta
Dance: The American Movie Musical 1929-1953 series. Made by whites and starring
an all-black cast, Hearts tells the story of cotton-pickers in the Deep South
coping with the deaths of loved ones.
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Although The Artist celebrates the golden age
of silent movies, the first talkies were no slouch, either. The early Hollywood musicals are unsurpassed when it comes to
integrating sound into cinema, as is evident in the wonderful retrospective Gotta Dance: The American Movie Musical 1929-1953 at ArtsEmerson.
One Hour With You (1932)
Ernst Lubitsch, the
master of subtle, edgy, and bracingly witty romantic comedy, collaborated with
George Cukor to reboot his silent confection The Marriage Circle (1924) into the saucy musical One Hour With You (1932; 7 pm). In it a happily married couple
prove that wedded bliss doesn't necessarily require fidelity.
The title of Manoel de Oliveira's A
Talking Picture (2003) is a bit ironic, considering that the
102-year-old director was making movies when they were still silent. His genius
remains undimmed in this witty, provocative, somewhat allegorical tale about
globalism, communication, and doom. A mother and daughter on a cruise share the
captain's table with three beauties from different countries.