Me and My Gal (1932)
These days the title of the ArtsEmerson series Movies Matter seems a bit naive. Aren't movies just mindless
entertainment whose sole purpose is making money at the box office? Dave Kehr, one of America's best film critics, doesn't
think so, and in a recently published collection of his film criticism written
between 1974 and 1986, When Movies Mattered, he makes a strong case.
short life - she died at age 29 in 1990 as a result of her multiple addictions
- was as tormented and astonishing as her three plays. They are uncompromising
accounts of the desperate, defiled lives of the poor in the housing project in
Bradford, England, where she grew up, including The
which is also the title of Clio Barnard's 2010 biographical film about her.
This week's most satisfying cinematic experience might
be watching a classic film noir in the vintage, rococo splendor of the Paramount Center. ArtsEmerson will screen little-known
B-movie auteur Phil Karlson's Tight
Spot (1955; 7 pm), with Ginger Rogers as a mob moll
who doesn't dance but does sing for the prosecution at her boss's trial.
Since Stanley Kubrick died, Terrence Malick has had no
rival when it comes to obsessive, visionary directors who take forever to make
a movie. You can catch most of his œuvre in "Three Films By
Terrence Malick" at ArtsEmerson: his first and perhaps best, Badlands
May 20 @ 7 pm + May 21 @ 9 pm), the only crime-spree film to rival Bonnie
and Clyde; Days of Heaven (1978; May 20 @ 9 pm
+ May 21 @ 7 pm), perhaps the most visually beautiful American film ever; and The
New World (2005; May 21 @ 2 pm + May 22 @ 7 pm), which, well,
has lots of foliage.
In the tradition of Dogtoothand Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mexican director
Jorge Michel Grau's We Are What We Are (2010) explores what happens when family values are taken to an extreme. A father drops dead in the street, leaving the role of breadwinner to the eldestson, a fractious teenager. It's a lot to be responsible for, especially since
the family's bread of choice is human flesh.
The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol (1965)
Unlike the recent Know-Nothing right-wingers who have
embraced the name, the Boston Tea Party, the great local rock venue of the '60s,
was truly revolutionary. So were the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol, and
the latter took his camera to shoot the former when they performed at the Tea
Party in 1967.
Despite his terse, cinematic style, Ernest Hemingway
never had much luck when his work was adapted for the screen. But there are a
couple of exceptions. Frank Borzage made a stark, atmospheric A Farewell to Arms (1932), with Gary Cooper as the callow WWI ambulance driver and Helen Hayes as
the nurse who loves him.
A lot of filmmakers these days are being
compared to John Cassavetes, so this look at the real thing from the folks at ArtsEmerson
might be illuminating. Faces
(1968) is typical of his visceral, cinéma-vérité
examinations of all too convincingly tormented relationships, as an older
married couple (John Marley and Gena Rowlands) break up and pursue younger
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were about as successful at rejiggering
Alice in Wonderland as they were
at remaking Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. They failed to
duplicate Gene Wilder's sadistic charm as the candy impresario, a necessary
trait for someone transforming a naughty girl into a giant blueberry or
shrinking another brat to six inches tall and then stretching him back to size
with a taffy-pulling machine.