Friday, May 24, 2024

The cheeky, inventive Reel Films/Fake Bands series kicks off Thursday at the Somerville Theater with “That Thing You Do!” directed by super nice guy Tom Hanks. The program, the brainchild of in-the-know guest programmer Jennifer Sullivan, offers films each Thursday, concluding at the end of May with “Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains” (1982), a little-seen treat that stars a young Diane Lane in full punk regalia (shaved head and all) as the frontwoman for the band of the title. 

The lineup has everything from pop to glam and even folk, and there’s a double dose of Christopher Guest (he writes and stars in “This is Spinal Tap” and stars and directs that funny folk-plucking pic, “A Mighty Wind”) and Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous” and “Singles”).

Favorites for me would be “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) and Rob Reiner’s timeless spoof of 1970s rock/metal, “This is Spinal Tap” (1984). The latter needs little introduction with the infamous “it goes to 11” scene, let alone the ego letdowns of small crowds and an even smaller Stonehenge on a (not so) big reunion tour featuring outlandish tunes such as “Sex Farm” and “Big Bottom” that, while certainly not #MeToo friendly, still float because of the barbed satire tuned inward on blind, air-headed sexism. “Goldmine,” a hypnotically nostalgic tribute to glam rock, centers around a pair of rockers clearly styled after David Bowie and Iggy Pop, the trials and tribulation of fame and success and the sexual freedom that comes with it. Directed by Todd Haynes (“Safe” and “Carol”) with spot-on original music by the Venus in Furs (consisting of members of Radiohead, Suede and Roxy Music) as well as era classics by Brian Eno and T-Rex, “Goldmine” is a wildly infectious earworm; it’s bolstered by dead-on performances by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor and a killer ensemble that includes Toni Collette and Christian Bale.

On the cool trivia side, “That Thing You Do!” features a young Charlize Theron in one of her first roles, and the Beatles/Dave Clark Five-esque song was cooked up by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne (“Stacy’s Mom”). “Fabulous Stains” co-starred a young Laura Dern and was directed by Lou Adler, whose only other feature was the Cheech & Chong cannabis comedy “Up in Smoke” (1978).

Many of the films will be exhibited on 35 MM. For information and tickets, see the Somerville Theatre website.

Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.