Monday, May 20, 2024

Film Ahead is a weekly column highlighting special events and repertory programming for the discerning Camberville filmgoer.


Local and virtual

Brattle returning to public screenings

The Brattle Theater in Harvard Square is preparing a July reopening. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Brattle Theatre announced this week that it will open its doors and resume regular film programming for the general public July 2, with a soft opening earlier for members. That July weekend will offer a cross-section of Brattle classics, including “Casablanca,” with the bulk of the July and August schedule devoted to a much anticipated “Recent Raves” program – top films you probably wished you could have seen on a big screen last year.

“We are very excited! We are hearing lots of excitement from our community as well, which is great,” executive director Ivy Moylan said. “This day wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support we have received, and we are so grateful to everyone who helped The Brattle make it to this moment.”

Follow the Brattle on social media or go to its website for updates.


In theaters and streaming

‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ (2021)

As a writer, Taylor Sheridan has had some incredible highs (“Sicario” and an Oscar nod for “Hell or High Water”) and some lows (the dull recent “Without Remorse”); as writer and director on this formulaic thriller, he lands in more middling ground. The sizzle that carries the film is Angelina Jolie (“Girl Interrupted,” “Salt”) as a hard-drinking firefighter – just one of the boys jumping out of a helicopter to fight Montana wildfires – with something of a death wish. That works to her and the viewer’s advantage when a young boy (Finn Little) fleeing mob hitmen falls into her charge and her momma bear instincts kick in. Adding kindling to the character-driven ensemble is Jon Bernthal (“Walking Dead”) as the local sheriff and the imperiled kid’s uncle, and Medina Senghore as his pregnant wife, who also gets to display her maternal ferocity. It’s a pat, by-the-numbers tangle amid flaming woods that flickers a notch above because of its strong leads. On HBO Max.


‘The Dry’ (2020)

Speaking of tinder, fire and the concept of law and justice in the remotes, here big city detective Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returns to his small farming hometown in the Outback for the funeral of a childhood friend. The friend allegedly killed his wife and child and shot himself, which naturally leads Falk to do some digging. We learn that Falk and his friend, when teens, were implicated in the disappearance of a local girl – there’s a lot of emotional scabs to do with that, which get peeled back when Falk lands. Flashbacks, themes of big farming screwing the little guy and memories of those recent Outback wildfires that killed so much wildlife (the title reflects the drought-stricken condition of the township) crowd the corners of the screen. Bana carries the film with stoic resolve etched across his face, and the film intrigues as it builds, but the pieces don’t all click, and you can feel the filmmaker (Robert Connolly) pulling the strings more than you’d like. Played as part of the recent Independent Film Festival Boston. At Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Kendall Square.


‘Dream Horse’ (2020)

Another IFFB film opening this week stars Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding,” “Hereditary”) as the true-life Jan Vokes, a small-town Welsh grocery clerk who gets a herd of her fellow villagers to go in on a brood mare to breed and raise racehorses. As improbable and whimsical as that sounds, things don’t go so well. The mum dies in her first throw. But the foal, Dream Alliance, goes onto great things, as does Vokes and the cadre of locals, including Damian Lewis (so good doing Steve McQueen in “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” in 2019). It’s not “National Velvet” (1944) or even “Seabiscuit” (2003), but it is a frolicky melodrama that rounds the track with heart and soul. At Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Kendall Square, and streaming in June.


‘New Order’ (2020)

In the near future, wedding guests gather at a wealthy Mexico home as rioting by lower classes spreads slowly outside. It seems like your usual protest, until the merriment and the chaos mix and turn violent. Turns out the wedding was targeted by revolutionaries, and what ensues is a dark and bloody dissection of class and privilege, and how those losing the latter react. Michel Franco’s portrait of a new order is bleak and cynical, and tinged with social justice themes that resonate loudly. The neo-realistic style and use of visual themes (green paint and a green color palette) deepen the effect, even if the sense of harrow and dread seems to go around too many times before exiting for the door. At Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Kendall Square.

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.