Thursday, May 23, 2024

Film Ahead is a weekly column highlighting special events and repertory programming for the discerning Camberville filmgoer. It also includes capsule reviews of films that are not feature reviewed.


Get tickets to a free screening

Want to see the latest from Amazon Studios before it opens? Cambridge Day is happy to invite you to a free screening Wednesday in Kendall Square. Be one of the first 25 to click the following link and you’ll be able to get a sneak peek at Adam Driver (“Paterson,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”) and Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone,” “MacBeth”) in “Annette.” The film, directed by Leos Carax, depicts a romance between a gonzo stand-up comedian (Driver) and a world-renowned opera singer (Cotillard). Given that it’s a musical and Carax, the mind behind the keenly bizarre “Holy Motors” (2012) is pulling the strings, wonderfully weird should be expected. 

Get tickets here.


Local focus

This week The Brattle’s rewind of the best of 2020 serves up Tyler Taormina’s trippy, David Lynch-esque coming-of-age story “Ham on Rye”; Oliver Laxe’s tale of cinders and accusation in a remote Spanish village, “Fire Will Come”; and one of the most stirring – and on point – films of last year, “Promising Young Woman,” which underscored the #MeToo movement with a fierce, feminist lean. Emerald Fennell’s dark directorial debut was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (for Carey Mulligan) and took home one for Best Screenplay (by Fennell). 


In theaters and streaming

‘Jungle Cruise’ (2021)

Well, Disney did it with “Pirates of the Caribbean,” turning a theme park ride into a movie franchise, so why not the “Jungle Cruise?” The result is something of a swashbuckling “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) or “Romancing the Stone” (1985) wannabe with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a joke-happy riverboat captain (“I had a girlfriend who was crosseyed – we couldn’t see eye-to-eye. I was pretty certain she was seeing someone on the side.”) and a bit of a hustler who teams up with Emily Blunt’s archeologist seeking something called the Tears of the Moon that’s far downriver and deep in the now disappearing Amazon jungle. The film, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (“The Shallows”), isn’t as thrilling as it should be. It’s good fun to see Blunt fend off baddies with can-do aplomb, and Johnson’s hamminess grows on you, but it’s not enough. Jesse Plemons (“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”) adds a dash of panache as the Bismarck-like baddie on their trail, while Paul Giamatti simply growls his way through the film as another pursuant. There’s also a quartet of undead ghouls, a male Medusa named Aguirre (poached from Werner Herzog’s great 1972 river-of-madness flick, “Aguirre, the Wrath of God”?), a pissed-off tree ent and two slimy wet guys who seem right out of Davy Jones’ locker. At Apple Cinemas Cambridge, 168 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge Highlands near Alewife and Fresh Pond) and AMC Assembly Row 12, 395 Artisan Way, Assembly Square, Somerville.


‘Blood Red Sky’ (2021)

A dull vampire thriller that could have been so much more. The setup’s novel, kinda “Snakes on a Plane” (2006) with vampires as a mother (Peri Baumeister) and her son (Carl Anton Koch) cross the Atlantic so mommy can get a cutting-edge blood treatment for her disease. She looks sickly and wan, but when terrorists take over the plane, she lets her fangs down and gets busy gnawing necks to protect her cub and other innocents. On paper, the concept has bite, but the execution and pacing is erratic and anemic. Imagine if “World War Z” (2013) or “Train to Busan” (2016) were stripped of their frenetic fury; you’d have a shambling, limp drama like this  one. On Netflix.


‘Locked Down’ (2021)

In this little pandemic ditty from director Doug Liman (“Go,” “Swingers,” “American Made”) an estranged pandemic couple (Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor) share a London flat during the lockdown. For a good chuck we’re a fly on the wall, taking in their tired day-to-day of Zooming in sweats and unwashed hair. The experience may be more tedious than the tedium you endured, but then a ginormous diamond on display at Harrods gives them an idea to come together again and maybe make off with the rock. The film picks up some, but by that point its myopic pandemic over-focus will likely have made many check out. It’s “Malcolm & Marie” infused with a slack “Ocean’s Eleven” chapter. The wasted ensemble includes Ben Stiller and the normally infallible Ben Kingsley. On HBO Max.

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.