Sunday, June 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. 

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Local focus

The “Noirvember” program wraps up at at The Brattle Theatre this week with shadowy black-and-white screenings of films from 1947: “Ride the Pink Horse” and Mary Astor and Burt Lancaster in “Desert Fury” on Monday, Henry Hathaway’s “Kiss of Death” and Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan in “Crossfire” on Wednesday and “Johnny O’Clock” and – with Orson Welles starring and directing – “The Lady from Shanghai” on Thursday. The Wicked Queer Film Festival brings in a trio of wide-ranging documentaries on Sunday and Nov. 21: the comical compendium “All Man: The International Male Story”; “Nelly & Nadine,” the story of two women falling in love in a 1940s concentration camp, with their archived materials revealed before the camera; and “The Radical,” about the first out gay imam.

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The “Brooke Adams, Radiance in Plain Sight” program continues at the Harvard Film Archive with David Cronenberg’s creepy spin on Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” (1983), about a man (Christopher Walken) who can see the future through touch (Monday); and Terrence Malick’s aurally and visually arresting second feature, “Days of Heaven” (1978), with Adams one side of a tragic love triangle opposite Richard Gere and Sam Shepard (Sunday). Also this week at the HFA are the films of “Michael Roemer and the Rite of Rediscovery,” with his WGBH documentary collaboration “Dying” (1976, Friday) and the director’s loose followup on the subject, “Pilgrim, Farewell” (1982, Sunday, with Roemer in attendance). And in a happy accident or deft crossover programming, Saturday brings a screening of Roemer’s “Vengeance is Mine” (1984), starring Adams as a woman returning to Rhode Island to confront her troubled past. Adams and Roemer will be in attendance to do a Q&A with documentary producer and film historian Jake Perlin.

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The “Screens for Teens” at the Harvard Arts Museums, free films for and mainly about young people, dials into Native Heritage Month with a screening of Trevor Mack’s “Portraits from a Fire” on Sunday. It chronicles the coming of age of an indigenous boy who deals with his troubled past and distant father by making videos on his people’s British Columbian land. The 2021 work has yet to have a formal U.S. release and is not available for streaming, so this is a real treat. Mack, a Tsilhqot’in director from Canada, will be on hand to talk about the film.

The Art Museums has a free screening of Cinque Northern’s “Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison” on Thursday. The documentary short chronicles the story of playwright Liza Jessie Peterson and her acclaimed play “The Peculiar Patriot,” which was shut down mid-performance in 2020 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola Prison. Peterson and producer Catherine Gund will attend and be in conversation with Harvard professor Brandon Terry after the screening.

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This week’s repertory programming at the Somerville Theatre is powered by a double shot of old “Star Trek” photons: the first big-screen foray for the crew of the enterprise, “Stat Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979), and the most excellent sequel – and still the best of all the big-screen takes – “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1882). A jacked Ricardo Montalban reprises his role from the TV series as Kirk’s archenemy Khan, who’s more interested in style points than flat-out revenge, and a young Kirstie Alley (before “Cheers”) is Saavik, the Enterprise’s half-Vulcan, half-Romulan crew member.

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This week at the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, The Dude truly abides as part of the “Jeff Bridges Abides” Retro Replay, as this week’s J.B.-celebrating feature is the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” (1998). It’s become something of a cult classic and what some would say is the dynamic duo’s best work. (I’m a fan, but my top three in no particular order are “Fargo,” “Blood Simple” and “No Country for Old Men.”) Believe it or not, the film – about an L.A. slacker (Bridges) caught up in a ransom plot due to mistaken identity – is inspired loosely by the works of Raymond Chandler and the life of antiwar activist and slacker Jeff Dowd.


Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The 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.