Saturday, April 20, 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. 


Local focus

Following its Bugs Bunny Film Festival, The Brattle Theatre is all things Greenaway – as in Peter Greenaway, the man behind “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” (1989) – with an early restored four-pack from the Welsh filmmaker that begins with “The Draughtsman Contract” (1982), in which 17th-century renderings of a noble’s estate takes on complexity and sexual overtones, and Greenaway’s experimental contemplation on man and death, “A Zed & Two Noughts” (1985). Both have extended runs beginning Friday, with “The Belly of an Architect” (1987) and “Drowning by Numbers” (1988) on tap next week.



This week’s Tuesday “Wild About Wilder” Retro Relay at the Landmark Kendall Square Theatre is the 1959 cross-dressing comedy “Some Like it Hot” starting Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as musicians who witness a mob murder (based on the real-life Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre) and dress up as women to go underground, joining an all-woman band that features Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane (yup, you read that right), the band’s likable ukulele player. Madcap, devilishly wry and timeless.


At the Harvard Film Archive, the “Kinuyo Tanaka – Actress, Director, Pioneer” program continues with “Love Under the Crucifix” (1962) on Monday. Tanaka the director spins a tale on a Christian samurai smitten with a tea master’s stepdaughter. On Friday and Sunday, Tanaka appears before the lens in Mikio Narus’ “Mother” (1952) and Heinosuke Gosho’s “Where Chimneys are Seen” (1953). On Saturday the HFA’s Chilean program kicks off with two piquant offerings: Carlos Flores del Pino’s “The Chilean Charles Bronson (Or Exactly Identical)” (1981) and Pablo Larrain’s disco-themed and John Travolta-inspired “Tony Manero” (2008). (Tom Meek)


In theaters and streaming

‘To Leslie’ (2023)

The film that sparked an Oscar controversy because fellow actors began a grassroots campaign for performer Andrea Riseborough (“Oblivion,” “Birdman”) for her role as alcoholic, small-town mom who abandons her 13-year-old son for a life of hedonism after winning the lottery. It’s a turn that for my money is on par with Cate Blanchett in “Tár” and Danielle Deadwyler in “Till,” and while the push may be unconventional (friends using social media – oh my, who’d have thought) let’s keep in mind that studios hire PR firms and pay them millions to push their films, filmmakers and performers for awards season. The film, directed by longtime TV veteran Michael Morris, has a gritty, lived-in vibe as Leslie navigates dives and their skeevy patrons (she’s a natural fit) looking for her next drink. Comparisons to Barbet Schroder’s eloquent leap into slumming “Barfly” (1987) and the more buttoned-up but equally depressing “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995) are fair, even if the conclusion here feels a bit dreamy and out of left field. No matter; it’s nice to see the British-born Riseborough – someone told me British actors are wildly adept at Southern accents, and from this, I’d say so – get the spotlight with a little help from her friends. The supporting cast of Owen Teague as the now 19-year old son, Marc Maron as the motel manager who gives her second and third chances and Allison Janey as a friend who doesn’t add froth to the brimming pour. (Tom Meek) On Amazon Prime Video. 


‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ (2023)

There’s lots of family drama going on in Marvel’s “Quantumania.” Set soon after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), Scott Lang (ageless Paul Rudd), aka Ant-Man, is basking in the afterglow of public good will, but woke daughter Cassie (newcomer Kathryn Newton, “Booksmart”), chides him for not doing something more meaningful. He discourages her from following in his crime-fighting footsteps. Meanwhile, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), aka The Wasp and Scott’s girlfriend, quizzes mom Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) about being lost for most of Hope’s life in the Quantum Realm. For the most, Janet keeps mum about her connection to Kang (Jonathan Majors), the baddie of MCU Phase Five (yeah, it just keeps going and going), who is unable to leave the Quantum Realm without Ant-Man’s super powers. Then Ant-Man’s Alfred, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and an experiment gone wrong transports all four into that nether realm. “Ant-Man” (2015) director Peyton Reed helms again, with TV writer Jeff Loveness making his feature film debut. The Quantum Realm pays homage to sci-fi adventures such as “Fantastic Voyage” (1966, RIP icon Raquel Welch), but the two-dimensional supporting characters and bloated, derivative universe-building feel like pink filler for too long before flashbacks reveal Janet and Kang’s time together and give us some pique of interest. (Sarah Vincent) At Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St.; 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.

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.