Thursday, June 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. 

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Local focus

Just out of the Wicked Queer Film Fest, The Brattle Theatre launches two vastly different programs: “About the Sound” and “Muppet Movie Madness.” As far as all things aural goes, the slate starts our resoundingly strong with a double bill Monday and Tuesday of Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out” (1981) and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1976), two classic thrillers that were cornerstones of the New Hollywood era. Also on the slate and to the point of the program is Peter Strickland’s art house horror hit “Berberian Sound Studio (2012) Wednesday and Thursday and Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963), where the chatter and caw of assailing crows and other avian friends is deafening, on Thursday. For the weekend, and just in time for spring break, the Muppet series starts the obvious place: with “The Muppet Movie” (1979) and a cast that amazingly includes Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, Elliott Gould, James Coburn, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks, Milton Berle, Orson Welles, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Telly Savalas mixing it up with Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. The series includes Spike Jonze’s trippy take on Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are” (2009); “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981); “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984); the freaky fantasies of “Labyrinth” (1986, featuring David Bowie) and “The Dark Crystal” (1982); and the semi-animated pig and sheepdog classic “Babe” (1985).

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Week three of the Belmont World Film Festival serves up the French film “The Worst Ones,” co-directed by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret and winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival, which we incorrectly listed as part of last week’s in-person slate. “The Worst Ones” is on the big screen Monday at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond. 

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This week’s Tuesday “Perfect Pairs” Retro Replay at the Landmark Kendall Square Theatre features Hollywood dance couple extraordinaire Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time” (1936), directed by George Stevens (“Giant,” “Shane”). For rock-doc fans, there are single-shot showings of two: “Little Richard: I Am Everything,” about the iconic “Tutti Frutti” singer and fabulously flamboyant pioneer of soul, on Tuesday (and at the Somerville Theatre); and “The Lost Weekend: A Love Story,” which explores the 18-month relationship between John Lennon and May Pang, his assistant turned lover at Yoko Ono’s insistence, on Thursday. 

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Attention for Med Hondo’s politically provocative works in the “Med Hondo and the Indocile Image” program at the Harvard Film Archive kicks into high gear with an encore screening of Hondo’s 1967 debut “Soleil O” on Friday. It’s his musical take on years of enslavement, the fight for independence and cultural revolution. Next are “West Indies” (Friday and Saturday), “Watani” (1998, Saturday) and his 1981 documentary “Les Bicots-Nègres, vos voisins” (1974) on April 16, probing the impacts of neocolonialism on the indigenous people in Africa. 

Also on Monday the HFA concludes “Alice Diop’s Souvenirs of Lost Time” with a screening of the director’s critically acclaimed 2022 feature debut “Saint Omer.” In it, a pregnant novelist and literature professor (Kayije Kagame) attends the trial of a Senegalese immigrant (Guslagie Malanda) accused of murdering her 15-month-old child by leaving it on a beach to be swept away by the tide. Diop’s prior works have been slice-of-life documentaries, and the inspiration for the feature was the real-life trial of Fabienne Kabou in the French town of the title. Diop will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening. Finally, as part of the ongoing “Remapping Latin America Cinema: Chilean Film/Video 1963-2013” program, there will be a screening of Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento’s “The Wandering Soap Opera” (1992/2017) on April 16.


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.