Wednesday, June 19, 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

Things at The Brattle Theater shift from all things pink and “Barbie” to a series on “The Dirty Stories of Jean Eustache.” Eustache was part of France’s post-Nouvelle Vague cinema movement, had small parts in a few Godard films and was prolific in his experimental short-film output. Various Eustache programs play throughout the week with some of his few features, including “The Mother and the Whore” (1973), about a chauvinist challenged by women, and “My Little Loves” (1974), in which a boy is left to his own devices after his mother refuses to pay for his school.

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On Thursday it’s Area 51 elsewhere, with Randall Nickerson’s 2022 documentary “Ariel Phenomenon,” which explores events revolving around a 1994 UFO sighting by 62 schoolchildren in Zimbabwe. Nickerson will attend the special event, for which Brattle passes are not accepted.

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At the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, the Retro Replay on Tuesday for “The Wonderful and Strange World of David Lynch” is what many consider Lynch’s magnum opus, “Mulholland Drive” The trippy 2001 neo-noir tells two realities of a Midwestern ingenue (Naomi Watts) who comes to L.A. and befriends an enigmatic, amnesiac car crash victim (Laura Harring). Lynch and the film have been the subject of several repertory efforts this year at the Brattle and Somerville theaters, and rightly so. The film began as a TV pilot two years earlier with that same cast and a running time that was one hour less. The title was a tad shorter too: “Mulholland Dr.”

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There’s much going on at the Harvard Film Archive, including the kickoff of “Chile Year Zero,” a series on protest films and documentaries that came out of the 1973 coup d’état that ended civilian rule there. First up is Patricio Guzmán’s “The Battle of Chile” series in three parts (1975-1978) chronicling Salvado Allende’s socialist Chile, the military takeover by Augusto Pinochet and the aftermath. Guzman was 31 and just out of film school when he began the project with help and footage from iconic filmmaker Chris Marker (“La Jetée,” “12 Monkeys”). The series, which played this year at The Brattle with Guzmán’s latest, “My Imaginary Country,” about the 2019 uprisings in Chile, plays Saturday through Monday.

A “Musica de Camara: The Cinema of Rita Azevedo Gomes” program continues, celebrating a Portuguese filmmaker highlighted by the HFA for an approach that combines literature, poetry, theater and painting onscreen. Her films often feature storytellers who capture her own “abiding fascination with language,” archive director Haden Guest said, “intertwining spoken dialogue with recited poetry and prose while also giving a major role to music and song.” You can experience it Friday with “A Woman’s Revenge” (2012), about a straying noble who takes on an escort with a dark, bloody past. 

Nicholas Ray’s experimental, somewhat meta 1973 film “We Can’t Go Home Again,” which inspired Azevedo Gomes in her filmmaking, plays Sunday.

Also launching this week is the multiyear “Shochiku Centennial Collection,” in which the HFA seeks to show 50 films being restored by the Japanese studio founded in 1895 (though it didn’t start a film division until 1920), famed for breaking from the historical costume dramas of the time in favor of contemporary themes. The series begins Thursday with “Tora-san, Our Lovable Tramp” (1969), about a wayward young man (Atsumi Kiyoshi) who likes to drink, peddle goods on the street and cause turmoil for family members. Director Yamada Yoji provides an introduction by video. (Tom Meek)
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In theaters

The Equalizer 3 (2023)

Teaming for the fifth time since “Training Day” (2001), which snagged the first and only lead actor Oscar for Denzel Washington (he won best supporting for 1989’s “Glory”), director Antoine Fuqua and Washington deliver their final installment in a film trilogy reboot of the 1980s television series. Michael Myers (as in the slasher, and not the comedian) ain’t got nothing on Robert McCall, Washington’s widower, veteran, retired intelligence operative and self-appointed lone protector of everyday people, who leaves in his wake a trail of mutilated mafiosos, including one with a meat cleaver in the face. The action shifts from Boston’s mean streets to Sicily’s steep seaside steps. Returning writer Richard Wenk embraces tired Western tropes of the stranger protecting peaceful, welcoming townsfolk from sadistic enforcers, but heroic gunslingers would clutch their pearls at the most nihilistic and merciless version of McCall to date. Marcelo Zarvos’ score even evokes “Laurie’s Theme” from “Halloween” (1978) during low-key moments, and cranks up to a dissonant, high-pitched, synthetic screech whenever McCall starts painting the town red with blood. Fuqua embraces framing McCall as “The Shape,” which was how John Carpenter rendered the iconic William Shatner-masked slasher, by showing the terror of turned tables on the mobsters’ faces as the shadow stalks them. Washington engages in some casual, slow head tilts as he regards the life draining from his impaled victims. Only fans of “Man on Fire” (2004) will be invested when McCall reaches out to CIA agent Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning), because it reunites the two. Otherwise it would have been better left on the cutting-room floor. (Sarah G. 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.