Friday, July 12, 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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The “(Some of) the Best of 2023” program carries on at The Brattle Theatre with screenings of Wes Anderson’s colorful reframe of the Covid pandemic, “Asteroid City” (Saturday) and “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (Friday and Saturday), two getting high praise from Day critic Sarah G. Vincent and also Brattle staff picks. On Sunday it’s a pairing of films about tough girls: “Polite Society” and the Sundance Film Fest darling “Scrapper.” The trans experience gets another pairing: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s “Mutt” and Paul B. Preciado’s documentary inspired by Virginia Woolf, “Orlando, My Political Biography” on Tuesday. Then complicated relations are the theme Wednesday with Ira Sachs’ edgy love triangle “Passages” and the implosion of a marriage in “Anatomy of a Fall,” which made the Day’s 2023 best-of list and established Sandra Hüller firmly among the acting elite. Others on the best-of slate include the documentary “Joan Baez: I Am a Noise,” Thursday and late-night showings of cult faves in the making “Infinity Pool” from David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon, in which cloning takes center stage (also Thursday), and the ecoterrorist fist pump, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” on Monday.

Also going on: The Revolutions per Minute Festival presents “We Were Given These Instructions,” short works by experimental animator Kelly Sears, who will be in conversation Sunday. This month’s Elements of Cinema screening and conversation features “Alice in the Cities” (1974), an early gem from Wim Wenders about a German journalist suddenly saddled with a 9-year-old girl. The Monday night screening is free, unticketed and open to the public and led by fellow Boston Society of Film Critics member Ezra Green of MIT’s Urban Development Department. Speaking of the famed Wenders (“Wings of Desire”), you can still catch his nifty 3D documentary “Anselm” in theaters; his upcoming “Perfect Days” is the Japanese shortlist selection for the Academy’s Best International Feature – yes, you have that right, a German director helming a Japanese project.

As part of its monthly A24 residency, The Brattle has an encore screening of the great 1984 Talking Heads rock-doc “Stop Making Sense” on Saturday.

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Continuing the Retro Replay 50th Year Celebration on Tuesdays at the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema (showing films made roughly 50 years ago, when Landmark was born), it’s Federico Fellini’s love letter to his youth, “Amarcord.” The title roughly translates to “I remember” and takes place in a small Italian village where a boy (Fellini’s alter ego) navigates the ribald pomp of the potpourri of the area’s idiosyncratic denizens.  

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Two programs kick off at the Harvard Film Archive, beginning with a profile of the Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice, a former film critic whose few directorial efforts also revolve around cinema. His most revered effort, “The Spirt of the Beehive” (1973), details the coming-of-age of a girl haunted by a recent viewing of “Frankenstein” during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War – a plot that feels like footnotes for Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006). In Erice’s most recent work, “Close Your Eyes” (2023), a doctor on a film set goes missing and his body is never found. “Beehive” plays Friday and Sunday and “Close Your Eyes” on Saturday.

The other program, “Afterimage … For a New, Radical Cinema” is an embrace of the European film journal of that name published from 1970-1987 and coincides with the release of the “Afterimage Reader,” an assemblage of essays and articles by filmmakers, journalists and critics penned for the mag during a transformative era of cinema. The slate queues up “Wind from the East” (1970), an experimental cinematic essay about westerns directed by the late, great, Jean-Luc Godard with Jean-Pierre Gorin and Gérard Martin. The cast includes Gian Maria Volonté, most famous for playing cunning, merciless baddies in several of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. It plays Monday. Playing Sunday as part of the ongoing “Ousmane Sembène, Cinematic Revolutionary” program is the Senegalese novelist and filmmaker’s 1977 work “Ceddo,” about the slave trade and forced conversion to Islam in Africa during the 17th century.


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.