Friday, July 19, 2024

The Somerville Theatre’s annual 70 mm and Widescreen Film Festival continues with more eye-popping prints from the golden age of Hollywood Technicolor. Unsurprisingly for a series devoted to Hollywood spectacle, the musical is well represented here, with two films by master of the genre Stanley Donen presented in gorgeous 35 mm: “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954) on Thursday, and “It’s Always Fair Weather” (1955), co-directed and co-choreographed by leading man Gene Kelly, on Friday. Friday also sees a digital restoration of “Picnic” (1955), Joshua Logan’s CinemaScope adaptation of William Inge’s stage play starring William Holden and Kim Novak. On Saturday, the festival lives up to its name with a 70 mm print of the rarely screened epic “Lord Jim” (1965), while Sunday brings “Funny Girl” (1968), the beloved big-screen debut of Barbra Streisand, on 35 mm. All of these films were designed to be seen as big as possible, and you’re not likely to see them much bigger than in the forms presented here.

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For those who prefer their classic films a little darker, The Brattle Theatre’s annual Noir City Boston series returns Friday and runs through Monday. This time around, The Brattle and guest programmer Foster Hirsch (who will be on hand for select introductions) take a novel approach: Each double feature pairs one American film noir with a counterpart from overseas, most very rarely screened on these shores. Selected films hail from Spain: “Never Open That Door” (1952) screening Friday with “Street of Chance” (1942). From Japan: “Zero Focus” (1961) with “Across the Bridge” (1957) on Saturday. From Argentina: “Hardly a Criminal” (1949), also on Saturday with “Black Tuesday” (1954). From Egypt: the great “Cairo Station” (1958), naturally paired with “Union Station” (1950) on Sunday. And from Italy: “Smog” (1962) with “City of Fear” (1959) on Sunday. The series closes Monday with a single feature that is itself somewhat international: the classic French thriller “Elevator to the Gallows” (1958). Though itself fully French, the film’s director, Louis Malle, would go on to helm such American films as “Atlantic City” (1980) and “My Dinner with Andre” (1981), and it features a legendary improvised score by American jazz great Miles Davis. It’s enough to make you want to book a plane ticket – just be sure to keep an eye out for shady characters and femmes fatales.

If you ask a horror fan their most hotly anticipated blockbuster of the summer, there’s a good chance they’ll say “MaXXXine,” the upcoming slasher threequel from writer-director Ti West and star Mia Goth. To whet fans’ appetites, the film that started it all, 2022’s “X,” returns to the big screen Tuesday at the Somerville, Landmark Kendall Square Cinema and AMC Assembly Row 12 for a one-night-only “fan event.” For those who missed it the first time around, “X” is a cheerfully perverse (and surprisingly sex-positive) throwback to the glory days of grindhouse horror and porno-chic, with Goth at the center as both ambitious ingenue Maxine and murderous crone Pearl (who got her own eponymous origin story a few months later). Fans who stick around after the credits will be rewarded with a sneak preview of “MaXXXine,” which hits theaters in earnest July 5. Time will tell whether the film lives up to its predecessors, but one thing is certain: Goth, like both of her characters, is a staaaawwwrrrr!

Pride Month continues with two very different screenings Tuesday. Kendall Square continues its monthlong series with a film with which you’re almost certainly familiar: Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning “Moonlight” (2016), a true watershed moment for queer representation and independent film and an easy choice for Best of the 21st Century lists. If you’re looking for something further off the beaten path, the Somerville presents an intriguing program of shorts titled “Queer Futures,” which screens Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Combining four short films by emerging filmmakers, the program will, in the words of its curators, “explore gender affirming health care, fat beauty and liberation, nonbinary ballroom culture and the anonymous connections of a decades-old LGBTQ hotline.” In spite of an often hostile culture and an increasingly homogeneous film industry, these films prove that radical and marginalized voices aren’t going anywhere, either in the arts or society at large.

Finally, The Brattle concludes its Peele Apart series by shining a spotlight on Jordan Peele’s most recent film, “Nope” (2022). “Nope” is at once perhaps Peele’s most accessible and complex film (and this critic’s favorite), weaving together themes of race, animal rights and the cruel machinations of Hollywood into a fantastically entertaining alien invasion film. Fittingly for such a layered film, The Brattle has paired it into double features with three wildly diverse films: Sidney Poitier’s pioneering Black Western “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), which precedes “Nope” on Tuesday and Wednesday; Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki’s mind-bending cosmic anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion,” which plays the late show those same nights (meaning you could make a triple feature of it if you’re so inclined); and, on Thursday, John Carpenter’s classic 1982 remake of “The Thing,” which remains the benchmark for this sort of Lovecraftian horror from another world. The weather may be getting warmer, but, when you’re watching “Nope,” it’s always Jean Jacket season.


Oscar Goff is a writer and film critic based in Somerville. He is film editor and senior critic for the Boston Hassle and his work has appeared in the monthly Boston Compass newspaper and publications such as WBUR’s The ARTery and iHeartNoise. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Online Film Critics Society.