Film Ahead is a weekly column highlighting special events and repertoire programming for the discerning Camberville movie buff. It also includes capsule reviews of films that are not subject to a feature film review.
The first local broadcast of Jane Schoenbrun’s chiller “We’re All Going to the Word’s Fair” continues this week at The Brattle. Monday evening, The Docyard projects “After Sherman” by Jon Sesrie-Goff, a look at the story of a plantation bought by an African-American family after emancipation; Sesrie-Goff will be present for a Q&A. Unfortunately, The DocYard announced last week that the series to make a break at the end of the season.
The Brattle goes into film-fest mode for the rest of the week as the 19th Boston Independent Film Festival (back to in-person screenings) unfolds. Details to come in a later feature.
Somerville Theater has a special presentation tonight of King Vidor’s 1926 silent, “La Bohème,” featuring icons of the day Lillian Gish and John Gilbert. The screening will have live musical accompaniment by digital keyboardist Jeff Rapsis.
The “Face/Off” theater fun with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage continues on Tuesday. First, Travolta is teaming up with “Face/Off” director John Woo for “Broken Arrow,” a kind of warm-up for that latest film: “Arrow” was made in 1996, the year before “Face /Off”, and Christian Slater is in both – in this one, trying to recover rogue nukes from Travolta’s villain. For Cage, it’s Michael Bay’s big, up-and-coming San Fran prison thriller, “The Rock,” made the same year as “Broken Arrow.” The hyper-manly cast includes Sean Connery, David Morse and Ed Harris.
Like The Brattle, the Somerville Theater hosts the Boston Independent Film Festival later in the week.
As part of the pursuit Belmont World Film Festival — the 20th airing of the series, in hybrid format — on Monday, you can join me for a Zoom chat about the French film “Zero Fucks Given,” which you can see tonight at the West Newton Cinema or online. If the title catches the attention, it is about the setbacks of a young woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos, “Blue is the hottest color”) who loses her job as a flight attendant in a small airline . Given the recent focus on the closure of a crash pad in East Boston (a condemned building where two dozen flight attendants slept), the drama should have added appeal.
In theaters and streaming
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (2022)
A semi-meta concept that never completely takes off. Nic Cage (“Pig”, “Con Air”) plays Nick Cage (note the “k”), a movie star who needs the money so badly that he agrees to attend a birthday party. beloved fan who lives in Spain. Its host, Javi (Pedro Pascal, “The Mandalorian”), turns out to be tied to a crime cartel, and the CIA wants Nick to get some information (a shaved-headed Tiffany Haddish, so good in “The Card Counter” ) last year, plays his manager). Things get complicated when Javi, on the pretext, brings in Nick’s ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) and daughter (Lily Mo Sheen). There’s a lot of play on Cage’s filmography (the “National Treasure” films and Sean Connery’s quotes from “The Rock”), and Cage clashes with several of his on-screen characters – in one weird scene, he gets slapped by what appears to be his raucous “Wild at Heart” roaster. Cage and Pascal exploit the odd buddies thing convincingly, but the larger, madness-comedy meta is largely missing. It’s “Being John Malkovich” (1999) minus the quirkiness, nuance and wit. At Apple Cinemas Cambridge, 168 Alewife Creek ParkwayCambridge Highlands near Alewife and Fresh Pond and AMC Assembly Row 12, 395 Craftsman RoadAssembly Square, Somerville.
“Choose or Die” (2022)
A promising horror premise that just can’t hold up. It’s a concept-driven chiller, like a “Saw” or “Nightmare on Elm Street” chapter, where once in a 1980s-style green-screen game called “Curs>r,” you can’t stop to play or whatever. The heroine, Kayla (Iola Evans), is a struggling college student with a troubled mother who stumbles upon gambling, answering questions such as “Would you like a beer?” by typing “yes” and, poof, a beer appears. As Kayla progresses, some of her quests have real-life consequences, such as a waitress eating broken glass, a mother cutting out her son’s tongue, and worse. When Kayla gets it and refuses to act, that’s when the film’s title kicks in: Make a binary choice, or someone dies. Turn off the PC, the game calls you on your laptop. Etc. As said, the film stings with early but underdeveloped characters and twists that feel already done – and, worse, ridiculousness you’ve never seen before and won’t want to relive – make for an easy movie to watch. to transmit. The best horror movie choice for gamers is “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” at The Brattle. On Netflix.
Speaking of Michael Bay (see “local focus” selections above), the master of concussive explosions and slick style with lean substance revamps Michael Mann’s “Heat” (1995) through “Speed” (1994) for this LA actor with Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (excellent as Bobby Seale in “The Trial of the Chicago 7”). The setup has them playing the Sharp brothers: Danny (Gyllenhaal), who runs an exotic car shop as a crime front; and Will (Abdul-Mateen), a veterinarian who has just come home and needs money for an operation for his wife and is unable to find a decent job. The two are estranged — and yes, of different pigment (Will was adopted by Danny’s ruthless crime boss father) — but Will needs to sign on as a driver for “one last job.” Natch, things don’t go as planned and the title object becomes an improvised escape vehicle with the crew taken prisoner and an injured cop bleeding from the back. Gyllenhaal is pretty good as a sociopath, but we already knew that from “Nightcrawler” (2014).
‘Beautiful Life’ (2022)
Marcus Mizelle’s polished documentary follows French immigrant restaurateur Vincent Samarco and his efforts to keep the title bistro afloat during the pandemic. Samarco is a big personality with big ambitions; in 2016, he opened Belle Vie in West LA between a KFC and McDonald’s (“they give you shitty meat and put cardboard in your fries,” he says of nearby restaurants). Mizelle’s work is not just a labor of love – he was a regular at Belle Vie – but a case study in how Covid gutted the restaurant industry. In 2019, Belle Vie was an “it” place to eat, while halfway through the pandemic, Samarco serves fine bistro fare such as branzino and roast chicken in a seedy alley. Foodies should savor this insider’s view, while others will likely be shocked by the lack of assistance offered to restaurants during Covid. On the other hand, Belle Vie is officially a victim of the pandemic; on the plus side, Mizelle and Samarco have a food series in the works. On Amazon Prime Video.
Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories, and articles have appeared in literary journals The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper, and WBUR’s SLAB. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and bikes everywhere.