Dive into 1984 at The Brattle; see a film festival on the bike, “Being the Ricardos”, “Don’t Look Up” and more
Film Ahead is a weekly column highlighting special events and repertoire programming for the discerning Camberville cinephile. It also includes reviews of unreviewed movie clips.
The Brattle takes time back to the era of big hair with its program “Let’s Hear it for 1984”. Titles this week include the eccentric and wacky sci-fi adventure “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” on Sunday; “Stranger Than Paradise”, the equally eccentric founding film (it’s a sub-theme!) Which came to define Jim Jarmusch’s career, on screens Wednesday; “Paris, Texas.” Wim Wenders’ story of the brothers and the wife between them (Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell, both of whom recently passed away, alongside Nastassja Kinski) on Thursday; the hoarse “Don’t Feed Him After Midnight” movie “Gremlins” cute dog with a missing creature; and “Night of the comet” on Saturday.
On Monday, The DocYard hosts Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi”, a spiritual journey to the Ethiopian highlands of Harar and rituals using khat, a leaf that Sufi Muslims chew for religious meditations, the most lucrative cash crop from Ethiopia. For “Weird Wednesday”, The Brattle shows a restoration of the cult 1971 item “The Velvet Vampire” by Roger Corman’s protégé, Stephanie Rothman. Dune buggies, rattlesnakes and hippies make their way through a bloodthirsty mix that would make a devilish double bill with “The Love Witch” (2016).
To note: The frayThe Covid policy requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result for admission.
Cycling Film Festival
Like bicycles, like the cinema? How about combining the two? The 20th version of Cycling Film Festival of Massachusetts, a series of short films by, about and for two-wheeler enthusiasts, releases virtually Friday and is available to stream through January 3, presented in part by MassBike and Common Wheels.
In cinema and streaming
“7 prisoners” (2021)
A dark tale of the unholy union of organized crime, systemic corruption and crass classism in Brazil. To offer a better life to his rural family, Mateus (Christian Malheiros), 18, accepts a job sorting waste at a landfill in São Paulo. Once there, his new boss, Luca (Rodrigo Santoro, “300”), strips Mateus and his friends of their papers and cellphones, essentially imprisoning the seven as hard labor. It turns out that recruiting Mateus was a ploy, and Luca’s operations are part of a larger human trafficking scheme. The turn comes halfway when Mateus is offered a promotion to join Luca as a traveling boss – essentially overseeing his friends. It doesn’t live up to Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s “City of God” (2002), but it’s a strength in itself. On Netflix.
“Being the Ricardos” (2021)
Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7”) examines the dynamic between powerful couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the comedy team behind the 1950s prime-time hit, “I Love Lucy ”. As Ball, Nicole Kidman would seem like an odd choice, but gives the role play even if she can’t rekindle Ball’s infectious and wacky madness. Javier Bardem feels a bit more stuck in the role of Arnaz. The real spark comes from Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance and JK Simmons as William Frawley – aka the Mertzes. The arc focuses on a tense work week from Ball’s perspective. Flashbacks to humble beginnings and struggles with producers and sponsors are packaged with a tabloid labeling a star as a commie to help complete the story, but are dropped more as a distraction than a backstory. rewarding. Fans of the show naturally might not buy the performances, but the look behind the curtain of a 1950s television product and seeing Ball as a troubled but vulnerable trailblazer is very intriguing. At the Landmark Kendall Square cinema, 355 Binney Street, Kendall Square and on Amazon Prime Video.
Riz Ahmed, so good in “Sound of Metal” (2020), goes to great lengths in Michael Pearce’s thriller about an enigmatic Marine (Ahmed) who thinks his last secret mission is to thwart an alien invasion. The first step is to escape with his two sons from a woman he believes to be infected with an alien virus; next comes a dash to safe ground while trying to avoid the growing number of infected. Pearce’s tale is a bait and a switch, and halfway there we learn that there really is no alien threat and Ahmed’s Malik is a troubled soul with PTSD and more. What bills itself as a fast-paced sci-fi thriller is actually a profile of mental illness deceptively disguised as something it is not. At the Landmark Kendall Square cinema, 355 Binney Street, Kendall Square and on Amazon Prime Video.
“Listening to Kenny G” (2021)
Documentary filmmaker Penny Lane (“Hail Satan?”) Takes a look at little-regarded jazz musician Kenny G, his life, career and self-esteem. The saxophonist with indelible curly locks and high forehead, as we are told over and over again, is the best-selling instrumentalist of all time, but receives little respect for his “smooth jazz” music. Music scholars interviewed seem puzzled at his appeal, while fellow musicians are quick to praise his skill – he can hold a note indefinitely thanks to the difficult technique of inhaling while exhaling. A relaxed Kenny G takes it all eagerly, making Lane’s musical doc an easy watch for those not quite in the know and a deeper dive into the man and his music for loyal fans. On HBO Max.
“Don’t look up” (2021)
Adam McKay, who made mass financial misery fun to watch in “The Big Short” (2015) and extended his sense of evil comedy with a spin on Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney in “Vice” (2018) ), tackles climate change, product placement, the turn of government and the end of the world. “Look Up” is everywhere, but it has an incredible cast centered around apocalyptic astronomers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and an angry little chick Jennifer Lawrence who tells the President (Meryl Streep) that the planet is six months away from being wiped out by. a collision. comet course. The rest of that cast includes Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill and Ariana Grande playing, respectively, a TV presenter who watches right next to the set of “Bombshell” (2019), a CEO of a mobile phone company, Blanchett’s co-host, a hipster, a White House staff member and a spoiled pop diva. The film has a bit of a flavor of Mike Judge’s near-future satire “Idiocracy” (2006) with a subplot “Armageddon” (1998) in which a boastful Ron Perlman leads a deep space mission to thwart the comet spinning. At Apple Cinemas Cambridge, 168 Alewife Creek Parkway, Cambridge Highlands near Alewife and Fresh Pond, and on Netflix.
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. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.