BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 5/31

I’ve seen Wes Anderson’s first film, BOTTLE ROCKET, more times than I can count. Like his other films co-written with Owen Wilson, RUSHMORE and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, it has a whimsical screwball energy throughout that I find irresistible. Yes, it may lack the dollhouse feeling with which he’s come to be so known (though certainly, his OCD and his symmetry fetish are here in full effect) but it has the same earnest innocence, the same respect for its characters, and the same underlying feeling of melancholy that make his best works so unique. And of course, his ear for music is as eclectic as ever, employing a beautiful score from Mark Mothersbaugh, his signature Stones needle-drops, and even the theme from the 1970s spaghetti western take on “Zorro”.

Brothers Luke and Owen Wilson play two of three twenty-somethings – who Anderson has, in a conceit that plays far better than it sounds, behave like they’re 8-years old – on a largely imagined crime spree, planning and pulling off their own high-concept heists. Though that’s likely overstating the case – the film plays more like “Charlie Brown” than BONNIE AND CLYDE. This movie must have hit people like a bullet upon release in 1996. The American independent scene was run amuck with Tarantino fever; and Anderson’s lightly melancholic tale seems to almost satirize the overwrought ‘crime spree on the run’ genre. While all those movies had their eyes on the bullets, the gunfights, and the pop culture nods; Anderson turns his towards nothing less than his characters souls.

A tribute to the innocence of boyhood, that singular stage-of-life when you’re equally excited by crime sprees, sketching flip-books, and playing with fireworks, BOTTLE ROCKET is a beautifully composed, enigmatic film that easily transcends the coming-of-age and crime genres it plays around in. And paired with Wes Anderson’s latest film, MOONRISE KINGDOM, at The Brattle Theatre no less, it’s a deal you can’t turn down. – Jake Mulligan

Check back tomorrow morning for our weekly Review Roundup!

BOTTLE ROCKET shows Thursday, 5/31 at 5:30. MOONRISE KINGDOM plays at 8:00 in a free preview screening open to the public, co-presented by the Independent Film Festival Boston. Doors open at 7:00, and it is first-come, first-serve. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA, 02138.

BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 5/29

Coming off the three-day-weekend (and a couple of movie marathons for our membership,) the Brattle Theatre keeps programming on track, preparing local audiences for this week’s new Wes Anderson release, MOONRISE KINGDOM.

First up is possibly one of Anderson’s most overlooked films, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU. I’m glad they’re starting off with this oddity, if only because it deserves a second glance. Still the critically lowest-graded film Anderson has made (53% on Rotten Tomatoes), THE LIFE AQUATIC should be seen as more of a fantasy film with a dramatic touch. Cruising the seven seas is a breeze for an expert like Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), a figure loosely based on the real life explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Tragedy strikes during the filming of one of his renowned documentaries, and his best friend is killed by a species of shark that supposedly no longer exists. Zissou sets off with an odd assortment of characters that includes a heavily-accented Willem Dafoe, a pregnant Cate Blanchett, and a long-lost son played by an eager Owen Wilson, to exact revenge on this shark.

But as with Anderson’s previous efforts, a great deal of care went into set design, and I’ll be surprised if a better combination of the primary colors can ever be coordinated again with a yellow submarine, sky-blue track suits, and bright red knit hats. Certain colors feel desaturated out, but then there’s small bursts of color on clothing or a fish to break the monotony of drab ship quarters. Some of the craziest combinations belong to the invented fishes, some fitted with an enough of the spectrum to make FINDING NEMO’s inhabitants jealous. Zissou’s nemesis, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum) is appropriately fitted in Cold War modern gear, usually donning white suits or robes on his grey ship. The color around Hennessey’s ship look just as bleak, the ocean blue no longer as bright. For Hennessey sees and experiences the ocean differently than Zissou, often missing its natural beauty just outside of the ship’s hull.

With color-coded subtlies and possibly the most marine biology jokes outside of a classroom, THE LIFE AQUATIC is just as lovely of a journey as any other soul-searching Anderson classic. As with his other works, AQUATIC finds its leading man adrift in loss (Chaz Tenebaum coping with the death of his wife in THE ROYAL TENEBAUMS, three brothers reuniting after their father’s death to search for their mother in THE DARJEELING LIMITED). There’s a rebellious streak of revenge throughout the film, one the keeps the rag-tag crew of misfits and interns floating along. Perhaps that doesn’t sit well with everyone, but AQUATIC is a must-see for Bill Murray’s jarring performance and of course, the quirky color palette that is Anderson’s playground. -Monica Castillo

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU shows Tuesday, 5/29 at 5:00 and 9:30p.m. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA, 02138

BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 5/28

After Saturday’s twofer of French New Wave masterpieces, the Brattle presents another can’t miss double-header today. This time, it’s focused upon arguably the two finest filmmakers our country has ever produced – Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick.

In my mind, the two have always shared a strange intrinsic connection as the seminal filmmakers of their respective generations. The parallels are undeniable: both worked, for the latter parts of their life, divorced from the Hollywood system (though, in Kubrick’s case, not from Hollywood money.) Though for entirely different reasons, both released only 12-feature length films over decades-long careers. Both were highly alienating figures whose best works, uniformly, never got their due until years following their release. Both indulged in a great number of literary adaptations, and both have such films celebrating their 50th birthday: Welles’ THE TRIAL, and Kubrick’s LOLITA.

Released in 1962, the films saw the two celebrated auteurs on opposite sides of their career paths. Welles clearly saw a peer in Kubrick, saying in an interview that year that he saw talent in him that “great” directors like Nicholas Ray, John Huston, and Robert Aldrich lacked, “perhaps… because his temperament comes closer to mine.” Kubrick , at that time, was a hotshot 33-year old coming off a big critical success in his anti-war manifesto PATHS OF GLORY and a massive financial success in his sword-and-sandals crowd-pleaser SPARTACUS. He was also on the verge of defining the artistic voice for which he would be known for the rest of his career.

His LOLITA, admittedly, is hampered by the Production Code; it struggles to translate the singular exuberance of Nabokov’s prose to the screen. Yet the playful use of Peter Sellers anticipates the hilarity of his next film, DR. STRANGELOVE (and the subtle comedy in everything that came after it) and the meticulous set design and camera movements anticipate the rigidly centered style that would emerge with 2001. It may not be essential cinema, but it’s essential for anyone interested in Stanley Kubrick.

Orson, on the other hand, was entering another leave from the country in which he made his name: after the unexplainably disappointing treatment given to his final Hollywood film TOUCH OF EVIL (that’s a whole other article) he once again returned to Europe in search of alternative financing for what would become his final narrative films. Unlike Kubrick, the elder Welles’ aesthetics were at their peak already: he shot THE TRIAL on a measly budget with low-rent locations, and he comes out with a masterpiece of claustrophobic mise-en-scene. While the casting of Anthony Perkins as Kafka’s fatally befuddled “hero” Josef K. is an integral part of the equation, it is Welles’ direction, his disorienting compositions, and his surreal camera movements that elevate THE TRIAL from a low-rent adaptation into a haunting experience simultaneously hallucinogenic and terrifying.

While their works never got their due from the critics of the day, the visual exuberance and incomparably distinct artistic voices of both Welles and Kubrick would influence the most notable American filmmakers that followed in their wake, past and present: everyone from Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma to Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson. They remain, to this day, arguably the two most iconic artists to ever step behind the camera in this country. Don’t miss this incredibly rare chance to see two of their least-cited films on 35mm, on a beautiful screen, with a one-of-a-kind crowd. You may not get another one. - Jake Mulligan

THE TRIAL shows Monday, 5/28 at 1:30 and 7:00, with LOLITA at 4:00 and 9:30. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA, 02138

BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 5/26

The lineup is an embarassment of riches at The Brattle Theatre this weekend. But personally we’re most excited for Saturday’s Double Feature of Francois Truffaut’s JULES AND JIM, paired with Jean-Luc Godard’s VIVRE SA VIE.

In fact, if you catch the afternoon shows, you just might find a fair portion of our membership sitting in the front row, bickering amongst ourselves.

JULES AND JIM shows Saturday, 5/26 at 1:00 and 5:15, with VIVRE SA VIE at 3:15 and 7:30. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA, 02138

 

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 5/25

We’ll be updating this page weekly with our reviews, interviews, features and more. 

MEN IN BLACK III

“Trying to keep all the various threads of the storyline straight in your mind will give you a headache and, frankly it’s not really worth it.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“Will Smith continues his sad journey from ‘promising young movie star’ to ‘CEO of Smith Family Dynasty Entertainment Properties.’” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“I hate to break it to our readers, but the wise-cracking worms are practically nonexistent save for a background comment. Sad alien face.” - Monica Castillo, DigBoston
 

“You’ll come out looking for the neuralizer.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

“The stupidity of this movie extends beyond 3D, into the dialogue between its characters.” – Evan Crean, Reel Recon

“Brolin’s dead-on impression of a younger Tommy Lee Jones is what makes this movie so enjoyable.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Latino TV

“It won’t change your life nor will it boggle you with its concepts. However if you let it, this is a movie prepared to entertain.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, Sci-Fi Movie Page

“Decisions this safe should never be celebrated.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston  

“This movie is absolutely weightless, in the worst way possible. It holds absolutely no substance, no lasting power, and I loathe it for existing in the first place.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

 

CHERNOBYL DIARIES

“It’s appropriate that the young cast spends a good deal of time running in circles—it’s a metaphor for first-time director Brad Parker’s repetitive, colorless action.” – Norm Schrager, Paste Magazine

“If I only had a nickel for every fucking bad decision characters make in this film…” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast
 

“The film’s bark is worse than its bite, and its constant teases wear thin, even over a 90-minute runtime.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix

“If only CHERNOBYL DIARIES had a story. Or even diaries.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Herald

  

POLISSE

“Unforgettable. A multi-layered, almost impressionistic vision of what being immersed in the lives of these police officers must be like.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide
 
“A work of stunning realism that regularly falls off the rails into cop-show melodrama.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice
 
“It’s like seeing an onion of revolting sins peeled away layer by putrid layer, the rot growing blacker with each scene.” – Kilian Melloy, EDGE Boston
 
 
 
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
 
“Part love and loss, part drama and a dash of a few musical numbers, the grief never weighs too heavily before moving on.” – Monica Castillo, La Vida de Mcastmovies
 
“A ramshackle curiosity of a film, poorly made and more admirable in intent than execution.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
 
 
THE COLOR WHEEL
 
“The dialogue feels wholly original as both actors translate their characters’ pent-up disdain for one another into fits of spontaneous spewing — and hilarity.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby