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 bad fagot folk kicks off the 38th Boston LGBTQ+ Film Festival on April 7 in a hybrid format: in-person screenings are taking place through April 17 at the Brattle Theater and in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art and Emerson’s Paramount Center; most of the films will be available online through the festival’s streaming portal until the end of “Gaypril”. This year includes 17 feature films, nine documentaries and a program of short films (themed in science fiction, Asia, Latinx and more) in which much of the material has an international flavor. Highlights include the locally shot lesbian romantic comedy “The Sympathy Card” (April 10, Paramount); the documentary “Being Thunder” about a genderqueer teenager from the Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island (April 16, Paramount); “Sirens,” detailing an all-female metal band in Beirut (April 11 at The Brattle, in the presence of director Rita Baghdadi); “Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter,” which revolves around the misfortunes of three young people in the dystopian future of São Paulo (April 15, Brattle); and “Being Bebe,” chronicling the ups and downs of the first winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Saturday, Paramount). There’s a small “retro” list of early queer classics that made mainstream breakthroughs, “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love” (1992) and “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” (1987) at The Brattle, April 13 and April 16, respectively.
Closing of the retrospective “The Roots of ‘Mulholland Drive’” at The Brattle tonight, David Lynch’s 2001 film is at the heart of it all, featuring singer-songwriter Rebekah del Rio. The event is sold out. If that leaves you jonesing for a big-screen Lynchian version of “The Wizard of Oz” (which “Drive” is; The Brattle played the classic Dorothy-and-Toto in black-and-white-to-color last week), you have an option at the Somerville Theater on Tuesday. On Monday, the DocYard presents “Three Short Films by Morgan Quaintance,” then it’s on to the Wicked Queer Film Festival for the rest of the week.
This week’s “Face/Off” series airs on Somerville Theater, in which we get one from John Travolta and one from Nicolas Cage, gives us “Look Who’s Talking,” the 1989 baby comedy starring Kirstie Alley; and Cage in David Lynch’s 1990 romantic road movie homage to the Wizard of Oz, Wild at Heart. Both screens on Tuesday.
In theaters and streaming
A “Venom”-like spin from the Marvel Universe (but not Disney’s MCU) in which we come across an entity that’s more villainous than superhero. Jared Leto (“Blade Runner 2049”) plays Dr. Michael Morbius, a genius who suffers from a rare blood condition that makes him more crippling every year. In his search for a cure, he invents synthetic blood, wins the Nobel Prize, shoots a Brando (turns him down), and eventually finds the key to his curse – but the cure is a curse. This turns him into a “living vampire” with exceptional speed and strength, but he needs human blood to keep going. Like that “Twilight” nonsense, he tries to be a vegan vampire, though he’s mutilated a good dozen by the time he scores a conscience. Her pal (Matt Smith, “Last Night in Soho”), suffering from the same condition, also takes the serum and is more than happy to snack on humans any day, any time. From there, “Morbius” becomes flat and predictable, with special effects that look like something out of an “Underworld” movie from two decades ago. Leto is magnetic, but the narrative seam is flimsy and doesn’t have enough meat for the actor to bite into. Hold on tight during the end credits: there’s a teaser — or two — of what’s to come involving another A-list actor caught up in the bloodless nonsense. At the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Kendall Square; Apple Cinemas Cambridge, 168 Alewife Creek Parkway, Cambridge Highlands near Gaspareau and Fresh Pond; and AMC Assembly Row 12, 395 Craftsman RoadAssembly Square, Somerville.
“Under the banyan tree” (2021)
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” isn’t the only film recently released about an immigrant woman’s struggles with cultural and family values while trying to fit into the American mainstream. Nani Li Yang’s drama centered on Ai-Jia (Kathy Wu), a struggling writer in Los Angeles who supports herself as a tour guide for Chinese visitors, may not be a gonzo rush like the last of the Daniels, but at its core it’s about family, culture, and generational conflict. The snag comes when Ma (Ah-Lei Gua) says she’s coming to LA with Ai-Jia’s teenage niece and nephew because their mom and dad went to jail, following a scandal. of corruption. Ma is not a fan of Ai-Jia’s American boyfriend (a generic Travis Goodman) and decides to play matchmaker. More heartfelt are the difficulties the transplanted teenagers face at school: Zheng-Qi (Demi Ke), a mildly rebellious goth, catches the eye of the popular boy as well as an introvert having trouble at home, while Zheng-Yu (Jiayu Wang) struggles with her gender identity at school and under the scornful gaze of her grandmother. The overall performance is touching. The film has beautiful moments of direction and the occasional cross-cultural comedy; it’s sort of a flipped version of Lulu Wang’s 2019 “The Farewell.” On Amazon Prime Video.
‘Apollo 10½: A Childhood in the Space Age’ (2022)
You must love the whimsical nostalgia steeped in a Richard Linklater film. Take “Boyhood” (2014), “Everybody Wants Some!!” (2016) and of course “Dazed and Confused” (1993), all reflecting Linklater’s childhood in a small town in Texas, as well as this little song about a 10-year-old alter ego named Stan (voiced as an adult by Linklater regular Jack Black) who was recruited to test the space capsule and lunar module because, well, NASA screwed up and made them too small; he needs someone to try them on while the right size is prepared for Neil, Buzz and the crew. It sounds a bit crazy, but it’s a seamless blend of fantasy and sentimental rock music (“The Age of Aquarius”, “Soul Finger” and more), space race and sense of life. ’60s Americana – Stan’s family obsession with “Dark Shadows” and other TV of the era is quite deftly realized. Did I mention it’s an animated movie? It’s done with rotoscoping, the same technique Linklater applied in “Waking Life” (2001) and “A Scanner Darkly” (2006), in which live action sequences are painted. The movie is a neat bridge for the kids in terms of maturity and fantasy, as well as mom and dad – or more so, grandma and grandpa – for the recall factor. You can feel the care and love the filmmaker put into it. On Netflix.
‘The Bubble’ (2022)
Nothing is worse than a labored comedy seeking a laugh you don’t feel. That’s the case here with this soft Covid-lockdown tale about a film crew making the sixth or seventh sequel to a franchise known as “Cliff Beasts” about people-munching dino-raptor-avians, the same way these things happened to Meryl Streep’s self-centered POTUS at the end of “Don’t Look Up”. The film centers on a married couple (Leslie Mann and David Duchovny) who star in the series, with Fred Armisen as the freelance writer who won Sundance with a film shot on his iPhone, now frustrated by a big budget, interference from producers (Kate McKinnon and Peter Serafinowicz) and big egos. It’s therapeutic to watch the process of maskless actors with a masked crew on the other side of the lens, reminiscent of the static shots circling when ‘Don’t Look Up’ was filmed here amid the pandemic , and fun to drink green screen, CGI, behind-the-scenes magic and shenanigans. The film is helmed by Judd Apatow (Mann’s husband), who scored higher on the Funny Bone Tickling Meter with such titles as ‘The Forty Year Old Virgin’ (2005) and ‘Knocked Up’ (2007) . This concept doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of its deconstructive premise. On Netflix.
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.