Entertainment

Missed It? Brattle Celebrates (Some of) the Best of 2012

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Thursday Jan 31, 2013
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Every year, the Brattle Theatre wraps up the year-that-was with their (Some Of) The Best of The Year series.

It may seem like a bit of a lark - playing, yet again, all the films we’ve spent the last 12 months watching at the multiplex - but there’s more to it than that. There are a number of unfairly overlooked films here that will be new to anyone who doesn’t obsessively frequent their local art house (if you even have one.)

And if you have seen all the films, this may be your first chance to see them on film, the way they are meant to be seen (take "Seven Psychopaths" for instance - though it was shot on 35mm, this screening at the Brattle will be the first time it’s exhibited that way in Boston.) And with a lineup this strong, you’d be forgiven even if you just wanted to catch everything for a second time around.


It all starts February 1st, with a double feature of films that easily transcend the ’coming-of-age’ labels that have been attached to them. First off is Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin’s shockingly assured debut. Feeling like the cross-section between Terrence Malick films and the fables of Hayao Miyazaki (with a dash of indy rebellion, for good measure;) Zeitlin uses his roaming, handheld camera to capture a snapshot of what the world looks like when you’re too young to comprehend your experiences.

Playing as the back half of the double-bill is Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. (Click here for the EDGE review.). This screwball love affair (between two twelve year olds, for the uninitiated,) remains the most emotionally wrenching film going experience of my year. Some director’s make you laugh, some make you cry; but Anderson isn’t satisfied unless he gets you to do both.

But if Friday is set up to make you cry; Saturday is scheduled to have you cheering in your seat. On February 2nd, it’s superhero day; as The Avengers double features with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Fanboys have been fighting all summer over which picture was better (personally, I side with the latter; I’ll take Nolan’s faux-Dickens grandeur to Whedon’s beamed-from-TV compositions any day.) Now you can decide for yourself.


Now, Saturday may be the day for the blockbusters, but Sunday the 3rd is reserved for the polar opposite pictures - the unfairly forgotten. First off is Wake in Fright, a neo-western-cum-existentialist-horror-picture that reimagines the Australian outback as a punishing vision of kill-or-be-killed masculinity. (Click here for the EDGE review.) Playing later that day is Daisies, which I missed during it’s opening run at the Harvard Film Archive; but has earned more than enough raves to make sure I don’t miss my second chance.

Monday the 4th brings a curious double feature. It starts out with the excellent documentary profile Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, (Click here for the EDGE review), and then moves onto the excellent This is Not a Film. Directed by Jafar Panahi, the latter film is a 75-minute marvel, shot illegally while the Iranian government held him under house arrest. But, without spoiling too much, it is far from being a documentary - in terms of being choreographed, scripted, and pre-arranged, it’s closer to "The Dark Knight" than "Ai Weiwei."


Not all the double features are so arbitrary, however. And none are better than Holy Motors (Click here for the EDGE review), and David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis on the evening of February 9th. You get two surrealistic, day-long journeys through metropolitan areas, both taking place in a white stretch limo, and both leading to some kind of oblivion (symbolic or literal.) These two films, both painfully cynical and aesthetically exuberant simultaneously, feel like they were made to play next to each other.

But perhaps most important of all is David France’s landmark AIDS documentary How to Survive A Plague, which has been winning prizes for best first film and best documentary from a handful of critics organizations across the country. An unblinking diary of an epidemic that most chose not to notice; "Plague" plays on February 8th, and then again at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards on the 10th (France will be at the Brattle for the latter screening.)

And that’s hardly all you’re getting next week from the Brattle’s programming mad geniuses. As mentioned, Seven Psychopaths, (click here for the EDGE review), will be playing from a 35mm print for the first time in Boston on February 5th, and the same goes for The Raid, (click for EDGE review), on February 8th.


Then, get a dose of Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Looper,
(click for EDGE review), and Premium Rush on the 7th.

The series closes things out with a double dash of Burton and the Burtonesque: animated gothic-horror-comedy Paranorman" apes his style on the afternoon of the 9th, followed by the real McCoy in Frankenweenie.

Superhero movies, politically driven documentaries, animated gothic-horror - all of 2012’s cinematic trends are represented in this "Best Of." Normally you can count on the Brattle to bring you the best films to skip past your local multiplex. This week you can count on them to bring you the best of the multiplex itself - and then some.

The Brattle Theatre is located at 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA. For show times and more information, visit the theater’s website.


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