A list of unusual and compelling films coming up in September that you may not have a second chance to experience if you don’t plan your evening ahead!
By Tim Jackson.
September brings films on making art and revolution, explorations of human community that will help ease viewers back into the grooves of work and school. Also, there are excellent films hitting the commercial theaters and art houses as well. Limited release indies that I would recommended are Compliance, Liberal Arts, Hello I Must be Going, Sleepwalk With Me, and PT Anderson’s much anticipated The Master.
September 5 through 16: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Boston finally gets a chance to see this highly praised film about one of the country’s most prolific performance artists. It is retrospective that traces 50 performances over four decades, including her early interventions and sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances, and collaborative performances. If you are interested in contemporary and postmodern art practices, this is a must see.
September 6 through 9: Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. In his lively and personal documentary Pip Chodorov takes 80 minutes to explore and explain the practices of some notable pioneers of experimental film including the late, great Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Len Lye, and Robert Breer, who died last year. This subjective East Coast–centric film is a great introduction to a vital and under-appreciated art form. It may even inspire you to expand your own ideas about the visual possibilities of art.
September 14 and 15: The New Babylon @ 6 p.m. (September 14); La Commune: Paris, 1871. @ 5 p.m. (September 15). Both films screened at the Cutler Majestic Theater, 219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.The Emerson Arts film screenings continue to bring wonderful revivals to Boston. This month they are showing two masterful films on the Paris Commune of 1871. Some helpful background: In 1871 the workers of Paris, joined by National Guardsmen, seized Paris and set about re-organizing society in their own interests in what was the first socialist working class uprising. Ultimately, troops retook the city and massacred 30,000 workers.
New Babylon is a 1929 silent film written and directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. It tells the story of the Paris Commune and the events leading up to it, focusing on “the encounter and tragic fate of two lovers separated by the barricades of the Commune.” The directions, at the tail end of the silent era, use “impressionistic cutting and metaphorical compositions” to create a “dazzling work.”
La Commune: Paris, 1871 was made in 2000 by the revolutionary director Peter Watkins. His methods of engaging documentary techniques to examine radical social issues are unique. His faux documentaries Punishment Park and The War Game are brilliant. Here he asked actors to improvise “to reflect on the links between the events of the Commune and society today. In this way . . . to contribute directly to the manner of telling their own history.”
September 14 through 19: Shut Up and Play the Hits. At the Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA. Do you know James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem? Their final show sold out at Madison Square Garden in four hours. If you are a fan, or just curious about contemporary pop music, you’ll want to take in this limited run of a film that has been described as “a kind of The Last Waltz for a new generation: an adored band going out with a self-induced, possibly premature bang.” It’s also a character study of Murphy as well as a very good music film.
September 17 @ 7 p.m., Blackmail at the Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA. Boston’s own Alloy Orchestra will accompany this critically acclaimed silent version of Hitchcock’s film. The trio has toured the country with the film and has also written and performed scores for the greatest silent classics, including Metropolis, Man With a Movie Camera, The General, The Wind and many others. The combination of found percussion and electronic synthesizers gives the Orchestra the ability to create a huge variety of sounds and tones.
September 21 @ 7 p.m.: For The Love of the Music : The Club 47 Folk Revival at the BU Cinematheque 640 Commonwealth Ave Boston, MA. The series, curated by filmmaker, professor, and Boston critic Gerald Peary, offers a chance to see carefully chosen films followed by open and insightful discussions with directors and producers. For The Love of the Music looks at the great Cambridge folk scene of the 1960’s with artists such as Joan Baez, Taj Mahal, Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin, Jackie Washington, Jim Rooney, Peter Rowan and many more. Narrated by Peter Coyote. A Q&A with the filmmakers and a bluegrass performance follow the screening
September 26 @ 7 p.m.: Crazy Horse. At UMass Boston Campus Center Ballroom, Boston, MA. Curator and lecturer Chico Colvard begins his free UMass Boston Film Series with Frederick Wiseman’s latest film about the legendary Parisian cabaret club. There is a Q&A following the film. Future screenings will include new work by up and coming filmmakers, but the opportunity to hear Wiseman speak is not to be missed. Be sure to watch his short, clever, well-acted trailer on the website, along with a full listing of the upcoming films in the series.
September 20 through 26: What Time is Left. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. This 64-minute film addresses a concern of increasing interest to a huge generation of baby boomers facing issues of aging as well as the death of their parents. This personal film examines the difficult choices—as well as the occasions of tenderness—generated by the final years. Presented with help from Center for Independent Documentary and the LEF Foundation.
September 27: Dark Horse. At the Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA. Earlier this month in a commentary for the Arts Fuse, I bemoaned the fact that Todd Solondz’s recent film played for just one week in Cambridge, calling the movie a “puzzle, satire, commentary, comedy, and a disconcerting portrait of American self-entitlement and emotional indulgence.” As they do so often, the producers at the Brattle are giving audiences a valuable chance to see it.
September 29 @ 7 p.m: An Evening of Recent Films by the Quay Brothers. At the Institute Of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA. The Brothers Quay were honored by the Coolidge Corner Theater in 2009 for their astounding, 30-year career of edgy, quirky, charming, and brilliant animation that uses stop-motion, puppetry, and gorgeous miniatures. They were born in Pennsylvania, live in England, and work in the tradition of Eastern European animators like Jan Švankmajer and filmmaker /illustrator Walerian Borowczyk. This is an opportunity to see their most recent works, which are Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos and Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum)—their first film made in the US—and Mask (Maska) based on Stanislaw Lem novel. If you love the art of stop motion, don’t miss this!
September 30 @ 2:30 p.m.: Manhattan Short Film Festival. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. This one time offering is an experiment in film and global community. In Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and North America, and venues in all 50 States, audiences will simultaneously view and vote for the finalists among 10 special short films. The winners will be announced in the Press Center on Sunday, October 7th at 10 p.m.