Coming Attractions in Film: December 2010

The month’s attractions include movies from directors Darren Aronofsky and Frank Capra—a yin/yang combo if there ever was one, and Marwencol, an intriguing documentary about a man who creates a fantasy world in his backyard.

SUNRISE -- Films don't come more beautiful than this.

By Justin Marble.

Black Swan. Directed by Darren Aronfsky. At AMC Boston Common and Kendall Square, December 3. Darren Aronofsky has never made a bad film. In fact, he’s never made a mediocre one. There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the movie business, but with a resume like Pi, Requiem For a Dream, The Fountain and The Wrestler, this director’s  new film Black Swan is as close as you can get. It’s a psychological thriller revolving around a straight-laced ballet dancer’s (Natalie Portman) descent into darkness; viewers should expect stunning visuals mixed with Aronofsky’s usual cerebral intensity.

Mark Hogancamp at work in MARWENCOL. (Photo by Tom Putnam)

Marwencol. Directed by Jeff Malmberg. At Kendall Square, December 3. Marwencol tells the story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who was beaten outside of a bar in 2000. He suffers severe brain damage and loses all recollection of his previous life. In order to make sense of it all, he creates a world called Marwencol in his backyard, using figurines to represent people in his life and test the limits of his imagination. It’s somewhat successful, but museum curators who get wind of the project threaten to descend on the fantasy town and invade the one thing keeping Hogancamp going.

Sunrise. Directed by F. W. Murnau. On December 6 “The Sounds of Silence” program at the Coolidge Corner Theatre presents a wonderful gift to film-lovers. It is a restoration of one of the most beautiful films ever made: the 1927 masterpiece earned star Janet Gaynor an Oscar and won the first, and only, Best Unique and Artistic Picture award, a second ‘Best Picture’ category that was discontinued after the first year.

Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN

A high point in German Expressionism in Hollywood, Sunrise was released with synchronized sound-on-film, featuring a musical score by Hugo Riesenfeld. Here it will be screened with an original score (commissioned by the Coolidge) “played by the stellar students in the Department of Film Scoring at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music, with the participation of professors and industry professionals, Sheldon Mirowitz and Dan Carlin.”

It’s a Wonderful Life. Directed by Frank Capra. At the Brattle Theatre, December 11–13. Sure, it’ll be on TV for free just a few days later, but there’s really nothing like seeing Frank Capra’s timeless classic on a big screen with a live audience. Capra is often overlooked as a director because many view his films as too wholesome, uplifting, and corny. But It’s a Wonderful Life is a good example of the way he balanced his happy endings and proselytizing with darkness and moral complexity. Those who haven’t seen the film in awhile might be surprised by just how much goes wrong before the big triumph at the end.

The Late Lesile Neilsen in AIRPLANE!

Airplane! Directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker. On AMC, December 27. Normally I don’t include movies that will be playing on TV, but this one’s in honor of Leslie Nielsen. For those that have never seen it, Airplane! is the type of film that isn’t made anymore, a spoof that actually uses wit to such a great extent that it’s impossible to even process all the jokes and wordplay. Take some time out, kick back, and fall in love with the classic all over again.

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