Coming Attractions in Film: July 2011

July offers something for everyone—those who want to think have the latest film from Jean-Luc Godard at the Museum of Fine Arts, while those who want to bake their brains can head over to “Cowboy and Aliens.”

The latest film from Jean-Luc Godard, FILM SOCIALISME, comes to the MFA

By Taylor Adams.

Taxi Driver Restoration. At the Brattle Theatre, July 1–7.

You talkin’ to me? The gritty world that made Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro legends of American filmmaking returns to the screen in a new, restored print, which will no doubt do full justice to all of New York’s scummy dinginess that DeNiro’s Travis Bickle wants so desperately to wipe from the face of the earth. Of course, he encounters a conservative campaign worker (Cybill Shepherd), tragically young prostitute (Jodie Foster), and her seedy pimp (Harvey Keitel), and the broiling situation leads nowhere good.

The new print also celebrates the centennial of the birth of legendary film composer Bernard Herrmann, whose final film score provides the hauntingly smooth soundtrack to Scorsese’s violent vision.

Boston French Film Festival. At the Museum of Fine Arts, July 7–24.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) hosts its annual French Film Festival this month, bringing over 20 diverse examples of French cinema to Boston. Jean-Luc Godard’s reportedly challenging Film Socialisme will screen (no word yet on whether the film will be subtitled in standard or “Navajo” English, as per its inflammatory Cannes release last year), as will Truffaut’s classic The Soft Skin. Fans of Woody Allen’s recent effort Midnight in Paris might recognize actress Léa Seydoux in Rebecca Zlotowski’s Dear Prudence.

The festival’s special guests include directors Phillipe Le Guay (The Women on the Sixth Floor) and Jean-Pierre Ameris (Romantics Anonymous), as well as actress Joslane Balasko (Hedgehog). The month is also marked by performances by French musicians in the MFA’s courtyard space and also by screenings of French video art.

Trailer Treats. At the Brattle Theatre, July 13.

Do you love film trailers—be they suspenseful, thrilling, campy, or hilariously bad—as much as you love movies themselves? You aren’t alone, and the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge has a night of trailer-worship to celebrate this craving. The theater screens selections of trailers (good, bad, and amazingly terrible) from its own collection. But the night’s main draw is the screening of finalists from the annual “Trailer Smackdown” contest, where trailers for fake movies created by Boston filmmakers will screen and the audience will be asked to select the best (or most gloriously disastrous) send-up of previews.

Errol Morris' latest documentary,TABLOID, opens this month.

Newspaper films: Page One and Tabloid.

Extra! The month brings two films related to journalism and the media: New York Times documentary Page One and Errol Morris’ Tabloid. The former (screening July 1 at the Kendall) chronicles a year of the upheaval, difficulties, and internal controversy surrounding the national paper of record’s recent efforts to retain readers and relevance—and somehow to make money while doing so—in an increasingly digital world.

Morris’ Tabloid (limited release, at the Kendall, July 15) involves the other end of the journalistic spectrum, telling the story of sensational publicity-seeking, former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney, who has managed to embroil herself in such tabloid-worthy stories as the kidnapping of a young, Mormon missionary sometimes referred to as the “Mormon sex in chains case,” dog cloning, and other National Enquirer-type fodder. Morris has described the film on Twitter as his best yet, so fans of the Cambridge-based documentarian will want to take notice.

Blue Velvet. At the Coolidge Corner Theatre, July 19.

Upright, suburban America meets a seedy underworld in David Lynch’s 1986 cult classic Blue Velvet. A pre-Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan flexes his investigative muscles as Jeffrey Beaumont, dragging wholesome sweetheart Sandy (Laura Dern) into a dangerous morass involving bar singer and damsel-in-distress Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini). So in honor of the film’s celebrated, Heineken-hating, gas-huffing antagonist Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), grab a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon (the Coolidge’s rather recently-added beer and wine selection may only offer classier alternatives) and settle back into your seat for Lynch’s wild ride.

Let the Blockbusters Begin

Mia Kunis and Justin Timberlake in FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS.

It’s that time of year again, so those seeking summer thrills or laughs in pop cinema have a wealth of choices this month. The slacker-comedy Horrible Bosses will provide an outlet for release of work-related anxieties July 8, while the long-running saga of teen wizard Harry Potter will conclude in July 15th’s release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

The latest superhero film bursts forth with patriotic fervor in Captain America: The First Avenger on July 22, a day that also offers sex comedy Friends with Benefits (starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis). The next weekend brings the release of the absurd sci-fi/Western crossover Cowboys and Aliens (with Harrison Ford, no less). Grab a popcorn and think as little as you wish! It’s summer, after all.

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