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Ty's weekend movie picks for Friday, 7/22/11

Posted by Ty Burr  July 22, 2011 09:02 AM

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battleship-potemkin.jpgI haven't seen "Captain America," but the general consensus is meh-to-quite good, with some simmering resentment over its status as long-form coming attractions trailer for "The Avengers." Wesley weighs in here.

The reason I didn't see "Captain America" (and this is movie-critic inside baseball, so you can skip it if you want) was that its only press screening was Wednesday night, scheduled at the same time as the press screening of "Friends with Benefits." Since the Globe employs two reviewers, it was easy enough for Wes to see one and me to catch the other, but most newspapers/TV and radio stations/blogs have only one critic and they were kept from doing their jobs by the unnecessarily punitive practices of the studios' publicity offices.

I know, big deal, but I'm still scratching my head over the decision by Screen Gems (a Sony company) to have multiple public promotional screenings for "Friends" while keeping the press from seeing it until the last possible moment before deadline. Did they think that "normal moviegoers" would like it but that critics wouldn't? Were they spooked by the hate-on for the similar "No Strings Attached" back in January? Surprise: "Friends with Benefits" is a good movie, or at least very good of its kind (the much-abused-for-a-reason "chick flick"). It's smart, fast, and Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake play really well together. Most of the reviews have been positive, so why not let the reviewers see it a little early too, help spread the word, and dispense with the silly screening mind games? In fact, hold on, isn't that the publicity department's job? Ironically, the whole tempest-in-a-teapot just implies the folks over at Sony/Screen Gems don't know a decent movie when they have one.

Inside baseball, as I said; now back to our regularly scheduled screed. Other fresh openings today include the Holocaust-themed "La Rafle," the first movie to directly tackle the 1942 round-up and deportation of Parisian Jews. (Sorry, France, you don't come off looking good here.) It's a well-produced epic marred by sentimentality and ill-chosen historical cameos -- when we cut to Hitler and Eva Braun frolicking in the country, you may wonder if they've spliced in outtakes from "Inglourious Basterds."

"Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" is a solid documentary about the pioneering 1990s alt-hip-hop group. "The Tree" is an interestingly nutty Australian drama about a widow (Charlotte Gainsbourg, her nerve ends even more exposed than usual) who becomes convinced the spirit of her dead husband has taken over the giant fig tree outside her house.

The Brattle brings in a restored print of "Battleship Potemkin" (photo above), a very rare chance to see the still-galvanizing Eisenstein warhorse on a big screen. Oh, uh, and "Scott Pilgrim Vs the World" for the late show. See 'em both and experience serious socio-political cognitive dissonance and a lot of hyper-active editing.

Last chance to catch the French Film Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts: "Mozart's Sister," about the other genius in the composer's family, is a good one to catch.

At the Harvard Film Archive, a pretty essential series devoted to the Hollywood director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. "All About Eve" is the acknowledged milestone -- it'll play at 7 p.m. on Saturday -- but stick around for the 9:30 show of "The Late George Apley," a gently satiric study of a Boston Brahmin (played by Ronald Coleman) who's well-bred, charming, and clueless to the changes in the world around him. Adapted from J.P. Marquand's much-admired Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Boston-schooled screenwriter Philip Dunne. Another rare treat; grab it while you can.

Finally, the Somerville Theater has a Saturday midnight show of "A Clockwork Orange" with a "special live pre-show" according to the website. If that includes being beaten up by droogs to the tune of "Singin' in the Rain," I think I'll pass.

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Movie news, reviews, and more.

Contributors

Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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