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Ty's weekend movie picks for Friday, 8/4/11

Posted by Ty Burr  August 5, 2011 12:11 PM

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Pick hit: Monte Hellman in person at the Harvard Film Archive this Saturday and Sunday night, accompanying one of his '60s cult classics, "The Shooting," as well as his latest film, "Road to Nowhere." The series is a long-overdue appreciation of this most mysterioso of American filmmakers and it includes a chance to see -- tonight, Friday the 4th, so move fast -- "Two-Lane Blacktop," certainly the only existential road movie to star singer-songwriter legend James Taylor and the Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson. Sunday at 5 p.m. is 1964's "Back Door to Hell," featuring a very young Jack Nicholson (in photo, left).

backdoor.jpg

How can a movie called "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" be any good? By focusing on the, um, human story at its center. I still say that the live-action performances by James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, et al., are adequate but that what Andy Serkis does in terms of body language and expressiveness under that caul of motion-captured digital animation may be worthy of some kind of award. The 2011 Oscar for the best performance by a human in tandem with manipulated 1s and 0s? It's Serkis's in a lock: Caesar in "Rise" is a full-blooded epic hero whose ascension to greatness we cheer on and marvel at, and it's not the CGI that makes that happen, it's the soul of the actor shining through the pixels. I'm not alone in thinking this.

If you must insist on old-fashioned flesh-and-blood acting, then Brendan Gleeson is your man and "The Guard" is your movie, as potty-mouthed and slovenly and underachieving as it is. I'm pretty sure writer-director John Michael McDonagh isn't up to the level of his brother, playwright-turned-moviemaker Martin McDonagh, but he has turned out a shamelessly enjoyable Irish cop-buddy movie and given the sly Gleeson more than enough room to swing a cat or three. Great fun.

Not exactly great fun but interesting in ways perverse and otherwise is Miranda July's sophomore outing, "The Future," not least because it skewers the young and the hip who stand to be its primary audience. Still, it does so with affection in its heart, and the movie has a deepening and unrelieved sadness that, in its own way, is rather daring. But, yes, the narrating cat. If such whimsies -- and July uses them in darker ways than you expect -- drive you batty, by all means please stay the hell away from this film.

Internet 24-hour tour documentary "Life in a Day" opens at the Coolidge and elsewhere. "Sarah's Key," the second recent release to dramatize the forced removal of Parisian Jews during World War II, comes to the Kendall this week and other theaters next week.

The Somerville attaches itself to Shark Week like a remora with a weekend run of the still-wonderful "Jaws" paired with the still-less-than-wonderful "Jaws II." Buster Keaton's "Steamboat Bill Jr." comes in on Sunday night at 7 pm with live accompaniment by the estimable Jeff Rapsis. No sharks, but there is a cyclone: Here's a taste.

Eric Rohmer's magical "Summer (Le Rayon Vert)" and Kon Ichikawa's emotionally epic "The Makioka Sisters" are among the restored prints showing this weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts. Both well worth catching.

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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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