It’s another month, so time for a new round up of the indie / arthouse films coming up at the Kimball Theatre! This month, we have movies about billionaires attempting immortality, romance in WWII, biopics on Yves Saint Laurent, Brian Wilson, and Big Bird (well, kinda), films for kids (or maybe just the young at heart), films about bikes, and even an Elvis movie. There’s a LOT of films this month!
Thanks again to my personal movie expert (and spouse!), Scott Graves, for the outlines below:
Self/less – Ben Kingsley plays a billionaire facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer in the science fiction identity thriller Self/less. Or rather, Kingsley plays him for awhile, until he escapes his diagnosis by having his consciousness transferred into Ryan Reynolds. Strange visions after the change throw him into a dangerous investigation, uncovering a corporate conspiracy with shades of Philip K. Dick novels and John Frankenheimer’s Seconds. Directed by Tarsem Singh (Immortals, Mirror Mirror, The Cell), the cast also features Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, The Good Wife on CBS), Natalie Martinez (Under the Dome, also CBS), and Michelle Dockery (PBS drama Downton Abbey). Self/less is playing at the Kimball from September 1st through the 6th.
Saint Laurent – Detailing several episodes in the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, this film directed by Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures) follows last year’s Yves Saint Laurent into the market for YSL biopics. Starring Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising) as the Christian Dior protege through the heady years of the late 60s and early 70s, through career heights and depths, before reflecting on his final years (played by Helmut Berger of The Damned, Conversation Piece). Saint Laurent shows September 6th to the 12th.
Love and Mercy – If California surf rock is of more interest than European fashion, Love and Mercy chronicles the life and work of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, played in parallel narratives by Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, Little Miss Sunshine, L.I.E.) during his creative peak years and by John Cusack (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Being John Malkovich, Better Off Dead) in middle age. The biopic covers the younger Wilson’s relationship with his overbearing father, Murry (Bill Camp), the recording of Pet Sounds (try not to think of the similar scene from Walk Hard), and his breakdown, while Cusack’s Wilson lives in seclusion, dominated by controversial therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, following closely on his appearance as Jerry Heller in Straight Outta Compton) until he meets Melinda Ledbetter who eventually becomes his wife and manager. Love and Mercy is screening at the Kimball from the 7th to the 13th.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Cult arthouse fare from the early years of this century, the first two films in the Harry Potter saga tell of the boy wizard’s first two years in an oppressive British boarding school before the headmaster’s brutal discipline leads to a violent revolt that may be more fantasy than reality in a searing indictment of the British class system… wait, no, I’m thinking of something else. These movies are the first two in the HP story with Quidditch, everyflavored jellybeans, flying cars, basilisks, polyjuice potion, vintage Hermione hair, and about 9 dozen Weasleys. The Sorcerer’s Stone is at the Kimball on September 12th and 13th, and the Chamber of Secrets on the 19th and 20th.
Shaun the Sheep – This stop-motion animation feature follows the adventures of the titular ruminant, first seen in Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit adventure A Close Shave. After his antics afflict his farmer with amnesia, Shaun must venture into the city and crosses paths with an animal control worker in order to set things right. Shaun the Sheep screens from the 14th to the 20th.
Breaking Away/American Flyers/Bicycle Thief – Colonial Fondo weekend (September 25th-26th) brings this trio of films related (more or less) with cycling. Breaking Away is a coming-of-age story featuring the rivalry between four “townies” and the college kids in Bloomington, Indiana. Come for an early appearance of Dennis Quaid and Dennis Christopher’s only significant role (apart from his lead in underrated horror film Fade to Black) as a young man obsessed with Italian cycling, stay for Paul Dooley’s hilarious turn as Christopher’s frustrated car salesman father. Sharing a screenwriter, American Flyers, chronicles two brothers, one brain aneurysm, and a brutal bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains. It stars Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham) in the first sports film of his career, David Grant and Rae Dawn Chong, and features early appearances by Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle). Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (Bicycle Thieves in Italian), a seminal work of Italian Neo-Realism from 1950, tells of a father and husband who gets a much-needed job posting advertising signs, but may lose it after his bicycle is stolen. A persistent fixture on Sight and Sound magazine’s list of the best films of all time, The Bicycle Thief is a rich depiction of the desperations of urban poverty and the complex commitments of work and family.
This is just one of the things Williamsburg is doing to celebrate the Fondo and biking in general- have you seen the bike sculptures around town?
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story – This documentary chronicles the life of Caroll Spinney, the 78-year old cartoonist and puppeteer who has portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since their debut in 1969. Combining archival and newly shot footage, I Am Big Bird shares behind-the-scenes details of Sesame Street as well as important moments in the life and career of the man who brings to life its resident Bird and Grouch. I Am Big Bird shows from September 20th to 26th.
Love Me Tender – The September entry in the Kimball’s “Classic” series, Love Me Tender marks the big screen acting debut of the King in a period Western musical. (I wouldn’t say that this is a classic, but hey, whatever floats your boat). Richard Egan (A Summer Place, The Revolt of Mamie Stover) stars as Vance, the eldest of the Reno brothers, who returns home from the Civil War to find that his sweetheart (Debra Paget, The Ten Commandments) has married his youngest brother (Presley), left behind to care for the family farm. Vance and his other brothers are wanted for robbing a Union train days after the war ended, while Clint is racked by jealousy when he discovers that his wife Cathy still loves Vance. Love Me Tender can be seen at the Kimball on September 27th. (Tickets to this show are only $4!)
Testament of Youth – Based on the first volume of Vera Brittain’s memoirs, Testament of Youth dramatizes her struggles (played by Alicia Vikander of Ex Machina and the recent Man from UNCLE film) as she is admitted to a college at Oxford in 1914 only to leave her studies after her brother Edward (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service), fiance Jon Snow… I mean, Roland (Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones), and friends are conscripted and sent to the Front. Brittain becomes a nurse, serving soldiers in Europe and at home, including German soldiers. The cast is filled out with many familiar faces: Dominic West (The Wire), Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves), Hayley Atwell (ABC’s Agent Carter), Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral), and Miranda Richardson (The Crying Game, Blackadder). The Kimball is showing Testament of Youth from September 28th to October 4th. In case you missed it when it was first released a few months ago, here’s another chance to see it.
Tickets at the Kimball are regularly $8 – less than you’ll pay at many other movie theaters- and they have concessions, too (including beer!). If you call ahead, you can get a book of tickets for an even lower price per ticket.
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