Upcoming movie events here and about
Week of August 11
The Angry Birds Movie 2
“After the Wedding”
“Blinded by the Light”
“One Child Nation”
“Tel Aviv on Fire”
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”
SERIES, REVIVALS, ONE-OFFS
Harvard Film Archive
THE COMPLETE HOWARD HAWKS
“Red River” (1948), Aug. 11, 7 p.m.
“Sergeant York” (1941), Aug. 12,
“Rio Lobo” (1970), Aug. 16, 7 p.m.
“The Road to Glory” (1936), Aug. 16, 9:30 p.m.
“A Song Is Born” (1948), Aug. 17,
“O. Henry’s Full House” (1952),
Aug. 17, 9 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts
SPACE EXPLORATION ON FILM
“Apollo 11,” Aug. 16, 5 p.m.; Aug. 18, 3:30 p.m.
“Solaris” (1972), Aug. 17, 2 p.m.
A SPLINTER IN YOUR MIND:
FILMS FROM ’99
“Magnolia,” Aug. 16, 7 p.m.
“Boys Don’t Cry,” Aug. 17, 11:30 a.m.
“Election,” Aug. 18, 1 p.m.
Big Screen Classics:
“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), Aug. 12, 7 p.m.
“The Lehman Trilogy,” Aug. 13,
“Woodstock” (1970), Aug. 15,
“Wolf” (1994), Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m.
“The Woman Disputed” (1928), Aug. 18, 2 p.m.
“Woodstock” (1970), Aug. 11,
“Hello, Dolly!” (1969), Aug. 11 (1 and 4 p.m.), Aug. 14 (noon and 4 p.m.)
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), Aug. 13, 8 p.m.
GREENWAY DISTRICT PARK
“Back to the Future Part II” (1989), Aug. 13, at sunset (rain date, Aug. 14), screening is free
Museum of Fine ARTS
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), Aug. 15, 6:30 p.m.
Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube.
“Groundhog Day” (1993), “Jackie Brown” (1997), “Panic Room” (2002), “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)
A YEAR AGO PEOPLE WERE WATCHING . . .
★ ★ ★ ½ BlacKkKlansman John David Washington (Denzel’s son) plays an African-American police detective who, in the late 1970s, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan from within. True story — really — and brought to the screen with a ferocious mix of prankishness and cold fury that makes it director Spike Lee’s strongest yet most entertaining work in years. With Adam Driver and Topher Grace as David Duke. Lee would go on to win a best adaptation screenplay Oscar, with cowriters David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott (128 min., R) (Ty Burr)
Available on Amazon, Google Play, HBO, YouTube
Toni Morrison (1931-2019)
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” was released in June. Morrison died last Monday, and the documentary is back at the Coolidge. It’s also playing at the Cape Ann Cinema, in Gloucester. It’s one of only two feature films with a Morrison connection. The other is Jonathan Demme’s 1998 adaptation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Beloved.”
On the face of it, there being just one film version of her books is puzzling. Morrison, who published 11 novels, was not only one of the most acclaimed writers of her time. She was also one of the most popular. In the applied math of Hollywood, prestige property + commercial property = movie is an equation writ large on any self-respecting blackboard.
On reflection, though, the lack of adaptations is less surprising. Where the movies and the novel meet, formally, is at plot, dialogue, and character. A novelist’s style and thematic concerns and ambitions are at best irrelevant and at worst an impediment. The single most distinctive thing about Morrison’s fiction is the lushness and monumentality of her prose. Try to translate those into visual terms. Even harder, as Demme learned, is conveying her ambitiousness. Plot, that filmic engine, was mostly just a means to an end for Morrison. That end, at its most potent and characteristic, was myth: a transcending of realistic detail and the personal identity of character to attain a higher, even exalted cultural truth.
The movies are very good at myth, actually, only it has to be on the movies’s own terms. We call it stardom. Oddly enough, that may be the primary connection Morrison had with the movies. She had phenomenal starpower. You can see it in the documentary, and I can attest to it firsthand. I interviewed her in 1998, when her novel “Paradise” came out. Having subsequently interviewed Tony Curtis, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, and Christian Bale, I can tell you that none of them had the sheer presence that Morrison did. None of them could move the center of gravity in a room. She could. It also helped that Morrison was profoundly beautiful — not movie-star beauty — but a beauty beyond that: a unique combination of majesty, severity, merriment, and authority.
Despite that beauty, she didn’t want any photographs taken that morning. Ah, but a photographer was already on his way. Midway through the interview, I saw him outside on the sidewalk (this was at the Four Seasons). Uh-oh. A moment later, he came in the lounge where Morrison and I were seated. She could tell from his gear why he was there. Their eyes met. She raised her right index finger. Frowning, she moved it back and forth. Nodding, he turned around and left. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be. That is authority. That is star power. And would that scene ever work great in a movie.