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Movies may be farther away than they appear

The movie release schedule as you see here is based on the most recently available information but, who knows, stuff changes. Don’t schedule that vacation time to camp out in front of the theater for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas just yet as some release dates may change. Also, some movies listed here may open in big cities on the listed date but open in our area later.

Film festivals

Fall festivals aren’t just about apples and pumpkins. New Hampshire also hosts a fair number of film festivals in the coming months. Here are a few on the schedule. Check back in our weekly film listings for more upcoming events. (Have a film fest to list? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.)

• Somewhat North of Boston Film Festival (www.snobfilmfestival.com) is scheduled a bit earlier this year — Thursday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 18. The festival will take place at locations around Concord including Red River Theatres, The Barley House and the Concord City Auditorium. Films include animated features, documentaries and indie films as well as a variety of genres of short films. A list of films is available on the website now.  

• Telluride by the Sea
is held at The Music Hall in Portsmouth (www.themusichall.org) Friday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 25. Six films from the Colorado-based Telluride Film Festival will screen at the Portsmouth festival. (The film titles will be released Friday, Sept. 2.) Tickets cost as much as $200 for a Patron Pass and as little as $12.50 for individual films.

• Manhattan Short Film Festival For this international short film festival (www.msfilmfest.com), you’re the judge. Short films, submitted from all over the world and whittled down to a group of finalists, will be screened all over the world and viewers will vote for the festival winner. Local screening locations include NHTI in Concord on Friday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2 & 7 p.m.

• New Hampshire Film Festival
is also held at The Music Hall in Portsmouth (www.themusichall.org) Thursday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 16. The event includes screenings of local and regional films as well as films from all over the world and workshops, trade shows, panel discussions and more for filmmakers and film fans.

• Rock ‘n Roll Film Fest Red River Theatres
is planning a festival Friday, Nov. 11, through Sun., Nov. 13.  Films will include This Is Spinal Tap, the rarely-seen documentary Festival Express, compilations of archival footage of British Invasion bands and Elvis and Sun Records (some of which has never been seen in New England) and Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz. Visit www.redrivertheatres.org to purchase tickets starting Sept. 7. (Tickets cost $35 for a three-day pass; $8 for individual films.)

• Short Short Story Film Festival took place last year in November. The festival features seriously short films — five minutes or less — in a variety of genres (documentary, comedy, horror and more). No date has been set yet for this year’s festival. See www.mergingartsproductions.com.

Outside the multiplex

It’s not just the 20-screen giant cineplexes that offer a good movie-going experience. Area libraries, colleges, small theaters and other venues provide alternative movie-going experiences. Here are a few places to see the movies. Check back in our weekly film listings for more upcoming events. (Have a film screening? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.)

• Concord Public Library (45 Green St., Concord, 230-3682, www.concordpubliclibrary.net) has after-school kids’ movies scheduled one Tuesday a month this fall (Sept. 13, Oct. 18 and Nov. 15) at 3:30 p.m. and a mix of classic and recent films scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays (Sept. 29, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15) and Wednesday at 1 p.m. (Dec. 28).  

• Franco-American Centre (Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, www.francoamerican­centrenh.com) shows French-language films (with English subtitles) on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

• The Jam Factory (1211 Elm St., Manchester, www.thejamfactorynh.com) shows local indie films the last Saturday of each month from 8 to 11 p.m. Event is 21+; suggested donation of $5.

• Manchester City Library (405 Pine St., Manchester, 624-6550, www.manchester.lib.nh.us) offers regular screenings on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. of films from decades ago or only years ago. And look for a series of silent film screenings on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. starting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, with Long Pants from 1927 (Jeff Rapsis performs live music to accompany the film).

• Milford Drive-In (Route 101A in Milford, 673-4090, www.milforddrivein.com) shows different double features on its two screens. The drive-in is now open weekends with the first movies beginning at dusk. (Have an upcoming screening to list? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.)

• The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, www.themusichall.org) usually screens a new movie each week, usually a documentary, foreign film or other limited-release movie.

• Nashua Public Library (NPL Theater, 2 Court St., Nashua, 589-4600, www.nashualibrary.org; call 589-4646 for the library’s film line) offers two weekly film screenings: cinema cabaret, which has been moved to Tuesday nights at 7 p.m., and family films, which remain on Saturdays at 2 p.m. The series resume in October.

• Newburyport Screening Room
(82 State St.., Newburyport, Mass., 978-462-3456, www.newburyportmovies.com) screens one limited-release movie (indies, documentaries, foreign films and more) daily, usually with a new movie starting every Friday.

• NHTI (Sweeney Auditorium, 31 College Drive, Concord, 271-7185, www.nhti.edu) offers a Friday Night Films series at 7 p.m. every other Friday night (with some exceptions) starting Oct. 14. Films are often foreign-language films, documentaries, indies and other limited-release movies.

• Pollard Memorial Library
(401 Merrimack St., Lowell, Mass., 978-970-4120, www.pollardml.org) screens unrated independent films on the second Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

• Red River Theatres (11 S. Main St., Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org) offers two or more limited-release films each week including documentaries, foreign films and more. The theater’s Xtreme Friday Night Film Series (which started in August) will continue through September.

• Sub Rosa Drive-In
(Future home of 3S Artspace, Frank Jones Fermentation building, 13 Jewell St., Portsmouth, twitter.com/subrosadrivein or on Facebook) screens cult favorites on Fridays (Sept. 2, 16 and 30) at 9 p.m.

• UNH Manchester (400 Commercial St., Manchester, 641-4101, www.unhm.unh.edu) will offer a four-week film series on Tuesdays at noon starting on Oct. 4 called “Cities on Speed” with films that take a look at the world’s megacities.  

• West Branch Community Library (76 N. Main St., Manchester, 624-6560, www.manchester.lib.nh.us) screens movies for kids on Fridays at 3 p.m.

• Wilton Town Hall Theatre
(Main Street in Wilton, wiltontownhalltheatre.com, 654-FILM) screens two films a week, which can include limited-release films (such as Midnight in Paris or The Tree of Life) as well as mainstream movies. The theater also screens classic films on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and silent films usually on the last Sunday of the month at 4:30 p.m.

• The Colonial Theatre
(95 Main St., Keene, 352-2033, www.thecolonial.org) screens an indie movie throughout the week in the evenings (often daily), with new movies starting Fridays.

Must-sees from summer

In defense of summer, it’s not easy to make every superhero action blockbuster-wannabe The Dark Knight. And some weeks it seemed like you were better off skipping the big new release — maybe even spending that time, gasp, outside. If the 3D-movie ticket prices and the sunshine kept you away from the theater this summer, here are the films from blockbuster season worth seeking out.

• Beginners
  Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer star in this bittersweet but delightful story about a commitmentphobe’s stab at romance set against the recent death of his father. Plummer’s character tells his son (McGregor) that he’s gay — and only then does McGregor really start to know his father, only to lose him to illness not long after. Delicately acted, Beginners is a charmer.

• Bridesmaids  2011 will likely be remembered as the year of the R-rated comedies, but this one, which stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Klemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey, is by far the best. In addition to being raunchy and very funny (don’t be scared of all the girls, male movie-watchers), it offers a really well-constructed look at female friendship. This movie will likely be on my list of “bests” at the end of the year as well. (Scheduled for DVD release on Sept. 20.)

• Captain America: The First Avenger The second-most successful superhero movie of the summer, Captain America captured the gosh-gee fun of comics and was able to balance the earnestness of its lead with the prequelness of its story (though it sets up next year’s The Avengers, it doesn’t feel like one long ad for it, ahem, Thor). (Still in theaters.)

• Cave of Forgotten Dreams  Werner Herzog takes us on a kooky museum tour through ancient caves in France featuring some of the earliest paintings done by man. The subject and pacing of this documentary are the exact opposite of what you expect in summer but the film itself is fascinating. The movie makes some of the best use of 3-D so far this year. (Available through Amazon’s rental service now.)

• Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop This documentary gives Conan fans a look at what Coco was doing for those months between The Tonight Show and the show on TBS. You also get a look at, if not the personal life of Conan O’Brien, his professional work ethic and the amount of energy required to do a road show. (Available through Amazon’s rental service now. Available on DVD on Sept. 13.)

• Crazy, Stupid, Love. 
Like a cool breeze on a hot day, this was the rare movie for grown-ups in this summer of youth-seeking explosion-heavy films. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore give us a marriage in crisis and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling give us young people figuring out who they are. The central relationship — between Carell’s sad-sack schlub and Gosling’s ladies’ man — is what truly makes the film. (Still in theaters.)

• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2  If you didn’t see the preceding seven movies, you probably weren’t going to check in for number eight. But for fans, this final movie in the Harry Potter saga was a nice sendoff. We get our big showdown between the Boy Who Lived and He Who Shall Not Be Named and nice closure for the big supporting characters, in particular Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape, whose performance and character turn out to be the secret main subplot of the latter films. (Still in theaters.)

• Midnight in Paris  Woody Allen sometimes makes good movies; this is one of them. Owen Wilson plays an American screenwriter who goes to Paris with his fiancée. She’s getting ready for their wedding; he’s wishing he could write the great American novel like the expats of Paris in the 1920s who are his heroes. Time starts to fold in on itself in this fairy tale that introduces us to the Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. (Currently playing at Red River Theatres in Concord and Wilton Town Hall Theatre.)  

• Rise of the Planet of the Apes  Forget James Franco and let’s talk about Andy Serkis and his excellent portrayal of Caesar, the chimpanzee who becomes liberator of the Great Apes (just as man is about to become an endangered species thanks to some pharmaceutical monkey business). Serkis has become a master at these kind of motion captured performances and he elevates this movie to something more than a riff on the campy Charleton Heston original. (Still in theaters.)

• Super 8  And here we have my pick for the hands-down best movie of the summer. J.J. Abrams gives us this tribute to the early films of Steven Spielberg (who has an executive producer credit here) with a movie that mixes a supernatural something with tales of young romance, kid filmmaking and family relationships. Though it’s rated PG-13, kids 10 and up (depending on their maturity, etc.) will probably enjoy this movie, which mixes sweet with scary, nostalgia with classic sci-fi. (Currently playing at the second-run theater Regal Cinemas off exit 10 in Hooksett.)

•  Winnie the Pooh Lovely watercolor-style animation and storybook presentation — complete with narrator John Cleese and action sometimes spilling over onto the text — this new Pooh is a sweet and gentle introduction to the movies for a young audience (it’s just over a hour, so it’s the perfect length for a little kid as well). (Currently playing at the second-run theater Regal Cinemas off exit 10 in Hooksett.)

• X-Men: First Class  Best superhero movie of the summer. This movie might play with the overall X-Men mythology (from the comics and the previous movies) but it presents an exciting prequel story that introduces us to proto-Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Beast. Particularly delightful is the relationship between a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and an angry, Nazi-hunting Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). (Currently playing at the second-run theater Regal Cinemas off exit 10 in Hooksett. Available on DVD on Sept. 9.)





Drama, romance, Muppets
Fall 2011 at the movies

09/01/11
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



It’s time to shake off the popcorn and get ready for serious film-making.

Serious film-making — and Muppets.

Whereas summer is the season of superheroes, big action and lots of 3D, September through December is a time for more thoughtful (and Oscar seeking) fare. But it’s also time for family films (long weekends and holidays — got to take the kids to something) and crowd-pleasers (even fall has sequels — the Sherlock Holmes movie in December, Happy Feet Two in November). And, maybe we won’t be seeing superheroes, but this fall will bring us vampires — The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is scheduled to open on Friday, Nov. 18.

And then there’s the Muppets who return to the big screen with The Muppets on Nov. 23.

There’s lots to look forward to in the next few months at the cineplex. Here are a few of the movies I’m looking forward to. It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights — the Muppetational fall 2011 film season is about to begin.

• Red State  Kevin Smith dabbles in horror with this movie starring John Goodman and Melissa Leo. The idea of a non-stoner  film from Smith is exciting — he may not be the most skilled guy behind a camera but he has kooky ideas that can often manifest in, if nothing else, uniqueness in a movie. (Clerks and Dogma go beyond his Jay-and-Silent-Bob shtick and offer interesting stuff to think about.) The movie had a week-long run at a theater in Los Angeles in August and is scheduled to be available via Video on Demand on Sept. 1 and out on DVD in October.

• Apollo 18
  (Sept. 2) Since for unofficial season-based-on-vacation-weekends purposes this weekend, Labor Day weekend, could kind of be considered the “last” weekend of summer, this suspense thriller and The Debt (Aug. 31), about a Mossad mission to catch a fugitive Nazi, are sort of the conclusion of summer. But both films — Apollo 18 with its moon mystery and The Debt with its Helen Mirren — have the potential to be nice finishing courses.

• Contagion
  (Sept. 9) The trailer for this movie has been playing in theaters the last few weeks and occasionally been more exciting than the feature that follows it. Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law people this bring-extra-hand-sanitizer suspense film about a fast-spreading virus.

• Drive  (Sept. 16) I realize that Ryan Gosling has been around for a while, but between Crazy, Stupid, Love. and the trailers for this movie I suddenly feel like I’m actually noticing him for the first time. Here, he plays a stunt driver who also does some fast getaway work for criminal types. The presence of Carey Mulligan and Christina Hendricks gives this movie the look of something more than just a car-chases-and-violence kind of deal.

• I Don’t Know How She Does It  (Sept. 16) Admittedly, some part of me is not so much looking forward to this movie as I am looking forward to hating this movie. What will be interesting about this film is whether Sarah Jessica Parker is able to successfully play a character that isn’t just a variant of Carrie Bradshaw, which is what the trailers suggest that she is (struggling mom, work-life balance, cringey voiceovers).

• Abduction  (Sept. 23) This time Taylor “No Shirt” Lautner doesn’t have to worry about some stupid vampire getting in the way of his place in center screen. The trailers suggest that turning Lautner into a young-hotty action hero is the point here. He plays a teen who finds out that his parents aren’t who he thinks they are and finds himself on the run from black-suited baddies.

• Moneyball  (Sept. 23) I’m a sucker for the “here’s how we changed this business” story, which is what this movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill appears to be. Pitt plays a general manager at the Oakland A’s who tries to take a new strategy (suggested by Hill) for spending his limited funds to get a good team. The movie is based on a book by Michael Lewis.  

• Killer Elite  (Sept. 23) Jason Statham. Clive Owen. For flavor, a little Robert De Niro. It’s a grim-off!

• Ides of March  (Oct. 7) George Clooney directs a movie about politics — that sort of thing can go either way. (Good: smart drama like his Good Night, and Good Luck; bad: horrible screechy polemic about the State of Politics Today.) The aforementioned suddenly-everywhere Gosling also appears here, as does Paul Giamatti, suggesting that this movie about candidates embroiled in a presidential primary might just turn out OK.

• Footloose  (Oct. 14) I have no particular loyalties to the Kevin Bacon original, so my interest her is in how they keep this 1980s potential-cornball from turning out completely ridiculous. (Which, this being a dance movie, might be OK too, if they embrace the ridiculousness.)

• The Thing (Oct. 14) Remember the first season of The X-Files episode “Ice”? (Space worms, or something, infected people, turned them crazy.) Trailers for The Thing (which is being billed as a prequel to the 1982 The Thing) perfectly capture what was so delightfully creepy about that episode: snowy wilderness, no escape, people who might not be themselves. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (last seen as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is one of the scientists trying to stop the spread of The Thing.

• Paranormal Activity 3 
(Oct. 21) Normally, I’d give a big “ugh” to the second sequel of a horror movie, but Paranormal Activity 2 was surprising, shocking even, for how smart and scary and faithful to the tone of the first movie (while still being its own thing) it was. Based on trailers, 3 will take us back to the “thing that happened” in the childhood of the sisters featured in the first two movies. The events of those movies were, we were told, “it’s happening again” versions of some earlier event. (High five to the filmmakers for putting in a bit of backstory that can be expanded into a nice prequel premise.)

• The Three Musketeers  (Oct. 21) I suppose it’s been long enough since the 1993 version (Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell still trying to make the action thing happen) so we’re going to try again with, most notably, Christoph Waltz as the villain.

• In Time  (Oct. 28) Lame title but the trailer suggests a fun sci-fi concept — it’s a world where aging stops at 25 and the rich can buy all the time they want. The catch, since of course there is one, is the poor, who are always behind on time. Justin Timberlake stars — can he do action as well as he’s been doing comedy?

• The Rum Diary  (Oct. 28) Having mastered crazy Fear-and-Loathing-era Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp gives a younger Thompson’s fictionalized self a try in this adaptation of his novel about a reporter working in Puerto Rico in the 1950s.

Puss in Boots  (Nov. 4) Here’s why I’m willing to give this movie a try: long after the Shrek stuff got old, Antonio Banderas’ swashbuckling cat was still rather amusing. Here, he gets his own adventure in a story that is a prequel to the Shrek years.

• Revenge of the Electric Car  (opening Nov. 4 in Boston) Who Killed The Electric Car? was a fun documentary that made the ultimately squished electric EV1 from GM look cool. Now, director Chris Paine returns with the latest on electric cars, including the ridiculously cool Tesla.

• A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas  (Nov. 4) With Neil Patrick Harris! Much could go wrong but plenty could go so very right.

• Tower Heist  (Nov. 4) It’s not so much lead Ben Stiller that has me believing in this movie but Matthew Broderick, Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidbe, all of whom give the trailer a nice dose of comedy to go with the action. (Eddie Murphy seems like he could go either way — funny or Robin-Williams overblown.) In the trailer, employees at a fancy apartment building decide to rob the under-house-arrest resident of the penthouse who lost their retirement money in a ponzi scheme.

• J. Edgar  (Nov. 9) You know we’re getting close to Oscar season when the biopics start rolling out. Leonardo Di Caprio goes for gold as the controversial head of the FBI.

• Happy Feet 2  (Nov. 18) The penguins return, as does Robin Williams, for this story about Mumble (main penguin from last time) and his son. Since it’s something your kids will make you take them to, naturally it will be presented in budget-busting 3-D.

• The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1  (Nov. 18) OMG! The wedding! The honeymoon! The — SPOILER ALERT, but not really because you have totally read the books, don’t even front — vampire baby! This first half of the final book of the Twilight series is where it all goes crazy, so buckle up and prepare yourself for sex, procreation and one seriously mad werewolf. As we speak, kids with vampire fangs are already lining up at the theaters...

• Arthur Christmas
  (Nov. 23) It’s Thanksgiving weekend so we must get at least one holiday-themed family movie. This one is animated and examines the Santa-related goings-on in the Arctic.

• The Descendants  (Nov. 23) If family togetherness is just going to be too much for you, you might want to sneak away to enjoy a little dark comedy from writer/director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt). George Clooney plays the poor shmo who is shmoed upon in this story set in Hawaii.

• The Muppets  (Nov. 23) Jason Segel (who also gets a screenplay credit) and Amy Adams — both of whom have the kind of infectious charm and personality bigness that could make the Muppets in their own right — help get the gang back together. Get in the mood with Muppets: The Green Album, a CD featuring hipster types covering classic Muppet songs (“Bein’ Green,” “Rainbow Connection”). Why all this Muppetry now? I think because the Muppets still have the charm to entertain new generations and because they’re how some of us Gen X types were introduced to something that approached sketch comedy.  

• The Iron Lady  (Dec. 16) Let’s just skip right past the Chipmunks sequel (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked!, also coming out on Dec. 16) and jump right to the serious Oscar-bait that is this Meryl Streep biopic of Margaret Thatcher. Seen the trailer? It gives a short peek at the performance but it’s enough to have me wanting to get in line now. And now to figure out who the other four “Best Actress” nominees will be...

• Sherlock Homes: A Game of  Shadows  (Dec. 14) It doesn’t get more charming than Robert Downey Jr. bro-ing around with Jude Law. This time, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) shows up. So, yes, my high hopes for Iron Man 2 were not completely met by the reality of that movie but I’m willing to go into this one an optimist.

• The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  (Dec. 21) I’m on the fence about the necessity of this movie — the Swedish version “got it” just fine, particularly considering the haphazard nature of the book to begin with. On the other hand, the trailer looks super cool. Rooney Mara (perhaps best known for being the girl who dumps Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of The Social Network) is Lisbeth and Daniel Craig is the shlubby yet girl-getting investigative reporter.

• Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (Dec. 21) Because even Oscar season needs some action fare. Tom Cruise returns and the trailers, so far at least, are promising.

• The Adventures of Tintin  (Dec. 23) I’m not a huge fan of the performance-capture style animation, but the presence of Andy Serkis on screen and Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair makes me curious. The trailer (seek it out online if you haven’t seen it yet) looks like very classic adventure with glossy, retro visuals.

• Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close  (Dec. 25 in limited release; Jan. 20, 2012, in wide release) Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel about a boy dealing with the death of his father in the Sept. 11 attacks features Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

• War Horse  (Dec. 28) Steven Spielberg also directs this adaptation of a play (which was based on a novel) about a boy and his horse in World War I.






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