Movies This Week: May 23-29, 2014

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Belle 

Memorial Day weekend used to always usher in the official start of the summer movie season, but over the last few years the blockbusters have been sneaking into multiplexes earlier and earlier in May. Now that we've finally made it to the holiday weekend, the multiplexes are already exploding with big-budget tentpoles and sequels. Luckily for you, Austin theaters offer some legitmately interesting counterprogramming.

The Austin Film Society is starting a brand new series tonight called "Rebel Rebel." Earlier this week, we chatted with Lars Nilsen to find out more about the films being featured over the next few weekends. The first selection is Gillo Pontecorvo's 1969 film Burn! starring Marlon Brando. The movie features a score by Ennio Morricone and will be screening in 35mm at the Marchesa.

You'll want to head over to the AFS Screening Room on Tuesday night for the Avant Cinema presentation of Your Day Is My Night. Co-presented with the Austin Asian American Film Festival, the AFS notes for the film reveal that this "provocative hybrid documentary addresses issues of privacy, intimacy and urban life." Out Of The Blue is the final film in Richard Linklater's current Jewels In The Wasteland series and it screens in 35mm at the Marchesa on Wednesday night. Dennis Hopper transitioned from star to director during the shooting of this 1982 film.

Finally, Thursday night's Essential Cinema selection at the Marchesa is Charlie Kaufman's brilliant directorial debut, Synedoche, New York. This film, presented in 35mm, features one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's finest performances and is an unmissable theatrical experience. 

Specialty screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz this week include the Marx Brothers in At The Circus (35mm, Saturday afternoon), Jeunet and Caro's delightfully dark Delicatessen (Cinema Cocktails, 35mm, Sunday evening), Dustin Hoffman starring in 1978's Straight Time (Crime In The Seventies, 35mm, Monday evening), a wonderful documentary about John Waters' muse, I Am Divine (Homo Arigato!, Monday evening), and The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (Crime In The Seventies, 16mm, Wednesday evening). Meanwhile, martial arts fans will want to head up the Alamo Lakeline on Tuesday evening for a 35mm screening of Dreadnaught, the 1981 kung-fu flick directed by the legendary Yuen Woo-ping as part of their new Eastern Fury series.

The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is now underway and the first week of programming is a tribute to 1939. You can see The Wizard Of Oz (tonight), Wuthering Heights and The Women (Saturday and Sunday), Destry Rides Again and Goodbye Mr. Chips (Tuesday and Wednesday), with Dark Victory and Of Mice And Men wrapping up the week (Thursday). All of these classic films will be presented on the big screen in 35mm.

Please indulge me in a brief personal crusade before I take you into the week's new releases. A recent post at Film Comment reminds us that "every 35mm screening is...an 'event' in its own right, all the more because the door is very incrementally closing to the opportunity to experience this particular sort of event." Don't be complacent. We live in one of the few cities in the country that is fortunate enough to still present classic films on film regularly. Anytime you pass up on the chance to see a favorite movie (or discover a new favorite) on the big screen projected from a print, it's very possible that it's the last time you'll have the chance to see it in that format. 35mm exhibition is thankfully still respected and done right in multiple locations here in Austin. Take advantage of it while you can!

Movies We've Seen

Belle (pictured above) - Fox Searchlight is earning rave reviews for this period drama based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. She was the illegitimate daughter of an British naval officer and a slave. Raised as a socialite even though she was biracial, she was ultimately still treated as an outsider by some. Look for Elizabeth's review this weekend, in which she confirms that Belle is "an intricate, emotionally powerful" experience. (Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema)

Blended - Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore team up once again, but maybe they shouldn't have. Don is probably owed hazard pay for sitting through this one, which he calls "a tepidly raunchy and boringly dumb family comedy." (wide)

X-Men: Days Of Future Past - Bryan Singer's legal woes are not getting in the way of the latest release in this comic book franchise. In terms of summer blockbusters, this is about as big as it gets. Blended may have a more appropriate subtitle for this film as Singer interweaves the casts of the original X-Men movie with their younger counterparts from the X-Men: First Class reboot. Mike says in his review that this "is the best of the X-Franchise and possibly the strongest Marvel Comics screen adaptation to date. This is the summer movie to beat." (wide, available in 2D and 3D versions)

Also Opening In Austin

Chef - Jon Favreau returns to his indie roots as a chef who opens a food truck after losing his job and starts to travel the country selling cuban sandwiches. The film, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year, includes a stop in Austin with cameos that include Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ and Gary Clark, Jr. Chef also stars Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and John Leguizamo. In the Austin Chronicle this week, Marjorie Baumgarten says, "Nothing is terribly surprising in Chef's plot, but its up-to-date narrative ingredients of a food truck, Twitter and the Internet add a freshness to the overall product that blends nicely with its heart and soul." (wide)

The Immigrant - The Weinstein Company picked up James Gray's period drama at Cannes last year before uncermoniously sitting on the film for a year, fearing that it would be a hard sell to audiences. Led by well-received performances from Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, A.O. Scott in The New York Times said that the film "has a depth and purity of feeling that makes other movies feel timid and small by comparison." (Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema)