This Week in Movies
For those not heading down to Auditorium Shores for Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend, the screens at theaters across Austin are once again going to be bright with quality indie and foreign cinema. Those looking for something other than the typical Hollywood fare should consider checking out a pitch-perfect thriller staring an Olsen sister, a movie about the fraud that is Shakespeare and a touching, darkly comic French drama.
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
Continuing the weekly trend of Sundance hits being released for general consumption is Martha Marcy May Marlene, opening Friday at Alamo South Lamar. Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) is Martha, a young woman who has been living in and abused (in multiple ways) by a cult led by Patrick (John Hawkes). She escapes the cult into the care of her sister and her sister's husband, attempting to return to normal life. However, the profound mental effects of her time within the cult prevent her from resuming normality. Martha Marcy May Marlene is an expertly crafted thriller, each scene questionable in its validity (is Martha crazy? Are her visions real?) yet give off the unmistakable feeling of assuredness on the part of director Sean Durkin—he is playing with the audience and is in control of every emotion felt. Anchored by stellar performances by Olsen, John Hawkes and the entire supporting cast as well as a haunting score, Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of the best movies of the year. (Martha Marcy May Marlene also opens Friday at Regal Arbor Cinemas.)
Also opening at South Lamar is destruction fetishist Roland Emmerich's period melodrama Anonymous, which presents the case that William Shakespeare never wrote a word—his famous plays were actually penned by the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans). de Vere's relegation to the footnotes of history books, the film argues, is due to his early involvement with Queen Elizabeth and the intrigue surrounding her succession by King James. An interesting premise and some goofy execution combine in a movie devoid of Emmerich's signature explosions but remains equally streamlined for mass consumption in the narrative department making for an entertaining (if not all that smart) slice of historical fiction.
This Weekend at Violet Crown Cinema
There's always room for a sweet, simply told, free-of-extra-fluff film and Le Havre, opening this Friday at Violet Crown, looks to be just that kind. Marcel Marx is an aging shoe shiner living with his wife in the port town of Le Havre. When his wife falls ill and goes into the hospital, Marcel finds his life empty, going about his daily activities alone until he happens upon a young African boy named Idrissa in the water at the harbor. He befriends the boy and takes to helping him hide and escape from the persistent Police Inspector Monet. Layering dark humor and drama onto a warm-hearted center, La Havre has been an audience-pleaser since its debut at Cannes.
Beyond the Weekend
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar is playing another Pedro Almodóvar film this week, Bad Education (11/7-11/10), leading up the release of The Skin I Live In. Over at Alamo Ritz on Monday (11/7), catch the Sigur Rós concert film Inni.