This Week in Movies
What to watch: A new silent film, a British spy thriller and psychosexualanalysis on Austin screens
Everyone loves a good movie on Christmas and while there is plenty of entertaining family fare from the major studios, there are also several independent options available across town. So while choosing something to see this weekend consider a brand new silent film, a subdued British spy thriller and a drama about the relationship between two legendary psychoanalytical minds.
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
With a simple-as-could-be plot of a silent movie superstar's descent (and, conversely, the rise of an ambitious young would-be starlet) as he refuses to accept the transition to synchronized sound film. The Artist leaves room for plenty of moments hinged completely on the audience's memories (or vague ideas) of silent movie tropes. Director Michel Hazanavicius, whose previous films OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117 - Lost in Rio insightfully spoof Bond films, recreates the jittery 22-frames-per-second and 1.33 aspect ratio of the '20s dazzling and delighting where the threadbare narrative leaves a bit to be desired. It's all centered by a wonderful lead performance by Jean Dujardin who won Best Actor at Cannes.
This Weekend at Regal Arbor Cinemas
From the Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson comes Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, a thickly plotted and carefully paced spy thriller crafted with every bit of the meticulous detail seen in his coming-of-age vampire story. Working again from a novel as source material (this time from John le Carré's novel of the same name), Alfredson lets a cast of proven actors bring to life the members of MI6 — Britain's secret intelligence agency — as one their own. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), who was recently relieved of duty after a botched operation in Budapest, probes their ranks looking for a Russian mole. While Oldman rules every scene he's in with one of his most broodingly understated performances. The challenge of sharing screen time with him is accepted by great talents such as Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy. It's a fascinating adult thriller that will most certainly benefit from multiple viewings.
This Weekend at Violet Crown
Horror master David Cronenberg has been churning out excellent dramas the past couple of years that don't ignore the psychological underpinnings of his early career genre material. His latest film, A Dangerous Method, tackles some of those themes at their source by presenting a story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and how it is changed by shared interest in the case of a young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). The effects of sexuality on man's mind and the greater impact on his external relationships is perfect Cronenberg fodder and with a cast of established stars it should be a wonderful holiday weekend drama.
Beyond the Weekend
For the wildest thing you'll likely see on Austin screens next week, turn once again to the Alamo Drafthouse's High for the Holidays series. Alejando Jodorowski's Holy Mountain will be playing Monday and Tuesday at the Ritz technology. Indescribable on paper, Holy Mountain follows a Christ-like man as he wanders in and out of various wild situations. Filled with unforgettable imagery, the film is a mind-trip that simply must be experienced on the big screen.