Features, Film

PREVIEW: The Brattle’s (Some of) The Best of 2023!

Runs 1/18-2/1 @ Brattle

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BARBIE (screens 1/20)

It’s that time of year again: the studios have released their most prestigious offerings, Oscar nominations are imminent, and you’re about to realize (if you haven’t already) just how many movies you missed this year. Whether boning up for the awards-season blitzkrieg or simply looking to fill in your cultural gaps, catching up with a year’s worth of movies can be daunting.

Thank god for the Brattle. Over the next two weeks, the beloved cinema will be running it’s annual “(Some of) The Best of 2023” series, collecting some of the year’s finest offerings and projecting them against the big screen where they belong. Of course, even whittled down to two dozen, it can be difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, here at the Hassle, our crack team of film critics has been training for this. Below, you will find links to our reviews from the past year, along with handy quotes to guide you through the program’s offerings. Go forth, and may your Top Ten come together!

Thu, 1/18: PAST LIVES (dir. Celine Song)
“One of the biggest delusions that Past Lives thwarts is propelling a specific narrative path for two characters. Nora and Hae Sung share the same language and experiences, but when we see Nora’s husband Arthur enter into the movie, we truly wonder where this is heading. This specific narrative, in which two people are meant to be together at the end, is shattered by Song’s intentions to make a love story expansive beyond two characters and the time limits of our lives. “In-yun,” which is the connection that begins with two strangers and follows them over the course of their lives, recurs in conversations between the three characters.” –Anna Hoang
Read Anna’s interview with director Celine Song here!

Fri 1/19 THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY (dir. Morrisa Maltz)
Area premiere!

Fri 1/19 TALK TO ME (dir. Danny & Michael Philippou)
“There is a high-octane, almost playful exuberance to the proceedings, as much indebted to Sam Raimi as to Ari Aster, which is refreshing as we near a decade of the current cycle of prestige horror. We can understand why these kids can’t stop communing with the dead, because we share their giddy high. As the story progresses, the film yo-yos between these two modes, creating an effect almost like the highs and lows of a rollercoaster.” –Oscar Goff
Read Oscar’s interview with directors Danny & Michael Philippou here!

“This is the first time, at least for me, that these turtles have actually felt like real teenagers. Of course, they are still mutant turtles, but actually being voiced by teens is wildly effective. Mutant Mayhem feels like a real movie, not just a brand extension.” –Kyle Amato
Matinee screenings!

Sat 1/20 BARBIE (dir. Greta Gerwig)
“I was under a misguided fever in that I wanted the movie to stay in Barbieland for the majority of the movie, but, miraculously, Gerwig is able to depict the real world as breathtakingly nuanced, painful, and worthwhile. It’s how co-existence occurs: the strength of feminism in a system that spites women, Indigo Girls and Nicki Minaj (arguably one of the first to re-popularize Barbie in the last fifteen years) both belonging in the soundtrack, product placement and genuine care for these characters, big studio skepticism and Barbie admiration.” –AH
Double feature w/ Bottoms!

Sat 1/20 BOTTOMS (dir. Emma Seligman)
“Every technical and creative aspect of the film meshes together both unexpectedly and perfectly, from the poppy soundtrack to the trendy, teen classic-esque costume design. The concept of a lesbian fight club is incredibly fun and creative, and provides so much room for exploration, which Seligman absolutely takes advantage of. Her vision takes advantage of every comedic opportunity, no matter how strange, with literal explosions, dangers of pineapple juice, and needle drops that had me shaking with joy.” –Karenna Umscheid
Double feature w/ Barbie!

Sun 1/21 SHOWING UP (dir. Kelly Reichardt)
“Light looks different in the Pacific Northwest – there’s something about how the sun sets over there that gives the film an ethereal quality. The characters are in another world, not too different from our own but somewhat heightened. Showing Up is a window into that world of artists and deliberate work, one with plenty of interpersonal issues raising the stakes or providing a laugh. Any movie with the credit “Flute provided by André Benjamin” is going to be worth your time.” –KA
Double feature w/ Afire!

Sun 1/21 AFIRE (dir. Christian Petzold)
“Like the famed image of the Pompeii lovers that the film references, terrible things are often ordinary and simultaneously beautiful in their destruction. If cinema must tremble, as Petzold claims, his latest film does so by depicting what such an artistic challenge does to the soul of an artist: it breaks their medium.” –Joshua Polanski
Double feature w/ Showing Up!

Mon 1/22 BEAU IS AFRAID (dir. Ari Aster)
Beau offers a cinematic experience quite unlike anything else you’re likely to see in the multiplex, combining the brainy experimentalism of ‘70s New Hollywood with the anything-goes anarchy of ‘90s underground comix and blasting them against an impossibly large canvas. In an increasingly samey cinematic environment, Beau represents something you have not seen before, and will leave you with any number of lines, images, and situations which will stick with you for years to come.” –OG

Tue 1/23 MAY DECEMBER (dir. Todd Haynes)
“Much like Safe, Haynes is staring directly at an invisible sickness that hovers over America, a toxicity with straight culture at the center. I’m sure he also just thought it was funny to have Natalie Portman complain that the kid actors they’re trying to hire ‘aren’t sexy enough.’” –KA
EDITOR’S NOTE: This one’s a Netflix original– see it on the big screen while you can!!

Wed 1/24 EARTH MOTHER (dir. Savanah Leaf)
Somewhat overlooked since its Sundance premiere, Earth Mama is a realist drama about a woman striving for a perfect life and embracing the community around her. Gia (Tia Nomore), pregnant, works to regain custody of her two children while struggling under the nightmarish bureaucracy of the system. Her life feels like a catch-22, but she refuses to be crushed. The film does not revel in her suffering; it just refuses to sugarcoat. Though it may not have caught any awards attention, this meditative film is worth your time. Plus, Savanah Leaf’s short Wikipedia page is intriguing enough for a movie all her own! –KA
Double feature w/ A Thousand and One

Wed 1/24 A THOUSAND AND ONE (dir. A.V. Rockwell)
“Watching Inez is like sitting across the table from her in silence, where you can see that she is worried and analytical about the next day, hurt and anxious about the past, and waiting to make sure that you clean everything off your plate before you leave the table. It is sometimes scary and uncomfortable, but always enthralling.” –AH
Double feature w/ Earth Mother

Thu 1/25 THE ROYAL HOTEL (dir. Kitty Green)
“As horrifying as any film released this year: in the behavior of its characters, in the inescapability of its situation, and, most of all, in how recognizable it all is even in more ‘civilized’ corners of the world… a vital piece of filmmaking from one of our most vital current filmmakers, a deliberately uncomfortable watch, yet dynamic enough never to feel like a chore.” –OG

Sat 1/27 DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES (dir. John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein)
A lovely cast, seemingly having the time of their lives, and the comedic chops of the Game Night duo offer up a surprisingly good time with Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The closest thing we’ll get to Pirates of the Caribbean greatness in this current studio era! –Nick Perry
Matinee screening!

Sat 1/27 ASTEROID CITY (dir. Wes Anderson)
“There is also a thorny complexity here, both emotionally and stylistically, which could never be spat out by some tech-hack’s software program… it is easily Anderson’s weirdest film since The Life Aquatic, and one of the most impressive of his career.” –OG

Sun 1/28 SCRAPPER (dir. Charlotte Regan)
“It’s clear that the two need each other, and that their push-and-pull chemistry is instantaneous. The details of their characters … makes them seem like they’re two-scene accomplices to an A-list London heist, which make the focus on these characters all the more fun and sincere.” –AH
Double feature w/ Polite Society!

Sun 1/28 POLITE SOCIETY (dir. Nida Manzoor)
“In 2021, [Priya] Kansara was working for a pharmaceutical company. By 2026, there’s a non-negligible chance she will be as recognizable a name as Anya Taylor-Joy.” –JP
Double feature w/ Scrapper!
Read Oscar Goff’s interview with director Nida Manzoor here!

Mon 1/29 HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE (dir. Daniel Goldhaber)
“The film, in all aspects, manages to be poignant and inspiring without ever veering towards cheesiness or overzealousness. This is not a call to vote or to reshare articles on why we should eat less meat or bike more. This is a call to truly fight, to organize and take concrete, disruptive action. This is a call for radical self-defense.” –KU
The late show!

Tue 1/30 MUTT (dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)
Mutt, a 24-hour trail of Feña having awkward run-ins with people who haven’t seen him since his transition, won’t be an easy viewing. But director and writer Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, determined in uncovering inexplicable warmth and familiar bonds, pushes through Feña’s constant identity reminders and fending to remind us of the magic of caring for each other. It’s a tough, New York-style slice of life, but one grounded in both realism and hope. –AH
Double feature w/ Orlando, My Political Biography!

Tue 1/30 ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY (dir. Paul B. Preciado)
Double feature w/ Mutt!

Wed 1/31 PASSAGES (dir. Ira Sachs)
“Sachs might not choose to detail the correlations between his personal life and his movies, but even in this fictional tapestry, we are drawn to the characters because they are like us, or that we are/were them.” –AH
Double feature w/ Anatomy of a Fall!

Wed 1/31 ANATOMY OF A FALL (dir. Justine Triet)
“The film is less focused on the outcome of the trial as it is upon the trial itself, the way the objective narrative of Samuel’s death twists and contorts depending on which attorney has the floor (it must be said that both Arlaud and Antoine Reinartz as the advocate general have some great deadpan comic beats, as when Reinartz dispassionately expounds upon “P.I.M.P.” in French).” –OG
Double feature w/ Passages!

Thu 2/1 JOAN BAEZ: I AM A NOISE (dir. Karen O’Connor, Maeve O’Boyle, & Miri Navasky)

Thu 2/1 INFINITY POOL (dir. Brandon Cronenberg)
“Like Possessor, Infinity Pool is an excellent movie, but one which I will likely be very selective as to whom I recommend it… But it is an utterly wild piece of work, filled with enough outrageous ideas, visuals, and set pieces to float several films.” –OG
The late show!

The Brattle Theatre’s (Some of) The Best of 2023 runs from 1/18 to 2/1– click here for showtimes and ticket info!

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