Movie Tickets: “Shut Up and Play the Hits,” “5 Broken Cameras,” “Ballplayer: Pelotero”

Our picks for the best in film over the next seven days.

By: Ian Buckwalter

Shut Up and Play the Hits

LCD Soundsystem went out with a bang during the spring of 2011 when frontman James Murphy decided to let his longtime project go out at the height of its popularity, closing the book on the band in a massive one-night-only concert at Madison Square Garden. Appropriately enough, the concert film covering both that night’s festivities and the lead-up to and aftermath of the show is also seeing a special one-night-only release, which happens at select cinemas nationwide this Wednesday. Writer Chuck Klosterman shows up to provide some background in the form of an interview he conducts with Murphy, and the filmmakers combine that with observational footage of Murphy preparing for the show as well as traditional concert-film portions of the show itself.

View the trailer. One night only, Wednesday July 18 at 9:30 PM at the AFI.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

Despite a career filled with lush artistic provocations, no other film in Peter Greenaway’s oeuvre reaches quite the heights he achieved with this, his best-known work, in 1989. The dark, rich, painterly cinematography lends an air of refinement to a story that’s all about the basest inclinations of its characters and, in the end, just as shocking and stomach-churning as any grindhouse or exploitation movie. Helen Mirren stars as the wife of a crime boss (Michael Gambon) who’s taken over a local restaurant, frequenting the place with her and his entourage. Mirren’s character falls for a bookshop owner who also comes to the restaurant a lot, and the two engage in an affair, their subterfuge aided by the staff of the restaurant. But when her husband finds out, things start to go bad in a hurry, leading up to one of the most memorable scenes of revenge ever captured on film.

View the trailer. Monday at 8 PM at McFadden’s, presented by the Washington Psychotronic Film Society. WPFS screenings are free, but a $5 donation is suggested.

Celine and Julie Go Boating

Jacques Rivette, the late bloomer of the French New Wave, made only three films during the movement’s most active period in the 1960s, and his masterwork, Celine and Julie Go Boating, didn’t come out until 1974. The epic fantasy (clocking in at more than three hours) looks at the meeting, developing friendship, and adventures of the two title characters, who first encounter each other on the street in Montmartre, wind up living together, and embark on a number of odd plots, often involving magic, identity switching, the suggestion of time travel, and alternate realities.

View the trailer. Saturday at 12:30 PM at the National Gallery. Free.

5 Broken Cameras

Emad Burnat is a Palestinian resident of Bilin, a small town that was ripped apart—literally—when the Israeli army bulldozed olive groves to build a barrier between the town and a neighboring Jewish settlement. In 2005, coinciding with the birth of his son, he got a video camera and began recording both life at home and what was going on outside his house with the conflict over the barrier and the ongoing protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israelis. The title of the film refers to the total number of cameras he went through in shooting what became a multi-year project. He eventually teamed up with Israeli filmmaker and co-director Guy Davidi to go through the hundreds of hours of footage to develop a narrative that effectively combines the personal and the political and shows the way those entities interact and intertwine for the people of his town.

View the trailer. Opens tomorrow at E Street.

Ballplayer: Pelotero

Possibly unknown to all but the biggest of baseball fans, Major League Baseball operates a massive recruitment operation in the Dominican Republic, which is part of the reason 20 percent of all players in the league hail from the tiny nation. Ballplayer looks at the story of two hot young prospects coming up through the ranks of the league’s grooming system, both about to turn 16—the age at which they can sign on to a team’s farm system and begin chasing the dream of playing in the majors for real. But this look inside baseball isn’t such a pleasant one, and is one the majors would probably rather people didn’t see—they declined to participate in the film. The process the film looks at has been described as “unsettling” by Salon and akin to seeing how sausage gets made by the Village Voice.

View the trailer. Opens tomorrow at West End.

Blu-ray/DVD Pick of the Week: Margaret

Kenneth Lonergan’s troubled second feature was nearly buried by its studio after years of legal wrangling over his inability to decide on a final cut of the film. When it finally did hit a handful of theaters at the end of last year, it was with little fanfare and even less marketing muscle from the studio, who acted as if it was just happy to satisfy whatever contractual obligation it might have had to put it in a couple of theaters and forget the whole episode had ever happened. But in an unprecedented case of critical activism having a measurable impact in resurrecting a dead movie, the dogged efforts of a small group of critics who felt the movie deserved a bigger audience actually prompted a wider release for the film.

Even the film’s boosters will be the first to admit that the movie—which follows multiple threads of lives affected by a bus accident early in the film—is messy and has its problems. But the general consensus is that even if the film isn’t always successful, the unbridled scope of its ambition makes it an essential experience. Some also hoped that when a longer cut of the film was released, some of those problems might be rectified. This week’s Blu-ray release does offer up that longer (three-plus-hour) cut, though early reviews indicate that the longer version magnifies both the film’s considerable strengths and its weaknesses. If you missed Margaret during its local theatrical run, here’s your chance to see what all the fuss was about.

Special Features: Not much in the way of extras here; the extended cut itself is sort of the “special” feature on tap here.

View the trailer.