Things to Do

Movie Tickets: “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Magic Mike,” AFI’s Summer Retrospectives

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

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man. Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man has been hitting screens (prior to 2002,
small ones rather than large) in various forms for decades, so it should
perhaps not be as big a surprise as it seemed when the decision
was made to reboot the cinematic version of everyone’s favorite
friendly neighborhood webslinger. Ten years after
Sam Raimi and
Tobey Maguire created the definitive cinematic version of the character,
Marc Webb and
Andrew Garfield reset the clock to retell
Spidey’s origin story. Advance reviews have been good, but not great, so
it remains to be seen
whether audiences have room in their hearts for a new version
of this story while the previous one is still relatively fresh
in their minds. Raimi’s films (the first two, at least) provide
some pretty big shoes to fill, but Garfield’s surprise appearance
at Comic-Con last
in conjunction with the
film at least revealed the passion
for the character that will be necessary to try to step into

View the
Opens on Tuesday at
theaters across the

AFI Summer Retrospectives

With Silverdocs over and the AFI’s spring series over or winding down, it’s time for a new crop of retrospectives and special
engagements to provide audiences with a respite from the summer heat.

Totally Awesome 6: Great Films of the 1980s: One of the AFI’s most beloved annual series,
the Totally Awesome ’80s series, kicks off its sixth installment this
with the usual diverse array of audience favorites, cult
classics, and a few semi-forgotten gems thrown in the mix. This year’s
programming may be the best I’ve seen, with even more of the
sort of “deep cuts” that give this series more character than
what most people go for in ’80s retrospectives. One of the best
films in the whole run is also the first:
Bruce Robinson’s fantastic cult comedy
Withnail & I, about two out-of-work British actors who go for a vacation in the countryside that ends up being anything but relaxing.

Spy Cinema: This year marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond in the movies, so the theater is looking back at spy films in general
throughout the decades. That’ll also start this week, with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic
North by Northwest and Greta Garbo in
Mata Hari.

70-Millimeter Spectacular: Before IMAX, the
most spectacular visual experience available to viewers was that
provided by 70-millimeter film, a much
wider format than the 35-millimeter film most movies were shot
on, which offered higher resolution that made epics like
2001: A Space Odyssey and
Laurence of Arabia seem even more epic in scope. The
AFI is equipped for 70-millimeter film projection, and it’s always a
treat when one of
these prints makes its way into the grand Theater One. This
summer, there’s a whole series of 70-millimeter prints planned,
starting this week with

Jean Harlow: One of Hollywood’s early sex symbols, synonymous with the image of the blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow would have been 100
years old last year. This summer the AFI revisits a number of her films, starting this weekend with
Red Dust, her 1932 film with
Clark Gable about a rubber plantation owner who has an affair with Harlow’s character, a woman married to one of his employees; and
Bombshell, in which Harlow really stretches by playing a Hollywood sex symbol who attempts to escape her scandalous image by trying
to appear more normal.

Full programming and dedicated webpages for a number of these series aren’t yet available; check back at the AFI in the coming
days for more comprehensive listings.

View the trailer for Withnail & I. All these series get underway this weekend at the AFI.


Winner of a Special Jury Prize at Cannes last year, this dark Russian thriller from director
Andrey Zvyagintsev is about the desperate
measures taken by a wife when her husband’s sudden illness reveals that
she and her son (from a previous
relationship) may not do so well in the will. A study in the
limits of survivalist self-interest, the film has been praised
for Zvyagintsev’s evocative visuals as well as for the tense
Phillip Glass score that ups the film’s uneasy anxiousness.

View the
Opens tomorrow at E

and the Avalon.

Magic Mike

With only a few more films on his schedule before his self-imposed early retirement from filmmaking, why would
Steven Soderbergh waste his time on a flashy, silly romantic comedy starring
Channing Tatum as a male stripper in a Tampa dance revue? The answer is that 1) Soderbergh enjoys nothing more than subverting expectations
and genre conventions, and 2)
Magic Mike is nothing like what the advertising makes it look like. The film finds Soderbergh in much the same territory that defined
Haywire from earlier this year: taking something that looks shallow (in that case, a generic action flick) and seeing how he can
give the material depth without sacrificing the expectations for entertainment. As a result,
Magic Mike may surprise those who just showed up to see lots of well-chiseled bare abs while still giving them what they came for.

View the
Opens tomorrow at
theaters across the


The long collaboration between the
brothers and larger-than-life artists
Christo and Jeanne-Claude ended up producing six films, in which the iconic documentarians chronicled the often difficult paths the couple had to take
to realize their massive environmental art projects.
Umbrellas was the first of the two films done by Albert Maysles after the death of his brother, David (the second being 2008’s
The Gates). In it, Maysles’s camera observed as
Christo and Jeanne-Claude undertook a project six years in the making
that sought to
erect 3,100 huge, quarter-ton umbrellas, half of them in blue
near Japan’s Pacific coast, and the other half in yellow across
the sea in California.

As was the normal format for these films, Maysles’s
approach was to hang back during as much of the organization and
of the project as possible, showing the day-to-day drama that
unfolded. The director is an unapologetic fan of the sometimes
controversial pair, and that affinity comes through here. But
that affection didn’t prevent them from showing some of the
worst moments of the project, however, including the tragedy
that unfolded after the umbrellas killed a California woman near
the end of the exhibit’s planned duration. The artists decided
to close the exhibit early, and during the dismantling, a Japanese
worker was also electrocuted and killed.

This weekend’s screening at the National Gallery features a brand new director’s cut of the film.

View an excerpt
from the movie. Sunday at 4:30 PM at the National Gallery of

DVD Pick of the Week:

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

One of the most celebrated art house hits of the
spring, this Turkish drama follows a group of men as they drive around
countryside searching for a dead body that one of the men, a
suspect in the killing along with his brother, is trying to help
them find. Only he can’t seem to remember exactly where the
body is buried. The search continues through the night, with the
search party engaging in conversations that sometimes run to
what might seem mundane—yet the film maintains interest throughout
its lengthy running time, as secrets begin to be revealed once
the body is found and more details of the murder itself begin
to come out.

Special Features: A making-of documentary; an interview with the director,
Nuri Bilge Ceylan; a featurette on the film’s run at Cannes; and a visual essay from
Haden Guest, director of the Harvard Film Archive.

View the trailer.