Now through Thursday January 5 at IFC Center: $14
For all you literary nerds out there, here’s your once-in-a-great-while chance to see a film about a poet– which, strangely, is something the movie bizz must be really feeling right now because whatddya know, Jarmusch’s new one, Paterson, also puts a poet front and center. What makes Neruda an even rarer opportunity is that Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet in question, is hardly some rugged, hard-boiled Anglo-centric beardo. Rather, Neruda is best know for his simple, yet heart-crushing love poems (especially the ones contained in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.)
At least, that’s how many of us were introduced to him back in high school English class. What your teacher either didn’t want you to know, or just realized they were going to have a hard time reconciling with your American Patriot Capitalist Pig™ indoctrination, was the fact that Neruda was a communist–and a really good one at that.
But much more than a down-ass, anti-fascist comrade, Neruda was particularly adept at agitating the masses (like, that’s a good thing in socialist lingo), and this biopic celebrates that “man of the people” aspect of his life. In fact, he lived something as a double life– he worked as a politician, serving as Senator the Chilean Communist Party under his legal name, Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto and penning poems under the pseudonym Pablo Neruda (a name he adopted from the 19th-century Czech writer, Jan Neruda, and showed him up in the process). He would later fuse his two identities, and legally changed his name to his chosen one.
Things suddenly got real as hell for Neruda in 1948, when the Chilean military dictatorship issued a warrant for his arrest. The film offers a fictional, adventure-injected take on Neruda’s experiences on the run. While it’s a great time to celebrate leftist, anti-fascist icons of history (*cough* TRUMP), and a real cool time to celebrate poetry and art (especially Neruda, since we were gifted with some of his lost poems this year), it’s as excellent a time as any to reveal heroes as the humans they really are, fraught by complexities and bad decisions and all the rest. For Neruda, his undying support of Stalin, which included a poem written just for the brutal Soviet Union dictator. Here’s to hoping the film touches on this contradiction.
Harry Met Sally
Saturday December 31 and Sunday January 1 at Nitehawk Cinema: $10
I just about had an anxiety attack when I realized Spectacle is closed until January 2. The horror! Well, if you do happen to make the mistake of hoofing it all the way to Williamsburg only to find out that the place is closed and that you’re welcome literally nowhere else in this neighborhood, hit up Nitehawk. Duh.
A great day to stop by is New Years Day– think about it: you’ll be hungover as hell, desperately in need of a hair of the dog sipper, maybe some munchies, and uncomplicated movies where you can chuckle lightly and no one’s gonna judge you if you doze off to sleep. We couldn’t think of a better film for such purposes than When Harry Met Sally. And hey, this movie’s got it all– romance, sadness, LOLz, and of course that scandalous scene in Katz’s. Last time I dropped by, there was no Meg Ryan in cool ’80s pants, instead I snuck up on a snoring bro to snap a photo and was literally chased out by his howling bro friends. Sigh. Things will never be the same. Go ahead and shed a tear for the Lower East Side while you’re at it.
Now through Thursday January 5 at Film Forum: $15
Rarely do you hear “German” and “comedy” together in the same sentence, but apparently Toni Erdmann had audiences ROFL’ing at Cannes this year, so I don’t know what to believe anymore.
But just as we here in the U.S. have chosen to press the rewind button on progress and hurl ourselves back about, oh, 100 years or so, Deutschland is going through some transformation of its own, which means an equally as vast generational divide.
A tight-lipped, severely bunned-up and high-hell clacking corporate ladder climber named Ines is kind of a heartless workaholic. Her dad, cutely named Winfried, is the opposite in many ways– he’s like a shaggy, kind of slobbery but lovable dog–but the father and daughter are equally challenged when it comes to emotional intelligence.
Pop is a semi-retired music teacher who lost both his last student and dog at the same time. After his longtime companion pup kicks the bucket, Winfried seeks out his daughter, hoping for some cool hang time. Instead he finds a cold shoulder. As if turns out, Ines is hustling to get a promotion. Undeterred, her dad pops on the worst wig he can find, and assumes a corporate alter ego. Obviously, Ines isn’t much convinced, but Winfried’s determined to carry the mega-troll through.
If you ask me, it’s the perfect post-holiday film for those of us left feeling like we have the craziest family in the world, Toni Erdmann assures us that we most certainly do not.
Now through Thursday January 5 at Angelika Film Center: $15
Ok, so I’ll admit that I’ve heard repeated warnings that the new Tom Ford film, Nocturnal Animals, is really very, very stupid. And yet, against my best judgement, I’m still drawn to this spooky film about a rich lady insomniac who, despite living in LA, seems to spend most of her time moving in the shadows and smearing expensive makeup all over her porcelain face. All I can say is: Girl, aside from the bottomless pit of money and gold jewelry, I feel you.
If you can get over the somewhat problematic portrayal of simpleton, cowboy hat wearing rural people, and have a mute button attached your body or some supernatural ability to block out moments of laughable dialogue, unbelievably unnatural acting that might be the work of aliens who just met humans for the first time last week, and a thin plot, then by all means, enjoy the gorgeous views running through the film.