OPENING THIS WEEK
PUSHKIN, ANIMATED SHORTS
These six short films by Yuri Norstein represent the full body of work by a man many consider to be the greatest living Soviet animator. Two of the shorts
(The Fox and the Hare and The Heron and the Crane) adapt Russian folk tales, while two others (The Battle of Kerzhenets and 25 October: The First Day) draw from Cubist paintings, religious icons, and older art forms. The two most recent shorts (Hedgehog in the Fog and Tale of Tales), from the late 1970s, are by far the most masterful. Haunting and surreal, these visual tone poems delve into the insanity of war and the cruelty of modern states. Norstein tips his hat to many artists, from Picasso to Pushkin, but his mosaics are not at all simple knockoffs: They are full-blown, richly envisioned allegorical epics the likes of which you have never seen before. Screens 1 p.m. Sunday, July 9, only. Not rated. 84 minutes. In Russian with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jon Bowman)
The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food is a highly emotional topic for many people. Major corporations have lied about topics from climate change to the health risks of tobacco use, and the controversial agricultural corporation Monsanto famously manufactured chemicals like DDT and Agent Orange. This polished and well-produced documentary, which is firmly pro-GMO, asks viewers to put their emotions aside and regard the issue objectively. Like the dangers of climate change and the importance of vaccinations, it suggests, the scientific community is largely in support of GMOs, so why do so many people believe scientists on one issue and misinformation on others? How do we feed a growing population and particularly poor communities without GMOs? The movie poses these questions and more while treating both sides respectfully and admitting that this issue is complicated. What it does not do, however, is concede that it’s fine to have an emotion-based opinion on the food that you put on your table. Not rated. 92 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
Rated PG-13. 94 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review, Page 45.
LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD
Not rated. 95 minutes. In English and Arabic with subtitles. The Screen. See review, Page 43.
This 1968 counterculture classic from D.A. Pennebaker, shot in his trademark vérité style, tells an episodic and nonlinear tale of the Monterey Pop Festival. Held 50 years ago on a sunny weekend in June, the music fest featured the formidable lineup of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, the Mamas and the Papas (Papa John Phillips organized the festival with Lou Adler), the Who, Hugh Masekela, and Ravi Shankar. It’s the yang to Gimme Shelter’s yin, showcasing the Summer of Love at its most carefree, idealistic, and fashionable (come for the music, stay for the outfits). But considering that the immediate future held in store the tragic deaths of the concert’s standout stars (Redding, Hendrix, Joplin, and Mama Cass), viewers may not be able to escape a vague sense of foreboding, watching these stars burning at their brightest and hottest. Screens 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, only. Not rated. 79 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Molly Boyle)
Not rated. 104 minutes. Thai with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review, Page 47.
RAISE THE ROOF
American artists Rick and Laura Brown spent a decade reconstructing and repainting the ceiling of the ruined Gwoździec synagogue in Poland, the last remaining historic wooden synagogue in the country. Filmmakers Carey and Yari Wolinsly’s inspiring documentary, set to a moving klezmer soundtrack, is not only the story of the Browns’ ambitious undertaking, but also a journey into Poland’s past. The wooden synagogues, built in the 18th century, once numbered in the hundreds, but were all destroyed during the Nazi occupation. Using 18th-century technology based on old photographs and building plans, the Browns and a team of students and restorers painstakingly recreate the ornate ceiling, adding Jewish religious and mystic symbols, animal imagery, and Hebrew text. In the process, they recover some of the nearly forgotten folkways of pre-modern village life. Screens as part of the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, only, and includes an audience Q&A with the Browns. Not rated. 85 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
After facing diminishing returns with the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man films, Sony Pictures Studio did what superhero fans have been clamoring for: They collaborated with Marvel Studios to reunite Spidey with Captain America, the Hulk, and all of his other buddies from Marvel’s comics. The character, now a teenager played by Tom Holland, first appeared in Captain America: Civil War. Here, he gets his first solo feature, and to make sure the reboot doesn’t belly-flop, Marvel Studios has lent their marquee draw, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), to join Spider-Man as he navigates high school and fights the Vulture (Michael Keaton). Rated PG-13. 133 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. Screens in 2-D only at DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
The cry of love: Jimi Hendrix in Monterey Pop, at Center for Contemporary Arts