They’re collectively billed as Five Funny French Films, raising expectations for a lot of “Ha! Ha! Ha!” along with the “Ooh La La!” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) As they unspool this weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, you can enjoy a wide variety of funny business with a lineup that includes:
All That Glitters (5 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Sunday) – Two sisters, tired of their dull lives in a suburb 10 minutes by train from Paris, go to amusing extremes to enjoy the good life in the big city.
Skylab (7 p.m. Friday, 9:15 p.m. Saturday) – Actress Julie Delpy once again tries her hand as a writer-director, this time for a semi-autobiographical comedy about a 1979 family gathering that may or may not be rudely interrupted by the threatened crash of a humongous space station.
Big is Beautiful (9:15 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Sunday) – Three full-figured ladies forge friendships and gain self-awareness during a weight-loss program at a clinic in the Alps.
My Worst Nightmare (7:15 p.m. Saturday) – French superstar Isabelle Huppert heads the cast of this farce about an icy art gallery owner who’s warmed just a smidge by her edgy yet erotically charged relationship with a uncouth carpenter doing remodeling work in her spacious apartment.
In addition to screening these five flicks, the MFAH Film Department is offering a bit of lagniappe: Le Grand Amour (5:30 p.m. Saturday), a 1969 comedy about a new husband with a wandering eye, starring Pierre Étaix, the French comic actor who’ll be the subject of a retrospective tribute at the museum in May.
Sundancing with cinema
Two new notable offerings are on tap this weekend at the Sundance Cinemas downtown.
After impressing international audiences with his acclaimed Certified Copy, a romantic drama starring Juliette Bincohe and British opera singer William Shimell as attracted opposites in Tuscany, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami once again ventures far from his homeland – to Japan, to be precise – for Like Someone in Love, a teasingly ambiguous story about a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a prostitute, and the elderly professor (Tadashi Okuno) who starts out as her client, but evolves into her mentor.
On the Road, the long-awaited filmization of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel, played in a handful of theaters late last year in the hope of copping critical hosannas and Academy Award nominations. But reviews were mixed and Oscar buzz was muted, so IFC Films opted to wait a little longer before giving the movie a wider release. Now it has arrived in H-Town, and you can decide for yourself if Brazilian director Walter Salles (Central Station, The Motorcycle Diaries) and lead players Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart have done justice to Kerouac’s story about free spirits in search of new experiences in late 1940s America.
In Rangrezz (at AMC Studio 30), a Hindi-language film by the prolific Indian director known as Priyadarshan, three close friends literally risk life and limb (and long-term disability) to unite two star-crossed lovers. It may look like the usual Bollywood song and dance, but there’s at least one surprise in the soundtrack: According to published reports out of India, producer Vashu Bhagnani paid a hefty fee to use Psy’s monster hit “Gangham Style” in the movie, so his son Jackky Bhagnani, one of the film’s lead players, could dance to it on screen.
But wait, there’s more: Psy refused to sell the rights to his signature tune until he was certain Jackky had sufficient terpsichorean talent to… well, to really do it “Gangham Style.” So he took a look at the young performer’s dance moves in the Hindi movie F.A.L.T.U. – and only then granted his blessing.
Which only goes to show you: In Bollywood, there’s always a happy ending. As you can see here.
Other screens, other cinema
Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody star in… Wait a minute, that doesn’t look right. Let me double check… Yeah, Brody actually is in InAPPropriate Comedy (various locations), an indie flick that, based on its trailer, appears to be the sort of thing actors do only when they owe a favor to a friend, a payment on a mortgage, or a fee to their legal team.
In New World (AMC Studio 30), South Korean filmmaker Park Hoon-jung (who wrote the script for Kim Ji-woon’s notorious I Saw the Devil ) wrings suspense from the conflicting loyalties of an undercover cop (Lee Jung-jae) who’s begun to take his role as right-hand man to a crime lord a bit too seriously.
A Resurrection (at Edwards Marq*E) is a horror thriller about a high-schooler who returns from the dead to seek revenge on the bullies who killed him, but it’ll likely earn a footnote in film history books primarily because it’s one of the final films completed by the late Michael Clarke Duncan.