Ty’s movie picks for Friday, June 29


The big releases this weekend are Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille" and Michael Moore's "Sicko," both top-drawer examples of, respectively, digitally animated family films and Michael Moore provocations. You can't really go wrong with either.

That said, if you actually care about movies as a medium of people and stories and ways of seeing the world -- as opposed to megabits and box office and blowing things up -- the newly refurbished Harvard Film Archive is where you want to be this weekend, and it's the only place you want to be.

The Archive's second annual "Independents Week" series kicks off tomorrow, offering a chance to see a handful of truly independent American movies -- none remotely resembling "Little Miss Sunshine" -- that have mostly fallen through the cracks of the festival circuit and the distribution rinse cycle. By and large they replicate a reality most movies swerve to avoid, so leave expectations and sugar-heavy snacks at the door. Tonight at 9 is "In Between Days" (in photo above), So Yong Kim's pellucid account of a Korean-American teenage girl coping with friendship and love, and one of the few films in the series to have made much of a splash. (I.e., it was well-received at Sundance.)

On July 7th, the series gets to "Hannah Takes the Stairs," from the gifted Joe Swanberg ("LOL") and including in the cast such filmmakers as Mark Duplass ("The Puffy Chair" co-writer and star) and Andrew Bujalski ("Funny Ha Ha"), fine young Cassavetes-wannabes all. Other films I'm less familiar with, but that's part of what makes "Independents Week" special -- discovering vibrant work that's truly out of the loop. Welcome back, HFA.

For fans of the studiously weird, there's a new Guy Maddin movie in town: "Brand Upon the Brain!" at the Brattle. No live roadshow like they got in New York and San Francisco -- boo -- but it's still a startling fusion of old-timey Hollywood tropes and subterranean surrealist psycho-vomit. I mean that as a good thing.

"The Wedding Director" at the MFA, because the appearance of a new Marco Bellocchio film on these shores is a rare and usually wonderful thing. The museum's holding over "Manufactured Landscapes," too, because audiences and a few critics seem to like it.

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