A look at ‘Swell’ and not so swell
One of the true indie breakout films of the past decade, “Once’’ introduced the world to musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, whose “Falling Slowly’’ earned Irglová and Hansard Academy Awards for best original song in 2007. (More recently, they wrote the music and lyrics for a musical adaptation of “Once,’’ which opened in November at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop and runs through the end of this year.) “The Swell Season’’ (2011) is a black-and-white, behind-the-music documentary about the couple’s on- and off-screen romance that unhinges while they’re performing on the road. Directed, shot, and edited by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins, and Carlo Mirabella-Davis, the music-filled film is an intimate look at the exhilaration and turmoil created by both love and international fame. ArtsEmerson and the Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston) present a sneak preview of “The Swell Season’’ on Dec. 9 at 8:15 p.m. at Emerson College’s Paramount Center (559 Washington St., Boston) in the Bright Family Screening Room. IFFBoston, the city’s largest film festival, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the spring (April 25-May 2). For more information, go to www.artsemerson.org.
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) bills it as “a feast of astounding stunts, tear-jerking moments, micro-epics, bawdy scenarios, and feel-good spectacles, complete with wit, sauciness, double entendres, and sheer visual beauty.’’ No, not the latest short film festival or animation series, but a program of award-winning commercials from Britain and the United States. Today at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., the ICA presents two programs: The Art and Technique of the American Commercial and the 2011 British Arrows Awards (formerly Award-Winning British Commercials). The 65-minute American program is now in its 20th year of screening award-winning commercials. This year, there are ads for Nike, Volkswagen, Allstate, Levi’s, FedEx, Old Spice, and American Express. The American ad program screens again Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m.
Boston is one of just 10 cities in the US screening the British Arrows Awards for television advertising. Now in its 33d year, the 75-minute program features more than 150 commercials that showcase the originality and creativity of British advertising. It screens again on Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m. and on Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Screenings take place in the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater. Tickets for each screening are $10; $8 for members, students, and seniors. For tickets call 617-478-3103 or go to www.icaboston.org.
Story of a sound
Denny Tedesco’s documentary “The Wrecking Crew,’’ a film about Los Angeles session musicians in the 1960s who played on hundreds of hits during that period, will have its Boston premiere Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at Arlington’s Regent Theatre. Tedesco, son of the late legendary Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, will engage in a post-screening discussion with the audience. Although the film was released on the festival circuit in 2008 and won some awards, it never found a distributor because of the exorbitant costs of licensing all the music in the film, according to Tedesco. He’s now working with the nonprofit 501(c) International Documentary Association to license the music and distribute his film, which includes interviews with Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Gary Lewis, and Wrecking Crew members. Tickets are $8 in advance; $10 at the door. The Regent (7 Medford St., Arlington) is at 781-646-4849 or www.regenttheatre.com.
The stage onscreen
If you missed the Dec. 1 big-screen showings of a live performance from Britain’s National Theatre of John Hodge’s new play “Collaborators,’’ it’s not too late to check out a few additional screenings. Hodge is best known as the go-to screenwriter for film director Danny Boyle (“Shallow Grave,’’ “Trainspotting’’). “Collaborators,’’ a tense drama set in Stalin’s Soviet Russia of 1938, is about an anti-Communist writer named Bulgakov who faces a moral dilemma when he’s asked to pen a play in honor of Josef Stalin’s 60th birthday. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Alex Jennings as Bulgakov and Simon Russell Beale as Stalin. There’s a Boston-area showing of the performance Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Farther out, you can also catch it at the Amherst Cinema in Amherst on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. and again on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. For tickets and information, go to www.coolidge.org or www.amherstcinema.org.
Acclaimed science writer Carl Zimmer will introduce “12 Monkeys,’’ Terry Gilliam’s 1995 science fiction psychological thriller starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt that imagines a future world devastated by disease, on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. as part of the Coolidge’s Science on Screen series. Zimmer, who teaches science writing at Yale University, is the author of several books including “A Planet of Viruses,’’ “Parasite Rex,’’ and “Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea.’’ He will discuss the history of real virus outbreaks and research being conducted on previously unknown viruses. Tickets are $9.75 general admission, $7.75 for students, seniors, and Museum of Science members, and free for Coolidge Corner Theatre members. For more information and tickets, go to www.coolidge.org/science.
She is, of course, best known as the actress-writer who plays Kelly on TV’s “The Office,’’ but Mindy Kaling has also been memorable in a few movies (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’’ “No Strings Attached’’) and onstage playing fellow Cantabrigian Ben Affleck off-Broadway in “Matt and Ben,’’ which she co-wrote. Kaling will return to her hometown Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. when she’ll be at the Brattle Theatre promoting her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).’’ Tickets, if you can get them, are $27 (that includes a copy of the book) and are available only through the Harvard Book Store online at www.harvard.com, by phone at 617-661-1515, or in person at the bookstore, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.
Loren King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.