By Glenn McDonald
The Local Reporter
Every other week, our Movie Night! column previews the best upcoming films showing in Chapel Hill theaters – for those who still like to go out to the movies. While Covid remains an issue, all local venues have taken measures to make their spaces safe. Also please remember that bookings and schedules change all the time, so always check online before heading out.
Opens June 17 at the Chelsea
Here’s an odd one: Starting Friday, the Chelsea Theater will host a one-week special engagement of the new film Memoria, from celebrated Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The U.S. distributor is doing an interesting thing, rolling out the film like a travelling cinema exhibition. Memoria is only playing a handful of select theaters week-to-week, and with no plans to move the film to streaming services, this may be our only chance to see it.
This kind of limited-release marketing can be effective, but it works best when there’s a genuinely fascinating film to seek out. Fortunately for all involved, that’s the case here. Memoria has earned ecstatic reviews from those few who have seen it and the international cast is led by Tilda Swinton, the world’s most interesting person.
The gist: Swinton plays a Scottish expatriate in Bogota who’s suffering from a recurring aural hallucination – a kind of psychic echo that only she can hear. Things get really weird when her subsequent investigation turns existential in nature. Synopsis is impossible, really, which is a good thing. You’re better off watching the trailer. Doesn’t this look like more fun than binge-watching season three of whatever?
Opens June 17 at Silverspot and June 24 at the Varsity
The animation studio Pixar is usually at its best when its debuting new and original ideas (Soul, Inside Out) rather than sequels and spinoffs (Finding Dory, Incredibles 2). Still, this ancillary revenue stream from the Toy Story franchise looks pretty fun.
The conceit is that the movie we’re seeing (which is a real movie) is actually the film (not real) that inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure (not real) in Toy Story, the 1995 (real) movie that started it all. Swirling, swirling – into madness! Chris Evans takes over voice duties from Tim Allen.
Kids and grownups looking for their dinosaur fix can still catch Jurassic World Dominion at Silverspot, the Varsity, and the Carraway Drive-in.
On Friday, July 17, the Lumina Theater’s movies-on-the-lawn series features director Ana DuVerney’s excellent historical drama Selma. The film chronicles the people and issues around the 1965 marches for voting rights, a topic which has become extremely timely once again.
Silverspot is showing the 40th anniversary edition of 1982 horror classic The Thing with special screenings on June 19 and 22. Also look for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark in this week’s Flashback Cinema series. Young people: if you haven’t seen that movie on the big screen, this is required summertime curriculum. Tell your parents I said it was okay.
This weekend, the Chelsea is also opening the delightfully strange British comedy Brian and Charles, a mockumentary about a lonely inventor and a robot made from a washing machine. Watch for another great British comedy, The Phantom of the Open, opening July 24.
Also next weekend, the Chelsea will host special screenings of the locally produced documentary Stay Prayed Up, which celebrates legendary North Carolina gospel group the Branchettes and singer Lena Mae Perry. Details are TBD; check the Chelsea listings for times and dates.
Glenn McDonald is a Chapel Hill freelance writer and contributing film critic with Indy Week.