Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back Alley Film Series breaks the mold

All hail the Back Alley Film Series, which has stepped in to bring the new Terrence Malick movie to Charlotte for a one-week run -- maybe longer, if it does well. "To the Wonder" opens at Carolinas Crownpoint Cinemas as of Friday, April 26.

BAFS is on a roll just now. Brandon Cronenberg's "Antiviral," about an employee at a clinic that sells live viruses from sick celebrities to obsessed fans, plays this Thursday. Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color," about a man and a woman entangled with an ageless organism, runs May 2 and 5. Bruno Dumont's "Hors Satan," about a strange poacher who lives at the side of a marsh where the devil walks, gets to Crownpoint May 30.

None of these movies has had a theatrical run in Charlotte or ever will. I haven't seen any but "Wonder," yet the society deserves a word of thanks for letting us watch them on the big screen. "Wonder" especially profits by proper exhibition, as Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography may be the most beautiful you'll see this year. (He also shot Malick's "Tree of Life" and earned an Oscar nomination for it.)

You may wonder why a film by Malick, a writer-director with multiple Oscar nominations, can't get a higher-profile release in a city our size. The answer: Regal and AMC control almost all the screens here, and those chains refuse to play releases from distributors who simultaneously put movies in theaters and on DVD or VOD. Magnolia, which has distributed "Wonder," is one of those companies. So an independent theater (of which we have just three in Mecklenburg County) had to pick it up.

BAFS is actually one-half of Charlotte Film Society, which shows movies once a month at Theatre Charlotte through its Saturday Night Cine Club. If you don't know these two series, you should: They're a terrific bargain at $5 per ticket, once you pay the membership fee of $10. Non-members can also buy regular-priced tickets to any screening, if seats remain available. Get details here: