(Mostly) eclectic picks for a varied festival

These dozen films are Michael Sragow's top choices

  • "Domaine" screens at the Maryland Film Festival.
"Domaine" screens at the Maryland Film Festival. (Handout photo, Baltimore…)
May 05, 2011|By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

These 12 choices are at the top of my want-to-see list, but there are a score more I'd like to see.

Friday:

'WUSS' Forget "Waiting for Superman." This sounds like "Waiting for Clark Kent": An adult returns as a substitute teacher to that scene of adolescent trauma, his high school, only to find that the student body has the whip hand. 11:30 a.m., Charles 2.

'Frankenstein' Director Danny Boyle has gone from a man who cut off his arm, in "127 Hours," to a man who stitches together all sorts of limbs and organs in this stage rendering of Mary Shelley's novel. The National Theatre will digitally transmit Boyle's production, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, from London — and Kwame Kwei-Armah, Center Stage's new artistic director (and a National Theatre board member), will introduce it. 1 p.m., MICA's Brown Center, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

'On the Ice' What could be more enticing at the onset of sticky-weather season than a movie about a calamitous seal hunt? Will we be able to see Russia from Barrow, Alaska? 5 p.m. Charles 2.

'Domaine' A French drama about the bond between a male teenager and a woman in her 30s — what's not to like? John Waters and the film's director, Patric Chiha, will introduce it. 7:30 p.m.

Saturday:

'Stranger Wore a Gun' The festival's annual 3-D attraction is surefire entertainment, largely because my colleague, Chris Kaltenbach, is such a witty, convivial host. There's Civil War-anniversary serendipity in this Andre De Toth-directed Western: Randolph Scott plays a former spy for Quantrill's Raiders. 11 a.m., Charles 1.

'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' What an amazing festival occurrence: two Westerns in a row (make that two Civil War-related Westerns in a row). Who can resist seeing Sergio Leone's epic shoot-'em-up on the big screen or hearing BSO conductor and music director Marin Alsop discuss Ennio Morricone's score? 2 p.m., Charles 1.

'Fake It So Real' A documentary about the Millennium Wrestling Foundation of Lincolnton, N.C. As Stan Lee used to say, "'Nuff said." 5 p.m., Charles 5.

'Meek's Cut-Off' This makes a record three Westerns in one festival day. This one is a spare, fact-based tale of the Oregon Trail in 1845, made by Kelly Reichardt, the director of "Old Joy" and "Wendy and Lucy." I'll be introducing it sight unseen, then jawing about it with my fellow moviegoers in the lobby. 8:30 p.m., Charles 1.

Sunday:

Alloy Orchestra Presents Masters of Slapstick If you haven't seen a silent film accompanied by Alloy Orchestra with one of its singular percussive scores, be prepared for a treat. This year it's performing with three classic comedy shorts — Buster Keaton's "One Week," Fatty Arbuckle's "Backstage" and Charlie Chaplin's "Easy Street." 11 a.m., Charles 1.

'The Sleeping Beauty' Writer-director Catherine Breillat is a master of feral erotic drama; I can't wait to see what she does with this retelling of the fairy tale. Noon, Charles 2.

Winner of the Baltimore Sun's Two-Minute Film Contest Chris Kaltenbach and I will salute the three winners of The Sun's short-film contest (our fellow judges were John Waters, Matt Porterfield and Jed Dietz), present their prizes and unspool their triumphs to the throngs. 1:30 p.m., Tent Village (across from the Charles).

'Sing Your Song' Harry Belafonte gets an up-close-and-political treatment in this acclaimed documentary — followed by a Q&A with Pulitzer-prize-winning author Taylor Branch. 7:30 p.m., Charles 1.

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