BAMcinemaFest: A guide to the festival’s best films

“Boyhood” is a 12-years-in-the-making, coming-of-age docudrama.

The sixth annual BAMcinemaFest, which kicks off Wednesday and runs through June 29, only further affirms what city film buffs know to be true: Brooklyn is a happening place when it comes to the movies.

The festival begins Wednesday with one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated films period: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” a 12-years-in-the-making, coming-of-age docudrama that follows Ellar Coltrane’s Mason from age 6 through 18. The film co-stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents.

The centerpiece screening on June 25, is “Snowpiercer,” the English-language debut of “The Host” director Bong Joon Ho, a thriller set aboard a locomotive that features quite the eclectic cast: Tilda Swinton, Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Ed Harris, among others.

“They Came Together,” the latest flick from “Wet Hot American Summer” filmmakers David Wain and Michael Showalter, gets a spotlight slot on June 23. It’s a romantic comedy parody starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler with some hilarious digressions and broad, pun-oriented humor.

Joe Swanberg, one of the most prolific independent filmmakers of the 21st century, comes to BAMcinema-Fest with “Happy Christmas,” one of the best of his improvised movies. It’s a small-scale, observational piece about the burdens of family ties starring Anna Kendrick, Swanberg, Melanie Lynskey and Lena Dunham.

“I Origins” is another unique movie from Mike Cahill, director of “Another Earth,” an introspective sci-fi flick from 2011 that you really should see if you haven’t. Seriously, seek it out. This one, set mostly in Brooklyn, stars Michael Pitt as a molecular biologist studying the eye. It takes dramatic risks and will leave you with lots to talk about, for sure.

There are lots of movies premiering at BAM over the next two weeks that don’t have the A-list credentials of the above but are intriguing nonetheless.

“Fargo,” the Coen Brothers’ 1996 masterpiece, is having quite the moment right now. The FX show, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, has earned some of the best reviews of the current season and now comes “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter,” — a surreal black comedy about a Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi) obsessed with the idea of finding the treasure hidden in the film.

“The Heart Machine” follows a Brooklynite named Cody (prolific stage actor John Gallagher Jr.) as he becomes increasingly obsessed with finding a woman with whom he’s had a virtual relationship.

“Stations of the Elevated” is an experimental piece from 1981 that documents a graffiti-strewn city, treating the urban art form with respect rather than condemnation. The screening of the restored documentary will be accompanied by live music from the Mingus Dynasty.

The festival ends with what is quite simply one of the best movies ever made about life in urban America: Spike Lee’s shattering, quintessential Brooklyn epic “Do the Right Thing,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and feels as fresh and relevant as ever.


If you go: BAMcinemaFest runs Wednesday through June 29 at Brooklyn Academy of Music, bam.org/programs/bamcinemafest

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