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Not to be confused with the Los Angeles punk band of the same name, the band X Japan is the operatically tragic and extravagant subject of Boston-bred Stephen Kijak’s documentary, “We Are X.” They resemble Kiss by way of Kabuki, and their music includes rapid-fire heavy metal and winsome ballads. But they are frenetically unique, possessing a power and eeriness and a melodramatic back story evoking the spirit of Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Ugetsu” as a Marvel comic book.

Focusing on cofounder, drummer, pianist, and songwriter Yoshiki as he prepares for the band’s 2014 Carnegie Hall concert, the film relates his personal traumas (his father committed suicide when Yoshiki was 10) and his current physical maladies (several scenes of him getting injections of what seems like cortisone). It also looks back at the various catastrophes (breakups, “brainwashing,” bad health) and triumphs (30 million albums sold) that have happened to the band since it began in 1982.


Included are cameos by Sir George Martin, Kiss, the Japanese Emperor — and, of course, Stan Lee. Even if you don’t care for the band, Kijak’s exuberant style which mirrors the music might win you over.

“We Are X” can be seen at the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, Nov. 11-14.


A scene from “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing,”
A scene from “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing,”HBO

Beyond Boston Strong

The pain and pride remain from the April 13, 2013, terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. Anyone in the city at that time will get a reminder of the anger and anxiety as well when watching Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing,” a documentary produced by HBO in association with The Boston Globe. It follows the events as they happened through surveillance footage, TV news clips, and home videos; and features interviews with survivors, whose resilience and courage made the words “Boston Strong” more than just a slogan.

“Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing” screens at 7 p.m. on Nov 9 at the Casino Theatre, 9 Freebody St., Newport, R.I. A conversation with survivors Heather Abbott, Sydney and Celeste Corcoran follows.



Celebrating Peter Hutton

Have you ever noticed how scary clouds can be if you look at them for a long time? Have you for a moment been unable to tell the difference between a murmuration of starlings and rain in a puddle? Or seen infinity in a grain of sand? Judging from the collection of films offered in the Harvard Film Archive’s Time and Tide. A Tribute to Peter Hutton, the late filmmaker, teacher, and visionary did. (Hutton died this year, at 71.) Some of his films are monochromatic, all are silent — they distill the art of documentary into its essence. In them can be seen the inspiration of cinema pioneers such as the Lumière brothers and even Georges Méliès — even if Hutton’s magic is achieved not through trick photography but tricks of nature and perception. Though reminiscent of German Expressionism, film noir, and Edward Gorey, they are utterly unique — the perceptions of a brilliant soul at a specific time and place.

Time and Tide. A Tribute to Peter Hutton can be seen from Nov. 10-13 at the HFA, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. Alfred Guzzetti will introduce the Thursday program and fellow filmmaker Fern Silva the screenings on Sunday. Admission to all programs is free.


The Italian Ed Wood?

Bright, creative, and independent-minded, Shawna Shea died in an automobile accident at 16. Her father, Skip Shea, a local filmmaker, established the Shawna Shea Film Festival in 2012 “to honor truly independent films” and to raise money for the Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation.


Among the films is Felipe M. Guerra’s documentary “FantastiCozzi,” in which the unfairly neglected Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi tells his story. After seeing “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) as a child he fell in love with science fiction. Making movies in the genre was his dream. Unfortunately, he was one of the few people in Italy who liked science fiction. Horror, westerns, comedies, sword and sandal, adventures, neorealist tearjerkers — the Italian cinema made them all. But science fiction was considered “stupid fiction” to them.

So Cozzi paid his dues, seeking an entry into the film world. First he became a critic — always a bad move. But it introduced him to such giallo (horror movie) masters as Dario Argento, with whom he co-wrote “Four Flies on Grey Velvet.” Finally he got his chance, when “Star Wars” (1977) made millions at the box office. Unfortunately the Italian producers wanted his films to be knock-offs of the latest Hollywood hit. So then he made “Starcrash” (1978) — with Christopher Plummer! — and “Alien Contamination” (1980).

That may have been the pinnacle of Cozzi’s success. But his career has gone on for nearly five decades, and Guerra cobbles together interviews that Cozzi has done in the past with clips from his sometimes striking, sometimes ludicrous, but always self-aware and ironic features. In the end Cozzi is seen awakening from a nightmare in which he is being labeled “The Italian Ed Wood.” But then he thinks, at least Ed Wood is famous.


The dream lives.

“FantastiCozzi” screens for free on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Jacob Edwards Library, 236 Main St., Southbridge. Luigi Cozzi will be in attendance. He will also be there for the screening of his new film “Blood on Melies Moon” (2016) on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Starlite Gallery, 39 Hamilton St., Southbridge. That one will cost you money.


Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.