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Mumblecore ‘godfather’ Andrew Bujalski is back, and still finding his cinematic role ‘Funny Ha Ha’

28 Apr

By Tom Meek

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Director Andrew Bujalski, right, with actor Kevin Corrigan on the set of his 2015 film “Results.” (Photo: Ryan Green/ Magnolia Pictures)

Funny, it feels like “mumblecore” is a genre from the distant 1980s or ’90s, but it’s much more recent: The term was coined in 2005 by sound editor Eric Masunaga at the South by Southwest Film Festival, when he used it to encompass the lo-fi independent films “The Puffy Chair” by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, “Kissing on the Mouth” by Joe Swanberg and “Mutual Appreciation” by Andrew Bujalski. Bujalski – for whom Masunaga has been a longtime collaborator – is often referred to as “the godfather of mumblecore,” and his first film, “Funny Ha Ha” (2002), about a wayward young woman (Kate Dollenmayer), is widely considered a cornerstone of the canon.

Bujalski, who grew up in Boston, studied filmmaking at Harvard and shot that debut feature in and around the area, is back in town for a 20th anniversary screening of the film Thursday at the Coolidge Corner Theatre with a Q&A moderated by Cantabrigian filmmaker and critic Gerald Peary. (Look for some insider play with Peary, who had a small role in Bujalski’s fourth feature, “Computer Chess.”) I spoke with Bujalski about labels and the challenges of making low-budget films and supporting a family.

“I think the only thing that was different, quote unquote, or new or seemed to capture a moment was a generational divide. We just happened to be the young people at that moment,” Bujalski said of the “mumblecore” term. “Lord knows I was not setting out to define any kind of aesthetic or anything.” Mumblecore films by definition are low-budget, dialogue-driven and feature young stars, with a generational vernacular often punctuated with “uhms” “likes” and “you knows.” “Chatty movies about young, middle-class white people,” is how Bujalski sums it up. 

The making of “Funny Ha Ha” had a lot of happenstance to it. Bujalski had Dollenmayer in mind when he wrote the lead role of Marnie, a recent college grad who tempers her malaise with alcohol and sets her sights on a college friend already in a relationship. The two were roommates in Boston, but after college Bujalski was living in Austin, Texas, and Dollenmayer was looking to go to grad school in L.A. Fate, family and friendly resources landed them back in Boston to do the shoot – they had thought about L.A., but Bujalski said that would have been a “disaster.” The film wrapped in late August 2001, just two weeks before 9/11.

Bujalski’s presence in Austin isn’t an accident. One of the key cited influences for mumblecore (which has a horror subgenre called “mumblegore”) is Richard Linklater’s 1990 debut “Slacker,” which kicked off a new ripple of independent filmmaking. “Talk about godfather,” Bujalski says of Linklater (“Boyhood” and “Waking Life” – the latter being one of the few other films Dollenmayer worked on), a fellow Texan who runs the Austin Film Society and has made the city something of an indie filmmakers’ haven. 

Of his own, mumblecore “godfather” tag, Bujalski laughs, both embracing it and shrugging it off. “At the time it kind of irked me, because it felt like a slight,” he said.

Now no longer the 20-something he makes films about, Bujalski is married with 7- and 11-year-old children. With his 2015 get in shape flick “Results,” his work went upscale with some A-minus-list actors (Guy Pearce, Coby Smulders, Kevin Corrigan and Giovanni Ribisi) and a bigger budget – but he remains coy about that, saying only that all of his seven films could be made for what a first-time Sundance smash might cost. (The Internet says $30,000 for “Funny Ha Ha”). His films generally gross north of $100,000 and garner critical raves.

Of money, Bujalski says, “I have two modes: not care, and panic. I’m getting close to panic now.” For “side hustles” Bujalski says he does whatever comes his way in the industry, including working on the dubbed version of the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated French film “I Lost My Body” (2019), a Best Animated Film pick by the Boston Society of Film Critics. 

Bujalski is working on his seventh film, “There There,” which includes Lili Taylor, Jason Schwartzman and Lennie James of “The Walking Dead” among its cast. The director was reticent to describe it beyond not being the film Bujalski set out to make; Covid thwarted those plans, and he pivoted to “There There.” (Bujalski also did not say what that eighth feature might be about.)

“We’re not sure how to describe it,” Bujalski said of “There There.” “We’re just gonna put it on the screen and let everybody else tell us what we did.”

“Everything Everywhere” interview

2 Apr

With ‘Everything Everywhere,’ Daniels escape genre trap to make the multiverse meaningful

By Tom Meek Thursday, March 31, 2022

Daniels – Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, directors of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” – at The Liberty hotel in Boston. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Around the same time as Sunday night’s slap felt round the world – that of Will Smith hitting Chris Rock at the Oscars – something equally thought-provoking but far less violent was taking place at MIT: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking team known as Daniels, were showing their latest, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” to a lecture series audience. If their gonzo, Gondry-esque flatulence flick “Swiss Army Man” (2016) was rooted in scatological surreality, “Everything Everywhere” is an absurdist multiverse overload propelled by family values, film references within film references and butt plugs. The plot has something to do with an immigrant laundry operator (Michelle Yeoh, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Crazy Rich Asians”) battling a jacked-up IRS auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis, in a devilishly funny turn) in a wildly generic office suite (think the office wars in “Time Bandits”) with segues into other planes of reality. In one, Yeoh’s imperiled heroine is a famous martial-arts action star (art imitating life); in another, she’s in a relationship with Curtis’ auditor in a universe where everyone’s fingers are floppy hot dogs. If you thought “Swiss Army Man” really went to some far-out places, be ready to go to infinity and beyond, literally. There’s a lot that comes at you, and a bit of cranium calisthenics required of the view, but a multitasking Yeoh holds the universe, her family and the film together.

The multiverse concept became a mainstream staple last year with “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” when Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) tore the fabric of the universe and Spider-Men (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, alongside Tom Holland as the current Spidey) and their affiliated villains (Goblin, Sandman, Doctor Octopus and more) all pour into the present. Kwan said in our interview that they had started writing “Everything Everywhere” in 2016, “before any of that other stuff came out,” but laments that because of Spider-Ham in the 2018 animated change-up, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “we had to cut the talking pig.”

The Daniels looked at scientific theories around the principles driving a multiverse, Kwan said – namely the cosmological, “which is more about inflation and infinite space, versus quantum physics, which is more about superposition.” Scheinert clarified: “We’re not smart enough to read science papers, but we do pop science.”

It’s easy to tell by their seamless interaction that the filmmakers have a rare dynamic, like with the Safdie and Coen brothers, in which egos and personas aren’t a barrier, but a point of collaborative confluence. The pair met at Emerson, graduating in ’09, and kicked around Cambridge and Somerville too – Kwan in Central Square and Scheinert in Davis – before moving to Los Angeles, where they did varying TV and music video work before “Swiss Army Man.”

“Everything Everywhere” has been universally tagged as a sci-fi action comedy, but that’s reductive compared with what it really digs into. “I’m bummed when science fiction doesn’t explore how these big ideas make me feel but just use it as a plot point,” Scheinert said. “Swiss Army Man” explored loneliness and personal delusion as a means of coping, and “Everything Everywhere,” while on the surface being about saving the universe, is about making a connection in the chaos of the world. “How do you find each other in the noise of modern life?” Kwan says. “How do you find each other and truly see each other, when there’s so many things trying to pull us away from each other?”

At the core of that is Yeoh’s matron trying to rebuild strained relations with her husband (Ke Huy Quan, “Indiana Jones,” “The Goonies”), daughter (Stephanie Hsu, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and father (James Hong, most famous as the baddie in “Big Trouble in Little China,” but whose credits go back to the 1960s TV show “Dragnet” and as a voice in the 1956 “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) that manifest themselves in various ways in the varying multiverses. Scheinert calls it a “maximalist family drama.”

What’s next for The Daniels is up in the air; Kwan, who has a young child, has some illustrated children’s books coming out through the publishing arm of A24 Films, which distributed “Swiss Army Man” and “Everything Everywhere.”

When asked about that slap and the Oscars in general, Scheinert and Kwan suggested it was a phenomenon weirder than what a Daniels films deal with: “I watched a little bit of it in the hotel bar. The couple next to me had seen none of the movies and they kept asking me questions that I knew the answers to, but I got tired and went to bed.” Scheinert said it was great to see Curtis there and enjoys the pageantry, but added, “I don’t think art needs prizes.” Perhaps if Daniels had directed the Oscars ceremony, they could have ripped open the multiverse and scripted a different course. For now Hollywood is stained with the ignominy of that moment, while their film opens Friday at the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema.

Of Lanes and Games

7 Mar

City will miss cycling safety law’s May 1 deadline on changes to traffic through Porter Square area

By Tom Meek and Marc Levy Saturday, March 5, 2022

A bicyclist rides south through Porter Square on Jan. 25. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The city will miss its May 1 deadline to install quick-build separated bicycle lanes on Massachusetts Avenue through Porter Square, the city manager will tell the City Council on Monday.

Community engagement requirements, the need for more time to develop and install infrastructure to make up for the loss of current parking spaces and complications in scheduling contractors combine to make it impossible to meet the demands set by the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance, City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said. The letter was included Thursday in the agenda packet for the next council meeting.

The bike lanes between Beech Street and Roseland Street are to be done in quick-build fashion using road paint and plastic flex-posts, with parking meters and loading zones moved to side streets to make up for some loss of spaces on Massachusetts Avenue. But a quick-build bus-and-bike project in November that cost parking spaces, angering businesses west of Porter Square, forced a reconsideration of how the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department moved ahead with community engagement and mitigation efforts.

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Proposals for taking down trolley wire system then ‘partial-build’ bike lanes nudge forward

23 Feb

Bike Lane Games

By Tom Meek Friday, February 18, 2022

A sign taped to a municipal meeting notice warns that the city plans to “give away” Porter Square with quick-build bike lanes. Unlike with many websites, the URL on the flyer works only when https:// precedes it. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Transportation officials are moving toward removing overhead trolley wires that will allow an approach to building bike lanes that keeps more parking along Massachusetts Avenue in the northern parts of the city, representatives for the city and state said in two community meetings this week.

The MBTA held an information session virtually Tuesday on bus electrification and the North Cambridge depot redesign, drawing more than 150 attendees. Scott Hamwey, the MBTA’s director of bus modernization, said the state planned to de-electrify overhead catenary wires and switch to battery electric buses beginning in mid-March, removing the wires sometime in late 2023 or 2024. The North Cambridge depot would shut down for two years as it was turned into a bus-charging station; construction would start within the next year, Hamwey said. While just 3 percent of the fleet is electric now, the agency plans to make it fully electric by 2040.

Many in the audience argued that the current, wired buses were cleaner than the BEBs, which would be equipped with a small diesel engine cycling on and off to add warmth for riders on days cold enough that the buses’ electric heat is inadequate. The rebuilt depot would include a 5,000-gallon diesel tank on the north side of the site.

Only a small amount of the bus fleet use the overhead wires, which are deployed in only a small part of MBTA territory, and the system and buses that use it are aging and will require significant cost to upgrade and maintain, said Hamwey and senior director of vehicle engineering Bill Wolfgang.

Planning for Porter

The city showed “partial” bike-lane constructions options as part of a Wednesday presentation.

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House of Gucci

27 Nov

‘House of Gucci’: The styles clash in family drama

By Tom Meek Friday, November 26, 202

Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” unfurls like an epic crime saga – think “The Godfather” (1972) by way of the hit streaming series “Succession.” It’s got devious parlor games, backroom corporate jockeying, bloody agendas and plenty of unintentional camp, which is both good and bad. 

We’re talking the Italian fashion industry in the 1970s, when old-school Gucci lions Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) and Aldo (Pacino) prided themselves on the lineage of special cows used to make super soft, artisanal loafers and handbags that cost most people’s annual salary. Aldo wants to kick the business into the more modern world with innovations such as malls in Japan; Rodolfo resists. But the real focus of “Gucci” is the fatal relationship between Lady Gaga’s uncompromising Patrizia and Rodolfo’s bookish son, Maurizio (Adam Driver). By now, you’ve probably read about the steamy sex scene between Gaga and Driver, and while it is steamy, it’s more a physical, crash-bang-boom event than an erotic interlude, befitting Patrizia’s driven woman: She works in her family’s trucking business until she’s successfully stalking Maurizio in a bookstore and getting that big ring, then pushing Maurizio into the family business with a pinch of Lady Macbeth mania.

The narrative of “Gucci” may be driven by the above- and below-board dealings of the fashion empire, but what Scott’s assembled here is a potpourri of characters that pop off the screen with a capital P. As Aldo, Pacino serves up a Thanksgiving ham with a big, viscous side of pineapple sauce, somewhere between his over-the-top take on Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” (2019) and his “Hoo-ah!” hokum in “Scent of a Woman’’ (1992). Besides Gaga – more on that in a bit – the real scene-stealer is Jared Leto, unrecognizable under bad hair, potbelly and a prosthetic nose like Tom Cruise in “Tropic Thunder” as Aldo’s attention-seeking son Paolo, the Guccis’ own Fredo Corleone sad sack, full of ambition and always biting his tail. Iron’s ailing Rodolfo is gaunt and wan in the extreme, looking like the undernourished version of Gary Oldman’s Count Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 spin on Bram Stoker’s novel. (Irons is one of the only actors in the impressive ensemble who doesn’t attempt an Italian accent, which is both disconcerting and a blessing.) Driver’s his fine, likable self as Maurizio in a film in which not many of the characters are.

The film clearly belongs to Gaga, giving a big, bold performance that proves what we knew when she was Oscar-nominated in 2018 for her pop-star-in-the-making turn in “A Star is Born”: The woman can act and is a force onscreen. She carries the film through silly and serious, and even though it’s a big performance, it never spins into spectacle like some of her castmates’ do.

Scott, who recently lambasted superhero films, has had a long line of critical success – I’ll cite “Alien” (1979), “Blade Runner” (1982) and “Black Hawk Down” (2000) among the many– but takes a bit of a stumble here. It’s a whirlwind of concepts, stylization, allegories and an incredible cast all getting their big solos (did I mention that Salma Hayek plays Patrizia’s brassy tarot card reader?) without gelling at the core. At more than two and a half hours, “House of Gucci” is highly entertaining and the use of pop tunes from Donna Summer, Blondie and George Michael, to name a few, anchors the era with perfect aural nostalgia. But for all its build, bluster and pomp, in the end “Gucci” gets sewn up and sold like a cheap knockoff pump in the secondary market.

Wheel Good People, Part Deux

23 Oct

More wheel good people: Bicyclist help goes on, including an Oct. 24 Halloween party in The Port

By Tom MeekThursday, October 14, 2021

Lonnell Wells in his CambridgeSide mall Bike Give Back space with an organization intern. (Photo: Tom Meek )

A year ago we cast the spotlight on efforts by bicyclists to help those at risk from Covid-19 and to confront racism. Those ills persist, but so does the work by the Bike Delivery Program and the tight-knit team behind the Cambridge Bike Give Back initiative. Each mission has been sustained by the toil and generosity of volunteers, but now could use a lending hand.

The Cambridge Bike Give Back initiative, which takes old and unwanted bikes and retools them for those in need, was launched in August 2020 by Lonnell Wells and friends in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. It gives bicycles to kids who might not otherwise have one to ride with friends, or a person just out of prison needing an inexpensive way to get around in their reentry to society, Wells said. The program now has a storefront in the Cambridgeside mall parking garage. Vice mayor Alanna Mallon and former mayor Anthony Galluccio helped broker the arrangement, Wells said, and his sources for steel steeds has grown too. He’s reached out to municipal and collegiate police forces for unclaimed bikes and forged a partnership with Bikes Not Bombs, the original bike-driven social activist group down in Jamaica Plain. 

The Give Back program has provided more than 350 bikes since its founding last year, Wells said, in addition to hosting community barbecues and sponsoring a Black Lives Matter ride around Cambridge.

The program plans a family-themed Halloween party from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Greene-Rose Heritage Park in The Port neighborhood. There will be a costume contest, games and candy for kids, free food for all and a raffle; bikes will be given away, and bike tuneups offered. (Organizers are looking for able bike mechanics to help on Sunday. If you have a bike you want to unload, they could use that, too. Email cambridgikegiveback@gmail.com.)

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Of Bike Lanes and Politics

4 Oct

With the installation of protected bike lanes comes a fast-moving issue for council race

By Tom Meek Friday, October 1, 2021

A bicyclist travels in a quick-build protected bike lane in Central Square. (Photo: MassAve4 Impacts Analysis)

A springtime study about bike lanes replacing on-street parking continues to send out shock waves, and is now playing a role in November’s elections.

Citizens groups have been formed, petitions are circulating and candidates are getting endorsements around the MassAve4 Impact Analysis report and other issues relating to the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance. Passed by the City Council in 2019 and updated in October 2020, it calls for around 25 miles of protected bike lanes to be installed throughout Cambridge within five to seven years.

When released in April, the MassAve4 report triggered panic among business owners and residents who feared that nearly all on-street parking spaces would be removed in favor of quick-build protected bike lanes along Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square to Dudley Street, including Porter Square. The city quickly assured that it was only studying the effects of achieving the ordinance’s goals with quick-build options such as flex posts, signs and road markings rather than curb cuts, sidewalk and road surface alterations that would demand more planning, cost and resources and be less likely to meet the law’s timeline.

The city has not released a plan, but by May the city manager expects to identify where quick-build bike lanes will work and get City Council approval for a timeline on installing other kinds of bike infrastructure, according to the MassAve4 project page. Outreach and community engagement will be part of the process. If the city fails to have a plan approved in 2023, quick-build lanes along the corridor will be mandated by the ordinance.

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Asian Food Aid

31 Jul

Project Restore Us adds 150 families to its work delivering culturally appropriate food support

By Tom Meek Thursday, July 29, 2021

Project Restore Us, launched last year by restaurateurs Tracy Chang of Pagu and Irene Li of Mei Mei Restaurant of Boston, and others to help keep their businesses afloat while feeding the community, has expanded by partnering with the Asian American Resource Workshop and Vietnamese American Initiative for Development. On Sunday, working out of Mâe Asian Eatery storefront in Cambridge, 30 volunteers will cart groceries to an additional 150-plus families in need.

Instead of serving its enticing fusion of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese, Mâe closes on Sundays – and this is when, Chang, Li and the Project Restore Us team perform their work of kindness.

Mâe is at 781 Main St., in The Port neighborhood between Central and Kendall squares.

One of the concepts behind the project was to provide people with nutritional and culturally appropriate food, replacing the random produce and low-nutrition processed fare that comes from most food pantries. The new partnerships allow Project Restore Us to more strategically deliver culturally germane groceries to area Vietnamese and Latinx families affected by Covid – bolstering the communities and hunger awareness in the face of a troubling uptick of hate crimes against Asians.

“The spike in acute anti-Asian violence has highlighted the importance of our work in combating the persistent violence of immigration and food insecurity that wearies and disempowers our Asian American and other immigrant community members,” said Marena Lin, one of the project’s co-founders with Chang, Li and Lily Huang, director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice.

Chang adds that violence toward Asians is not new. “It’s just become more newsworthy during Covid because of the incidents in Atlanta. For instance, my grandparents owned a restaurant in Cambridge (Tokyo Restaurant) from 1988-2000. Multiple times, they were the target of hate crimes. They had a molotov cocktail thrown into their establishment. They were tied up, beaten and robbed on multiple occasions in their homes in Lexington and Winchester,” she said.

The project estimates it has delivered more than 300 tons of food to more than 8,000 households marginalized by the pandemic since May 2020. It plans to send two waves of groceries each month, or as funds dictate. Information is here.

Empowerment Mural Coming to the Square

25 Jun

Thaxton’s ‘Beauty of Everyday Living’ mural brightens Harvard Square kiosk construction

By Tom Meek Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Patricia Thaxton’s “The Beauty of Everyday Living” mural sections will beautify a Harvard Square construction site. (Photo: Greg Cook)

The ongoing construction around the old Out of Town News kiosk in Harvard Square will be brightened this week, with unsightly fencing and Jersey barriers wrapped in a vinyl scrim of artist Patricia Thaxton’s “The Beauty of Everyday Living,” a mural imbued with themes of Black joy and empowerment. The design honors Black Harvard students, is peppered with Harvard Square “Easter eggs” and weaves in nods to Cambridge community festivals and recent Black Lives Matter protests.

The mural, commissioned by the city, will expand as work by WES Construction expands in the fall. When the expected two years of construction ends, the renovated public space will have a community focus and is open to use by city-sponsored operators. Requests for proposals are ongoing throughout the rebuild.

A public event introducing the art awaits a clearer schedule from the construction contractor and coordination with the city’s reopening plans, Cambridge Arts’ Greg Cook said.

This is the first public art project for Thaxton, a Stoughton resident who grew up in Dorchester and taught home economics in Boston Public Schools until retiring in 2009. In her art career since, she has focused on mixed media works in which she said “no material is off limits.”

“I love the freedom I have with mixed media collage. Along my journey, I discovered the elements that fascinate me: texture, color and depth connect each work of art in my collection. Several pieces were inspired by images I’ve collected from newspapers, ads, magazines and photos that I’ve taken through the ages. I enjoy capturing the culture within and around our daily lives,” she said.

The Somerville Theatre will be back

25 Jun

Somerville Theatre will bring Davis more music with Crystal Ballroom replacing upstairs screens

By Tom Meek Sunday, June 20, 2021

Frame One is building the Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The pandemic had its own victims in the film business, with the ShowPlace Icon and the ArcLight – luxe theaters that opened just before the pandemic in the Boston area – shuttered for good. On the upside, the Coolidge Corner Theatre just announced an expansion that includes two new screening rooms and a community space, and all Cambridge theaters have reopened or are about to. So what’s going on with the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square? The Capitol Theatre in Arlington, also owned and run by Frame One Theatres, has been up and running for a few weeks, but the Somerville cine, host to screenings and live performances since 1914, remains ominously dark.

“We’re undergoing renovations and a changeover,” theater manager and newly minted creative director Ian Judge said during a recent visit to the iconic structure. The lobby is in the middle of a refurbishing; the bar is now set back, and the concession and merchandise area has been expanded. That far too “homey” bathroom just off the lobby is getting a much needed makeover. The biggest change is upstairs, where two movie houses are being returned to their original ballroom format.

Ian Judge will oversee the Somerville Theatre cinema and its new performance space. (Photo: Tom Meek)

What that means is that the theater will now host a nearly 500-person-capacity performance hall dedicated to live music, special events and private engagements such as weddings and corporate gatherings. “We had remodeled the downstairs theaters and knew we had to do something with the upstairs,” Judge said. With the pandemic and six screens in Arlington (and potentially two more coming in Harvard Square), Frame One decided it could fill different needs.

The new/old hall has an airy amphitheater-like vibe and a space that could be turned into a cozy bar in the back, with a coatroom to boot. Judge said the room could also be used for special screenings, which is good news for Independent Film Festival Boston, but likely never would be opened as just a public bar. (“I could see us doing something like trivia nights,” Judge said.) The main focus will be booking music acts, something Davis Square has lagged in since the amps went silent at Johnny D’s back in 2016. The space, which was known as the Hobbs Crystal Ballroom back in the day – it’s in the Hobbs Building – will now be the Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theatre. Its capacity will be far greater than the 300-plus that Johnny D’s seated, just short of the 525-person hall The Sinclair offers in Harvard Square. The main downstairs theater, which has a capacity of almost 900, will continue its mixed-use operation as a cinema and live performance venue. The new configuration will have two entrances for each space.

The Somerville Theatre lobby is getting a touchup as well. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Judge, who had been furloughed for a year, will oversee the cinema and the new ballroom, while longtime staffer Peter Mattchen will take on day-to-day general manager duties. The Crystal Ballroom is expected to open in the early fall; opening for the three movie screens should be mid- to late summer with, Judge said, a new ability to show 4K films and a re-honed focus on 70mm exhibition; the Somerville and Coolidge are two of few theaters in the United States equipped to exhibit the classic, grand format. Frame One’s involvement in a plan for two Harvard Square movie houses (replacing a cinema that went dark in 2012) continues, though the project is stalled.