It’s a celebrity thing this weekend at Film Center

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Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer star in "Danny Collins." — Photo courtesy rottentomatoes.co

Danny Collins, which played for one night last month at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center as part of the New York Film Critics Series, returns this weekend. Al Pacino stars as the has-been singer who gets a new lease on life thanks to a letter from John Lennon that he receives 40 years after it was mailed. Playing next week in honor of the late author and politician Jonathan Revere, whose birthdate is April 15, is Man from Reno, a neo-noir, biracial film about a Japanese crime novelist on the lam from her promotional tour.

Currently, a popular theme in Hollywood seems to be investigations into the underside of fame. Jeff Bridges played a down-and-out country-western singer in Crazy Heart (2009), and the Coen brothers directed Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, a tale about the folk scene of the early ’60s in Greenwich Village. Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance — a multiple Oscar winner this year — stars Michael Keaton as a superhero film star trying for a more serious comeback on Broadway.

Danny Collins — which was not available for review — provides Mr. Pacino’s Danny with the support of a star-studded cast, including Christopher Plummer as the singer’s agent; Annette Bening as Mary, hotel manager and would-be amour; Bobby Cannavale as Tom, Danny’s estranged son from a long-ago liaison with a groupie; and Jennifer Garner as Tom’s wife Samantha. Once Danny receives the belated fan letter from Lennon, he decides to turn over a new leaf, limit his drug and alcohol use, and write new material instead relying on his repertoire of past hits. He also tries to reconnect with his out-of-wedlock son Tom. Dan Fogelman, screenwriter for the Steve Carell vehicle Crazy, Stupid, Love, and for Tangled, the animated retelling of the fairytale “Rapunzel,” wrote the script for Danny Collins. It is his debut as a director.

Dave Boyle directed and co-wrote Man from Reno with Joel Clark. Mr. Boyle has built a track record of films about Asians in America, after spending time in Australia as a Mormon missionary who hung out with Japanese surfers. In Man from Reno he changes up the usually lone male protagonist by pairing San Marco County sheriff Paul Del Moral, played by veteran character actor Pepe Serna, with Aki, a Japanese detective author played by Steven Seagal’s daughter Ayako Fujitani.

The film opens with Paul driving through a practically impenetrable fog south of the city, one of the first cues to the audience that the director will handle neo-noir conventions with a bit of tongue in cheek. After the sheriff hits the putative owner of an abandoned vehicle, the twists and turns of the narrative threads take over. A depressive who is not dealing well with her growing celebrity, Aki goes AWOL from her book tour and lands in a San Francisco boutique hotel. The viewer meets Aki as she is interviewed about her new book, Inspector Takabe. Before long, she has a one-night stand with a handsome Asian who identifies himself as Akira Suzuki. Like the sheriff’s last name, Akira’s is a pun intended. After his tryst with Aki, Akira heads out for a cigarette and doesn’t come back, so Aki dons her detective hat to hunt for him. As is so often the case in the noir genre, nobody turns out to be whom they appear to be. Although the meandering plotline grows more than a little attenuated, strong acting by Mr. Serna and Ms. Fujitani, and handsome cinematography by Richard Wong, keep Man from Reno enjoyably on track. Music and refreshments are planned before the screening.

Danny Collins, Friday, April 10, and Saturday, April 11, 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 12, 4 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center; Saturday April 11, 12:45 and 4 pm; Sunday April 12, 12:45 and 7 pm; Monday April 13, 4 and 7 pm; and Tuesday April 14, 1, 4 and 7 pm at Entertainment Cinemas.

Man from Reno, Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.