BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 6/29

TED

“To my very pleasant surprise, there’s actually something (ok, not that much) going on under the surface here.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

“While that subtext is there, it’s wrapped with a hilarious collection of jokes ranging from the witty to the tasteless.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“Sometimes funny is just funny.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

“Hilarious. It has something to say about growing up and says it well.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“I had a great time until it decided to try and have a plot.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

 

MAGIC MIKE

“All kidding aside, this movie is unbelievably awesome.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“A near-miss, with a few good performances and enough power to hold your interest for a while before finally running out of steam.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“Soderbergh is talking about himself, our culture, the economy, and there’s an undercurrent of darkness within all three. He’s hidden a lot inside a flimsy-looking G-string.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

 

PEOPLE LIKE US

“All of this could have been resolved with a simple fucking conversation.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“These people are not like us, and frankly, I don’t really like them that much either.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“The film’s leads lack the star power to sell this material and make us care in spite of the story.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“Yuck.” – Monica Castillo, DigBoston

 

MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION

“It’s a feeble vehicle for Perry’s ever-diminishing antics. In short, a real drag.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

 

BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 6/27

It always surprises me when I can get away with making a Chaplin reference to friends or when I see them dressed as his Tramp character for Halloween. More often than not, my friends haven’t seen his films, but they know of him- the mustache, his duck walk, complete with bamboo cane and bowler hat. I’m lucky if any of them (outside of the film buff bubble) have seen him in any of his short films either.

If you fall into the category of “never seen a Chaplin film,” then consider tonight your night to trek out to the Brattle Theatre and catch one of his best.

THE GOLD RUSH follows Chaplin’s iconic Tramp character to the heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. He’ll find competitive prospectors and perhaps a love interest, but first the Tramp will have to survive the treacherous snow storms and hunger pains in order to strike gold. It paints a pretty bleak picture of this chapter in our nation’s history, but in true Chaplin style, he takes in suffering with plenty of humor.

We don’t weep for him in THE GOLD RUSH in the same way we might for the THE KID or THE CIRCUS. Neither does this love story feel as deep as the ones in CITY LIGHTS or MODERN TIMES. And the political messages often seen in various other films are not as apparent in THE GOLD RUSH. The government is mostly absent in the frozen wilderness, so the strife the Tramp runs into comes mostly from the weather and the tough crowd that set up the mining town.

Chaplin’s creative gags set this film apart from others in his canon. Although a few of the jokes have not aged as well (for example, the chicken suit dream sequence), there are several memorable ones that can be found in recent movies. For instance, the famous dancing bread sequence Chaplin does at a dinner party to entertain his guests was redone by Johnny Depp for the movie BENNY AND JOON and by Amy Adams in last year’s THE MUPPETS.

Chaplin stuck gold with THE GOLD RUSH: it became the highest grossing comedy of the silent era. He claimed it as the film he wanted to be most remembered for. It’s a movie that for many people may seem oddly familiar: its images have been reprinted in movie and history books for decades. But for the chance to see it newly restored on the big screen? To me, that’s well worth the rush. - Monica Castillo

THE GOLD RUSH screens tonight, 6/27, at 8:00 PM. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA. 02138

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 6/22

BRAVE

“If you think you’ve heard it all before or imagine you know how the story will proceed, then get ready to be thrilled.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“I am so philosophically drained about this movie.” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast

“It is something which will captivate both parents and children because the emotions expressed are real even if the magical transformations are not.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“In the realm of Pixar works it’s blatantly average. But in the realm of most movies, an average Pixar film is actually a pretty good one.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“A joy to behold in it’s amazingly detailed visual beauty.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Movie Examiner

“The result is a movie that takes much, much too long to get where it’s going and more problematically skewers its own attempt at a message.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

“Stay strong and don’t let them change you. It’s not a bad message to hear at 8 or 28.” – Monica Castillo, La Vida De Mcastimovies

“In the end it feels more like TANGLED than anything else, right down to the vague adjective titling.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

“Merely good. But after the successive triumphs of the past decade, it’s hard to accept anything less than transcendence from the animation studio.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
 
 

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

“There’s an entire world out there that’s just about to end, and this movie zooms in on the two least interesting people in it.” - Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian

“Cynics need not apply.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“Another hackneyed romantic comedy where it’s difficult to get too annoyed at the characters once you realize an asteroid is going to take care of them for you before the film is over.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“The apocalypse has never been more hilarious or beautifully tragic.” – Evan Crean, Starpulse

“The contradictory genre efforts would be incredibly interesting if it weren’t so intolerable spending time with these people.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

“When elements like character and story rear their heads, the film is as wooden as a set of 19th-century false teeth.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby

“If vampires in the South seem odd, think about it: doesn’t that explain Newt Gingrich?” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“The fact that nobody ever seems to acknowledge that the whole enterprise is a joke makes it even funnier.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

 

YOUR SISTER’S SISTER

“I’m sorry, but am I really supposed to believe that Mark Duplass is the stud of my generation?” - Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice 

 

FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS

“The footage that Burnat has captured is astounding and courageous. He’s doing what the news won’t — showing someone die for a cause, unarmed and vocal to his last breath.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby

 

 

BOFCA INTERVIEW: 6/21

Screenwriter Lorene Scafaria has toiled in the Hollywood trenches for over a decade, penning eight screenplays before her ninth (a lovely adaptation of NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST) was finally produced in 2008. Her directorial debut SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD takes an even more sideways glance at romantic comedy tropes. Starring Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley, the movie daringly tackles conventional genre expectations while a giant asteroid just so happens to be hurtling towards Earth.

Scafaria recently sat down with Boston Online Film Critics Association members Monica Castillo, Sean Burns, Jake Mulligan and Greg Vellante.  Here are some highlights from their conversation:

Q: Is it hard trying to end the world on such a small budget?

A:  For sure! When writing it I wanted the scope to stay pretty small, and I never wanted to see the asteroid or the sky or anything like that. At the time I was also thinking:  you can make a movie for what they give you. I just had to sort it out.

Q: So after MELANCHOLIA, TAKE SHELTER and 4:44: LAST DAY ON EARTH, the world seems to be ending in an awful lot of movies lately…

A: Yeah, there have been a lot of end-of-the-world films.  But I saw it more as a backdrop for a romantic comedy… or at least as a relationship movie.  I remember so many from the late 90’s, when like DEEP IMPACT and ARMAGEDDON came out at the exact same time. The one thing in DEEP IMPACT that got me was Tea Leoni and her father standing on the beach when the big wave is coming, and I cared about them.  I cared about this relationship that was happening. And those movies continued to come out, but during THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW I cared more about Jake Gyellenhaall having a crush on a girl more than his father in the tundra. So I really wanted to explore more what people’s behavior would be like, and how that would be changed.

I moved from New York to LA a week before 9/11. So I was stranded out there knowing nobody and desperate for human contact. I found myself calling up old friends I hadn’t talked to in a long time. It was that feeling of this cataclysmic event, and it changes your own individual behavior and your relationships with people. New York was actually a really friendly place for a while afterwards.  It didn’t last!  But for a little while it felt like a community again. People were looking each other in the eyes. Everybody was equalized by this horrible thing, and we were all in the same boat.  Or the same sinking ship?  Still, there’s something beautiful about humanity coming together like that.

Q: When you were writing was it always Steve Carell in your head? He’s kind of got a monopoly right now on the melancholic goofy guy.

A: There aren’t many comedic actors who can garner that much sympathy. There’s something about Steve that is tragic. On THE OFFICE Michael Scott is this amazing anti-hero who goes from zero to sixty, and yet you can see this pain behind his smile. When I write I never really picture any actor until after the fact, but this character I had always been trying to get out there felt so much like Steve.  I had been wanting to work with him for a really long time, I just never imagined we’d get him.

Q: You’re right. Everyone else now seems to be busy playing stunted man-children.

A: They really are! There are many great comedians, but only so many guys who can fill out a suit. He really is a particular person, and I do think of him as like Jack Lemmon or Peter Sellers – those old comedians who did so much with a look or a word. I suppose he’s been playing a sad-sack for a while, but this character felt more guarded and more internal, so I was happy to see him push that even further. With Steve, I root for his happiness.  And who do you want to see face the end of the world? You want somebody that you want to be happy.

Q: You want him to be happy, but you still killed him?

A: Yeah, I still killed him. The end had to be.

 

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD opens Friday, 6/22 at Boston Common, Fenway and in the suburbs.

 

BOFCA REPERTORY PICK: 6/19

Whether it be a student with an essay assignment, a screenwriter, an author, or a film critic trying to throw together 500 words by deadline on the latest summer dud—writer’s block is a familiar sensation for most of us. Some of us pace. Some of us procrastinate. Some of us sit in front of our computers or typewriters and rip our hair out from the roots.
 
Charlie Kaufman did all of this. And then, he made a movie about it.
 
ADAPTATION, which plays tonight at the Brattle as part of their phenomenal ‘Nicolas Cage: Greatest American Actor’ repertory series, is an ingenious film that stirs, teases, and explores the elements of creative development and human candidness via Kaufman boldly/neurotically placing himself into what began as an adaptation of Susan Orlean’s novel, “The Orchid Thief.”
 
This was back in the early-to-mid 90s, back when Kaufman was tapped to adapt the novel with Jonathan Demme on board to direct. But as Kaufman spiraled into a serious case of writer’s block, he found “The Orchid Thief” impossible to turn into an adapted narrative screenplay.
 
So he eventually wrote a film about his troubles. ADAPTATION has a grand, immersive quality to it, filled with actual quirkiness (before JUNO came around and ruined that word for everyone). Getting lost in these characters’ minds is something that Kaufman masters effortlessly in his script, and director Spike Jonze brings this scrutiny to the screen with an absolute craft for visual emotion.
 
And it all comes to life through a collection of brilliant performances—topped, of course, by Cage, who offers two performances for the price of one ticket with this particular film.
Playing both Kaufman and Kaufman’s fictional twin brother Donald, Nicholas Cage has the ability to bounce back and forth with Nicholas Cage while also lending individual gravities to each of these characters—with all their respective idiosyncrasies and psychological hiccups. It is arguably one of the best performances of his career.
 
The character of Donald, I suspect, is mainly a personification of everything Charlie Kaufman loathes about formula, Hollywood screenwriting. Charlie is shown in the movie speaking into tape recorders and fixatedly pacing around his room, while Donald attends screenwriting seminars held by Robert McKee (played by Brian Cox) and gets signed for his spec script for a hackneyed psychological thriller called “THE 3”
 
Kaufman throws these countless fictional plot points in with true stories and real characters. Donald isn’t real, but “The Orchid Thief” author Susan Orlean is—played here in a great performance by Meryl Streep. Kaufman layers his own troubles with adaptation and mirrors it with a fictional subplot involving Orlean’s relationship with John Laroche, the subject of her book and a character played with infectious tenacity by Chris Cooper.
 
Adaptation, relationships, the creative process but more importantly the human process—Kaufman has mastered the emotional and intellectual properties of his little meta-fueled mind to craft a truly individual screenplay with ADAPTATION which he humorously submitted officially as being penned by himself and his fictional brother.
 
Needless to say, ADAPTATION just might be the most daring, entertaining, and cerebrally unmatched thing to ever result from a case of writer’s block. - Greg Vellante and Donald Vellante
 
ADAPTATION screens tonight, 6/19, at 4:30, 7:00 and 9:30 PM. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA. 02138