BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 8/31

OSLO, AUGUST 31ST

“A devastating film. Anders moves through the picture like a ghost, while Danielsen Lie’s performance grows increasingly closed off and enigmatic.” – Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian

“The movie captures moments of lyrical beauty. As the final shots mirror the first, you reflect on how life goes on, with and without us.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“You leave the film overwhelmed by the skill behind its craft and simultaneously demolished by its stark, compassionate, yet ultimately hopeless vision of the struggle against the darkness within.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

 

LAWLESS
 
“A strong cast and a fresh spin on the gangster film help overcome a script that occasionally lapses into cliché.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

 

“One of those curious misfires in which a lot of talented people are nowhere near their comfort zones. And I still couldn’t understand a word Tom Hardy said.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“What should be a classic modern-western gets derailed by schizophrenic direction in John Hillcoat’s hilariously uneven depiction of a lawless world.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

“Pearce’s role is a perfect example of the over-the-top theatrical performance that Awards Voters love, because Awards Voters are usually stupid.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“It’s curious, but we now seem to find ourselves waxing nostalgic about times when the people in power were merely corrupt. Nowadays, they’re practically cannibalistic.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“LAWLESS is not going to win any prize for breaking the story mold, but that’s okay because it revisits this well-trod ground enthusiastically.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

 

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL…

“Other than Kevin Smith, is there anyone more toxic to a film than Nia Vardalos? Well, get ready, because first-time feature director Jamie Travis has them both.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“A movie so unfunny it makes SCHINDLER’S LIST look like SUPERBAD. The characters swear and talk about sex like young kids who just discovered both things exist.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“It constantly ducks away from any semblance of adult sexuality, while director Travis indulges in garish colors and giggle fits.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly 

 

 THE BULLET VANISHES

“As far as cheap knock-offs go, it’s a fairly flattering imitation.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

 

 

SLEEPWALK WITH ME

“But you don’t need to spend $11.75 to see an infomercial. It’s under-thought, overdone, and presented without the slightest hint of visual panache. It’s repellent.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

“And while the deadpan delivery of the series of unfortunate events is amusing, it can grow tiring. It’s also easy to feel frustrated with Mike’s character, as the leading man, he doesn’t quite mature from the start of the film.” – Monica Castillo, Paste Magazine

“Nobody bothered to outsize this interior monologue into an actual motion picture. So, from the get-go, it’s like we’re watching some overblown, under-photographed version of a story we’ve already heard.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
 

BOFCA INTERVIEW: 8/30

 

Matt Bondurant’s 2008 bestseller THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD was based on a family legend that his family never told him about. This wild historical novel chronicling Prohibition Era moonshine wars in West Virginia’s Franklin County has just been adapted for the big screen by director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave as LAWLESS, with Shia LeBeouf starring as the author’s grandfather, Jack.

Bondurant sat down a couple of weeks ago with BOFCA members John Black and Sean Burns. Here are some highlights from their conversation:

Q: Loved the book. But it’s billed as “a novel based on a true story.”  So how autobiographical –or I guess maybe just biographical– is it, really?

A: Well, there are several incidents that we know to be historically accurate that the book is sort of framed around. There’s not a lot of evidence what any of these guys were doing on any given day from 1920 to 1935, unless they show up in the newspaper. And that happens when they get shot, so that’s kinda all you have.

 Q: It was such a closed community, and these guys barely talk to each other.

 A: They’re tight-lipped people. We had a vague sense that my grandfather was involved in moonshine growing up, but nobody talked about it. It wasn’t really until about fifteen years ago we found out that he was shot, and that’s when we found the newspaper article. They’re quiet, stoic people. There’s not much of a storytelling urge.

 Q: So after all those years working on this book, what does it feel like handing it over to Nick Cave?

A: It’s very impersonal, the transaction. Your agent calls you from L.A. and etcetera, etcetera. Then you sign contracts and it kinda goes away. It’s happening somewhere else and you don’t think anything of it for a long time. And then when Hillcoat becomes attached, then Nick Cave… like a lot of people, I loved THE ROAD but I wasn’t aware of THE PROPOSITION yet. I was of course aware of Nick Cave as a musician, but not as a screenwriter. It was really cool because from the very beginning I felt like I was in good hands, with Hillcoat and Cave as a team? And Shia LeBeouf was attached, so I thought that was great because he has some weight to pull around and maybe he could make things happen. And he did. He stuck with it. Even after people came on and dropped off, and it went into turnaround and Columbia Pictures dropped it. I don’t understand how this stuff works.

Q: We were going to ask you to explain it!

A: Yeah, I have no idea. There were four or five production companies, and somehow somebody picked it up, but really Tom Hardy started the snowball effect when he signed on. All of the sudden everybody else jumped on there too. I think a lot of people wanted to work with Hillcoat and Cave. I saw a couple of iterations of the script, and I thought it was pretty cool. I don’t have much experience looking at scripts. They’re kind of weird to look at. I’m used to novels so it’s a weird sort of framework of a story and it’s all abbreviated and shortened and it seems strange. But I could tell that he had some good lines in there, and he used a lot of my lines, too – so I was really happy about that!

Q: What did you make of that Guy Pearce performance?

A: It’s pretty wild.  That’s probably the most significant change from the book. Hillcoat explained to me that they wanted to demonstrate the difference between Charlie Rakes and everybody else — bringing in an outsider from Chicago and making him more menacing. Of course, as films do, they amped him up and made him a straight villain. In the book I tried to provide a more complicated picture, that he was a person who was troubled by his own personal demons. But you can’t really do that in the film. They’re already trying to get these three brothers down, so the villain’s just gotta be the villain. It’s a crazy sort of look Guy had going on there, and apparently he came up with a lot of that on his own. Hillcoat told me Pearce just came out of the bathroom one day with this shaved line in his head. The eyebrows were gone and they were like, “Holy shit!”

Q: It looks like he’s doing PINK FLOYD: THE WALL.

A: Oh yeah! It was pretty freaky. He chews up the screen. You can’t take your eyes off him.  It seems like the reactions from audiences – they hate him, they want him dead.

Q: So back to the tight-lipped people, what does your family think of the movie?

A: My Dad’s the only living person who is in the film, and he’s that little boy sitting on Shia’s lap at the end. When I was doing this in D.C. last week he came to the screening and saw the film for the first time, then participated in the Q&A, which was pretty cool.

Q: How’d he like it?

A: My Dad’s eighty years old and hasn’t seen a movie in a theater in thirty years, easy. My Mom said she can’t remember the last time he stayed awake through an entire film. But he stayed awake through this one!

LAWLESS opened yesterday in Boston area cinemas.

 

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 8/24

COSMOPOLIS

“An ice-cold, woozy nightmare of a movie, so dense you can hardly take it all in with just a single viewing.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“It puzzles you while you watch it, comes together when you think about it, and finds itself stuck in your mind days and weeks after you’ve seen it.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

“The way this film moves, like some bizarre ballerina on a stage of surrealism, is so loopy and dreamlike that while its narrative continuity is certainly fractured, the flow never once feels sporadic.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“Cronenberg has a genius for building a sense of momentum, and an atmosphere of mounting anarchy and entropy.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“Well, if it isn’t the most confounding movie of the year. May God grant you mercy if you’re going just for R.Patz.” – Monica Castillo, DigBoston 

 

HIT AND RUN

“It’s hard to decide which was wasted more in making HIT AND RUN: Talent, money or gas. Or maybe it’s the audience’s time.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“Calling this movie HIT AND RUN doesn’t do it justice, if only because it fails to hit anything, and doesn’t even really feel like anyone took much of an aim.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“You’ll be checking your watch over and over wondering how 100 minutes could go by so slowly.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“The best joke here is the idea that people would pay to see this movie.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

“It’s really hard to make car chases boring. Yet somehow Dax Shepard manages to do it.” – Evan Crean, Reel Recon

 

COMPLIANCE

“The storytelling has a welcome lack of convention and pushy emotion, Zobel letting viewers soak in the problems at generally the same pace as the characters.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby

“You can’t help but feel implicated in all the madness. The movie’s brilliance is in just how repellant it is.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

 

PREMIUM RUSH

“Nothing more than a shiftless studio effort. It preaches the value of speed, but never for a moment feels like it’s in a rush.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

“It only makes you wish that the badly filmed and edited near misses Koepp fills the film with weren’t so close after all.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“It puts the pedal to the metal right away, but boy does that metal rust up quickly.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“Some mildly diverting stunt work if you’re interested in such things, and a story in which we have nothing invested in so that its ultimate resolution has no impact.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“The kind of picture that will play like gangbusters on afternoon cable, but feels a bit thin when you’re shelling out upwards of 10 bucks for a night at the movies.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

 

 ROBOT & FRANK

“It’s a brilliant bit of acting that takes a fun little robot movie and raises it to the level of art.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“If this is playing near you, go see ROBOT & FRANK. Easily one of the best science-fiction movies in years.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

 

SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH

“This subject would make for a fine documentary if David Gelb hadn’t already done so in his far more focused and compelling JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix 
 
 
 
THE APPARITION
 
“This might spook some gullible teens and tweens, but it won’t be around for long.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
 
 

BOFCA INTERVIEW: 8/23

Midnight movies are a cinephile tradition that spans decades, and the Coolidge Corner Theatre is keeping it alive here in Boston. Their @fter Midnite series is one of the city’s best cinematic treasures; playing both classic and new-school cult movies (everything from contemporary shockers like BRONSON and OLDBOY to grindhouse classics like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SUSPIRIA) every Friday and Saturday night to rabid, adoring crowds.

The second part of our interview with programmers Jesse Hassinger and Mark Anastasio focuses on their midnight program, their dedication to keeping the midnight presentations exclusively 35mm, the films they have coming up in the next few months, and even their selections for this weekend. You may be skeptical, but trust us: there’s a lot of fun to be had in PSYCHO II.

Jake Mulligan: So there must be movies you guys want to show but can’t, because there aren’t prints available.

Jesse Hassinger: For the midnight stuff, now that there still are prints available, if there’s not a print available [of the specific film they want to play] then we really have to question whether to show it at all. It’s a rare occasion. Like a new-release midnight movie from IFC or Magnet, something like THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, where they’re only making it available on Blu-ray, that is a different story. But talking about [vintage] genre films, that have prints somewhere out there, we will definitely play the print.

Mark Anastasio: BASKET CASE is one of those films that’s on the want list and there’s just no 35mm film available of it. People ask, “are you going to play BASKET CASE?” And it’s like, yeah we would…

JH: And should a Blu-ray of it ever get released, we probably will, but we don’t want to show a DVD…

JM: Right, who wants to come out at midnight and pay for something they can see out home. And I know a little while back you guys did a free showing of WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE after a cancellation, so at least you have an archive to pull things from in worst case scenarios.

MA: We don’t have a ton of films, but the films that we do have, strangely enough, are very rare, and they are 35mm genre films. It’s just like, we would never have an audience for them.

JH: Yeah, that [WOMENS PRISON MASSACRE] was an interesting test in my mind, I always wanted to do more European horror stuff, more European sleaze. Some Jean Rollin films, there’s a great film called POSSESSION that I want to play – it has a beautiful new 35mm print out there, but I don’t know if people would show up to see it – so that was like a test for that. We might try it some more.

JM: I remember when we talked around this time last year you said you wanted to move the midnight’s in a direction of a kind of month-by-month set of repertory series…

MA: Yeah, and we fluctuate. We started off wanting to do monthly themes, and a couple years ago we did theme months, and then we started to feel like we should get away from that. But the one we do every year is the Summer Camp stuff in June. Even though we’re kind of trying to stay away from theme months, we fall into it anyway.

JH: With August we have the “Terror-ble 2’s”….

MA: We’ve got PSYCHO II! It’s a series of worthwhile sequels. You see the title, and your first inkling is “well that must suck.” But they don’t!

JM: How is PSYCHO II?

MA: PSYCHO II is incredibly worthwhile. I mean, think, someone had the balls to do PSYCHO II. Someone said, “yeah, I’ll do a sequel to one of Hitchcock’s classic films.” And they got Anthony Perkins, and the woman in it is a total babe, and it actually gets you believing in Norman as like, a hero! I don’t want to give anything away, you know, but you watch the whole movie thinking “Who the hell is trying to fuck up Norman Bates’ parole? Someone is really trying to make it look like he’s an asshole again! Poor Norman!”

JM: That’s a pretty awesome set-up, actually.

MA: Yeah, it’s great. He’s playing a short-order cook, and freaking out about things. “I just saw my dead mother!” And they still don’t think he did it! That one is fun. You’ve got to come to that one. But jumping back, yeah, we really haven’t tried a lot of the more traditionally grindhouse type stuff.

JM: Well the Halloween marathon always gives you a chance for that. Last year we got SUSPIRIA, DEMONS 2….

JH: That’s a time of year where we can have fun, and with some of the secret titles we can show things we wouldn’t ordinarily show by itself. We have a captive audience. And maybe they haven’t heard of it, but, say, two years ago we ran DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE [as one of the secret Halloween titles,] and I think 2 people would come out if we ran that individually over a weekend.

MA: It’s MANIAC with a flamethrower. And sleazier. It’s been two years since we played MANIAC, can we do that again?

JH: Next year. 

The Coolidge @fter Midnight series programs classic and contemporary cult films every Friday and Saturday night. PSYCHO II and Nicolas Winding Refn’s BRONSON play this weekend, 8/24 and 8/25, at 12:00 midnight. The Coolidge Corner Theatre is located at 290 Harvard St, Brookline, MA, 02446.

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 8/17

PARANORMAN

“I think this might actually be my favorite movie I have seen this year.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

“Any misgivings about the plot are eased by the handcrafted visuals. Catch it in 3D if you can.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“It’s sort of like what THE GOONIES might’ve been, had THE GOONIES been beautifully animated and not terrible.” – Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian

“Funny, engaging, and creatively animated. This is one you might enjoy even without any kids in tow.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“It’s very funny, the pacing is good. I really don’t know where to fault it.” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast
 
“Perfect for the family – perfect for anyone, really – it’s a spooky, fun, lucid dream that I cannot wait to visit again.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune
 

 

THE EXPENDABLES 2

“A lot of us were looking forward to seeing this movie, but they made the excecutive decison not to show it to critics in Boston. From what I’ve heard, it was shown in other cities. Can’t say why?” – Monica Castillo, The Post-Movie Podcast 

“This one’s still a B-movie, but it doesn’t have the same anarchic spirit. You can only trade your wares on a novelty premise for so long.” – Jake Mulligan, The Suffolk Voice

“Of course it’s garbage. But this is my favorite kind of garbage.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“This boring, bloated waste of celluloid hit theatres with all the excitement of a rotten gourd hitting a brick wall.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist

 

SPARKLE

“The thinly drawn characterizations feel better suited for a juicy TV movie than a big feature film.” – Norm Schrager, Paste Magazine

“Not a remarkable film, but it is highly entertaining fluff and mild melodrama bolstered by some great nostalgic music and style of the late 60′s.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Movie Examiner

“It’s a vehicle rather than a statement, providing a fitting eulogy for Houston and a solid launching pad for Sparks.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“The melodramatic turns stray into camp, and newcomer Jordin Sparks doesn’t have the finesse to avoid it. Nor does the sloppy camerawork, stilted acting, and bad lip-syncing help the cause.” – Monica Castillo, The Boston Phoenix

 

 
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

“While the story leads to unexpected places, there’s a heavy dose of gender cliché that clings to the movie like a push-up bra.”  – Kilian Melloy, EDGE Boston

“With such erratic construction, the scant 91-minute runtime feels like it goes on forever.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix

“Because we see so many romantic comedies, we project what we think is going to happen. And it never followed that route. I’d think it was going to go right and it would go left.” – John Black, The Post-Movie Podcast

 

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN

 ”If you relax and take the ride, you’ll walk away believing something special happened.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“A very odd film indeed… a fantasy that can touch your heart if you let it.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“If you allow yourself to simply give in to the sweetness of the story, you’ll end with a smile on your face and a warm feeling.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Movie Examiner

 

2 DAYS IN NEW YORK

“Delpy aims low and consistently hits the target. It’s broad, silly, but with a crucial touch of messy humanity.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly