BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 9/28

LOOPER

“A neat little movie that leaves you with the nagging feeling it could have been so much more.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
“I’m convinced Rian Johnson has a great film in him somewhere. This just isn’t it.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston
 
“It feels like Johnson painted himself into a corner with his time travel story and retrofitted it with this additional gimmick to get himself out.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
“Big, bold, brainy, and ultimately brilliant, this movie doesn’t just have heart. It has soul.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune
 
“Minor annoyances aside, LOOPER is compelling character piece that begs for more viewings.” – Evan Crean, Starpulse
 
“Thoroughly entertaining and shocking. A couple moments visually, I was like: I’ve never seen that before. Fucked-up and cool.” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast
 

 

WON’T BACK DOWN

“This is one of those feel-good movies that doesn’t necessarily feel good so much as contrived. Like a jigsaw puzzle with jumbo pieces, its every element feels exaggerated and obvious.” – Kilian Melloy, EDGE Boston

“A pernicious utopian fantasy where no child gets left behind, just so long as we finally free ourselves from the shackles of organized labor. Hey, it worked out great for the NFL.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“The movie preaches about ‘hope’ and ‘yes we can.’ But a slightly different buzzword comes to my mind: bullshit.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix 
 

 

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

“A funny and delightful horror spoof. This may be the surprise of the season.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“It’s not awful. It’s just terribly pleasant, that’s all.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“A mess. Bascially something to keep your kids entertained for
eighty-something mintues.” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast

 

BACKWARDS

“In this romantic drama, sweet and innocent equals plain and predictable. It’s all as expected as a Sylvester Stallone training sequence in any ROCKY film whose title ends in a number.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby

“A master class in lazy writing.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix

 

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

“This sweet coming-of-age story is populated by actors who are slightly older than the characters they’re playing, but that shouldn’t distract you from a universal tale of growing up as an outsider.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
“You may laugh. You may shed a tear. You will likely see some part of your life reflected on screen. It is the best film about high school in years.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
“It’s a film that makes you feel warm, especially for those who are wallflowers themselves.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune
 
 
 
 
DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL
 
“It may be enough for people who have already drunk the Kool-Aid and worship at the altar of Diana Vreeland, but it leaves anybody looking for a balanced portrait out in the cold.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide
 
“Judging from the yarns she spins, that hothouse was a sinfully good place to be a fly on the wall.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 

 

SOLOMON KANE

“There’s a lot of generic swordplay, some better than generic special effects and some worse than generic dialogue.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“Writer-director Michael J. Bassett stages the carnage under so much rain-soaked filth, you can almost smell the stench. It’s a good stench.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

 

VULGARIA

“This limp look inside the life of a fifth-rate film producer jumps on the bandwagon of HANGOVER-inspired hijinks. Only it fails to produce any humor.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
 
 
PITCH PERFECT
 
“The experience most resembles a simultaneous stabbing of the eyeballs with an icepick to the ears.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune
 
“Jason Moore’s musical doesn’t hit all the high notes, but guilty pleasures are seldom perfect.” – Monica Castillo, The Boston Phoenix
 
“This high energy mess of a movie makes up for what it lacks in basic competence with goofball exuberance. It’s a slovenly lark, but a spirited one.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly 
 
“In terms of characters, pacing, writing, and sheer wit, this is one of the funniest films of the season.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
 
 

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 9/21

DREDD

“I am kind of at a loss for words at the moment. This is really impressive filmmaking.” – Steve Head, The Post-Movie Podcast

“The gushing blood and continuous violence get to be too much. Everything’s so amped up that the individual moments fail to register.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

“It’s a good deal wittier than expected from a movie that consists mostly of people getting shot in the face.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“Mildly rattled me with visceral gruesomeness, and yet had me giggling in delight at the audacity of its superb presentation.” – Tim Estlioz, Boston Movie Examiner

“Erase your memories of Sly’s bomb with this, director Pete Travis and writer/producer Alex Garland’s lean reboot.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“DREDD has all the hard-hitting violence an action movie fan could ever want, and because it’s rated R, it’s not afraid it rub your nose in it.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“This is one of the most violent movies released this year. Consider that less a criticism than a warning. This is not for the squeamish.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, The Sci-Fi Movie Page

“A slam-bang joyride with a grim canvas — a darkness interrupted by vibrantly violent bursts of red.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“The extreme violence and satire are very much an amusing throwback to films of the late 80s/early 90s such as THE RUNNING MAN, ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL.” – Evan Crean, Reel Recon

 

END OF WATCH

“Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña aren’t exactly corrupt cops in this self-important police drama. They’re just fascistic assholes.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix
 
“This whole point-of-view, hand-held shaky camera crap has got to stop.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide
 
“Trying to follow the action made me so nauseous, I had to take a break halfway through and go walk around the lobby for a few minutes to keep from throwing up.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
“It’s nothing we haven’t seen in countless other cop shows and movies, but the Anglo/Hispanic rapport here seems fresh because of the enthusiasm the two actors bring to their roles.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
“Ayer’s gut wrenching flick is so emotionally charged, it makes his previous police film TRAINING DAY seem wimpy.” – Evan Crean, Reel Recon
 
“A gratuitous migraine of narrative voids.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune
 
 
 
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
 
“Clint Eastwood’s most embarrassing public moment might have been his infamous speech to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. Up until now, that is.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide
 
“The star power helps the charm outweigh the schmaltz.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix
 
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE doesn’t just remind you what a great screen presence Clint Eastwood is; it makes you appreciate him even more as a director because Lorenz does such a terrible job.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
“If the plot points are a bit too neat, the emotional truths are not.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
“His acting style consists mainly of grunts and curse words, and every little sound or swear that comes through his mouth is a small stroke of grumpy geezer genius.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

 

 
THE MASTER
 
“A miserable film about miserable people, and sitting through it for 137 minutes is a miserable experience.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide
 
“If Anderson can ever figure out how to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, cutting out long scenes that go nowhere, he might make a really great film.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net
 
“The actors are all pretty excellent but the mercurial Phoenix is a surprising standout. He makes Quell into a fascinating human freakshow, alternately frightening or pathetic.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist
 
“Confounding and troubling. This is an ambivalent picture, one that remains stubbornly unresolved. It’s a singular vision, and the movie haunts.” – Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian
 
 
 
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
 
“‘I think this place is gonna be good for us,’ Sarah says to Elissa. Nope… not for any of us.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix 
 
 
 
 
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
 
“The many pieces never coalesce into a satisfying whole, yet the indelible images make up for the lack of harmony.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix
 

 

LIBERAL ARTS

“This is a little more than an affable, self-absorbed fable for Generation Y as it pauses on the threshold of middle age.” – Kilian Melloy, EDGE Boston

“Radnor steals a lot from Woody Allen, particularly MANHATTAN. If only he could replicate the wit.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix

 

KNUCKLEBALL!

“Less a film about baseball itself, and more a film about two men who struggled with rejection, self-doubt and ultimate triumph against odds.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Movie Examiner

 

10 YEARS

“Jamie Linden’s directorial debut proves what we long suspected: all movies could use a little more Channing Tatum.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

 

THE AMBASSADOR

“Taken as satire, this isn’t particularly funny.  But then, the corruption he’s exposing is anything but a joke.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

 

 
FOR ELLEN
 
“Shaylena Mandingo’s so good, it’s a shame that Paul Dano is his typically mannered self.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
 

BOFCA INTERVIEW: 9/20

After the critical success of the animated movie PERSEPOLIS, directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi decided to adapt their next book, CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, in a completely different direction: with live actors. There’s plenty of whimsy and clever storytelling throughout the film, but the theme of the movie is that of losing something that was deeply loved. Think of it as a live-action PERSEPOLIS for grownups, transplanted to 1950s Iran.

The two directors sat down with BOFCA member Monica Castillo to discuss cultural common ground, breaking out of animation, and problems of adapting their books.

Q: How did you decide on your style for CHICKEN WITH PLUMS? You do a very interesting mix of paintings in the background with live action in the foreground with multiple layered effects. How did you plan on using such a wide variety of techniques?

MS: Well, if you have a story that you really want to talk about, and if when you go to pitch your story about a depressed man who decides to die and eight days later he dies, it would seem like the most boring story in the world. It’s really not that exciting. So how do we make that exciting? Not only from the narration but also from the visual style. And there’s something realistic about how we remember things: it’s not always chronological and not all memories appear the same way. Some of them appear full of color and detail; others are completely blank or grey. We wanted to create that and make it exciting visually and narratively, but then how we worked it in was just the result of a lot of work. Cinema is a domain is where we don’t have to limit our imagination, so why should we? But then the big challenge is to make it not look like patchwork. So we should be able to go from one style to the next, and it should feel smooth. So we worked with our cinematographers, set designers, and costume designers to make sure we were all together to make it all one entity.

Q: So speaking about death and to a figure of death is a big part of the movie.

MS: Well of course, we all will speak to death at one point or another. I mean, we live in a society that favors the young, then we get botox to look young, and then we disappear. The reality is that you are young, you are less young, then you are old, and then you die. We are all going to meet death. The fact that we wanted an angel of death that would not be an old man or a skull, we wanted him to have a certain look but could look like a neighbor that would come and visit you.

Q: With PERSEPOLIS, it feels like there’s a bit more of a culture clash: the new school against the old school. CHICKEN AND PLUMS felt a tad more universal in that the main theme seemed to be about loss. Was there a reason behind the jump to explore that in the new character of Nasser?

VP: The reason why we made PERSEPOLIS as an animated movie was to make it universal. We were against a cultural clash, because it does not exist in reality. Cultures are too influenced by each other to really be different. We wanted to explore that in PERSEPOLIS, and we did. By making the whole movie out of drawings, we could get away with an abstract story. But CHICKEN WITH PLUMS is a love story, and that is universal anywhere, so we could just go for it.

Q: So there’s another story coming next in the series, THE ELEVENTH LAUREATE…

MS: Yes, but it is not a book.

Q: No book this time?

MS: No, because I am sick of the word adaptation. It is very boring. Economically, it is very interesting, but in reality, you have to think about the story in one way and then you have to think about the story cinematically, which is not the same at all. So it is intellectually and artistically not very interesting at all. This next one is going to be a script, not a book. Either I will make a book or make a film, but I won’t make a book to make a film anymore. It’s very boring. Why do that?

Q: How long did you work on CHICKEN WITH PLUMS?

VP: Two years and then another year after shooting. We thought, very naïvely, that after PERSEPOLIS’ Oscar nomination that people would give us money for our next film. But that does not work in the real world, when you make an animated film and don’t want to do another animated film. We had lots of time to prepare the movie.

Q: So this was your first time working with actors. How did that affect your directing?

VP: We had a wish list of our favorite choices and basically, we were lucky that almost all of them said yes. But this is one of the major differences with actors: they’ll put themselves in the story and these are things we can’t control. Our actors are very talented, so they pushed the story further. Even as a director, you become a viewer. You’re watching them react to things in the story and sometimes it was something you were not expecting.

Q: Any specific examples?

MS: Oh, it happened all the time. For example Maria de Medeiros, who plays Nassar’s wife, we had a small range of emotions for her: just nasty and bitchy. But then we understand her reasons and we feel compassion for her. She made her character sympathetic like that; because we just thought she would be bad. And then you feel really sorry for her, you feel like protecting her, you fall in love with her. That was not in the script at all.

Q: Have you returned to Iran since the success of PERSEPOLIS?

MS: I haven’t gone back in thirteen years. I have no reason to go back now. If I go, I cannot leave. I like my freedom too much.

CHICKEN WITH PLUMS opens Friday, September 21st.

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 9/14

ARBITRAGE

Watching that facade crack, and watching a good actor at the top of his game portray a man losing everything is absolutely fascinating.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“Isn’t it compelling enough to watch Gere engineer a high-stakes fraud without a dated melodrama hogging all the foreground?” – Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian

“The weird murder mystery is a bit much. I’d rather just stick to the numbers and personal drama for once, which is probably the first time I’ve ever written such a statement.” – Monica Castillo, DigBoston

 

FINDING NEMO 3D

“The compositions still exhilarate, and the smooth ocean renderings still amaze. It’s all just a little bit dimmer.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

 

LITTLE WHITE LIES

“And then there’s the films debilitating length, which is never – not even for a stretch – earned by the content.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

 

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

“An extended, mostly slow-motion gun battle that serves solely as a set-up for, yes, another sequel. Now that’s evil.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
“You either enjoy an hour and a half of buff female and male characters in tight, form-fitting outfits shooting at zombies and each other, or you don’t.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, The Sci-Fi Movie Page
 
“I have very low expectations with a movie like this. I just want to be entertained and stare at Milla Jovovich. And I did.” – John Black, The Post-Movie Podcast
 
“Look, it’s September. Let’s just try and ride this crappy season out until the good stuff starts to hit in a week or two.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist
 
 

BOFCA REVIEW ROUNDUP: 9/7

BACHELORETTE

“An invigorating shock – a comedic gut punch that reminds you that movies can be uproarious without needing to be lazily constructed.” – Jake Mulligan, EDGE Boston

“It’s chock-full of drug use, casual sex and some astonishingly inventive flights of profanity. I laughed myself sick.” – Sean Burns, The Improper Bostonian

“This movie’s got a bitter soul that’s ready to go, and has about as much heart as a freezer filled with ice and cyanide.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“Making the audience sit through almost two hours of harpy-level screeching to get to the point is unforgivable.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

 

THE WORDS

“It’s not that this is a bad movie, necessarily; it’s just hard to know what to make of it.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“Simply a mishmash of narratives never fully realized or fleshed out.” – Tim Estiloz, Boston Movie Examiner

“The elements seem to be there to tell an interesting story, but the way they are presented is the problem.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“A compelling drama that may not have a lot of things to say, but it is certainly about the way we say things.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“More so than some movies, this is one that turns on how you relate to the players.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, NorthShoreMovies.net

“If you’re an introspective person, you’ll appreciate what THE WORDS has to say, even if you feel a bit downtrodden after watching.” - Evan Crean, StarPulse

 

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY

“Sigourney Weaver is the only one having any fun. That includes the audience.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix
 
“More sooner than later, the rest of his family is taken hostage, and Willis exits the picture on the lookout for the nearest check-cashing place.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
 
 
 
BRANDED
 
“Borderline offensive and overly dense, the movie is unsure of what it wants to be: a sci-fi thriller or a socialist parable.” – Monica Castillo, The Boston Phoenix
 
“If you want to understand what ‘pretentious’ means, you’ve got to check out BRANDED. Or rather, don’t.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist