Tag Archives: Boston

Boston Film Events-Summer ’10

3 Jul

Movies on the Lawn-available here too!

I’m doing this officially as a post, but also as a FYI to those not acquainted to my newly christened “Boston Movie Circuit.”

Basically, we go out, we see movies, we have a good old time. It’s just that simple.

I’ve (slightly) painstakingly put together a listing of movie venues and events from around the Boston area for people to enjoy. This includes free or discounted movies, special events such as director visits and marathons, and film-related events such as Film Night at Tanglewood.

So please, read and enjoy your summer in the city.

You can sign up on Facebook for the latest updates and get togethers here.

~Coolidge Corner Theater~

-Roxbury Film Fest (next Thurs)
-Mad Max (midnight movie, either 9/10)
-Raiders of the Lost Ark (July 12th-you don’t want to missss!!!)
-The Big Lebowski (Aug 16th)

~Brattle Theater~
-FREE-Elements of Cinema: Double Feature!
Beauty and the Beast(Sat 7/10 at 11:00 AM)
Orpheus(Sat 7/10 at 1:00 PM)
-The Hospital, with Director Fredrick Wiseman in person! (July 19)
-Back to Back to Back to the Future Marathon (July 25)
-Return of “Metropolis”: (Aug 6-9)

Series (many awesome movies):
-Best of the Oughts
-100 years of the Noir

Check out the documentary series:
http://thedocyard.com/

~MIT LSC~ALL MOVIES ARE FRRREEEEE~
-Kick Ass (July 9/10)
-Jaws (July 23/24)
-Green Zone (Aug 6/7)
-Date Night (Aug 20/21)

~MFA~
July-French Film Festival

~FREE Movies at the Hatch Shell~
starts at 8pm!
7/9 “The Wizard of Oz”
7/16 “Star Trek”
7/23 “Where the Wild Things Are”
7/30 “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs”
8/6 “Monsters vs. Aliens”
8/13 “How to Train Your Dragon”
8/20 “The Princess & The Frog”
8/27 “Up”

~FREE Movies in the Moonlight~
starts at dusk at the Boston Harbor Hotel!
July 9: “The Maltese Falcon”
July 16: “Field of Dreams”
July 23: “An Affair to Remember”
July 30: “Some Like It Hot”
Aug. 6: “All About Eve”
Aug. 13: “Tootsie”
Aug. 20: “All the President’s Men”
Aug. 27: “The Adventures of Robin Hood”
Sept. 3: “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

~Free films at the BPL~

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Movie Review:”Network” at the Museum of Fine Arts

5 Jun

Peter Finch in his Oscar-winning role as deranged journalist Howard Beale in "Network"

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,

‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

I can’t even begin to tell you how eerily these words resonated with modern times; you already know. For some mysterious reason, the film “Network” taps into every fear and suspicious we have about our agenda-driven media, the companies running the country into the ground, and the increased callousness of our fellow mankind.

And then exploits the hell out of it.

Exploitation is the driving evil of this film. A poorly performing news network decides to can its anchor after 25 years. The anchor, reacts appropriately to losing his job: he announces on his last week of broadcast that he will be committing suicide by next week, while on the air. The media blitzkrieg that follows forces the hands of the network to fire him on the spot. But the increased viewership of the show lures the corporation that owns the news network to give him back his job. The increased scrutiny and the madness that surrounds the anchor forces him to a nervous breakdown and one of the greatest rants of cinema history. Viewership skyrockets, and a young programmer for the station gets involved in order to turn the news hour to the media circus that viewers want (complete with a psychic). The network profits off the poor anchor’s demise, firing or rehiring him at any turn of ratings.

You'll never see the news the same way again.

Madness is a great way to describe this movie. Incredibly well written, well acted, and well shot, “Network” earns every Oscar it won back in1977. I would describe it as a cynical satire, as the network seems to have no human decency to what it decides to air. At one point, a weekly series is proposed to cover the violence of terrorists committing acts to further their cause. The network asks them to film it as propaganda for their cause. “Must-see TV” is a mantra to many of the characters you come to fear the most. In a robotic way, they seek for whatever will gain viewership the fastest. The network is just the mechanical extension to satisfy their bloodlust for ratings. At one point in the movie, the programmer has sex with one of her bosses, only to explain to him her proposal of ideas for a new hit show. Extreme, yes, but that’s what may happen when networking is the only thing on people’s minds.

I say the movie is cynical because there is no redemption for this sort of evil. Destroying others is its business, and it does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. Sweeps is coming up in November after all.

I highly recommend this movie. As a movie fan, its filled with great actors (Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and William Holden to name a few), great dialog, and beautifully shot in a dingy pre-Giuliani New York. Those who remember the era would laugh at the old fashions, but its the old technologies that makes this a great period piece. Not much digital in the newsrooms back then, and the older news hounds remember the start of TV news.

The other part of this review, is the experience at the MFA. Yet, another “art” cinema that shows the best in international and independant cinema, as well as classics. The theater is a large room with comfy chairs and is set so every seat is a good seat. Like the Harvard Film Archive, this is an academic theater with no food allowed. The purpose of the theater is to watch the movie with rapt attention. But, the MFA gave its audience something most theaters don’t have access to: an archive of old trailers on original film stock. It was a bit of fun to see the original trailers for movies of that era like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “The Way We Were.” It was definitely worth the visit.

Well, I guess that’s its for me. As Howard Beale said “I just ran out of bullshit.”

For more information on “Network,” check out the imdb.com page.

For more information on MFA screenings, check out their site.    

Return to “Metropolis”

24 May

"Metropolis," One of the greatest Sci-Fi films the world has ever seen.

The quote “must see movie of the year” is way too widely misused. Often, studio’s advertising campaign will use some critic’s words to drive audiences to their film.

Well, let me utilize this cliche: “Metropolis” is the must see movie event of the year.

A one week engagements and live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra is one proper way to get people’s interests. Keep your over-priced 3-D ticket, the real show is never repeated; each performance offers something new. It’s like watching a film that has come alive.

Alive since 1927.

Yes, it’s a silent film, the cast and crew are long gone, and even the great studio that commissioned the work has been reduced to a mere TV production company. But, this is still a new film being released. Just last year, around a half an hour of never before seen footage was found in an archive in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Much like pre-production, the delicate film was put into one of the most delicate restoration efforts ever attempted. These 30 minutes have been erased from history, with even film historians considering this piece of work lost with the other 90% of all film made before the sound era (1929).

A poster that has become quite popular in its own artform.

What’s more exciting than watching something considered lost to time? Imagine rediscovering the Library of Alexandria or the Colossus of Rhodes. Like these ancient wonders, we won’t find the piece in its entirety, there is still over 30 minutes of footage unaccounted from Fritz Lang’s original cut of “Metropolis.” I still will walk into Coolidge Corner’s Art Deco theater with the awe and wonderwent of an explorer discovering Atlantis. It means that much to me.

So I hopefully have you sold on the historical aspects of “Metropolis,” but what about the actual movie you’re going to be paying good money to see. Well, if you share my 20-something age, it’s something you’ve never seen before, unless you like the classic movies before the days of computer animation. This entire city of the future is made of intricate models stylistically done in 1920’s art deco. That’s the German Expressionism style that was popular among German directors at the time. Artsy, with a plot of a driving struggle for survival-it’s Karl Marx’s history of class struggle placed in a cold future. The upper class and the lower class are divided not only by societal position, but they are literally segregated from each other. Eventually, the worlds collide with chaos, and only time will tell if the leaders of revolution and their oppressors will turn to peace rather than tearing each other to pieces. And there’s a love story of sorts and a cast that numbers over 20,000.

Watch the most expensive, epic movie of its time, the way it was meant to be seen.

Tickets are on sale now for the restored version of “Metropolis” playing for one week only at Coolidge Corner Theatre. The June 4th screening will feature a live orchestral accompaniment. For more information and ticketing, please visit their website.

"Metropolis" at its finest-or worst.


The Best of John Williams

14 May

Simply put, John Williams is a legend. He has won 21 Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, and five Oscars. His 45 Oscar Nominations trail only Walt Disney for the all time record. During his career he has penned the scores to over 80 movies, and created some of the most iconic themes in history in the process. He is without a doubt one of America’s most popular composers.

Williams, the Boston Pop’s conductor from 1980 to 1993, has celebrated the orchestra’s 125th anniversary with “Hooray for Hollywood,” a compilation of classic film tunes that has played at Symphony Hall in Boston this week. Tonight is their last performance, so I figured it might be fitting to write a little tribute of sorts to my favorite film composer.

I grew up with his music. John was there to guide me as I watched Macaulay Culkin trap the bad guys in Home Alone. He was there as I began an ongoing stint as a Star Wars fanboy, and he was there as I cheered Indiana Jones’ Nazi-killing expertise. To try to pick his greatest work is impossible, but I’m going to try anyway. In honor of the great Pops Composer Laureate’s return to Boston, here is a list of my ten favorite themes from Williams’ storied career.

10. “Main Title” from Superman

If you want to talk about fanfare, just listen the theme music to Superman. It’s “Truth, Justice and the American Way” through and through. Just a quick listen to William’s triumphant score makes you want to put on the red cape and pretend you can fly. Or is that just me? Either way, it’s patriotic bliss.

9. “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I grew up reading J.K. Rowling’s saga, but by the time the film adaptation premiered I had already grown old and cynical. I was already anticipating the worst, knowing that no one could ever do justice to old  ‘arry Pottah.Yet even before the action begins, ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ come chiming in, as if to prove to us that magic does exist. Call me a believer. The film may not have been the best, but Harry Potter’s theme music could not have been better.

8. “Somewhere in My Memory” from Home Alone

Alright, call me crazy (guilty as charged) but this theme scares the bejeezus out of me. At first listen, the main theme is a cheerful ode to the spirit of Christmas. But just a few seconds in it becomes something far more sinister. The once comforting tune switches to a music-box like jingle, one that’s about as cheerful as a demented clown is. Add in some high pitch squealing vibrato from the strings and you know that this Christmas dream is about to become a nightmare. Yet, thankfully, Williams is right there at the end to wake us up and give us some warm milk and cookies. The Christmas theme comes sweeping back, and all is well.

7. “Theme” from Schindler’s List

You see? This is what happens when Steven Spielberg and John Williams team up for a movie that isn’t for the family. Williams had a bit of challenge here. He had to craft a score to a movie about the Holocaust, that would be mournful yet would still be respectful and not fall into cliché. What he creates succeeds on practically all levels. The Schindler’s List theme is both heartbreaking and beautiful. Israeli virtuoso Itzhak Perlman provides the sobbing violin solo. It may not be as optimistic as some of the other entries, nor would you listen to it to cheer you up on a down day, but in terms of pure emotion, this theme takes the cake.

6. “Flying Theme” from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Coming in at number six is the family classic E.T. Just a few seconds of that strings melody and I guarantee you’ll want to outrun bad guys on your Schwinn. Here the wonder of the scene is perfectly captured; every time I hear the first section, I can hear Elliot’s triumphant “Ha-Ha!” as he cruises over the police blockade. The image of ET’s bike soaring across the moon has become iconic, but I hazard to say it was William’s work, not some alien’s powers, that really made that bike fly.

5. “Main Theme” from Star Wars

Yeah, I put Star Wars down at number five, but hear me out.  As a self-identifying Star Wars nerd, I loved those movies. I recall watching the Star Wars for the first time as a little kid in my living room. A bit of blue text fades onto a black screen: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far-” BAM! Williams’ score comes in with a bang and literally knocks me off my feet. From that terrifying moment of revelation I was sold. Star Wars is more than just a pop phenomenon, it’s basically a cult. This is the soundtrack we worship to, and for good reason. Those brass sections are a blaring homage to the old Golden Age of Movies, and the catchy melody has stood the test of time. The Star Wars theme may not be the greatest Williams’ piece, but it’s certainly one of his most recognizable.

4. “Theme” from Jurassic Park

It takes a while to get started, but it’s worth the wait. Constantly imitated and always inimitable, Jurassic Park’s theme is grand in every sense, just like the dinosaurs who were given a new lease on life. Where the Star Wars theme has become synonymous with the movie through sheer force of popularity, it’s Jurassic Park that truly fits. That first shot of a towering brontosaurus was pure wonder. No one had pulled off special effects like those, and for a bunch of kids who adored dinosaurs, it was like a dream come true. And through it all, Williams has the perfect harmony.

3. “Theme” from Jaws

Two notes of absolute dread. His first collaboration with Spielberg (and Spielberg’s first studio hit) is arguably his most successful. No need to even describe it, Jaw’s simple theme inspired terror for generations of moviegoers. It was the perfect piece for a killer on the prowl, and has extended beyond that to represent pure unadulterated terror. Just hum the first two notes in the dark one night, and you’ll see what I mean. Both Spielberg and Williams were on the top of their game for this horror story of a shark gone rogue. So is this theme one of Williams’ greatest ever? ‘You betcha!’

2. “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” from The Empire Strikes Back

I told you to hear me out. Star Wars is back with the coveted number two slot. Star Wars was great and all, but Lucas had a different idea for the second movie. The result is a far darker, much less optimistic sequel, and Williams steps up to the plate to make it a home run. The authoritative Imperial March is brilliance. The contant drums evoke the faceless Stormtroopers goose-stepping to crush the heroic rebels. Add in the overbearing horns and you can feel the evil flowing. More than just the go-to driving song for Darth Vader, the Imperial March is now used across the globe to represent the bad guys. Listen at your next sporting event or rally for Williams’ masterpiece. It’s a shame that the Imperial March is used so haphazardly, because it is, without a doubt, one of the greatest themes ever blasted onto the silver screen.

1. “The Raiders’ March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark

At number one is my favorite treasure hunter’s song of choice. I love Indiana Jones. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t. He’s the hero we all can cheer for. Not this wishy-washy anti-hero “Dark Knight” nonsense from today’s gritty movies, Indy is totally ‘hero,’ a throwback to the adventure serials of old. And his theme follows suit…Actually, it’s even is more heroic than the character. It’s pure fun, cracking the whip and giving us a wink to come along for an adventure. The rolling music is more than just a soundtrack, it is Indiana Jones. More than that, it’s pure courage. There’s not a moment that goes by when I might think the Indy theme to myself for a bit of added inspiration. Final exam? Story to write? Going to work? Taxes due? No matter! The Raider’s Theme is always there to pick you up and dust you off. It’s the ultimate in pump up music. Indy’s theme is the cream of the crop. Just give a listen to any adventure theme since then. This is what they’re all trying and failing to be. It’s adventure incarnate. It’s straight courage. It’s heroic moments of bravery. It’s the greatest John Williams’ piece ever. And yes, it had to be snakes.

So there it is, the top 10 John Williams themes. Still, some great themes had to be left off the list, like the space age stride-swing of “Cantina Band” from Star Wars.  Or maybe a modern addition like Catch Me if You Can belongs on the list, or the five-note “Wild Signals” motif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

What do you think?  Leave your favorite John Williams pieces in the comments section below.