By Brian McCreath | Thursday, January 5, 2012
Highclere Castle, the setting of Downton Abbey
(image by Mike Searle, via Wikimedia; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
When you think of Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey, the first thing that comes to mind might be Highclere Castle, which “plays” Downton Abbey itself. Or maybe the mind-boggling “proper-ness” of practically every single character depicted.
One especially powerful aspect of Downton you may not have noticed – at least consciously – was the music you heard.
In a way, that’s as it should be. The score was written by John Lunn and accomplishes precisely what any film score must: a ratcheting up of the emotional trajectory of the story while simultaneously going unnoticed.
You might imagine Lunn as a wizard-like composer in a meticulous process, weaving together strands of silvery sound to form a gorgeous tapestry. But as he told me, that’s not exactly how the process started:
To hear more about Downton Abbey from actress Elizabeth McGovern, visit The World.
Here's a look back at Season 2:
By Jared Bowen | Friday, September 23, 2011
Sept. 23, 2011
BOSTON — As he and his sad sack team limped into the 2002 baseball season, Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane was desperate for a new winning strategy. In Moneyball, a film adaptation of Michael Lewis's 2003 book of the same name, Beane (played by Brad Pitt) realizes baseball has become a game of Moneyball.
Given that the A's have little money compared to the major market teams, his new Assistant GM Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) devises a system of Sabermetrics — assembling a team by statistics, not salaries. "I see it as a movie about challenging the system and being undervalued and being an underdog and thinking differently," Hill explained during a recent stop in Boston. "That's the element I related to the most."
Hill's character, a Yale-educated economist, is actually an amalgamation of several number-crunching baseball brainiacs not unlike Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, whom Hill met in prepping for the film. "[The GMs Hill met with] felt the system was archaic and things hadn't changed in 150 years and maybe it was time to try something different," Hill said.
It worked for the A's who wound up pulling off a 20-game winning streak that season, an American League record. "I just looked at it as Billy was the bazooka and Peter was the ammunition," Hill said. "Billy acts on raw emotion and Peter's the most logical person in the entire world so together we form one perfect person to start something new, like Frankenstein."
The 27-year-old Hill has established himself over the last seven years in a string of comedies. Moneyball is his first drama. "I happen to have done a lot of comedic movies, but I love dramas and doing this…having this be the first kind of big drama that people will see me in with Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman is a dream-like surreal experience," said Hill.
The newly slimmed down actor stars in the film alongside a legion of legends from well-known character actors to Pitt — the icon whose stardom looms large. "After the first couple of rehearsals I was like, I need to get over that because I need to focus on just killing it in this part because these guys trusted me, they gave me an opportunity to do something different and I'm not going to let them down," Hill explained. And he doesn't — helping to transform what could have been a cumbersome story about numbers and sports clichés into one of the most engaging films of the year.
By Jared Bowen | Tuesday, November 2, 2010
|The Boston Jewish Film Festival runs through Nov 14th at local theaters, including the Coolidge Corner Theatre.|
2010 marks the 22nd Anniversary of the Boston Jewish Film Festival, and in that time, its mission has kept consistent and clear.
“We began as a way to showcase films with Jewish themes from around the world, and we’ve pretty much stayed that way,” says Sara Rubin, artistic director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival.
“We focus on very contemporary films. Sometimes we push the envelope a little bit, if it’s a fiction film, but we want either the theme or the characters to the Jewish. We don’t really care about who directed the film, or who acts in it. And if it’s a documentary, most things from Israel are going to be fair game.”
Being steeped in the Jewish experience certainly hasn’t limited the appeal of this festival, especially for film lovers simply looking for good films that wouldn’t come to Boston otherwise. And for Boston’s Jewish community, says Sara, “I think that film festivals are a place where Jews who might be a little uncomfortable in a more organized setting—a synagogue for example—can come and be comfortable exploring their Jewishness.”
In terms of “place”, the “place” Sara refers to is the community that gets built each year through the festival, and continues year-round. The festival itself is housed in a number of venues, primarily the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline and the Museum of Fine Arts. Additionally, there are a number of screenings in the suburbs, including the West Newton Cinema and Arlington’s Capitol Theater.
One of the highlights of festival is the film Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.
Sara explains, “It’s a wonderful, wonderful film, and what it does is touch upon something that has obviously struck a nerve.”
Directed by Peter Miller (who grew up in Lexington) and narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story confronts an old stereotype: That Jews are not athletic. It does this by exploring the historical connection between Jewish Americans and the nation's pasttime.
“It’s the puny Jew versus the strong athletic Jew,” says Sara. “I think that there are a couple of really strong characters that have resonated with audiences. Certainly, Sandy Koufax by not playing on Yom Kippur, and Hank Greenberg who did the same. They’re both real giants, both physically… and um… sort of morally.”
Sara also recommends a couple of hidden gems, including one called The Socalled Movie, about a very quirky artist called Socalled. Who is he?
“Socalled’s real name is Josh Dolgin, and he’s from Montreal. I’d say that he is kind of a ‘schlump,’ which is a Yiddish word for someone that’s sloppy. He’s taken Klezmer music, which is an old music from Eastern Europe, and has added hip-hop music to it. He’s got quite the following among Klezmer and hip-hop types alike."
“We’ve shown more traditional Klezmer films, and this one is a little bit cutting edge. So I hope people will go, because they’ll see something different. That’s what we try to do with the Festival.”
The Boston Jewish Film Festival is underway all the way through November 14th.
Moviola's "So Called" Review
Thursday, March 8, 2012
By Jared Bowen | Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The Day My God Died will screen at the BITAHR Saturday at 2:30pm, followed by a panel featuring the
Director Andrew Levine, and Brigitte Cazalis-Collins and Joe Collins, Founders of Friends of Maiti Nepal.
Dec 2, 2010
CAMBRIDGE — The Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights has organized a group of local filmmakers, survivors, activists, and academics to participate in the Human Rights and Sexual Trafficking Film Forum, taking place at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Dec. 2-5. This forum presents 12 documentaries that explore how the power of film can combat commercial sexual exploitation and modern-day slavery.
Suffolk law professor Kate Nace Day organized the film forum with fellow Suffolk law professor Alicia Foley Winn. Day says the event forwards the notion that film can spark change in ways other mediums can’t. “Documentaries have the power to make the experiences of the victims and the survivors very real… and very human,” Foley Winn said.
Day said she was struck by the effect documentary film had on her students when a film on sex trafficking was shown at Suffolk five years ago. "We decided that film was a powerful way to teach and move forward this growing social movement… to give it a political voice… and to lead to local, national, and international law reform,” Day said.
The forum aims to make a singular impact by presenting in stark terms the most powerful visual images that stem from this issue. “One of the advantages film has as a medium is that it pierces illiteracy," Day said.
“Film also has the power to create concrete change,” Day said. “For example, one of the films, Playground (playing at BITAHR Sunday at 2pm and 3:15pm), about domestic minor sex trafficking, is a film we asked Congressmen Jim McGovern to watch. That lead to opening hearings in congress on the problem of sex trafficking in the United States.”
How do Kate and Alicia advise audiences brace themselves for the often shocking imagery they will face throughout the course of the forum? “I think if you want to understand what’s involved in violent sexual inequalities,” Day said, “Then you have to be prepared to see some part of it. None of it is exposed in its entirety in any one of these films.”
“But if you have a young person, there are a number of films in the forum on Sunday that are designed to stress preventive measures that work in combating sex trafficking," Day continued.
She admits it's difficult. "You want to make young people aware of the vulnerability, but without violating important social norms about what young people should be seeing or being exposed to,” Day said.
The Human Rights and Sex Trafficking Film Forum opens on Dec. 2 and runs through Dec. 5 at the Brattle Theatre.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010