Movie Interviews

The Music of Downton Abbey

By Brian McCreath   |   Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Downton Abbey, from WGBH’s Masterpiece Classic, won the 2012 Emmy Award for Original Dramatic Score for a Series. Classical New England talks with John Lunn, the composer of the winning score.


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:

Watch Downton Abbey I Wonder Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

 

Moneyball Review And Interview With Jonah Hill

By Jared Bowen   |   Friday, September 23, 2011
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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."

Promotional poster for Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt. (via Greater Boston)

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.

Boston Jewish Film Festival Celebrates Storytelling And Heritage

By Jared Bowen   |   Tuesday, November 2, 2010
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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.

View the trailer for
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.”

View the trailer for Socalled

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

Check out Moviola's so-called review of The So-Called Movie. Have a listen and weigh-in yourself by leaving a comment below.

What's New in the Arts This Week with Jared Bowen

Thursday, October 10, 2013
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Jared Bowen's Arts Ahead: Let's Go to the Movies

Thursday, March 8, 2012
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March 8, 2012

talk_kevin

Tilda Swinton and Rocky Duer in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
 


BOSTON — What is it we all love about the movies? The power of the cinema to strike fear in our hearts, move us with longing, fill us with dread or prompt us to laugh is created from the incredible talent and dedication of its actors. These films don't fail to display the ferocity and tenderness of some of today's best.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
In theaters Friday

A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN explores the factious relationship between a mother and her son.  Tilda Swinton, in a bracing performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Dark and gripping, but completely worth the difficult ride.





Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
In theaters Friday

In this quirky comedy, a visionary sheik (Amr Waked) has a big dream – to bring salmon fishing to the desert.  Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to turn his dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain’s leading fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. Emily talked with Jared about the chemistry she found working with McGregor.







viggo

Viggo Mortensen with Jared Bowen at the 9th Annual Coolidge Award

Actor Viggo Mortensen receives the Coolidge Award

Every year the Coolidge Theater Foundation honors a film actor who exemplifies the spirit and originality of cinema. This year they chose Viggo Mortensen, who made his cinematic debut in Peter Weir’s 1985 film Witness. Subsequently he has been featured in over 40 films and has worked with many renowned independent filmmakers including Jane Campion (The Portrait of A Lady), Sean Penn(The Indian Runner), Gus Van Sant (Psycho), Brian De Palma (Carlito’s Way), and David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method).

Most memorable for his leading role in the the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Mortensen has won several international awards and recognitions during his adventurous acting career including a Best Actor Oscar nomination in 2007 for Eastern Promises, and a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2011 for Best Supporting Actor (A Dangerous Method).

In addition to his acting career, Viggo Mortensen is an accomplished photographer, musician, painter and poet. His work has been featured in galleries worldwide, and he has released several CDs of his music. Upcoming film releases include the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, directed by Walter Salles and scheduled for release this coming summer.

See Jared's interview with Mortensen on Greater Boston.

Reflections of a Rock Lobster
Presented by Boston Children's Theatre
At the Calderwood Pavilion through March 11th

The year is 1980 and Aaaron is gay. Being gay makes Aaron different. With that stigma, he is subjected daily to violence and rejection—leaving him feeling dejected and with thoughts of suicide.  Rising from his despair, Aaron strikes back by suing his Rhode Island High School for the right to escort his boyfriend to the prom.  By standing up for his personal and civil rihgt and for refusing to apologize for who he is, Aaron not only wins in court, but he also wins in the hearts and minds of his peers and his community. His strength and ultimate victory help pave the way for legions of gay and lesbian students.

Read Jared's full review.

Human Trafficking Confronted By The Power Of Images

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, December 1, 2010
2 Comments   2 comments.

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.

About the Authors
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath

Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 

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