By Brian McCreath | Wednesday, November 24, 2010
By Jared Bowen | Wednesday, November 10, 2010
|A scene from Saving Private Ryan. Photo by Amblin Entertainment – © 1998|
BEDFORD -- Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Mass. has a lot of what you might expect: Fighter jets, uniformed men and women bustling about and the requisite on-base hangout. At the back of Hansom’s MinuteMan Club sits 2nd. Lt. Patrick Gernert, who sits at a card table with two other servicemen, talking about their favorite war movies.
“Mine would probably be Forrest Gump,” says Gernert. “Even when he was miles from home he always thought about Jenny, and he always wanted to get back to her. He got bit in the butt, but he did definitely get home.”
Just like every football player has seen Rudy, and every filmmaker has studied Citizen Kane, for America’s men and women in uniform there are a go-to set of must-see movies that are often quoted, joked about and heavily relied on.
Its first and last acts are among the most realistic and brutal depictions of war captured on film. In between is a timeless story of innocence facing the ultimate test.
One of a handful of movies granted full cooperation by U.S. Miltary, Top Gun defined heroics in the air for a generation with iconic star turns by Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
On one hand the story of a simple fan living an extraordinary life. Dig deeper and follow the baby boom generation as it grows up through Elvis, Vietnam, and the age of disco, drugs, and disease.
Classic Bill Murrary comedy. "Don't leave. The flowers will die."
Stanley Kubrick's mix of surrealism and dark humor follows a Vietnam platoon's evolution from boyhood to war machine.
“I mean, you can’t go wrong with Full Metal Jacket,” chimes Staff Sgt. Andre Edgardo Olaciregui-Perez, who normally craves the comedy stylings of Bill Murray and company. “Stripes is good, too. ‘The name’s Francis Sawyer. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I kill ya.’”
Olaciregui-Perez then wades into the danger zone with his next pick, Tony Scott’s 1986 melodramatic ode to military machismo Top Gun. He sums it up in one word: "Lame.”
Tech Sgt Khaliliah Velez is a little kinder. “All I gotta say is Take My Breathe Away. Every time I hear that song, that movie pops into my head, and I liked it," Velez said. "Now, it’s not Air Force, but I like the movie.”
The one movie they all agree is paramount is the untouchable Saving Private Ryan. “This movie, straight from the entrance, the Battle of Normandy” says Gernert. “It’s like—wow—boom—bomb—you know all this stuff going on, everybody ducking down, you hear the splash of the water—splush. It’s just intense, really intense.”
For the group assembled at this card table, there are a variety of different missions under their collective belts -- some of which include long deployments. To them, there is a different set of go-to comfort movies: The ones that take them home, when home is many miles and months away.
“They kind of helped me get through my time there,” says Velez. “You know, reminded me of my family and of things that I like to do in the States that I wasn’t afforded in Iraq. The Devil Wears Prada, The Breakup, Failure to Launch, Underworld 2, you always gotta switch it up a little bit. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift was one that was close to home because it reminded me of son because he loves cars. And then, The DaVinci Code, just to kill time. I fell asleep most of the time, you know, it’s a long movie.”
Sergeant Olaciregui Perez has a shorter list of comfort movies. ”I was in Kuwait in 2007 and 2009, and my two favorite movies of all time, that I’ve watched repeatedly over when I was deployed, were Cast Away and Gladiator.”
“Cast Away is really interesting cause you know, you have this guy that gets stranded, in the middle of nowhere and really has no hope. But because of his determination in wanting to go back to what was close to his heart, it kind of deals with the same thing as in deployment," Perez said. "You know, you’re ready to go back, but you understand that you have to do certain things at the location. It’s like a journey, or an adventure. That’s why Cast Away is close to me, I guess.”
As for Ridley Scott’s action-packed historical epic Gladiator -- that one is a little more obvious.
“Every guy, they all wanna be Russell Crowe in that movie,” says Perez. “You know, screaming out, ‘Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not what you want?’ You know, it’s just very thrilling—it’s amazing.”
It’s also an escape. So in wartime, amid the intensity, the brutality, the loneliness—it’s clear listening to these veterans that in the 21st century, movies are an integral part of the war experience.
“I guess I would tell someone that’s in the military with me, you know, whatever makes you laugh, smile, cry, because we all have different tastes,” says Velez. “Whatever takes you to your happy place—just watch it.”
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
By Jared Bowen | Tuesday, October 26, 2010
|From the left: Superfan Generoso Fierro, Mark Anastasio and Jesse Hassinger|
It's an understatement to say that Mark Anastasio knows horror movies. His office at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, where he is the assistant program manager, is crammed with more movie posters and action figures than office supplies. This guy knows horror movies the way Ted Williams knew hitting and Stephen Hawking knows physics.
So what makes a great horror movie? To Anastasio, it's a pretty specific formula. “It has to be made from the mid-70s to the mid-80s. That’s step one," Anastasio says. "Step two is that either Tom Savini or Rob Bottin should have done the makeup effects and special effects for it. And step three is that it needs to have been directed by John Carpenter.”
This connoisure of cinematic gore is one of two men responsible for the lineup at the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Annual Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, a 12-hour sensory overload of live music, psychic readings, popcorn and — of course — plenty of blood and guts on the big screen.
“It’s a really great endurance test for horror film fans,” says Anastasio. “Half the fun I have is going around at like 9 a.m., seeing what the status of the place is. Seeing who’s still here… what the smells are like. Our projectionist one year equated it to an actual crypt. It gets funky.”
The funk starts at the Coolidge Corner Theater this Saturday at midnight and it doesn’t stop until noon on Halloween Day. Hundreds of horror movie geeks, film buffs and curiosity seekers will pack into the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. Some will stay for a movie or two and maybe a laugh. A few will be in it to win it, enduring six feature films ranging from the campy to the terrifying.
If you’re hoping to hear a preview of all of the films that you can expect to see on the big screen, well... “I can definitely talk about two of them,” says program manager Jesse Hassinger. Jesse is a refugee of Los Angeles who fled back to Boston to become the Coolidge Theatre’s lead programmer. He shares Mark’s facial hair and his enthusiasm for this year’s line-up, especially Saturday night’s double-feature.
“This year there’s a movie called House, which is a 1977 Japanese film, that just got… well, I don’t know if 'rediscovered' is the right word… but ‘rediscovered’ by Janus Films. It’s a crazy, wild, insane movie that is equal parts Japanese pop and LSD trip.”
The second part of the double-feature is the 1980s horror classic Re-Animator, which isn’t just celebrating Halloween, but a birthday as well.
“This is the 25th Anniversary year,” Jesse says. “It’s definitely a horror movie classic—HP Lovecraft influenced. It has a great mix of humor and gore goes to extremes on both sides.”
So, which title is the bigger draw? The subtitled, LCD-trip Japanese Pop, or the Cult Classic celebrating it’s big 25? According to Jesse, it’s neither.
“I think the biggest draw are the four films that we’re not advertising.”
Mark agrees, “The dawn hours… and maybe even close to 9AM… yeah, there’s gonna be shear brutality. I challenge you to come to this thing and stay until noon. I’ll be there at noon the next day and if you’re there shaking my hand, you are a true horror movie fan.”
And if that’s still not enough for you, “We do have a ghost that’s rumored to live in the theater,” says Jesse. “So, maybe we will hear from that ghost this year."
Moviola's Halloween Must-Sees
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Vote for your favorite Short Waves Video thru May 22.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, WGBH in collaboration with the Boston Asian American Film Festival (BAAFF) held an Open Call for short videos through the WGBH Lab.
Asian Pacific Americans have long been making waves in all aspects of American life, but their stories have often been lost in general U.S. discourse. “Short Waves: Stories Shaping Our Community,” hopes to bring light to these stories through locally made, short films about the Asian American experience and community.
The top four submissions can be viewed below, and were selected by a distinguished panel of judges:
Please help determine the finalist and vote for your favorite.
The finalist will have the honor of automatic acceptance in the 2011 Boston Asian American Film Festival this November and possible broadcast on WGBH WORLD.
Please help determine the finalist and vote for your favorite film.
The finalist will have the honor of automatic acceptance in the 2011 Boston Asian American Film Festival this November and possible broadcast on WGBH WORLD.
The finalist will be announced on May 25th at a public screening of all the Short Wave submissions at the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown from 6:30-8pm. Filmmakers will be present for a brief Q&A session following.
To RSVP for the May 25th event or for more information on BAAFF visit: baaff.org.
Friday, March 4, 2011
March 4, 2011
Massachusetts was well represented in the audience of this past week’s Oscar ceremony. Not only did the cast, crew, and even the real life characters behind Lowell-based The Fighter attend, but two local boys were there to represent a couple of small movies that have attracted big Oscar attention. Newton-born Howard Cohen and Brookline-born Eric d’Arbeloff are the co-presidents of Roadside Attractions, an independent film distribution company whose two movies, Winter’s Bone and Biutiful, were among those nominated in major categories.
Cohen started in the movie business as an agent, and d’Arbeloff was a producer whose credits include small indie films like Lovely & Amazing and Trick. After watching Hollywood turn in favor of making fewer movies with bigger budgets, the two figured they could successfully market and distribute cheaper, independently-financed movies made for grown ups.
“For me as a producer,” says d’Arbeloff. “I was at the flipside of a number of distribution deals, and I felt like there was an opportunity for a non-studio entity to be passionate about these smaller films. And that’s where we really found our niche.”
Roadside Attractions first hit was Super Size Me, which chronicled Morgan Spurlock’s self-inflicted dare of eating only meals from McDonalds for an entire month. From there, they went on to release a diverse slate of films, including Good Hair, The September Issue, and this past year’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning Winter’s Boneand Biutiful.
How does the duo choose which films they are going to distribute?
Says Howard Cohen, “They are joint decisions, but we also let each other have the films that we really champion. You get the diversity of opinion.”
“For instance,” continues Cohen. “In 2009 we distributed The September Issue, the Anna Wintour Documentary. Eric was really the promoter of that, and saw that there was a big audience for it. I liked the movie, but I think he really had the vision for that one.”
On whether or not they like every movie they distribute, Cohen answers, “It’s better if you like it. I think we definitely distributed films that were not our personal taste, but I would say the vast majority were films that we liked.”
Cohen and d’Arbeloff bring to Hollywood a New England sensibility, especially in how they approach their decision-making process.
“We want our films to have a willingness to entertain,” explains d’Arbeloff, “and maybe that comes from a little bit from our New England roots. We are not just about pleasing critics, and being kind of urbain.”
“We want movies that audiences can really connect with, and that I think is the ideal Roadside Attraction Film. So maybe we have a little bit of Bostonian, New England humility in the mix versus some of our competitors. I think that has opened our eyes to a number of films that aren’t geared towards critics, but that have really sound audiences.”
Cohen add, “We talk how key particular theatres are for our films. They are not the downtown art houses, but actually a little more suburban theaters. The West Newton Cinema is our prototype theatre.”
“We go to the West Newton Cinema every time we visit Eric’s family, who still live in Brookline. We talk to the manager and ask what’s working, what’s not working. There’s a kind of too high brow or very narrow kind of movies that doesn’t work there. And there is a sort of a King’s Speech kind of movie that works really well there.”
What’s worked for Cohen and d’Arbeloff this part year is the Ozark-set mystery Winter’s Bone, nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture, and the Spanish drama Biutiful, which earned its star Javier Bardem a best acting nomination.
What does Cohen and d’Arbeloff attribute their success to?
Cohen explains, “There is group think abut a film, and you don’t want to be taken in by that, because it is sometimes about going the other way. That’s how you have opportunity and success. If everyone loved the move it would probably sell for ten million dollars.”
“It’s picking the one that everyone didn’t love. At Sundance 2010, Winter’s Bone was well liked, but no one thought it would do well,” says Cohen.