Film

How to Work the 2012 Woods Hole Film Festival

By Stacy Buchanan   |   Friday, July 13, 2012
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July 15, 2012

Documentary feature, Detropia, courtesy of woodshole.festivalgenius.com.

Film festivals are probably the last thing that come to mind when you think about Cape Cod. Yet I bet it has more film festivals per resident than anywhere else in the U.S. They’re big business on the Cape and Islands, and one that always tops the “must-do this summer” list is the Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest independent festival in the area.

The Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF) is an eight day showcase of independent films featuring daily screenings (at Woods Hole’s notable locations), workshops, panel discussions, and parties galore! And this year marks the 21st anniversary of WHFF, which means there is a lot to do.

So how do you tackle all of WHFF in one short week? Organization and a schedule, my friend. A good place to start would be at the workshops. WHFF has some great ones this year, including “How to Watch a Film”, designed to teach viewers how to look a film from a cultural, ideological, and theoretical standpoint.

Put your new viewing skills to test afterwards and make a list of the films you’re most interested in watching. Pick a variety of features and shorts, and go off the beaten path to discover the hidden jewels of the festival. Some notable screenings to consider: Bay of All Saints, a portrait of three single mothers trying to survive in the slums of Brazil during a bad time personally and economically; Breakfast with Curtis, a summer story about a young boy joining a project with an eccentric local bookseller; and the documentary short 24 Hours At The South Street Diner, produced and directed by Boston locals Tom and Melissa Dowler.

You should also plan on attending all of the screenings and discussions by this year’s Filmmaker in Residence, Lauren Greenfield. Greenfield, best known for her ability to chronicle youth culture, gender and consumerism, will be showing Thin, her documentary about four women struggling with eating disorders, as well as her most recent documentary about a family attempting to build the biggest house in America, The Queen of Versailles, which received critical acclaim as this year’s Opening Night film at Sundance. It also won Best Director in the U.S. Documentary Competition.

And last, but not least, don’t forget to attend a few parties and panel discussions in between and mingle with some of the masterminds behind your favorite films. Festivities begin on Saturday, July 28th, running through Saturday, August 4th. Visit woodsholefilmfestival.org for more information and the calendar of events.

Is Another Spider-Man Necessary?

By Valerie Linson   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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Expected to be this summer’s biggest blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man promises new–and not just new actors. It’s promising a new world for Spidey fans to play in, a darker one where Peter Parker will be spending his time investigating the truth about his father and inventing artificial webs, all while barely casting a shadow of the geeky and goofy Parker of Spider-Mans past.

There are a number of reasons why a Spider-Man reboot is coming out so soon after the series, and they all lead back to Sony, the owner of the movie franchise, not being a fan of the webby mess that Spider-Man director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness) left behind with Spider-Man 3. Instead of having Raimi work on the fourth installment of the series, the studio instead opted for a reboot.

Raimi’s adaptation of the series rendered some major characters useless for future films. In addition to most of the noteworthy villains having been used already, Parker’s new love interest, Gwen Stacey, was a supporting character and love interest for Eddie Brock (Venom) in Spider-Man 3. Raimi also toyed with Spidey’s original mythology, cornering important story lines.

But do we really need to start over? Normally, I’d agree that when your intention is to reboot an entire series, it’s important to start at the beginning. But we’re dealing with a superhero whose origins are as familiar as Santa Claus. In my opinion, we already know what we need to know, or at least enough to suspend our disbelief for another two hours (and another couple of movies.)

Personally, I’d rather see the time and energy spent on more Spider-Man saving the world, working through different women all bearing characteristics of his first love, and introducing a plethora of new enemies for us to play with. We know it works–and it opens up oodles of opportunities for different stories, angles, and films for studios to make loads of money on (ahem, Batman). And Todd McFarlane wouldn’t mind making a few new toy models for people like me to buy and never take out of their boxes, right?

Basically that’s Marvel geek talk for “I’d rather we move on.” But I’ll still welcome the fresh perspective on an old friend with an open mind.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens in theaters nationwide on Tuesday, July 3rd. Check local listings for show times.

Film: Bechard Brings Color Me Obsessed Back to Boston

By Stacy Buchanan   |   Tuesday, July 10, 2012
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July 10, 2012

The Replacements (photo by Greg Helgeson)

It has been a year since filmmaker Gorman Bechard screened Color Me Obsessed in Boston. The documentary, about 80’s rock band The Replacements, was an official selection and attendee favorite at the Boston Independent Film Festival in 2011, and was also named one of the “Seven Best New Music Documentaries of the Year” by Rolling Stone. And after touring numerous film festivals over the past year, it’s coming back to town for a special screening at the Brattle Theatre for a screening including a Q&A with the director and double feature billing with its new little brother, a music documentary about Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based band Archers of Loaf.

Color Me Obsessed takes us back to the very beginning of The Replacements, their public onstage breakup in 1991 and everything in between. Sounds standard, but it’s not - this is the first music documentary, that I’ve ever seen, that doesn’t include a single song, image, or member of the band it’s about. Instead, Bechard chooses to conceptualize The Replacements as a god-like figure in the documentary, asking viewers to not have to see or hear them in order to believe in their legacy.

It’s fascinating and it works, especially with his impressive list of over 140 “believers” sharing their personal anecdotal stories about the band, including writers and celebrities, as well as musicians from Hüsker Dü, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, Archers of Loaf, Titus Andronicus, Deer Tick, Shellac, and Boston bands The Neighborhoods and The Figgs.

Joining the screening is Bechard’s latest musical odyssey, What Did You Expect? Archers of Loaf Live at Cat’s Cradle, about the recent reunion of 90’s indie-rock icons Archers of Loaf. And being a die hard fan since I was 13, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this. The documentary shares rare concert footage and interviews from the band’s two legendary concerts in 2011 at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The show was so successful the band continued to tour, including multiple sold out shows at the Middle East in Cambridge, while their entire back catalog was reissued by Merge Records.

Color Me Obsessed and What Did You Expect? Archers of Loaf Live at Cat’s Cradle will be screening at the Brattle Theatre on Wednesday, July 18th. Tickets are $10/$8 students, seniors, Brattle members; Double Feature Tickets $15/$12 students, seniors, Brattle members.

Jacob's Pillow Comes East

By Kris Wilton   |   Thursday, July 5, 2012
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July 5, 2012

Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers in Kinetic Molpai, 1935.

Dance is notoriously hard to capture on film–or at least to capture well. Film squishes an intrinsically three-dimensional art form into two, and fails to capture the electricity of the live performance, including the undercurrent of danger that accompanies even the most mannered performances–that sense of doing the impossible, whether leaping or hurdling through space or just balancing en pointe. (Unless, of course, you’re Wim Wenders, whose Pina is the best film representation of dance I’ve ever seen [though being Pina Bausch’s biggest fan, I may not be the most impartial judge…])

Never Stand Still, Ron Honsa’s documentary about Jacob’s Pillow, on view at the MFA July 5–11, works well as a dance film largely because it focuses not solely on dance but also on the stories behind the place and the people who’ve made it what it is. There’s plenty of spectacular dance thrown in, of course, but with such a great story, the pressure’s off.

The documentary tells the story of how the late Ted Shawn, a father of modern dance bought an abandoned farm in Western Massachusetts in the 1930s, then set out to prove that dancing was a “viable profession for men.” He formed an all-male troupe that always came back to the farm between tours, working there and building what would become America’s premiere dance festival with their own bare hands. The footage from that time shows the merry male dancers cavorting around, dancing and working on the farm, and includes one of my now favorite dance images of all time: a dancer painting on a ladder, stretching out into an elegant arabesque to reach a far spot.

The film also outlines the festival’s more recent history, with appearances from some of the most important late-20th century dancers and choreographers, including Suzanne Farrell, Judith Jamison, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, and the late Merce Cunningham. Bill T. Jones narrates, and there are performances by current risk-takers the Bad Boys of Dance and Shantala Shivalingappa (who’s danced with Pina Bausch).

“For those of us who choose a life in dance,” says narrator Bill T. Jones at the beginning of the film, “we have to insist on taking risks. Risks of ideas, and what the human body can express. There’s a place called Jacob’s Pillow where artists have done just that: taken leaps of faith, setting new ideas in motion. Because dance can never stand still.”

--
Never Stand Still
Screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 5–11
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA  02115




Is Another Spider-Man Necessary?

By Stacy Buchanan   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
0 Comments   0 comments.

July 3, 2012

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, Columbia Pictures

Expected to be this summer’s biggest blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man promises new–and not just new actors. It’s promising a new world for Spidey fans to play in, a darker one where Peter Parker will be spending his time investigating the truth about his father and inventing artificial webs, all while barely casting a shadow of the geeky and goofy Parker of Spider-Man's past.

There are a number of reasons why a Spider-Man reboot is coming out so soon after the series, and they all lead back to Sony, the owner of the movie franchise, not being a fan of the webby mess that Spider-Man director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness) left behind with Spider-Man 3. Instead of having Raimi work on the fourth installment of the series, the studio instead opted for a reboot.

Raimi’s adaptation of the series rendered some major characters useless for future films. In addition to most of the noteworthy villains having been used already, Parker’s new love interest, Gwen Stacey, was a supporting character and love interest for Eddie Brock (Venom) in Spider-Man 3. Raimi also toyed with Spidey’s original mythology, cornering important story lines.

But do we really need to start over? Normally, I’d agree that when your intention is to reboot an entire series, it’s important to start at the beginning. But we’re dealing with a superhero whose origins are as familiar as Santa Claus. In my opinion, we already know what we need to know, or at least enough to suspend our disbelief for another two hours (and another couple of movies.)

Personally, I’d rather see the time and energy spent on more Spider-Man saving the world, working with different women all bearing characteristics of his first love, and introducing a plethora of new enemies for us to play with. We know it works–and it opens up oodles of opportunities for different stories, angles, and films for studios to make loads of money on (ahem, Batman). And Todd McFarlane wouldn’t mind making a few new toy models for people like me to buy and never take out of their boxes, right?

 That’s Marvel geek talk for “I’d rather we move on,” but I’ll still welcome the fresh perspective on an old friend with an open mind.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens in theaters nationwide on Tuesday, July 3rd. Check local listings for show times.

Five Films to Watch on the Fourth of July

By Stacy Buchanan   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
0 Comments   0 comments.


July 3, 2012

Tom Cruise in Born on The Fourth of July (Universal Pictures, 1989).

The Fourth of July is a great time to have that summer barbeque you’ve been daydreaming about, maybe let the kids play with some sparklers, and later watch fireworks with the family. But more importantly, it’s a time to pay tribute to our military efforts and all who have sacrificed to afford us the comfort of this leisurely day.

And what better way to celebrate than to watch some good ol’ American films? Here are some of my favorites to celebrate patriotic efforts and American pastimes:

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Based on a true story, Born on the Fourth of July is a fantastic representation of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a veteran. It recounts some of the more gritty and real moments endured during the war and how they changed the perspective of those who fought in it. One of the more startling moments of the film occurs when Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), who has accidentally shot a member of his own platoon, later encounters the man’s family. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won Best Director and Best Film Editing. Born on the Fourth of July stars Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, and Bryan Larkin.

Independence Day (1996)

WOO HA, let’s kill some aliens! I love this movie; it’s fun and jam packed with pride (the good kind). The U.S. is under one massive alien invasion, and Americans must work together to save not only the country, but the world. Behind its unbelievable action scenes and Hollywood blockbuster appeal, the narrative focuses on bringing people from different cultures and lifestyles together to make it all happen. Although no formal nominations or awards were given, the film was well-received by critics and audiences. Independence Day stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum.

Glory (1989)

Glory is based on the first all African American, American Civil War regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. It begins during the Battle of Antietam, ends at Fort Wagner, and is a great portrayal of the regiment’s courage, and the courage of over 180,000 volunteer soldiers, who fought in the war. President Lincoln himself considered their efforts instrumental in securing a victory for the Union, and watching this film it’s easy to see why. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, and won Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound. Glory stars Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman.

Captain America: First Avenger (2011)

One of my favorite Marvel Comics film adaptations, Captain America: First Avenger takes place during World War II. It’s about Brooklyn native Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteering to be genetically transformed into a super soldier/secret weapon to help fight the war. The villan is Red Skull, Adolf Hitler’s ruthless head of weaponry, who intends to use a device well known to Marvel fans (the Tesseract) as an energy source for world domination. And let’s not forget that Captain America is played by Boston’s own hearthrob, Chris Evans.


The Sandlot (1993)

Of course, we need a film involving America’s favorite summer pastime, right? In The Sandlot, Scotty Smalls narrates his childhood move to a new neighborhood in the summer of ‘62. Smalls starts hanging out with a group of neighborhood kids who spend their lazy summer days and nights riding bikes, sleeping in tree houses, chasing after pretty lifeguards, and of course, playing baseball. The Sandlot stars Tom Guiry, James Earl Jones, and Boston’s Dennis Leary.

About the Authors
Stacy Buchanan Stacy Buchanan
Stacy is California born and raised, and happily living in Boston.  By day, she’s a seasoned digital marketer, social media enthusiast and pop culture consumer. After studying special effects makeup and film for over 20 years, she is also full-time film buff and by night, produces content for horror publications, focusing on classic and contemporary horror films.
Valerie Linson Valerie Linson
Valerie Linson is the Managing Producer for WGBHArts.  She is also the Series Producer for Basic Black and the Executive Editor for its accompanying website at WGBH.org. Basic Black is New England's longest-running television program devoted to explorations of the black experience.
Kris Wilton Kris Wilton
Kris is a freelance arts journalist who has contributed reported pieces and reviews to outlets including the Huffington Post, Slate.com, Artinfo.com, Modern Painters, Art+Auction, Art New England, New England Home, Entertainment Weekly, the Village Voice, Bostonist.com, ARTnews, Philadelphia Weekly, Emerging Photographer, Photo District News, and RL Magazine.

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