Film & Television

These Amazing Shadows

Monday, December 24, 2012
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Inspector Lewis Returns

Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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'Found Memories' Revealed With Grace And Patience

Sunday, June 3, 2012
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The minimalist Brazilian drama Found Memories has a running gag, a small chuckle that gradually morphs into something profound: Madalena (Sonia Guedes), an elderly baker in a remote hillside town, walks her fresh goods to the local coffee shop every morning, where she removes the rolls from her basket and stacks them in a cabinet to be sold. The shop owner, Antonio (Luiz Serra), barks at her to stack the bread his way. But every morning, Madalena ignores him.

We laugh first at the inherent silliness of their argument; how can the manner in which the bread is stacked possibly matter? By the third time Madalena opens that cabinet door, we think the film's got nowhere else to go. But by the fifth time she boxes out Antonio's frustrated glare — Guedes brings a uniquely enchanting stubbornness to her role — we see it's more than some lame joke. It's the one moment of defiance she exerts in her otherwise hollow day, and by gum she's going to keep on doing it until she dies.

In her first feature-length film, director Julia Murat has crafted an elegant still life, with all the poignancy and observation implied. It's true that Found Memories is slow, but it would be more accurate to say the movie operates at the natural speed of that town, a ruminative amble that somehow, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, keeps moving forward. Coupled with Lucio Bonelli's lush cinematography, which relies on natural light and uncluttered compositions, the pacing somehow feels right.

The movie is set in Jotuomba, a fictional impoverished rural community in Brazil's Vale do Paraiba hit hard by the decline in the coffee trade. Its inhabitants are all senior remnants from an earlier era. There's little in the way of youth or modern technology, and the suggestion is that once these citizens pass on, no one will be left to remember what happened there.

Drifter photographer Rita (Lisa Favero) is the story's de facto catalyst. She arrives in town looking for inspiration and crashes with Madalena, converting a wing of the house into a darkroom. Rita's fascinated by old things and old people, but in an impartial, detached way that still allows her to listen to 21st-century music on her iPod. The interplay of life and death in this forgotten town is a mere novelty to her, one she plans to file away in her photo album next to her other travels.

Rita is several generations younger than everyone she meets in town, a key detail that Murat, with co-writers Maria Clara Escobar and Felipe Sholl, subtly exploit. She's fascinated by Madalena's daily bread-baking routine, for instance, and the way the villagers file neatly into church on Sundays; she snaps pictures of everyday details everyone else long ago lost interest in.

Oddly, though Rita seems set up to act as a free spirit for the town, she's largely just as stately and reserved as the rest. She communicates chiefly through her camera, which makes it hard to understand how she could impart any emotion more significant than bemusement to the townsfolk. Yet Madalena still feels a connection, perhaps due to her own fondness for still images — she pulls out yellowing photos of her long-gone husband at night.

The feeling of twilight permeates Found Memories, which doesn't feel so much like a tale of discovery as it does a eulogy. (There's even a cemetery motif.) It's the difference between telling the story from Rita's point of view and telling it from Madalena's: A less confident filmmaker might have opted for the former, for fear the latter would be too depressing to ponder.

Even as it depicts a forgotten way of life, Found Memories is already on its way to becoming a relic itself, its glacial, meditative style an anachronism in the 21st century. The film finds its language in the rhythms of routine and the slow burn of deep realizations. Even as she seems to have lost her bearings, Madalena still traces abandoned railway tracks to the shop every morning at dawn, biding her time, bread basket in hand. (Recommended)

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'America': A Gleefully Violent Pop-Culture Pushback

By Ella Taylor   |   Saturday, May 12, 2012
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Arts Ahead: Shadows, Pops and Merry Poppers

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, May 10, 2012
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May 10, 2012


Olive Another as Maryand in the lastet production from Gold Dust Orphans.

BOSTON — Traditions take new and wild turns as a band of theater renegades reinterpret Mary Poppins, Tim Burton drops a vampire into 20th century Maine and the Boston Pops celebrate America's diverse music history with Steve Martin on banjo.

Mary Poppers

Presented by the Gold Dust Orphans
At Machine (in the Fenway) through May 20th

Gold Dust Orphans give us another rollicking ride through the twisted imaginations of Boston's foremost comedic troupe with the musical parody they have been waiting a lifetime to present.  "Mary Poppers" features Olive Another as Maryand other Orphan favorites: Ryan Landry, Penny Champayne, Bill Hough, Robin Banks and Delta Miles. The troupe is at their best with this show, which is fun and hits the heights of Orphan outrageousness.

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Jared Bowen's Arts Ahead: Shoes, Sex and Marriage

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, April 26, 2012
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April 26, 2012


Cast of The Inspector. Photo:Wolf Trap Opera.

BOSTON — Don't wait another minute to get tickets to these performances. A new spin on Russian satire and a unique look at Nigeria's recent history offer audiences fun ways in to an otherwise serious topic.

The Inspector
Presented by the Boston Lyric Opera
At the Citi Shubert Theatre through April 29th

Loosely Based on Nikolai Gogol’s 19th century Russian satire, The Government Inspector, the opera is set in Mussolini-era Sicily, and tells the story of a domineering Mayor and his town who are thrown into upheaval due to a rumored visit from a government inspector, traveling from Rome in disguise. The Inspector is filled with Italian brio as reflected in the musical markings in Musto’s score: “tarantella,” “mysterioso,” “alla barcarolla” and “breezily.” The production premiered in The Barns at Wolf Trap in 2011; Boston Lyric Opera premieres its latest revisions by the composer and librettist in a new adaptation built specifically for the Shubert Theatre stage. The Inspector is the fourth collaboration of composer John Musto and librettist Mark Campbell.

Presented in Association with ArtsEmerson
At the Cutler Majestic Theatre through May 6th

Olivier and Tony Award-nominated actor Sahr Ngaujah leads the cast of FELA! He is joined by Melanie Marshall and Paulette Ivory, who co-starred with Ngaujah in the Olivier-nominated Royal National Theatre production.  This touring production is a once in a lifetime experience, a triumphant tale of courage, passion and love. FELA! is the true story of Kuti, who created a type of music, Afrobeat, a bit of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmony, and combined it with incendiary lyrics that openly attacked the corrupt and oppressive military dictatorships that rule Nigeria and much of Africa.  Featuring many of Fela Kuti’s most captivating songs, FELA! reveals Kuti's controversial life as an artist and political activist and celebrates his pioneering music.

Visit the couple's Wedding Blog
The Five-Year Engagement
Opens in theaters on Friday

The director and writer/star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall return for the irreverent comedy The Five-Year Engagement. Beginning where most romantic comedies end, the new film looks at what happens when an engaged couple, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, keep getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle. The film was written by Segel and the director, Nicholas Stoller.

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


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