Film & Television

Few Surprises In This Year's Oscar Nominations

By Linda Holmes   |   Tuesday, January 25, 2011
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The Best Movies Of 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
2 Comments   2 comments.

WGBH's Jared Bowen and Boston Globe film
critic Ty Burr.

It’s been another banner year for Hollywood with more than a billion tickets sold. We’ve seen the return to form of one of America’s most critically acclaimed directors with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the end of one of the most popular franchises in film history with the 8th and final Harry Potter film...even a 24-hour film experience here in Boston as the MFA screened, The Clock. With so many movies to see and so little time, we turn to Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr and our own Jared Bowen - a couple of certified film fanatics, to walk us through some of the best of the year.

Jared Bowen's Picks

Jane Eyre
Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Machal Fassbender
Michael Fassbender explodes off the screen (and into a year of prominence) in an exquisitely rendered film.

Bridesmaids
Directed By: Paul Feig
Starring: Krisen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
I definitely did not see a funnier movie this year. And let me be upfront—I loves me some low-brow. And how about something revolutionary—give Melissa McCarthy the Oscar.

The Debt
Directed By: John Madden (Proof, Shakespeare in Love)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson
Intense and riveting—it’s great when the film ends and you can finally catch your breath (which you’d been holding forever).

Midnight in Paris
Directed By: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams
A quirky sweet film with a most novel concept

The Help
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis
All glossy and slick and somewhat pat—but that doesn’t matter after an extraordinary cast led by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone is finished

War Horse
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson
Spielberg opens and closes the film with a distracting John Ford take. But for the actual war crux of the film, War Horse slips into Spielbergian rhythm and just gallops brilliantly.

My Week with Marilyn
Directed By: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Willims, Kenneth Branagh
What I like to call a Vanity Fair film—completely overstylized in lighting, costumes and set and for all that I love it. Eddie Redmayne is just utterly charming (even though he only ever smiles) and Michelle Williams is just absolutely captivating as Marilyn. Plus there’s an equally decadent supporting cast including Branagh, Ormond, Dench, Wannamaker and more.

For Kids - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Directed By: David Yates
Starring: Danielle Radcliff, Emma Watson
Jared Says: This series went off the rails for me awhile back. But this edition completely returned me. Just an exceptional end to the series.

Ty Burr’s Picks

The Artist
Directed By: Michael Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell
Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. *Opens this Friday

The Clock (MFA film installation)
Directed By: Christian Marclay

Le Quattro Volte
Directed By: Michelangelo Frammartino
Starrring: Guiseppe Fuda
Italian film - An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria in northern Italy

Bill Cunningham New York
Directed By: Richard Press
Starring: Bill Cunningham and others
A documentary profile of the noted veteran New York City fashion photographer.

A Separation
Directed By: Asghar Fahadi
Starring: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat
Iranian film - A married couple are faced with a difficult decision, to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimers.

Drive
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising)
Starring: Ryan Gossling, Carey Mullligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks 
A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.

Moneyball
Directed By: Bennett Miller (Capote)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman
The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.

Win Win
Directed By: Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor)
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor
A struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach's chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he's double-crossed comes into his life.

For Kids - Hugo
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Voices of Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee
Animated film set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

WGBH Hosts Pick Their Holiday Favorites

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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Ed Burns Rewrites The Rules For Indie Film

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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Matt Bush and Edward Burns, right, in Mr. Burns’ film “Nice Guy Johnny.”
 

On this week's Moviola, WGBH's inside look at movies in and around the Hub, Jared Bowen talks to filmmaker and actor Ed Burns. Burns' latest release Nice Guy Johnny is definitely not coming to a theater near you, but will soon be available to everyone in Boston, and beyond.

Ed Burns is a filmmaker and an actor, often most recoginized as a co-star to the likes of Robert DeNiro and Tom Hanks in major Hollywood pictures like Saving Private Ryan. But like his hero Woody Allen, what sustains Burns is making his own small, personal films that have built up a dedicated following among indie film fans. In 1995, he attracted major buzz when his first feature, The Brothers McMullen, won at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win over audiences hungry to watch Burns' kind of personal storytelling in their local theaters.

View the trailer for The Brothers McMullen


The success of The Brothers McMullen was both a professional and personal triumph for Burns, especially given that he financed the $25,000 production budget on his own. After 15 years of making movies, Burns finds himself in an industry landscape much less friendly to independent films. Which left Burns to ask himself, 'where do I want to go next?'

I wanted to go back to what I was doing, and where my head was, pre-McMullen. I had no money. I didn’t know anybody in the film business. I didn’t know how to make a film. So, I thought, let’s set some parameters and go back and do that thing again.

“That thing,” now has a name.  It’s called, Nice Guy Johnny, and it’s Burns’s latest film. The parameters were simple: Don’t spend more than $25,000.  Don’t shoot more than 12 days. Don’t shoot with any more than a 3-man crew. Don’t hire any stars. Oh, and most importantly, don’t give it to the theaters—any of them.

“We’re trying a new way to get these smaller, specialized films out to the audiences—because the biggest complaint I’ve always heard from fans of my movies is that they don’t live anywhere near an art-house theater, and the films never get to them.”

So, when Nice Guy Johnny debuts on Tuesday, Oct 26th, you can enjoy it in the privacy of your own living room. Or, say, on your iPhone wherever you like. That’s because Nice Guy Johnny will only be available on-demand, online and on DVD.

“The fact that we can stream movies on Netflix, Comcast, and iTunes or even YouTube or Facebook—all these things didn’t exist when I got into the business.  So we’ve been trying to figure out how do we fight for attention?”

Burns’s answer: Tell a good story. “The movie’s about Johnny, a sports radio talkshow host out in Oakland.  It’s his dream job, it’s all he really wants to do.”

Burns explained he wrote the film in response to a crossroads he faced in his own career, when his agents were pressuring him to stop with the smaller, personal films. Many in the industry were urging Burn to finally direct a big-budget romantic comedy,

What did Ed learn? That following your dream doesn’t mean a life without compromise -- it means a life where you choose which comprises to make.

Nice Guy Johnny, premieres on-demand, online, and on DVD on Tuesday, Oct 26th.

Watch the trailer for Nice Guy Johnny.


 

Anchor


Is Nice Guy Johnny Worth Seeing?

Hear what the Moviola crew had to say, then let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

In 'Sherlock,' A Classic Sleuth For The Modern Age

By Linda Wertheimer   |   Friday, October 15, 2010
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Conviction: A Local Tale Of Murder And Family

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, October 13, 2010
27 Comments   27 comments.

Moviola is an inside look at movies in and around the Hub with WGBH’s Jared Bowen. You hear it during Morning Edition on 89.7 WGBH. In this episode, Jared talks with the real-life subject of Tony Goldwyn’s latest film, Conviction, which opens in theaters on Friday, Oct. 15. It’s a gripping tale of murder and family ties, based on the true story of a Massachusetts brother and sister.  

 

Hilary Swank as Betty Anne Waters
Hilary Swank stars as Betty Anne Waters
in the new film Conviction. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

On May 21,1980, Katharina Brow of Ayer, Massachusetts was found dead in her mobile home, beaten and stabbed more than 30 times. The brutal murder shocked the small town in Middlesex County—and would forever reshape the relationship between Kenneth and Betty Anne Waters a brother and sister.

"I knew he was innocent because I know my brother," says Betty Anne Waters, who is portrayed by actress Hilary Swank in the new film Conviction.

While Betty Anne may have been certain of her brother’s innocence, a jury wasn’t.  More than two years after Brow’s murder, Kenneth Waters was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life without parole, for a crime Betty Anne—a married high school drop out with two children—says she knew her brother didn’t commit.

"I knew that my brother was questioned because he was actually in court that morning and I thought they were just harassing him. I knew the whole story. I knew he was at work the night before, I knew he was in court, I knew he had the perfect alibi.  And he was arrested two and half years later, so I always knew from day one that he was innocent."

Betty Anne devoted the next 18 years of her life to exonerating her imprisoned brother.  She completed her GED, got three college degrees and after passing the bar exam in 1998. Her first and only client was her brother, Kenny. And in 2001, thanks to Betty’s determination and new DNA evidence, Kenneth Waters was finally set free.

"It is surreal, absolutely. Along the way I just took one step at a time, one hurdle at a time, never really knowing if I was ever going to finish, or get my brother free. All along the way I was scared to death that it wasn’t gonna happen, so, I’m happy that it happened and that my brother was free," Waters said.

Hilary Swank and Tony Goldwyn in the new film Conviction.
Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

Now, their story is the subject of Conviction, opening in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct 15, co-starring Hilary Swank as Sam Rockwell as Kenneth.

Conviction is more than an extraordinary story. As Director Tony Goldwyn says, it is "an in-depth examination of family, and the unique ties that bind a brother and sister."

"I remember when I was a little kid doing a kind of morbid analysis of my life and thinking 'What can I survive without in my life?” says Goldwyn. "Like if my parents died could I survive that? That would be awful, but yeah, I think I probably could. But the one thing I felt I couldn’t survive would be the death of my brother. I just remember that so well. Me and my brother are very close in age, same as Betty Anne and Kenny. We were so close that I felt if he died I’d have to die too, and I know Betty Anne felt that way. Betty Anne will tell you that’s what motivated her, that she promised Kenny that she would go to law school and figure out a way to get him out if he would stay alive."


Hear what Jared and the Moviola producers had to say about Conviction, and whether or not it's worth a trip to the theater.

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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