Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dear God No!!!

The writer's strike is taking its toll on award show season, my ultimate favorite time of the year. 

Read the accompanying article on here, from 

I never thought about it before, but there are introductions and monologues that the celebrities need to say when they go out to present an award. We all know most of them wouldn't be able to come up with those clever lines on their own. But I really hope the writer's get what they are asking for soon, because they deserve a good chunk of the money pie and I deserve to watch the Oscars! Good luck writers! 

Friday, November 30, 2007

Assignment # 6

My blogging experience has been very eye opening. I have never conversed like this over the internet. The farthest I've gone in the past is writing in my friends' facebook walls and IMing people over AIM. I had a lot of fun researching different movie related topics with news stories on the internet as well as writing reviews of films I had watched. I love creative writing like that, so this was more than just a homework assignment for me, it was fun. I did not dislike anything about the whole experience. 

I think I chose this topic at a great time in the Boston film industry. The streets have been full of celebrities lately and being able to cover it has been really fun. 

My admiration for citizen journalism and blogs have grown. I read a lot of other people's blogs from class and have found other movie related blogs that I have kept up with over the past few months. I think my liking of blogs will only continue to grow from here on out. 

I did share my blog with my family and friends. Of course my parents and grandparents thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread and complimented me many times over on it. Some of my friends read it, but of course we're in a day in age where people are obviously more into what they're doing and could care less. But that is fine, because I had a great time working on it. I think I'll continue my blog throughout the coming months, but not to the extent of what its been like for the class. Hopefully I'll do the occasional movie review and maybe when Oscar season roles around and I don't have a "real job" yet (I'm graduating!) I'll polish up my writing skills by covering awards season. 

All in all, I have had a great experience with the blogging assignment. It has taught me a lot about citizen journalism, and myself in general. I think my creative writing skills have improved and hopefully my somewhat witty comments caused few chuckles out there in cyberspace. Stay tuned for more...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mark Ruffalo Filming in Boston

Mark Ruffalo of films such as Zodiac, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and my personal favorite, 13 Going on 30, is in town filming the Donnie Wahlberg written drama Real Men Cry a long with Wahlberg and Ethan Hawke.

According to today’s Boston Herald, Ruffalo has also signed onto to star in the new Denis Lehane novel made into a movie Shutter Island and that the hot star should take out an apartment in the city if he's going to be filming here for that long.

Read the story here. 

More filming near ME!

As I was walking to the T from my apartment off of Harvard Ave in Allston yesterday morning around 9 o'clock, I noticed a film crew was setting up around my favorite Sunday brunch stop, the Grecian Diner (Go there, they have the BEST Eggs Benedict!). Of course, I was a rubber necker and tried to spot someone famous who might be there. Unfortunately, I did not see anyone I recognized so I shrugged it off and pretended that I had just witnessed the filming of a new Bob's furniture commercial. Then I came across this in this morning's Boston Globe Name's Column:

"Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman readied to film scenes for "The Lonely Maiden" at the Grecian Yearning restaurant on Harvard Avenue in Allston early yesterday. The comedy, about three museum guards who plot to steal a painting, also stars William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden."
Figures! I should have skipped class and stuck around...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New York City is bustling with 'Sex' Fans

Filming for Sex and The City: The Movie has been in progress since September, but according to an article in the New York Times, more and more fans have been lining up to watch.

The madness of the fans was hard for the filmmakers and actors to deal with. According to the article, a short 60 second scene being filmed in front of the New York City Public Library took hours to get right due to the multitude of fans gathered around the perimeter.

"When “Sex and the City,” the movie, began shooting in New York this fall, the
sight of its stars was both commonplace and traffic-stopping, breathlessly
chronicled by bloggers and gossip writers. ( cattily called it “The Most Important Movie Ever Filmed
in New York.”) Every outdoor setting inspired wicked speculation about story
lines and behind-the-scenes relationships. Even the cast and crew were surprised
by the level of attention."

In the article, Melena Ryzik talks about the cosmopolitan slurping, promiscuous Manhattan socialites, but with a different air then what would have been said three years ago when the famed HBO series ended. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are getting older, but nonetheless wiser in the upcoming film.

“That sort of wanton lust, it’s just not at the surface of their skin anymore,”
[Sarah Jessica] Parker said. 'What’s important to me is that Carrie isn’t frivolous and silly, that there is sophistication to her. She’s making a serious attempt
at making grown-up decisions about love and about life choices.'”

There have also been many spoilers (or maybe not...) posted on celebrity websites such as; pictures of Carrie in a wedding dress, or Charlotte with a pregnant belly have led many fans to question the plot and wonder whether or not the filmmakers are trying to trick them.

The film is set to be released on May 30, 2008. As a big Sex and The City fan myself, I am very excited to see a final end to my four favorite gals' Manhattan tales. Like myself, I am sure they have become more mature over the years and hopefully the movie will showcase that. I will end with saying thank you to whomever decided that television shows on DVD would be a good idea since that is how I became such a big fan of the series. I salute you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cameron Diaz in Town!

More celebs keep arriving in town! Cameron Diaz has been spotted all over the bean, shooting her new film The Box with James Marsden (who looks adorable as the Prince in Enchanted, the new live action Disney flick which just scored the number one box office spot this past weekend).

The movie revolves around a wooden box which arrives mysteriously on the doorstep of a troubled married couple, played by Marsden and Diaz. The couple open it and immediately become wealthy, but someone else has to suffer and die in order for them to be happy. Sounds a little scary! That's very unlike Cameron Diaz. The plot also sounds a lot like my new favorite television show Pushing Daisies

According the Boston Globe, Diaz dined at the famed Union Oyster House this past weekend:

We're told the actress knew her oysters and ordered up some on the half shell, tried the famed chowder and the fish and chips. After getting a tour of the restaurant, Diaz signed the book with the note: "Thanks for the Chowda!"

Watch out for Diaz and Marsden as they continue to film throughout December in the Boston area. According to IMDB, they are also filming parts in Virginia.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Disney Pixar Films! Assignment: # 5

Recently, I sat down with a few of my friends and watched Disney Pixar's latest film, Ratatouille. This film follows the life of Remy the rat. Remy has been granted a special gift from the rat gods and not only has an affinity for good food amongst the garbage his rat friends consume, but Remy has a distinct sense of smell. Because of this sense of smell, his father, who is the leader of the rat clan, makes Remy the official trash sniffer after Remy undoubtedly discovers poison in some of the garbage. Sensing there is more to life than sifting through trash, Remy goes on a search through an old lady's home for delectable garnishes to spice up a piece of cheese he found. What ensues is complete chaos and the rat clan are forced to abandon their home, while Remy gets lost in the process. When Remy emerges from the sewer he is in, he finds himself in the city of love and lights: Paris.

Mike Farrar, a 23 year old graduate student at the University of New Hampshire loved this film and thought that the animators did a great job. "Pixar really pulled out all the stops for this film. The backgrounds looked almost real, from bottles of spices to the Eiffel Tower."

As he saunters throughout Paris, he stumbles upon Gusteau's restaurant, a once famous dining establishment that has gone down the hill when the evil new owner, Skinner, decided to unveil Gusteau's Frozen burritos, instead of sticking to the books. Here Remy is introduced to Linguine, the protagonist main human character of Ratatouille. Linguini's mother has just passed away and he needs work. Skinner offers him a position in the kitchen and through a clumsy move, Linguine ruins a soup being prepared for guests that night. Remy spiesLinguine attempting to make amens, but seeing that he clearly does not know how to cook, he helps him out before Linguine catches him. The guests love the soup and of course, Linguine has to take all of the credit. Skinner forces him to prepare the soup again the next day, but Linguine can only do it with the help of his "little chef" and therefore, a story and friendship are born.

"Both characters were searching for the purpose in the world. Remy could not figure out if he was meant to be a rat or chef while Linguine could not find a job that he could hold down. These problems within, would remain the primary pushing force of our characters, even through the introduction of minor villains such as Skinner, Anton, and even Django," said Mike. "Because even after the culmination of all our "villains" being defeated, the main victory was not pleasing Anton or finding approval from Django, it was figuring out who they were."

The film, obviously made for children, had very underlying adult themes. Remy was clearly an outsider, just trying to make a living and a name for himself with his talent. However, wherever he turned, he only encountered negative attitudes, from both his family and humans. His family thought his dreams were not reachable and of course the humans were prejudice against him due to his vermin qualities. These themes of struggling to become who are meant to be are apparent in all aspects of film, novel and television.

As a pixar movie in general, the film was very well made. According to Alysha Blassberg, a 22 year old Boston College graduate and now a full time employee at Liberty Mutual, said she liked the film a lot but only found it so-so compared to the other Pixar films. "I would put it in the middle of the pack compared to other Pixar movies. I really liked it but I liked Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo more than Ratatouille. Though I thought it was mediocre for a Pixar movie, I think all of the Pixar movies are better than most other movies. My favorite Pixar movie is still Toy Story. I think Toy Story is glorified in my mind because it was the first Pixar movie I saw and none of the others can top that experience."

Lauren Underhill, a 22 year old Northeastern University graduate agreed with Alysha. "It wasn't my favorite, but still held the same great elements of previous Pixar films. They are able to create a child's movie that is sought out and enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Perhaps, the subtle adult elements allow us to enjoy it by allowing us to be kids again without any second thoughts. "

Stacey Perlman, a senior journalism major at Northeastern University said she liked Ratatouille just as much as the other Pixar movies. "I have enjoyed a variety of Pixar movies and I don't think that Ratatouille was any better or worse than the others," said she. "They have all been entertaining but the one I think I enjoyed the most was Finding Nemo. I remember finding it hysterical and thinking it was a very cute story."

Mike, somewhat disagrees on his favorite Pixar film. "Pixar definitely delivered their most visually appealing movie. It is hard to say that new film is better than classics such as, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc, but Ratatouille has definitely made me question which would be listed as my favorite. Among several more viewing of this and other classic Pixar films, I would not be surprised if Ratatouille had moved to the top of an elite list."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Talk about Nepotism!

Well...maybe not nepotism because I don't think Bruce Willis runs the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Regardless, today, it was announced that Ashton Kutcher's step daughter, Rumer Willis will be acting as Miss. Golden Globe at the 2008 award show.

The 19 year old will be following in the foot steps of many other famous actor's daughters, including Jack Nicholson's daughter, Lorraine Nicholson, who reigned as Ms. Globe at last year's ceremony.

According the, the 2008 ceremony will be held on January 13. Stephen Spielberg will also be honored with the Cecile B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

I am a big fan of the Golden Globe awards. I don't want to say it, because it will probably sound blasphemous, but I might like them a little more than the Oscars. GASP! Don't get me wrong, I love the Academy Awards, but the Golden Globes never bore me. I think its because when the Oscars give out their boring awards, that is when the Globe's give out their television awards, so at least I'm still being entertained.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More of Boston in the Movies!!!

This fall, a multitude of films were being filmed in downtown Boston. I hope you all recall my Kate Hudson and Alfred Molina sightings next to my work on Boylston Street! Let’s say I definitely don’t forget! However, more films will soon be coming to the bean. This month’s Boston Magazine highlights some of the films and gives a top ten play by play on what happens with the money the city makes from these films to how we, as residents of this fine city, can all get involved in the process!

Before September, Boston had had only five movies film in the past seven years! Considering the play that L.A. and Manhattan get, it’s hard to believe a city full of gorgeous scenery and a rich history did not have the same clout. What’s the best way to get in the pockets of Hollywood’s heavyweights? Tax breaks. And the city of Boston discovered this soon after their new head of the Massachusetts Film Office took over this past February. Nick Paleologos, a long with Kingston, Mass, academy award winning actor, Chris Cooper lobbied the state congress for a tax break for movie studios that filmed here. The law took effect last year and gave filmmakers a 25 percent rebate on money spent in Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick signed the law on July 20 and the whirlwind of actors poured into town! I guess a lot can happen when people can save a little dough.

According to the Boston Magazine article:

“Within hours, Columbia Pictures agreed to film the Paris-set Pink Panther sequel here. It was a meaningful coup: “Pink Panther has nothing to do with Boston. Not one scene,” Paleologos says, whereas the few movies previously shot in Massachusetts usually had plots that demanded they be here—and even those were doing the bulk of their filming elsewhere.”

This tax break also helps out the locals as well. When the movies are filmed here, money is literally poured into area restaurants and boutiques, as well as local electronic stores. According the article, makeup artists and hair stylists do all of their shopping on location and the stars of the films are given money to spend during their time off at local restaurants. An array of businesses are also able to cash in on the local filming. Luxury hoteliers, including the new Liberty Hotel (built in an old jail!) as well as lumber yards, florists and even porta potty distributers make a ton of money during a movie’s filming.

Another big beneficiary of the tax break is the Boston Movie Tour! According to the article:

"Jeff Coveney has been ferrying sightseers around to the city’s cinematic landmarks for a couple of years now, but with all the local filming creating widespread celebrity fever, he’s beginning to see heightened interest in his service. Last year, Coveney hosted 1,000 movie fans; this year, he’s on pace to quadruple that—and, between rides, meeting weekly with his guides to discuss new stops for their circuit."

And now I bet you're all wondering where in the city you can go to stalk...I mean "run into" these celebrities. See this chart that Boston Magazine put together of the current and future stars that are about to grace our lovely streets.

And if you're looking to get your own pretty face in front of the camera, Boston has numerous casting agencies that will help you live your dream. There is Boston Casting and C.P. Casting, both of which hold auditions for people hoping to get some one on one time with your favorite celebrity. If you are lucky enough to be an extra, expect to put in a hard days work. According to the article, extras usually work about a 12 hour shift on the weekdays. "The bulk of that is spent sitting and waiting, so bring a good book along."

It is definitely going to be exciting time this Winter when those such as William H. Macy, Cameron Diaz and above all, Brad Pitt come to town to film their upcoming features!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tom Cruise is Sad...Tear!

In a statement, Tom Cruise said he is upset and concerned that his new film Lions For Lambs did not fair well at the box office this past weekend. According to a news post on the Internet Movie Database, the movie failed to break into the top three films at the box office, being beat out by Bee Movie, American Gangster and what I'm sure will be a Vince Vaughn holiday classic (sense the sarcasm...) Fred Claus (and let's be honest, I still want to see it).

According to the post, the Robert Redford directed flick cost about $35 million to make. Lions for Lambs was also produced by Cruise's United Artists studio. He set this up after Paramount dropped him last year due to his scandalous behavior. Oh, Scientology! The film, which follows three seemingly separate story lines between a college professor, a presidential hopeful and a journalist, whose stories all inter link over an unjust and speculative war. Unfortunately, Lions for Lambs only made a low $6.7 million this past weekend.

A source told
"Tom wanted to really hit a home run with his first United Artists movie. It was more about how the industry was going to view him than the movie going public that Tom was worried about."
I think this movie looks very good. I am also very persuaded by advertisements on television and pretty much want to see everything. However, the rating on IMDB is a 6/10. Not horrible, but also not great for what seems to look like a potential Oscar nominee (we're talking Robert Redford here!). The New York Times gave the film a very good review and said that it is a film very much of the era we are in now and that Redford did a good job at presenting such a cinematic endeavor as something we should pay attention to if we haven't already.

"[Redford] echoes the prevailing wisdom that you should support the troops even if you don’t support the wars. The problem isn’t whether this assertion is true; the problem is the film reflexively embraces it, much as it does every single other cliché, without inquiry, challenge or a single ounce of real risk. It tells us everything most of us know already, including the fact that politicians lie, journalists fail and youth flounders. Mostly it tells us that Mr. Redford feels really bad about the state of things. Welcome to the club."

Maybe it will do better once the Golden Globe nods come out.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Magner's Irish Film Festival THIS WEEK!

Give it to the Irish to name a film festival after an alcoholic beverage! Don’t get me wrong, I love the Irish, I love Magner's and I love movies. I’ve been to Ireland twice and well, Magners (or Bulmer's as it’s known in the green country) was my life blood when I was abroad. But there is obviously more to the Irish than sheep, rolling hills and their boozing habits and they showcase it in their cinema. This year’s Magner’s Irish Film Festival begins today and runs until November 11. The festival offers viewings of today’s most contemporary Irish and Irish-related films.

The festival (BIFF) was founded in 1999 by Jim Lane and Peter Flynn, two Emerson College colleagues. Flynn has remained the director of the festival to this day. Irish at heart, an in genetics, Flynn is a native of Dublin and graduated from the University College of Dublin in 1994 with an MA in Film Studies. He is now a professor at Emerson College, teaching classes in film and history.

According to the Boston Irish Film Festival website:

“Increasingly filmmakers from Ireland and the Irish Diaspora are turning to the visual media arts to express themselves and their culture. Within the last ten years alone Irish cinema has emerged as a dynamic global phenomenon, expressing a culture focused on the island of Ireland but spread out to all four corners of the globe.”

In 2003 BIFF began an awards ceremony to accompany the film showings which celebrated the work of the great filmmakers.

This year, the festival is giving its Excellence award, which acknowledges the achievements of a particular actor in the Irish film and television industry. This year’s honoree is Aidan Quinn, who is known for his roles in contemporary American film and television as well as keeping to his roots in exclusive Irish movies. He has been featured in such American films as Desperately Seeking Susan, Legends of the Fall, and Music of the Heart. Head over to the Brattle Theater in Cambridge tonight at 7 pm, where they will be honoring Aidan Quinn and showing his Irish film Song For a Raggy Boy.

This year’s BIFF Award Winners are listed on the website. The best feature for this year is entitled The Front Line. This film was written and directed by David Gleeson. It follows the life of Congo immigrant, Joe Yumba, who moves to Dublin. He has escaped a life of civil war and crime with his loving family. Everything seems to be going fine until he is forced to become involved in a bank robbery scheme. They will be showcasing this feature tomorrow night at the Harvard Film Archive at 7 pm. Admission is $10.

Each winner’s film will be screened during the festival. Filmmakers representing each film will be present to accept the award and answer questions from audiences.

To see a detailed schedule of films and workshops see here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sweeney Todd - Trailer Official

Johnny Depp to sing??

Get ready to hear Johnny Depp belt out his best when Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, hits theaters on December 21.

I am somewhat of a big musical fan. I practically know every line to Moulin Rouge and Chicago and I recently was blessed enough to watch Legally Blonde: The Musical when it aired on MTV. Nothing like singing "Oh my god, oh my god you guys!" with your roommates on a random Sunday afternoon. It is a song from the film, if you don't believe I'm sure it will be on re-runs soon. It's pretty great.

Even though this is a little embarrassing to admit, the first time I actually heard of Sweeney Todd was while watching Ben Affleck’s disastrously un-watched film Jersey Girl, when his adorable little spawn with Jennifer Lopez wants to act out a bloody scene from the play for her school’s parent talent show.

The film, based on the famous Broadway musical, follows the life of Benjamin Barker. Living in Victorian England with his wife and daughter, the small town barber is forcefully deported to Australia thanks to a harsh judges’ order. He returns to England after many years with no reason to live except to get revenge on those who did him wrong and according to the synopsis on IMDB, “reaping the benefits of that bloody journey.” He does this by assuming Sweeney Todd as his alias and seeking vengeance by slashing throats, dumping the bodies from his barber’s chair and churning the bodies into human meat burgers. Hungry yet?

The film stars Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin and Mr. Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen as Signor Adolfo Pirelli.

It is never easy to bring these famed musicals to life on the big screen. The New York Times sat down with director Tim Burton to discuss his aspiration to make the film. According to the New York Times, Burton became obsessed with the musical living in London in the 1980s, seeing it over and over again:

"Around five years ago, he said, he stumbled on an old drawing he had made of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. To his surprise, “they kind of looked like Johnny and Helena.” The wheels began to turn. “Those kinds of things mean something to me,” Mr. Burton said.

Burton, who casts Depp in most of his films, had to think twice for this film since Depp’s singing chops were not exactly up to par. When Burton asked Depp, he replied with candor, “I may sound like a strangled cat,” and obviously agreed to participate in this groundbreaking piece of cinema.

For Sweeney Todd’s look in the film, Burton stopped at nothing to have the most demonic looking set and characters. Burton always has to add his own personal flair to every film he takes on. Just think of the classic Willy Wonky & and the Chocolate Factory and compare it to Burton’s bizarre take on little Willy in 2005’s Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. In the case of Depp’s voice, Burton said: “It started to dawn on me that I knew what Sweeney sounded like before, and I knew that it was up to me to go far away from that. He needed to be, for lack of a better word, slightly more punk rock.”

This will most likely be another musical that I grow quite fond of.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Darjeeling is not just a tea anymore

In true Wes Anderson fashion, The Darjeeling Limited has an array of dysfunctional characters, a lot of dry, witty humor and of course, those slow motion scenes that tug at the heart strings.

The film follows the three Whitman brothers who have not spoken in a year since their father's untimely funeral. Owen Wilson portrays the eldest brother, Francis who for a lack of better words, is a control freak. He brings together Peter and Jack, played by Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman. Peter holds onto the past by carrying around trinkets from his father's life, such as a pair of sunglasses that still have the prescription in them as well as an old razor. Jack has not been back in America since his father's death. He has lived in France and has had a tumultuous break up with his girlfriend, which is showcased in Hotel Chevalier, a 13 minute prequel that was shown before the main feature. The three set out on an adventure of spiritual self fulfillment on a train in India, aptly named the Darjeeling Limited. Francis hires an assistant who sets up their itineraries every day, with printer and laminating machine in tail.

Being the control freak that he is, Francis has to have everything settled and ready to go whenever he wants it to. He eagerly orders meals for his estranged brothers, who comply without hesitation, until it becomes too much to handle and arguments and fistfights become the only way to handle it. Francis is also injured, having crashed on his motorbike and was actually dead for a minute before those who found him brought him back to life. This leaves him with bandages around his face for most of the film.

Peter is torn over the feelings he has towards a new child entering his life. His wife, Alice is six weeks away from giving birth and Peter has taken off to road trip it with his siblings in a foreign country. His future fatherhood is a secret that Peter keeps from Francis, but of course tells Jack. These two remain allies against Francis throughout the film until each of their secrets spill out into the open. Another large secret is also revealed when Francis tells Peter and Jack that the biggest reason for their trip, aside from their brotherly bonding, is to visit their mother who left long ago and did not attend their father's funeral. She is now a nun living in a convent on the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains.

While the brothers remain very different in their states, they are all seemingly the same and one could tell that they were brothers by their banter, wit and characteristics. They all share an affinity for prescription drugs. In one hilarious scene, they all pass back and forth the drugs that they are taking to cure their specific ailments: heartache, anxiety, and in Francis' sake, facial wounds, numbing them to their surroundings.

Interestingly enough, through these drug addictions, sexcapades on board with a stewardess and the purchase of an illegal and very poisonous snake, the three siblings get kicked off the train in the middle of nowhere India with nothing but the clothes on their back and eleven brown leather suitcases with the initial JMW etched into them--their father's. One second the film goes from hilarity to melancholy when the Whitman's attempt to save three small Indian boys whose raft topples over in a river. Peter remains depressed after finding that his child has died. They return the children to their village and are taken in with open arms. What separated the boys to begin with, is what brings them back together in the end: a funeral.

While there are many fights over the secrets that are withheld, the chaos that ensues and the culmination of finally getting in touch with their long lost mother are what ultimately provides for the brothers to once again become bonded.

A large metaphor in the film lies behind the baggage that the boys must carry with them. Of course, each has their own emotional baggage to tend to, but in the final scene, (in the slow motioned Wes Anderson style), the three must run once again to meet their train that has departed without them. They drop their pieces of luggage, one by one, that has been a burden to them. We as the audience are to assume they have also let go of their past baggage as well and their next stop will ultimately be together.

As a big Wes Anderson fan myself, I adored this film. I found myself experiencing every range of emotion I could find in an hour and half and that is what I think Wes Anderson aims for in every film that he has made. The scenery of India was exquisitely and beautifully portrayed. The background of the Himalayan mountains, to the bareness of the open soil to the hectic marketplace atmosphere made me long for a visit. And of course, the witty road trip banter and bonds fulfilled made me want to take the trip with my own dysfunctional friends.

What the film did great, however, was to portray three seemingly different characters and embody them into one. They all had their flaws, but one main goal to attend to, which they achieve in so many different ways. A film about bonding and brotherly love also became a film of finding who each of them was individually.

In the New York Times' review of the film A.O. Scott puts in his two cents:

"Part of the pleasure of watching it comes from never knowing quite what will happen next. Not that everything that happens is pleasant. Wes Anderson’s world may be a place of wonder and caprice, but it is also a realm of melancholy and frustration, as if all the cool, exotic bric-a-brac had been amassed to compensate for a persistent feeling of emptiness. The Whitman boys may seem happy-go-lucky, but on closer inspection they don’t look very happy at all."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

American Gangster Opens This Weekend

The first weekend of November means it’s getting closer to Oscar season and this weekend is no different at the cinema. American Gangster is opening, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (who dons a pretty on point New York accent…at least from what I’ve seen from the previews).

This true story follows underground gangster, Frank Lucas, played by Washington, who comes to rule the inner-city drug trade in 1970s Manhattan. He begins to be targeted by Officer Richie Roberts, portrayed by Aussie actor, Russell Crowe.

According to the synopsis on IMDB:

“Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from
their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law."

The movie runs almost 2 and half hours and we shouldn’t expect any less from director Ridley Scott, who has directed such gems as Alien, Gladiator and Thelma and Louise.

The film is getting rave reviews and early Oscar predictions are hovering around it. According to one reviewer on IMDB:

“I think Ridley Scott has already booked a spot in the best director contest. He can control the camera like no other and you can get every teeny tiny detail from what you are watching thanks to him. He managed to the details about a very critical period of American history using a very descent manner of focusing on drugs and

Although some critics are embracing the film, others have delved deeper into its background and real life history and have labeled it seemingly unreal. Manohla Dargis, a film critic at the New York Times said the film, or more so, the director embraces the violent man we are supposed to hate too much and makes him the focus and seemingly, the "hero" of the film.

"Like many moviemakers (and watchers), Mr. Scott loves his bad
guy too much. And by turning Lucas into a figure who seduces instead of repels,
an object of directorial fetishism and a token of black resistance, however
hollow, he encourages us to submit as well."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to a day filled with ghouls and goblins, witches and well...playboy bunnies if you're in college. But as a big fan of both this wonderful holiday and the delicious treats that come along with it, I found this post on with movie related candy to hand out to the kiddies (or in my case, college aged boys dressed as women) who come to the door.

Of course, we are all advocates of product placement in films. How else would they get financed? But there have been some great candy placements in the most popular films of this generation. I think the most obvious comes from E.T: The Extra Terrestrial., where Eliot finds the little creature using Reese's Pieces candy.

According the site:

"Originally Spielberg had wanted M&Ms in the film, but the candy's manufacturer, Mars, declined. Then, Spielberg contacted Hershey about using Kisses, but the company offered its fairly new Reese's Pieces instead. And the rest is history. The film showcases the product as the specific lure for getting E.T. out of the shed. And the until-then unknown and unpopular candies saw an 80% rise in sales because of the product placement"

Very intriguing. I'm sure M&M's and Mars kicked themselves in the behind a lot after that film came out and its popularity soared.

Other candies to hand out include Babe Ruth bars, which were a prominent feature in the film The Goonies, again another classic children's movie.

Another recent addition comes from the famed Harry Potter collection. Jelly Belly beans that have flavors such as throw up, booger and rotten egg. Gross! These jelly beans came out after the success of the movie, as most products do. I have seen them available at Hallmark stores and CVS if you are looking for a gross, yet fun treat.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Next Stop for the Movies? iTunes...

Clearly, the film industry is a hard place to break into. Even veteran filmmaker and actor, Edward Burns has had a rough time. He spoke to the New York Times about the difficulties he has had, even as well known as he is, in bringing his films to the theaters and to film festivals.

His new film Purple Violets, which stars known actors Debra Messing, Selma Blair and Patrick Wilson will be released on November 20 solely to iTunes. According to the article Burns and his partner, Aaron Lubin hope that the release of their full length feature on the download site will bring more promotion for the film than if they had released it in a handful of theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

iTunes itself has had problems in the movie distribution ring. Their competition includes Netflix's watch it now category, where those with a Netflix account have the ability to watch several hundred titles for free right on their computer screens, instead of waiting for them in the mail. However, iTunes does offer older titles, for a small download fee, similar to downloading mp3 music files off of the site.

iTunes was actually the promotion vehicle for Wes Anderson's new flick The Darjeeling Limited. Anderson's prequel to the film, Hotel Chevalier was first featured on iTunes, where those who wanted to could download the 13 minute film for free. More than 400,000 people downloaded the short, which acted as a huge promotion for Darjeeling.

iTunes is becoming the distribution center for a lot of short films and documentaries not usually seen in the public sphere. For instance, during the Academy Award ceremonies, I always decide to take a shower or go make food when they being giving out the awards for Best Feature, Short Subject or Best Animated Short. I haven't seen these movies, nor do I care who wins them because I am not familiar with any of the titles. However, now that they are becoming more available on iTunes, I will have the opportunity to check them out before the Oscars and can make predictions as to who will win. It is also good for those filmmakers who will now have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. It also makes it easier for them to push their films in the festival ring as well.

According to the New York Times:

“We’re really at the beginning stage in the movie space,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president for iTunes, adding that iTunes had sold more than four million movie downloads — including shorts — but still had fewer than 1,000 titles for sale. Of course we want all of the Hollywood movies,” he added. “But we do like the fact that we can be a great distribution vehicle for the little guys.”

Check out iTunes and see what they have available for movie downloads!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boston's Jewish Film Festival

Mazle tof! When I was a freshman at Northeastern, I took a Jewish film class, which has to this day remained one the best classes I have ever taken. I love the Jewish culture and traditions, a trait I received from my ex boyfriend, friend and half Jewish pal, Mike. From going to passover dinners to Bar Mitvahs and the lighting of the Hannukah candles, I have come to respect and aspire to be like this culture.

While I was walking around Coolidge Corner in Brookline the other day, I noticed that the 19th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival will begin next Thursday, November 1 and will run until November 11. Again, another film festival I was not aware of until now. Seeing all those Woody Allen and Sidney Lumet movies in my Jewish Film class makes me want to attend this event.

The event started by filmmaker Michael Goldman in 1989 and has remained non competitive, although viewers may cast a vote for their favorite piece, or documentary but no awards are actually given out. The festival began small, with about ten screenings. Today, there are about forty screenings throughout the ten day event.

According to the festival's website:

"We screen international and American independent films and videos that
highlight the Jewish experience; deal with themes of Jewish
culture/heritage/history; or are of particular interest to the Jewish community"
In recent years, the festival has premiered many award winning features such as The Pianist, starring Oscar winning actor Adrian Brody, Nowhere in Africa and The Personals. There will be screening at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, The Museum of Fine Arts Theater and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The festival kicks off on November 1 at the Museum of Fine Arts, which will showcase the film Aviva My Love, about a young writer from Tiberias, who spends her time as a mother and an ear for everyone else's problems. The film was made in Israel in 2006. According to the site:

"Shemi Zarhin, the writer/director of Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, has crafted an
irresistibly warm and richly textured tale about one woman’s struggle to
recognize her talent and follow her dream"
Some other titles include, My Mexican Shivah, Orthodox Stance, Two Eyes and a Mouth and Mirrors. These films come from all over the world, including both Germany and France. Many features are documentaries, while others are shorts. Most, however are full length feature films. Some of the films have more than one night of showings, so click here to see the full schedule.

After studying Annie Hall, Crimes & Misdemeanors and Next Stop: Greenwich Village, all films that have underlying Jewish stereotypes such as overly protective and pushy mothers and cheapskate characters, I will be excited to see such films that not everyone else knows about from not as prominent Jewish filmmakers and directors.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fright Night is Only A Week Away!

In Lieu of the Halloween season, I have come across a list on regarding the top ten most overlooked scary movies. I have only heard about one of these films, "Frailty" made in 2001 and starring Bill Paxton. The other nine range in genre and go all the way back to 1932 with the movie Freaks, which featured an actual legless man and real Siamese twins. According to the site:

"The reality of the freaks’ situation is constantly staring you in the face, as they aren’t really acting, so it is hard to feel pity for the “normal” humans who get so much pleasure out of torturing them. What’s truly great about this movie is that it still shocks after 75 years."

Another film featured is from famous director, Michael Powell, who's film Peeping Tom follows a serial killer, who murders women on tape then watches it all go down again and again. Sounds utterly disturbing.

Perhaps some of these films are featured on FearNet on Comcast?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gone Baby Gone Review

Listen to my podcast about Gone Baby Gone here.

Never have I seen the Fenway AMC movie theater this packed before. Granted it was pouring outside on a Friday night, but the lines to both the ticket counter and the fandango machines were out the door. I arrived twenty minutes early, soaked to the bone hoping that I would not have to crane my neck in order to see the screen. Luckily enough I did not and when the screen lit up with that familiar Boston skyline, I grew content…but not for long.

Gone Baby Gone is a film laden with deep sorrow, regret and tragedy. Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is not a film for the easily confused nor the weak stomached. It is, however, a film that portrays a powerful image of the Boston underclass and the deep seated feelings that others hold against them.

As the film opens, Affleck draws you into the neighborhood of Dorchester, slowly panning from each local face to the next, hoping that the audience will be able to recognize part of what it is they are or are not. A little girl, Amanda McCready has gone missing and her Aunt Bea, Uncle Lionel and mother, Helene are pleading with the television news cameras for their little girl’s safe return. Casey Affleck is heard narrating throughout the opening credits, speaking of his days growing up on the same hard streets that he now fights crime on.

We are then introduced to Patrick Kenzie, depicted brilliantly by Casey Affleck. He and his live in associate girlfriend, Angie are both private investigators, used to the normal routines of finding missing people who forgot to pay their credit card bills and are now hiding out in new Hampshire. Bea pleads for Patrick and Angie to take the case of her missing niece, Amanda. This is the first instance in the movie where choice comes into play. Angie is at first reluctant to take it, and when they meet with the coked out and drunk Helene, she wants to flee immediately. But something in Patrick makes him want to take the case and they forge a bond to not let this particular missing child's case take a toll on their relationship. Patrick meets with the chief of police Jack Doyle, played by an underplayed Morgan Freeman, who himself has lost a child to murderous deviants and has vowed to never let another child go missing from the streets of Boston. Freeman’s part in this film is inherent to the actual outcome of the film but is sadly not used to his full potential

Patrick seems to know every loser in town. He runs into an old buddy of his who claims the night Amanda went missing, Helene was not over her friends house as she claims, but was instead doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom of their local southie pub. These relationships seem to be the glue that holds everyone together throughout the film. They provide Patrick with the name of every drug lord, pedophile and pimp in the city to help him solve the case of the missing Amanda.

Detective Remy Bressant, played wonderfully by veteran actor, Ed Harris is dispatched to help Patrick and Angie. Together, the three of them along with Bressant’s partner, Detective Nick Poole, probe Helene with multiple questions and find that she was a mule, or a drug carrier for a Haitian drug dealer, aptly named Cheese. They immediately pin point that cheese took Amanda away because Helene owed him over $130,000.

Armed with hand guns and each other Patrick and Angie go to meet Cheese at a quarry in Chelsea to retrieve Amanda and hand over his trafficked cash. While there, there is a shooting and neither Patrick, Angie nor the audience knows exactly what it going on. The camera action during this sequence is muddled throughout the dark images on screen and the trees through which is runs through. After Cheese is found dead, Amanda’s doll is found floating in the water.

The movie seemingly could end at this point. The movie goes into a montage of the future few months with Patrick narrating: Helene is given a death certificate, even though no body is ever found, Chief of Police Doyle moves away and Patrick and Angie move on with their lives. This was about 45 minutes into the film.

Through a series of events and people from his past, Patrick uncovers more and more information related to Amanda. Each choice he makes brings him to another clue. Patrick chooses to follow his drug dealer friend into the house of a convicted pedophile and heroin addict, where he ultimately discovers evidence of another child abduction. These scenes in particular, were very difficult to watch. The trail he is lead on leads him to a path of further difficult decisions and everywhere he turns, he begins to run into added lies and deceit.

This is a film ultimately about the choices that we make and the morals that we hold. Patrick is forced to make a very complex and difficult decision in the culmination of the film and the entire time, the audience is left wondering, a long with Patrick, if it was the right one to make.

This film was very well made. The dialogue, with all of the sharp witty comment from Helen’s mouth was both poignant and at time, hysterical. Amy Ryan, who played Helene will most certainly cinch the best supporting actress category at the Oscars. Her portrayal of a down and out dot mother with a drug problem made me cringe, laugh and sob. I especially enjoyed the filming techniques used by Ben Affleck and the way in which the film was split up into three seemingly different periods. The deception kept me guessing every second and the surprise ending is worth going to see the movie in the first place. Casey Affleck definitely holds his own against the veterans such as Harris and Freeman.

All in all, Gone Baby Gone lived up to the brethren of recent Boston made cinema. I can gladly say that it holds its own next to The Departed and Mystic River.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More to Come Soon I Swear!

I have spent the better half of this weekend studying for two midterms I have on Tuesday which is why I have neglected the blog. HOWEVER, on Friday I went to see the long anticipated
Gone Baby Gone. I will be posting a podcast about my experience seeing this film, with thoughts on it from both my friend Mike and I.

The film was both incredibly good and intriguing, but of course, there is more to it than that. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More "Gone Baby Gone"

Ben Affleck is obviously everywhere in this blog, but I figured anyone who reads this and is from the Boston area will appreciate this New York Times photo slide show on Ben Affleck and photos of places where he filmed Gone Baby Gone. Enjoy!

"Slaughter High", a Good Time for All!

The other night, my roommates and I were scanning through the On Demand movies on Comcast. There are an array of frightful films you can watch, including The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring none other than Academy award winning actress Renee Zellweger and hunky Matthew McConaughey. The movie came out in 1994, so at least they made it when neither of them were established yet. I will be viewing this film eventually.

Through our browsing, we came across a great little gem entitled Slaughter High. Under the FearNet category, there are numerous Halloween-esque films that make any Sunday night a time to get together with your apartment mates and scream and laugh over a literal “gut-busting” scene.

Of course, we read the description for the film, which described it as “Revenge of the Nerds” but for the nerd to get even, he kills all of the popular jocks. This was obviously a must see.

The film, made in 1986, chronicles Marty Rantzen, a nerd among nerds at an undisclosed high school. Fully equipped with thick glasses, an affinity for chemistry class and a thick geek accent, Marty follows the class hottie, Carol who brings him into the locker room where he thinks they are going to get it on in the shower.

It is April Fools day and the popular gang is playing a prank on poor Marty. They strip him down, start filming him, dunk his head in the toilet. It was actually very excruciating to watch. The horrible acting did not make it much better, but it was very painful to see these kids treat another human in this respect. The filmmakers did a good job of not making this funny at all.

They end up getting caught by the school gym teacher, who makes the popular kids work out for their punishment. To get Marty back, since of course it was his fault they got into trouble, they spike his chemistry project with different chemicals, which ultimately causes an explosion at the school. Marty leaves on a stretcher, with burns covering his entire body.

Fast forward five years later; the gang comes back into their quiet hometown for their supposed high school reunion, obviously held exactly five years later on the fateful April Fools Day! Cue the scary music...

The high school is their meeting point and it is suspiciously closed. The idiots they are, the break in to party hard like they used to. Little do they know what is waiting for them inside…

This movie was hilarious. I definitely jumped a few times and had to turn my head away, but an 80s low budget horror movie about a nerd getting revenge on his high school classmates had to be funny!

The acting was so bad, but it was bearable due to the hilarious death scenes. Marty always seemed to know where his victims were going to be in the school, taking them down one by one is strange and awkward ways. One of my favorite scenes was when one of the girls gets blood on her face after her friend drinks a beer and his stomach explodes. Instead of running way with the rest of the crew, she takes a bath! My roommates and I could not get over this. Obviously it was for the inevitable nudity that would come with the bath, but she meets her demise in there. Marty filters in acid, so her entire body disintegrates. It was special effects at its best.

Another part where we yelled at the TV because the characters are so stupid (although if they were smart, this wonderful film would not have been made) was when the character, Frank decides he needs to fix a lawnmower in order to get them out of the building. Sure…but the rest of the guys leave him alone to do so! Idiots! Of course, Frank gets chopped up by the device with Marty comes in and turns it on when he is under it.

Another part that I absolutely adored was when the group thought they would all be okay and Marty would stop chasing them the next day at noon. Their defense? Because when noon hit, April Fools day would be over. I'm sorry, but I thought days ended at midnight, not noon? Duhhhh!!!

The most creepy aspect about this film, according to IMDB, is that Simon Scuddamore, the young actor who portrayed Marty, committed suicide shortly after this film was released. That is very eerie.

All in all, this movie kept my roommates and I very entertained. I highly recommend it if you are into yelling at dumb people on your television, and enjoy fake blood and really bad acting. It is a fun Halloween movie for a night in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Premiere of Gone Baby Gone

Last night the boys from across the river came back to their homestead for the Boston premiere of Gone Baby Gone.

Director Ben Affleck, brother and star, Casey Affleck and best bud, Matt Damon all attended the premiere held at the AMC on Boston Common last night.

According to the Inside Track in today's Boston Herald, the boys were worried that they would miss game 2 of the ALCS with their beloved Red Sox, who played the Cleveland Indians. (Unfortunately, they did not miss much since the great ole sox lost hardcore!)

Said Damon:

“This is the biggest night of Ben’s career but we have our priorities straight. We’ll be sneaking out back as soon as the film starts. Are you kidding, we’re watching the game live.”
This is a film I have talked about quite a bit through the evolution of my posts and for a good reason. The film is getting rave reviews around the world (standing ovation in France of all places!) and it seems as though it is only just the beginning of the Oscar praise that Boston has been getting and will seemingly continue to receive in the coming years.

Ben, who arrived with this starlet wife, Jennifer Garner said something very poignant in today's Boston Globe:

"This is the only premiere that makes me nervous," he said. "This has an
audience that'll know if it's real or false."
The Boston Herald gave the film an A- in its review today, saying that Gone Baby Gone, "set beside Mystic River, and The Departed, completes an unholy trinity of Boston-based crime dramas."

One aspect that I love about this movie is how Ben Affleck casted it. He used many locals in the film and sometimes all it took was to ask him politely. Affleck, who shot the entire film in Boston, would sometimes have to knock on door to get more people onto the streets for certain scenes in the film. In an article in yesterday's Boston Herald, he said:

"One of the advantages of being a known actor is that people weren’t outraged
when you bang on their door. A lot of times they shrug and go, ‘OK, let me get
my coat.’ That was spectacular because they looked perfect. No makeup on, come
right down the street and be in the movie. People would just walk right out of
their life and right into the movie. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Needless to say, I will be seeing this film as soon as possible. It opens nationwide on Friday.