PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE

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by Leo Racicot

Like a wave of fresh, spring air following one of the rottenest winters on record, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE wafts into the Brattle like a warm rain, green grass, fun and flowers. Its bright candy colors are sure to wake you from your long black-and-white hibernation. Its non-stop frivolity will cause you to skip and run and jump. It is food for the soul, and what fool is going to turn that down after all the rain and hail, cold and snow of Old Man Winter, 2014.

What a gift the Brattle is giving us! Continue reading

THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER

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By Deirdre Crimmins

THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER was released in the summer of 1981.  This was five years after The Muppet Show started, and just a few months after it ended.  Given that The Muppet Show ended at the height of its popularity (Jim Henson wanted it to end on a high note rather than watch it inevitably fall from grace) the film was a welcome visit with old friends to contemporary audiences.  It also solidified the Muppets’ transition from television to film.  No longer was their popularity due solely to having a weekly variety show; they were movie stars. Continue reading

Film and Originality

La-grande-bellezza-the-great-beauty-oscar-2014-4 By Tessa Mediano

One spring weekend, I found myself talking up the Boston Common as some visiting Italian friends and I walked through the still half-frozen park. Pleasantries had already been exchanged, and I was casting out questions that I hoped my rather quiet companions would respond to with longevity and gusto. This failed to happen. I switched tacks and began to babble on about a topic that could sustain me, at least, until we reached our destination: film. More specifically (I hadn’t given up on trying to engage the Italians), I started praising Paolo Sorrentino’s latest movie, LA GRANDE BELLEZZA. Almost immediately, one of my friends let out a booming, derisive laugh that shocked the conversation out of its plodding torpor. Continue reading

THE MUPPET MOVIE

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By Deirdre Crimmins

Many films that we watch for nostalgia are not empirically as great as we remember them to be. When you step away from them for years and come back, you may realize that it was your love of the characters, or the feeling the film gave you as a child, that clouded your ability to see it for what it actually is. It is with this vigilant caution that I rewatch the films I loved as a child. However, the crushing realization that your nostalgia outweighs the quality of the film does have a positive counterpart. There is a satisfying joy in revisiting your childhood films and finding that not only have you remembered them correctly, but they have much more depth to them—depth added specifically for adult viewers—than you knew. Continue reading

CLASS OF 1999

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By Justin LaLiberty

It’s the future (the film was made in 1990); the gangs are violent, the schools unsafe. The answer: robots. This may not be the succinct tagline that adorns the theatrical one-sheet for Mark L. Lester’s CLASS OF 1999—that would be the much more ambiguous “The ultimate teaching machine…out of control”—but it’s about all you need to make an educated (sorry) decision on whether or not you want to spend ninety-nine minutes of your life watching Lester’s pseudo-sequel to his seminal punks-on-film opus, CLASS OF 1984. Continue reading

Living in Real Time

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By Deana DiSalvio

Polish director Andrzej Wajda made the film MAN OF IRON in 1981, as a sequel to his 1977 film, MAN OF MARBLE. The protagonist Maciej, the son of Mateusz in the first film, continues the labor struggle at the Gdansk Shipyards in Poland where he works, just as his father did. Emotionally consuming and heartbreaking at times, the film delves deep into the relationships and human subtleties affected by political strife and oppressive conflict, and ultimately reflects how the greater fight for a democratic freedom requires sacrifice. Continue reading

SANATORIUM, SANS SUBTITLES

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By Bridget Foster Reed

I intentionally watched THE HOUR-GLASS SANATORIUM in its native Polish language without English subtitles. I don’t speak a lick of Polish. I was aware that a surrealist film of this caliber would most likely rely on some sort of philosophical dialogue that would spark an internal debate about the human condition. From my experiences as an artist and with other surrealist films, (i.e. Ingmar Bergman) I knew that I could rely on my other senses to extract meaning. Continue reading

A FIELD IN ENGLAND

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By Deirdre Crimmins

Madness is my greatest fear. Logically I know the odds of being attacked by a shark or stalked by serial killer are in fact quite low. When films depict those unlikely threats, I have fun suspending my disbelief and going along with those characters on their ride of fear. But insanity is a different sort of threat all together. Who is to say that I won’t just flip my lid one day and lose control? I don’t even have a way to prove that I’m sane at this very moment, let alone guarantee that I’ll be able to maintain what little composure I have for the rest of my life. Madness feels like a very real threat to my life and livelihood, and films that show a character’s plummet into their own insanity can be the most effective way to bring me close to true horror. Continue reading

The Players of the Screen

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By Deana DiSalvio

Shot in 1947, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was adapted for the screen by Orson Welles, from the novel, If I Should Die Before I Wake, by author Sherwood King. Today, the film is remembered as the auteur’s classic, but upon its initial release, the film was unsuccessful at the box office. Experimental and innovative with camera techniques for the time, with combinations of fast, jumpy cuts and long tracking and crane shots, which enhanced the malice and mystery of the plot, Welles ultimately elevates film noir into another dimension. Every shot is particularly and intentionally framed as if it were a photograph. He even includes comedic moments by advantageously incorporating dark humor. Without a doubt a master of cinematic perspective, Welles could not have completed any of his works if it was not for his artistic peers, and incredibly talented fellow actors. Continue reading

Hometown Girl, International World

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By Deana DiSalvio

Haifaa Al-Mansour made her directorial debut in the 2012 film WADJDA, which chronicles the pursuit of a young Saudi girl who wishes to buy a bicycle. Al-Mansour brilliantly contrasts the modernity of the 21st century, with the traditional customs in an Islamic society. The film is full of contradictions; displaying an internal, private world of Muslim women, and the expectations in their external, public lives. Her protagonist, Wadjda, symbolizes youth, individuality, and progress. Her innocence harnesses a universal perspective of the first conscious achievements and disappointments of life. Continue reading