By Christian Whitworth
What does one make of a film whose construction is so tinged with the reminder of its near erasure? At once an incomplete balance of filmic orthodoxies and a political retention of Polish re-Stalinization, Andrzej Zulawski’s On the Silver Globe (Na srebrnym globie) faced the prohibition of its own production when, in 1977, the Polish director was confronted by an opposing political ideology that ceased funding, blocked filming, and attempted to destroy costumes, materials, and the film itself. But fragments survived—of the film and of Zulawski’s desire to complete it. He reconstructed On the Silver Globe, filling its gaps with commentary and footage rooted in the harsh realities of 1980s Poland. These bits contrast with the fantastical, fictionalized landscape of the film’s telling, but they differ to both social and political ends. Here, erasure allows for a film troubling yet compelling, achieving its wild ambition across history and screen.
By Kerry Fristoe
“This damned burg’s getting me. If I don’t get away soon I’ll be going blood-simple like the natives.” – Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws and substances of nature — water, snow, wind, gravitation — become penalties to the thief. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation
By Jack Sinclair
Almost everyday, Silicon Valley launches companies that strive to change the world with new technologies. Autonomous cars, for instance, similar to those featured in the 2004 movie I, Robot, are currently in the testing phase. Martin Cooper, who invented the first cell phone, has stated that the handheld communicators used by the members of the Enterprise on Star Trek inspired his invention. Another example of film and television’s influence on real-world technology is with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, Dr. Heywood Floyd, while en route to a space station, uses videoconferencing to wish happy birthday to his daughter. History is replete with such instances where the visionary creations in cinema inspired real-life inventions whose life-changing capacity in turn cements the legacies of these films.
By Jessie McAskill
It might not be an utter coincidence that The Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane were released within a month of each other in 1941, as both films jockey for the title of American film noir’s founding father and have stood the test of time with critics for over seventy five years. The two films of course share their contemporary cultural moment: the depression was ending, a second world war was rising, and the nation was enduring a rumble of emotional unrest while struggling to forge a path out of desperation. Part of what makes both films so poignant is the braiding of that unrest, repression, and ambiguity into the characters of their leading men, atmosphere, as well as the flow of the camera movement and cinematography.
By Syeedah Eesha Rashid
My first thought when witnessing the titular Girl for the first time is that she is beautiful. However as the plot progresses her beauty transitions into something a bit more frightening, and above all powerful. This is one of the simplest ways to describe Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It serves as an eye-catching mash up of horror, spaghetti western, thriller and suspense in a way that suggests one genre then leads you down towards another. By the end we are left in the hands of the characters, who wield all the power and control of their own fates.
By Brad Avery
Boston has often been kind to Bobcat Goldthwait. He cut his teeth on the local standup scene here in the 1980’s, his directorial efforts have frequently been the spotlight features of the Independent Film Festival Boston, and it was Betsy Sherman writing for The Boston Globe in 1991 who gave his first film, Shakes the Clown, its defining title as “the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies.”
In fact, Shakes the Clown had its premiere at the 1991 Boston Film Festival, unleashing this sub-cult comedy about a world where standup comic culture is comprised of depressive, vindictive clowns who never take their makeup off and drift around in seedy bars. So it’s wonderful to see him return to town for the film’s 25th anniversary screening this month.
By Selin Sevinç
If we had to pick a single film from Alfred Hitchcock’s individually unique and brilliant filmography to stand as his cinematic signature, it would undoubtedly be Rear Window. It is the most literal expression of his fondness for our ‘peeping tom’ nature and a great example of his expert coalescence of suspense and humor. Disguising what is primarily a love story, the murder mystery in Rear Window is a classic Hitchcockian tale seen completely from the point of view of the protagonist.
By Michael James Roberson
“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial
Horror and the surreal go hand in hand. As a genre, horror can be summarized as the intrusion of the irrational into the mundane. In Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm, we have a very pure expression of the mundane, in the form of the suburban everytown that most of the characters agree is oppressively dull (or to put it another way, “dead”), and an even purer expression of the irrational, in the form of murderous dwarves concealed in dark robes, a beautiful violet-dressed woman who transforms into a ghastly tall ogre of a man, and a levitating silver sphere that roves the halls of the town mausoleum on the hunt for brains. And that’s just scratching the surface.
By Christian Gay
Room, which Emma Donoghue adapted for the screen from her novel of the same name, is a story perhaps inspired by horrific news stories about the finding of women, kidnapped by men and presumed dead, who are discovered after living for years in captivity, often in otherwise unremarkable neighborhoods and houses. Stories of women in peril are nothing new to the silver screen, but here, Donoghue creates a detailed portrait of the woman involved, going beyond the shocking and the sensational to explore the humanity and resilience at its core. The resultant film, released in 2015 and directed by Lenny Abramson, tells the story of a mother in peril in a powerful and deeply moving new way. As opposed to other woman-in-captivity narratives from film history, such as Silence of the Lambs whose focus is placed on the journey of the detective who comes to the woman’s rescue. Room, on the other hand, takes the victims’ point-of-view, giving us insight into her psychological response to such traumatic events.
By Leo Racicot
The opening credits are silent, mirroring the acquiescence of those who stood by in shame, fear and sheer cowardice as millions of victims were hauled off to concentration camps by the Nazis. Jews, yes, but also political prisoners and gay men, those accused by The Third Reich of being denizens of society. Watching this scene, I was reminded of the saying, “What scream can ever be louder than silence?”