Author: Brad Avery

September 28, 2017 / / Scene Analysis

Directed by Sergio Martino, Your Vice… is a loose adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat. The story involves an alcoholic writer, Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli), who regularly abuses his unraveling wife Irina (Anita Strindberg). After a string of murders leaves Oliviero the prime suspect, Irina becomes complicit in helping to dispose of a corpse so that more suspicion doesn’t fall on him. As paranoia and infidelity cause the couple’s psyches to dissolve, they begin plotting to kill each other. The film reaches a series of successive emotional heights in its final act, deviating wildly from Poe’s writing with a scene where Irina finally murders Oliviero.

If this plot sounds familiar, that’s because Kubrick has translated it into the iconic “All work and no play” scene of The Shining (1980). While The Shining (1980) is notorious for its dramatic alteration from the source material in favor of original expression, the final product feels so singular that it may come as a surprise to some viewers that parts of the film are as a matter of fact borrowed images.

January 3, 2017 / / Main Slate

On January 13, the Brattle is pairing Green Room (2016) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) on an inspired double bill. Even though these films are separated by genre – science fiction versus stark realism – the juxtaposition sheds a whole new light on both films through their common themes of entrapment, gaslighting and the horror of ordinary people being hunted by authoritarians.

Both films received wide release this past spring, right around the point in the primaries where the U.S. presidential nominees were taking shape. Even at that recent point in history, the political truths exhibited in both films didn’t come across as strongly as they ring today when viewed on the cusp of the inauguration.

September 21, 2016 / / Main Slate

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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.

April 22, 2016 / / Main Slate

There’s something magical about Mystery Science Theater 3000 that no matter who attempts to revive its in/famous riffing format – be it YouTube imitators, the people who made it, or your local nerd at the Coolidge Midnites – no one has been able to replicate the recipe. MST3K was lightning in a bottle that managed to shine bright for close to 11 years. A perfect mixture of creativity, personality and charm that made something truly unique that has endured until this day.

October 15, 2015 / / Main Slate

Your mind is all you are. Your thoughts, memories, and feelings are what make up the entirety of your identity and being. “You” are a seemingly infinite number of neurons and electrons rapidly firing nonstop throughout the entirety of your life until one day it will shut down and cease all function. Then “you” will be gone.

If our thoughts and memories and feelings are what “we” are, then without them we will collapse, or perhaps disintegrate. This is what happens to Bill, the hapless protagonist of Don Hertzfeldt’s animated masterpiece IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY.

September 18, 2015 / / Main Slate

“Strength through Partnership.”

The Safdie brothers, responsible for films such as THE PLEASURE OF BEING ROBBED, DADDY LONGLEGS, and LENNY COOKE, released their fourth feature HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT in 2014. The phrase embroidered on the vest that would become the primary costume worn by the ranting, raving heroin dealer Mike (Buddy Duress) must have made them giddy like school children.

May 13, 2015 / / Main Slate

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Few exploitation films lay out their devices upfront. On principle, even fewer are interested in anything more than cheap titillation and quenching the audience’s bloodlust. In the OUTER LIMITS-esque opening of FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! a faceless narrator conveys the core themes of the film: “Violence devours all it touches, its voracious appetite rarely fulfilled. Yet violence doesn’t only destroy, it creates and molds as well.”   

October 7, 2014 / / Main Slate

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Whenever I’ve told people about the film RAW FORCE, I tend to mention its alternate title: KUNG FU CANNIBALS. “Oh, that’s a much better title” they usually say. Sure, it does a far better job of grabbing your attention, but I disagree that it’s a better name than “Raw Force.” “Kung Fu Cannibals” doesn’t sum up a film where awkward sex is interrupted by a neo-nazi busting the door down and dousing the room with gasoline. It doesn’t represent a film where the heroes are led by a feisty cruise ship owner with a thick Jersey accent. And it certainly doesn’t prepare you for a story where the villain is an Asian Hitler look-a-like who uses a haunted island to operate his slave trading ring. The name RAW FORCE does. It cuts right to the heart of this supernatural, kung fu, sexploitation comedy and sums it up in the only two words that are able to do this psychotic Grindhouse flick justice. It’s primal and in your face, firing straight from the id.

August 27, 2014 / / Main Slate

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When Vera Chytilová completed her anarchic masterpiece DAISIES in 1966 it was banned from exhibition by the Czechoslovakian board of censors. They accused it of “depicting the wanton,” and therefore served as a danger to the country’s communist society. Chytilová was forbidden from making another film until 1975.