Film Review: The Big Short

Film Review: The Big Short

Midway through “The Big Short,” something hit me. Going into the film, I knew its basic premise: how a bunch of investors made money off the housing crisis. What I didn’t realize was how big a moment the implosion of America’s housing bubble was, and how the ensuing economic crash affected my life and the choices I’ve made. Like other films about significant historical events I was alive for, there was a resonance throughout this film. Not nostalgia, but that feeling of “I know where I was when this was going down.” It was something I didn’t expect with a film like this, but the story felt very grounded in its timeline. [Read more…]

Video of the Week: SPEARHUNTER

Video of the Week: SPEARHUNTER

One of spotlight films from this years IFFBoston is now streaming on Vimeo! If you don’t remember, this film directed by Luke Poling and Adam Roffman, tells the story of the self-proclaimed world’s greatest spearhunter. Check out this amazing documentary short below, and thank me later!

SPEARHUNTER from Adam Roffman on Vimeo.

Film Review: The Martian

Film Review: The Martian

I don’t hide how much I love Matt Damon; I think he’s a great actor with excellent screen presence. When I heard the premise of “The Martian,” I knew what I was in for: two hours of Matt Damon stranded on Mars, directed by Ridley Scott? Sign me up.
[Read more…]

Film Review: Victoria

Film Review: Victoria

Victoria is currently out in limited release.

I remember last year when Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival. No, I wasn’t there (I’m not nearly that successful or fancy), but thanks to this handy thing known as the internet, the Oscar buzz pretty much started instantly. [Read more…]

Film Review: Finders Keepers

Film Review: Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers opens in limited release on September 25.

It has been over a week since I watched Finders Keepers and I still haven’t found a way to describe the movie that doesn’t make it sound extremely strange and just a bit unfair. [Read more…]

Film Review: The Second Mother

Film Review: The Second Mother

The Second Mother opens at Kendall Square on September 18.

We are approaching that time of year when all of the studios start to dole out their “best” films of the year. Yes, that strange time when film critics are afforded the tiniest amount of power (in all honesty that is mostly in our own heads) and people apparently start to actually listen. [Read more…]

Film Review: Antman

Film Review: Antman

It’s funny to think that only 50 years ago the Hollywood studio system nearly collapsed under its own weight, mired in the wake of several expensive box office flops. It seemed at the time that pouring exorbitant resources into the production of blockbusters was an unreliable financial gamble, and what followed was a decade-long rise of the independent film that brought with it some of cinema’s greatest achievements (Mike Nichole’s masterpiece The Graduate in 1967 being perhaps the most notable example). It took a sci-fi masterpiece, the original Star Wars trilogy, to return the studio system to prominence again, and things have remained more or less as they are ever since. [Read more…]

Film Review: The Look of Silence

Film Review: The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence is playing now at the Landmark Kendall Square.

I wasn’t shy about my love for Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing. When I first saw it, it devastated me, and to this day I believe it is one of the best documentary films of the last decade. Its loss at the Oscars was the first time I began to take a hard look at the Academy’s treatment of documentary film, quickly realizing that this voting body has no idea what it was doing. Now with the release of Oppenheimer’s companion piece The Look of Silence, he has not only added texture to his original film, but produced a documentary of at least equal quality that manages to feel connected and all its own. [Read more…]

Film Review: The Tribe

Film Review: The Tribe

The Tribe opens in Boston on July 24 at the Brattle Theatre

A lot is often made of the propensity for films to surprise us. The idea of the reveal is something inherent to the lifeblood of cinema, for what greater unveiling is there than the slow pulling back of curtains from over a screen. But in this age of the spoiler-laden internet, the reveal is often minimized to the easy and lazy plot twist. In the same way that many horrors have been simplified to a series of jump scares, a surprise, to many viewers, equates to a twist of plot that no watchful eye could have possibly decipher. However, film is an expansive medium that need not rely on simple gimmicks. It can surprise us in new and exciting ways with a story that plays out devoid of ridiculous labyrinthine explanations.

The Tribe begins by being completely up front with its audience. No, your projectionist isn’t screwing up, there isn’t anything missing. This entire film is in Ukrainian sign language and there will not be a single subtitle. “But Derek, you were just bagging on gimmicks. What is this but just a different type of gimmick?” Ok, yes. This decision by first time writer-director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky could be belittled to the point of being described as a gimmick. And trust me, this was my initial impression. I knew nothing about The Tribe before seeing it besides this “gimmick.” I expected to sit there searching for understanding, to be frustrated and confused throughout the entire runtime, annoyed by this decision to put the audience on the outside. But, The Tribe is as much about Ukrainian sign language as Toy Story is about actual toys. If you think that’s all it is, then you’re kind of missing the point. [Read more…]

IFFBoston 2015 Wrap-Up & Winners

IFFBoston 2015 Wrap-Up & Winners

The 13th annual Independent Film Festival of Boston came to a close this past Wednesday evening with the incredible “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl” (review forthcoming). With over 100 films, it was, as always, an amazing festival and it is always a privilege to cover it! Catch up on our coverage here.

IFFBoston Festival Winners

JURY AWARD WINNERS

NARRATIVE FEATURE

Grand Jury Prize: THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE

Special Jury Prize: WILDLIKE

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Grand Jury Prize: WELCOME TO LEITH

Special Jury Prize: ROLLING PAPERS

Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing: WELCOME TO LEITH

SHORT FILM

Narrative

Grand Jury Prize: ACTOR SEEKS ROLE

Special Jury Prize: ANOTHER MOONSCAPE

Documentary

Grand Jury Prize: THE SURRENDER

Special Jury Prize: CROOKED CANDY

AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS

Narrative Feature: WILDLIKE

Documentary Feature: CALL ME LUCKY

Narrative Short Film: WORLD OF TOMORROW

Documentary Short Film: TASHI AND THE MONK

See you next year!