by Brian Barth
Yesterday was gorgeous.
I do everything in my power to prepare for a film, but at the end of the day I’ve shot what I’ve shot and I’ve cut what I’ve cut and it’s out of my hands. This is not to shirk responsibility — more to marvel at the moment when all of your time and thought leave your grasp and become something entirely new, all on its own.
Instead of high-tailing it to P-town or sunning ourselves out on the greenway, Emma and I spent our Sunday afternoon hovering over a heavy pot of sticky, viscous, brown liquid goodness. We let it boil (but only just barely), stirred the sediment (with a sanitized spoon) and we cooled the wort (in the coolest of ice-baths).
And after three hours of bubbling and timing and sanitizing and worrying and reassuring, we added the yeast, shut the lid and put the bucket in the corner. We have done all that we can do, now it’s up to the ingredients to mix and ferment and clarify into our first batch of Belgian Amber Ale. We hope. And it’s this exact out-of-control feeling — brewing it all up, breath held back — that’s a critical part of my creative process.
Production for I hope you find what you came here to see begins this Saturday. Glasses raised.
by Adam Hirsch
Our very own Brian Barth has officially stepped on to the festival circuit!
His experimental film RICKETS (2010) will be premiering at the Boston Underground Film Festival ’11 and the Kansas City FilmFest ’11.
RICKETS explores a transformed landscape as it follows the simplest aesthetic narrative — white to black. The textures and rhythms of the image come from the serious digital distortion (achieved entirely in-camera) of the perfectly scenic setting of a boat trip down the Hudson River. The camera captures an alternate, underlying world, an almost microscopic vibration that pervades our existence.
Keep an eye out (for all our loyal Boston followers) – make sure to pick up some tickets for BUFF.
And while you’re there, be sure to also check out the extraordinary nunsploitation film Thy Kill Be Done (2010, dirs. Greg Hanson and Casey Reagan). It’s exactly what you think it is in the best way possible.
Our shoulders are all waxed and ready to rub. Come out and support Brian, the Company, Boston filmmaking, and, heck, just to see some really great film.
New Yorker film critic David Denby prefaced his list of his favorite films of the year with a tidbit about Boston on film. Denby wrote:
“In recent American movies, Boston—not New York, not Chicago, not Los Angeles, but Boston—has provided the significant setting and a special urban music of slang, oaths, nostalgia, taunts, affection. The cycle of Boston films began, in 1997, with “Good Will Hunting,” which was written by its stars, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who were childhood friends in Cambridge. Dennis Lehane’s soulful Boston thrillers have served as the basis of Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece, “Mystic River” (2003) and Affleck’s directing début, “Gone Baby Gone” (2007). The Boston screenwriter William Monahan wrote “The Departed” (2006), in which Mark Wahlberg, from Dorchester, appears in a supporting role as a fast-talking cop; Wahlberg now stars in “The Fighter,” set in Lowell, just to the northwest of Boston, as the real-world boxer and welter-weight champ Mickey Ward. Earlier this year, Affleck appeared as a Charlestown bank robber in “The Town,” his second film as director, and he plays one of the local executives who get whacked by a downsizing Boston conglomerate in the new “Company Men.” That’s seven major films. Now, you could say that the entire phenomenon is sparked by Bostonian male stars. True, of course, but Affleck, Damon, and Wahlberg wouldn’t get money for these films from the hardnoses of Hollywood finance if the movies weren’t expected to resonate around the rest of the country. So what is the source of Boston’s appeal? All these movies are about white working-class ethnics—Irish Catholics, in particular—who can talk a blue streak, and all of them are about men and women in clans. Families, friends, neighbors. The clan makes you and it threatens to destroy you, and for the heroes (who are all male—Arise, ye daughters of Hibernia!), the question becomes: Do I leave or do I stay? Do I let the clan define me or must I strike out on my own? And for the rest of us, the question might be: Is this neighborhood and ethnic solidarity not only a celebration, an atmosphere of terrific rough talk and family warmth, but a shudder of anticipation, a last united stand in multicultural America?”
A timely question–one I’ll certainly be thinking about. The only shudder here is that Boston becomes, in Denby’s eyes, the last refuge of white America. We all know Boston has a tremendous reputation for racism–but more so than L.A., New York, or Chicago? If Denby wants someone in Boston to make Crash, he shouldn’t insult our intelligence. Even Shaq happily calls Boston home (this is a petty point, I know). And though the whiteys of The Fighter certainly come out clan-like, they’re worlds away from the people in Company Men or even Good Will Hunting. Boston is also home to the highest concentrated number of Brazilians outside of Brazil, another sign on if tremendous diversity which hasn’t yet seen the light of the camera or projector. Yet how right–despite how narrow–Denby’s analysis is will be shaken slightly off balance, I expect, by other films from The Hub, as the city continues its on-screen ascent.
We’re in the middle of a blizzard here in Boston, so I thought I’d share some tips for those who need a hand getting through it.
1) The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I – Probably the best Christmas gift anyone could get this year, unless you needed a kidney or something. Twain stipulated that his autobiography only be published 100 years after his death. Lucky for us, we live to see the day. At over 700 pages, volume I is endless amusement to help you weather the storm.
2) Casino – Martin Scorsese is the only person who can make a casino look and feel like a cathedral. Strange (or maybe not so strange) that a film about the desert gets you through a snow storm. Special bonus: anyone who dresses as DeNiro or Pesci from this movie for Halloween 2011 will get something special from me.
3) Hollis Frampton on Ubuweb — Okay, I have to come clean. This is where I’ve been for the past however many months. I’m writing a senior thesis about Frampton, and before I was able to get my hands on the bulk of his films, I was leaning on Ubuweb like Walter Brennan on a wall. Do yourself a favor and watch Gloria!. If you don’t shed a tear you’d better get back on the yellow brick road.
4) A Winter Romance — Dean Martin’s 1959 Christmas album is good enough to listen to for a few days after Jesus’ Birthday has passed. In fact, I’ll probably have it spinning well into the new year. Put it on, listen to “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” It doesn’t get any better.
5) Woodford Reserve – Whatever you’re doing, have some of this. You can replace the ice with a little clump of fresh snow from outside. And yeah, you can have another. Even a few others. The later you wake up tomorrow the later you have to shovel snow. Either that or you could wind up doing some serious playing in the snow.
by Brian Barth
The Town (Ben Affleck, 2010)
I’m always cautious of films made about Boston, and while Affleck makes sure to wear his location-specific windbreakers (Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots) he sheds them after about the fifth scene and I felt a little less summarized. The accents are all there, too, which is probably thanks to endless coaching from Affleck. And I’m not going to lie, it was awesome watching my block in the North End get blown up in a car chase and seeing my apartment in most of the wide shots; I loved my direct connection to the setting.
by Adam Hirsch
Yesterday, J.D. Salinger died at the ripe old age of 91. We here at the Company thought there couldn’t be a better way to send the old boy off than with the proper belt of a proper beverage, our eyes firmly set on something heavy with the whiskey.
However, we ran into a revealing snag: there doesn’t exist a Salinger drink. And so, we filled the gap. (more…)
We’ve blogged about Robert Gardner before, but in case you missed his appearance at Bard College and are from the Boston area, he’ll be at the Harvard Film Archive on Friday, December 4th, at 7 PM. He’ll be showing fragments from unfinished films and discussing films that could have been. Also, he seems punctual, so I wouldn’t want to be late.
On Sunday, December 6th, at 7 PM, Vlada Petric will be in the house. Petric will be showing films and discussing his career, which includes–like Gardner–teaching at Harvard. These are your last chances to get to the HFA before it shuts down until the end of January, so don’t miss them. I wish I didn’t have to.
by Jake Teresi
If you’re in the Boston area November 12-22, I suggest you see Blue Spruce Theatre’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Arsenal Center in Watertown, MA.