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  • March 13, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    You might recall Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas from when his terrific Battle in Heaven (2005) was cited recently by the Phoenix for featuring one of the 55 Worst Sex Scenes of the 21st Century ("Saddest blowjob in the world"). His latest film, Post Tenebras Lux (2012), may not be as transgressive, but it nonetheless bears the stamp of a unique and visionary artist in its depiction of a privileged family whose façade of respectability melts into hallucinatory chaos.

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  • February 21, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) is the happy hunting ground for those prone to byzantine, if not paranoid, movie interpretations (the upcoming documentary Room 237 explores just a few of these). So it's well worth watching again no matter how many times you've already seen the kid riding the Big Wheel down the endless Overlook Hotel corridors, or the flirty, naked, decomposing woman in the tub, or the creepy Diane Arbus twins, or the diabolical bartender, or Jack Nicholson with a grin and an axe saying, "Heeere's Johnny!"

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  • February 05, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Whether you like it or not, there's no stopping Lena Dunham, creator of the much beloved, much criticized HBO show Girls (see Michael Braithwaite's piece online at thephoenix.com). She'll be at the Museum of Fine Arts presenting Tiny Furniture (2010), the micro-budgeted indie film that got her started and in which she plays a precursor to the autobiographical protagonist of the TV show, encountering the same trials of degrading romance, existential ennui, skewed feminism, and self-loathing.

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  • January 23, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    One. Two. One.

    Even though they keep putting their directors in jail, Iran still produces some of the best films in the world. You might want to catch some of the more recent offerings at the ongoing Museum of Fine Arts Festival of Films from Iran. Friday, January 25 they will be screening painter/filmmaker Mania Akbari's One.

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  • December 27, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    If Holy Motors intrigued you, or if you're already a fan of French enfant terrible Leos Carax, you should take a look at this passionate and brilliant 1991 film that stars Juliette Binoche (then Carax's significant other) as a homeless woman who lives on the Pont Neuf. She's a painter who's going blind, but can she find love with an alcoholic ex-circus-performer?

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  • December 18, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    The face of foreign cinema, and the icon of suffering beauty and sublime longing, is celebrated at the MFA in "The Cinema of Juliette Binoche." It opens with Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy (2011; 5 pm) and Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue (1993; 7:15 pm). In the latter she gives what might be her best and most wrenching performance.

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  • December 12, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    The tony, uppercrust ambiance of Downton Abbey comes to the big screen, as does one of the show's stars, Elizabeth McGovern, in Donald Rice's Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012). Set in a British country manor in 1932, it's a drawing-room comedy in which McGovern plays the mother of a bride (Felicity Jones) who is having second thoughts.

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  • December 11, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Take a look at the giant shoes that Elton John wears as the "Local Lad" singing "Pinball Wizard" in the movie version of Tommy (1975), and you get an idea of what a loss the death of director Ken Russell last year was to the movie world. His joyously kitschy and surreal excess nearly upstages the Who's groundbreaking 1969 rock opera.

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  • December 04, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Even dog lovers have a hard time with unattended, yapping canines. This is one of the nagging problems observed in Kleber Mendonça Filho's much lauded debut feature, Neighboring Sounds (2012), in which a security surveillance company descends on a paranoid community in the city of Recife, Brazil. It's at the MFA Wednesday through December 9.

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  • November 30, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    The urtext of the police procedurals that now dominate TV, Jules Dassin's noirish The Naked City (1948) employs pseudo-documentary techniques and on-location photography to chronicle the efforts of two New York City detectives (Barry Fitzgerald and Howard Duff) to solve a pair of murders. Still holds up, and then some, in this age of CSI

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  • November 22, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman had a lot of pressure on him when he put together his Palestine (later Israeli) Philharmonic in the 1930s; the Jewish musicians who didn't make the cut were likely doomed to be victims of the Holocaust. Orchestra of Exiles, Josh Aronson's harrowing, but uplifting doc about this amazing story will screen starting Friday, November 23 and throughout the week at the MFA.

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  • November 13, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Contrary to Sacha Baron Cohen's depiction of the country in Borat (2006), Kazakhstan boasts one of the world's most original and thriving film industries. See for yourself at the MFA series "Flowers of the Steppe: A Festival of Kazakh Cinema," which begins Wednesday, November 14 with Ermek Shinarbaev's Letters from an Angel (2009) and continues through Sunday, November 18.

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  • November 08, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    The Blue Tiger

    If you've taken the kids to see Hotel Transylvania or some other crap targeting children, you've probably wondered if that's the best they can do. A visit to the Belmont World Film's Family Festival at the MFA should answer that question - its international selection of outstanding features and shorts demonstrates that kids watch the darnedest things.

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  • October 23, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Moving, provocative, and with a terrific jazz score, Shirley Clarke's adaptation of Jack Gelber's play The Connection (1961) probes the fine line between fact and fiction. In it, a filmmaker tries to make a documentary about Harlem addicts and jazz musicians as they jam while waiting for the Man.

    Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston :: Wednesday, October 24 @ 8 pm :: $11; $9 students, seniors :: 617.

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  • September 05, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    In the world of 3D, special effects, and billion-dollar box offices, the genius of American avant-garde filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage is in danger of fading into obscurity. Directed by Pip Chodorov, an avant-garde filmmaker himself, Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film (2010) pays tribute to them with a personal portrait of the movement and its practitioners.

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