REVIEW: Dark Shadows

May 23, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

Fans of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp will be enchanted by their latest collaboration, Dark Shadows, a film based on the late 1960s ABC television series of the same name. Rich, gothic set design, melodramatic plot points, and over-the-top performances by a cast that also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, and Eva Green, come together in an odd mixture that has left critics and audiences divided.

The film is set a bit later than the series, in 1972, and it takes full advantage, visually, of that simultaneously awful and fabulous era. The script contains many nods to 1970s feminism, music (including theatrical performances by Alice Cooper), and of course, fashion. It centers on the return of Barnabas Collins (Depp), a vampire who has been buried alive for 200 years. Barnabas is the victim of Angelique (Green), a beautiful, but viciously vengeful witch with whom he had an affair in the 18th century.  After telling her he does not love her and taking up with the lovely fair maiden Josette (Bella Heathcote), Angelique responds by turning him into a vampire, thus condemning him to an endless life of suffering. Two centuries later, upon his return, he finds the reincarnation of Josette living as a governess with his distant relations who have let the family mansion wither as the former Collins fortune has been diminished in the face of competition from Angelique in her new incarnation (witches live forever, too, as I’m sure you know).

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REVIEW: Me & Orson Welles

May 2, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

Richard Linklater made his name as a unique filmmaker with his second feature Slacker (1991), a film that spoke to the generation for which it was named. Subsequent films like Dazed and Confused (1993), Before Sunrise (1995), and Waking Life (2001) furthered his reputation and broadened his appeal. But in the early 2000s, he  shifted focus with more mainstream films like the remake of The Bad News Bears (2005), the funny, but generic School of Rock (2005), and now another Jack Black starrer, Bernie (2012). As part of the filmART series, programmer Howard Karren has chosen a Linklater film that falls somewhere in between his quirky early work and current Hollywood fare – Me & Orson Welles (2009) starring Zac Efron, Claire Danes, and Christian McKay.
The film takes place in 1937 and follows a young boy from New Jersey named Richard (Efron), who aspires to be an actor on the level of John Gielgud. While hanging out in Manhattan, he comes upon the famed Mercury Theater and manages to get himself a part as Lucius in Welles’ upcoming production of Julius Caesar. As the rehearsals go on, Richard learns about life, love, and the nature of creative genius. As an audience, we get a sense of what it may have been like to be in the theater in New York’s heyday and also to be around the brilliant Welles as he was just starting to make his name (this is several years before his cinematic masterpiece Citizen Kane and two years before his famously terrifying War of the World radio broadcast).

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Review: The Three Stooges

April 25, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

by Rebecca M. Alvin It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than the Three Stooges. The slapstick trio who got their start in vaudeville managed to maintain and grow a fan base over several generations through the short films made for Columbia Pictures and their endless presence on Saturday morning [...]

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April 12, 2012 4:24 pm0 comments

The 1st Annual New England Transgender Film Festival comes to Provincetown by Rebecca M. Alvin Each year, some 5,000 film festivals around the world bring new films to the attention of audiences who might otherwise never get to see these works. While many festivals are industry events designed to facilitate [...]

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Little Town of Terror: Provincetown in Horror Movies

October 26, 2011 6:54 pm0 comments

altAs the nights grow longer and Halloween approaches, there is perhaps no better way to get in the mood than to light the candle in the jack o’lantern, invite some friends over, and watch a scary movie.  If it’s something wicked with a local tie that you are looking for then you’re in luck, as Provincetown has featured prominently in several classic horror films. While a horror movie has yet to be filmed or set in Provincetown, these frightening films will add chills and thrills with a little local color to any fright night

The Flesh Eaters

This low-budget 1964 film directed by Jack Curtis is often considered one of the first gore movies ever made. A wealthy, washed up, alcoholic actress named Laura Winters (Rita Morely) has a last chance at reviving her ailing career by taking a summer theater gig in Provincetown. Her perky and dutiful assistant Jan Letterman (Barbara Wilkins) tries to get a very inebriated Ms. Winters to P’town pronto by hiring gruff pilot Grant Murdoch (Byron Sanders) to fly his seaplane from the Hudson River in New York City to Provincetown. The only problem is there is a severe tropical storm that forces them to make an emergency landing near a small, uncharted island (you’ll have to suspend your disbelief that in the 1960’s there could be an unknown island between New York and Cape Cod). The trouble really begins when Professor Peter Bartell (Martin Kosleck), an escaped Nazi, appears. He’s been experimenting with a microbe that devours human flesh. Just how ravenous these tiny creatures are is apparent when they eat a hole through a hippie named Omar (Ray Tudor) whose raft washes him and his bongo drums onto the island. While the movie provides more laughs than screams, horror movie historians note its creativity and artistry considering the small budget, and credit it with influencing the genre, as certain scenes seem strikingly like snippets of future films like Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, and Aliens. But perhaps the most memorable moment of the film comes shortly after the plane splashes down and the doomed castaways come ashore. The drunken actress hiccups and looks around at the deserted island and exclaims, “This isn’t Provincetown!”

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Around the World in Seven Days

September 28, 2011 2:45 pm0 comments

 Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman once said, “ No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.” The power of the cinema is not restricted to the feature-length films that dominate movie theater screens across the country. The often-neglected cousin of the feature film is the short, but this week, Outer Cape audiences have the opportunity to celebrate short form films of nearly every genre at a satellite screening of the New York-based Manhattan Short Film Festival.
“It’s everyone’s party around the world,” according to Festival director Nicholas Mason. Indeed, not only are the ten films to be shown representative of numerous countries (Canada, U.S., Scotland, Hungary, Egypt, Switzerland, Peru, Sweden, and Australia), but one of these films will be named the winner of the Manhattan Short Film Festival competition, based on the votes of audiences in over 200 cities spanning six continents, within the space of this week only.
Mason says it is particularly valuable to have “regular” people vote for the winning film because when filmmakers and others involved in the film world judge film festivals, “they tend to like the films they were involved with.”

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Hooray for Hairy Hollywood! On the set of Bear City 2

September 21, 2011 6:47 pm0 comments

On a sparklingly perfect late summer day, as schooners race on the horizon and swimmers cross Provincetown Harbor in the Swim for Life, several big, burly, and hairy men take to the breakwater surrounded by cameras, a boom, and at least a dozen crew members in constant motion. The calendar might say that it’s September, but the script says it’s July – more specifically, Bear Week.
For more than two weeks ending on September 23, a full production team has been filming Bear City 2 the sequel to 2010’s Bear City, a hirsute hit film that took Sex and the City into a bear’s den! The romantic comedy about a group of bears in New York City follows the ups and downs of finding true love, self-acceptance, and community in a gay subculture that continually redefines concepts of beauty, self-esteem, and personal expression. The first Bear City distinguished itself as one of the first feature films about the bear community to be not just a hit with bears, but to attract mainstream attention with high praise from critics (“Warm, funny, thoughtful… a triumph in the audience-appeal category.” -The New York Times), collecting awards at the Oslo International Film Festival (Norway), the Andalucía Film Festival (Spain), as well as at Outfest in Los Angeles, the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and the St. Louis LGBTQ Film Festival.

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The Strange Case of Nora Aunor

June 15, 2011 4:39 pm0 comments

Nora Aunor is a superstar. In her native country of the Philippines, she is regarded as the grand dame of screen, stage, and song. Star of over 170 films, a recording artist with 40 albums, and frequent tour dates all over the world, she has a long list of impressive accomplishments and awards. But she was also at the center of a bizarre controversy involving the Provincetown International Film Festival.
It all started back in 2005 when entertainment industry folks in the Philippines received this text message.
“We are here in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for the First 
Provincetown International Film Festival. We are happy to report that 
Ms. Nora Aunor won the Best Actress award for Naglalayag. She beat 
Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby hands down. Congratulations are in order. Please spread the wonderful news to everyone.”
Leonel Escota, the founder of ICON (International Circle of Online Noranians), a fan club established in 2000, sent the message. The Noranians, as fans of Aunor are called, are an intensely devoted community. Aunor is an especially popular gay icon in the Phillipines. News traveled fast, including reports on national news programs.
But it never happened.

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From Stage to Screen

4:34 pm0 comments

Provincetown stages are packed with talent of all varieties.  And now those stars of drag, fringe, and comedy are making their way to the silver screen at the 13th annual Provincetown International Film Festival. Several films feature P’town’s most beloved drag queens, riotous comedians, accomplished actors, and even filmmaker John Waters as none other than Jesus Christ. Check out these film festival selections featuring Provincetown’s own in starring roles.

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The Legend of Albert Maysles

4:14 pm0 comments

Ever since Thomas Edison started playing around with motion pictures in the 1880s and the Lumiére Brothers started producing filmed actualités in 1885, the ability of movies to both document reality and provide escape from reality has been a fascinating dilemma. It is a medium that can just as easily lie as it can reveal truth.
Beginning with the first feature length “documentary,” Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922), this duality has been at the heart of discussions around defining the term itself. Like the infamous question, “what is art?”, defining the documentary has also been an endless exercise, with notoriously subjective results. But for Albert Maysles, it is really quite simple.

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