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Friday, July 20, 2018

'The King' Comes to the Queen City: Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki Talks About His New Doc

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 12:15 PM

  • Courtesy of Eugene Jarecki
  • Eugene Jarecki
Talking Trump-era politics with Eugene Jarecki is probably the equivalent of playing chess with Boris Spassky or standing across a tennis court from Roger Federer. The field is not level. You are not remotely in the same league. And that’s what makes it so much fun.

The Peabody and Emmy award-winning director of such acclaimed documentaries as The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002), Why We Fight (2005), Reagan (2011) and The House I Live In (2012), the Mad River Valley resident has been named a Soros Justice Fellow at the Open Society Foundations and a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Local Film 'The Nightingale Chronicles' Shows in Burlington This Month

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 1:43 PM

The Nightingale Chronicles trailer from Harry Llama on Vimeo.

A Franklin County film production will hit a Burlington big screen on June 26.

The Nightingale Chronicles, written and directed by East Fairfield resident Harry Goldhagen, stars Bruce Jones as a womanizing glamour photographer who faces an unexpected reckoning with his past when he accepts a photo-essay assignment from a smarmy agent (played by former “Late Night Saturday” host Tim Kavanagh). His subject: a reclusive Vermont doctor (Dawn Kearon).

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Take a Halloween Tour of a 'Haunted' Vermont State Park With This Creepy Short Film

Posted By on Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 5:15 PM

'Tis the season to be creeped out, and what's creepier than a pair of angry spirits haunting the Vermont woods? Even if those spirits and their story happen to be folklore of, shall we say, rather recent vintage.

Jim Gallagher of Montpelier sent us the 13-minute film embedded above (note: contains very brief NSFW language). He created "The Haunting of Broken Shackles Mount" without crew or actors (save himself) using what he calls "an audio/video-book style of presentation."

You might also call it a mockumentary. Gallagher paired captions with footage shot at Waterbury's Little River State Park (and Montpelier locations) to tell the tale of an ill-fated farming family who lived in the former area during the Civil War era. Or ... did they?

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

9/11 Film With Vermont Ties to Screen This Sunday in Burlington

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:13 PM

  • Courtesy of Atlas Distribution
  • Still from 9/11.
Where were you on 9/11? It’s a question most Americans who lived through that tragic day in 2001 can answer with pinpoint accuracy.

Filmmaker and musician Martin Guigui, a former Vermonter who spent part of his youth in New York City, recalls being awoken in the early morning at his Los Angeles home by a friend in New York who was calling to say he was safe. In a state of confusion, Guigui turned on the news to see footage of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Millions and millions and millions, if not billions, of people remember 9/11. They remember where they were,” Guigui says in a phone interview. “It’s the modern-day version of Pearl Harbor or who shot JFK. It’s that moment for our generation, and many generations.”

Guigui’s latest film, which the writer-director will bring to Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington on Sunday, October 22, is simply titled 9/11. It’s based on Patrick Carson’s play Elevator, about five people of various cultural backgrounds  who were stranded between floors in the North Tower after the first plane hit.

The film expands the first act to include backstories of the trapped characters. It also adds the role of a control-room employee, played by Whoopi Goldberg, whose voice over the elevator’s intercom serves as the characters’ sole connection to the outside world.

Guigui says he was initially hesitant to adapt the play, which premiered in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011, “because of the sacred ground that that story lives on.” He eventually went forward with the project, he says, because he was “so intrigued by the internalized aspect of the story — of those who were on the inside trying to get out.”

With the exception of second-unit location footage shot in New York, the $5 million production was filmed entirely at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, Calif. Sets were built to scale, including the elevator where most of the story unfolds. Besides Goldberg, the cast includes Gina Gershon, Vermont resident Luis Guzmán, Jacqueline Bisset and — controversially — Charlie Sheen.

In a 2006 interview with far-right radio host Alex Jones, Sheen raised eyebrows when he questioned the official government account of the events of 9/11. Specifically, the actor suggested that the collapse of the Twin Towers was caused by controlled demolition.

  • Courtesy of Martin Guigui
  • Martin Guigui
Guigui says he cast Sheen without prior knowledge of his 9/11 “truther” comments. He notes that he wrote the film’s billionaire businessman specifically with Sheen in mind, as a continuation of the actor's role as the brash young stockbroker in Oliver Stone’s 1987 drama Wall Street.

“I was unaware of his comments about 9/11, and when I found out about it, I didn’t care, because a lot of people make those comments. There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there,” Guigui says. “And that was then. This is now. This is a different Charlie Sheen.”

Guigui thinks an anti-Sheen bias contributed to the film’s mere 11 percent "fresh" critics' rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Though he declined to name names, he suspects at least one review was written without the critic actually having seen the movie, he says. He adds that 9/11 received a standing ovation following its Los Angeles premiere and was well-received at other screenings he attended. (Rotten Tomatoes lists a 53 percent audience score, meaning more than half of registered users liked the film.)

The screening at the Roxy will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven. In addition to Guigui, the event will feature several members of the production who are either native Vermonters or have family ties to the state, including producer Warren Ostergard and supporting actor Paul Burroughs. Proceeds will benefit the Burlington Firefighters Association.

The director’s Vermont roots run deep. Born in Argentina, he moved to Middlebury as a teen when his father, Efrain Guigui, was offered the baton as conductor of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Guigui's first feature film, My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception (1999), was shot in Vermont and includes a cameo by then-Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as a rabbi with a penchant for long-winded baseball asides.

Guigui says it’s an honor to bring a film that focuses on the humanity of 9/11 back to one of his adopted homes.

“It’s one of those films,” he says, “that after you experience it, it brings you back to that place where we were 16 years ago, where the entire planet stood still, and we all became one.”

9/11 screens Sunday, October 22, 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington. $15. More info here.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Broken Lizard's Steve Lemme Dishes 'Shocking' Details on 'Super Troopers 2'

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 5:59 PM

  • Courtesy of Steve Lemme
  • Steve Lemme
Super Troopers fans, the wait is nearly over. After years of speculation and rumors — and a ridiculously successful 2015 crowdfunding campaign to get the movie rolling — Super Troopers 2 is really happening. The long-anticipated sequel to the 2002 comedy classic about a group of bumbling Vermont State Troopers is unofficially slated for a spring 2018 release.  We know, we know: You want it right meow.  But according to actor Steve Lemme — aka trooper MacIntyre "Mac" Womack — it's gonna be worth the wait.

"It's going to be our widest release," says Lemme in a recent phone call with Seven Days. "And it's testing better than any movie we've tested. It came out fantastic."

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Documentary About Energy CEO Christine Hallquist Premieres in Vermont This Week

Posted By on Sun, Jun 12, 2016 at 8:05 AM

Still from Denial - MOSAIC FILMS
  • Mosaic Films
  • Still from Denial
Last week, Indiewire called Denial one of "11 Films We Cannot Wait to See at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival." The indie-film news source offered a tantalizingly cryptic description of the documentary directed by Vermont native Derek Hallquist:

Some of the best documentaries end up in drastically different places then [sic] they began … Derek Hallquist’s film seems to follow along similar lines, ostensibly beginning as a deep dive into the history of alternative energy sources in his home state of Vermont. But as Hallquist looks closer at his family’s involvement in those efforts, the on-camera interviews reveal more than he expected. 
So what exactly does Denial reveal?

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Friday, May 6, 2016

RiffTrax Spoofs the Most Memorable Film Ever Made in Rutland

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 4:04 PM

DVD art for Time Chasers. - EDGEWOOD STUDIOS
  • Edgewood Studios
  • DVD art for Time Chasers.
A Castleton University professor has made a startling invention. It looks like a normal small airplane, but it's actually … a time machine!

After taking a jaunt to 2041 — full of cellphones, bikes and tall buildings! — the prof signs a contract with a Sinister Corporation to exploit his invention. But he soon starts to suspect that time travel might not be as fun, harmless and profitable as it appears. When he and his reporter girlfriend make a second journey to the 2040s, they discover a dystopian wasteland. Even worse, moans the prof, in this tainted version of the future, "Castleton T-shirts might not be cool!"

That line isn't actually in the screenplay of Time Chasers, the 1994 debut of Rutland writer-director-producer David Giancola. It was an ad-lib from the wags at RiffTrax, who provided mocking running commentary for the film at a screening broadcast live last night by Fathom Events.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Three for Three: UVM Students Win Another Visit From Seth Rogen

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 5:46 PM

From left: Lauren Miller, Seth Rogen and Ryan, John and Griffen Fox - RICK KISONAK
  • Rick Kisonak
  • From left: Lauren Miller, Seth Rogen and Ryan, John and Griffen Fox
Signs of April in the Queen City: The last traces of ice vanish along the waterfront. Hundreds of ice cream lovers line up for Ben & Jerry’s annual Free Cone Day at the company’s shop on the Marketplace. And, dependably as a swallow to Capistrano, the planet’s most famous stoner, the man Forbes ranks as the 26th highest paid actor in the world, comes to town to thank three students at the University of Vermont.

For the past three years, triplets Griffen, John and Ryan Fox have raised more money for HFC U — Hilarity for Charity’s national collegiate competition — than some 100 other student groups across the country. Their prize, as always, is a hang with Seth Rogen, who, along with his wife, Lauren Miller, created the nonprofit in 2012 as “a movement to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the millennial generation.” Affiliated with the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s raised more than $5 million.

Saturday morning at Essex Cinemas, the couple held a press conference to talk about the cause, explain why they got involved, and lavish praise on the three brothers, who lost their grandfather to the illness in January 2014.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Movies You Missed (or Might Miss): Award Season Edition

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 8:44 AM

Cate Blanchett looks like she has a Christmas present for Rooney Mara in Carol. - WEINSTEIN COMPANY
  • Weinstein Company
  • Cate Blanchett looks like she has a Christmas present for Rooney Mara in Carol.
'Tis the time of year when movie critics receive piles of screeners — films that may or may not have played at your local theater (in Vermont, generally not), but that studios and distributors want to push for year-end awards.

This year, the studios are doing something new, presumably to discourage piracy: requiring a signature for those packages. Let's just say I've become well acquainted with my UPS guy.

So I thought I'd write up five films you can't (yet) see in local theaters —  movies to look forward to at the multiplex or art house, or to seek out on DVD or your favorite streaming service.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On Screen This Week: Pirates and Cyborgs

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 2:25 PM

  • Kino Lorber
  • Güeros
On Vermont screens this week, you’ll find everyone from senior citizens to pirates (sort of) to cyborgs. Oh, and sharks! Whether it’s acceptable to use the term "everyone" to refer to a cyborg is something we’ll leave to the grammarians, roboticists and ethicists. This is an article about movies.

Wednesday, June 24

At South Burlington's Palace 9 Cinemas, the film that kicked off the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s gets the royal treatment. Steven Spielberg's Jaws, still toothy after all these years, is 40 years old, and the Palace 9 is hosting a celebration of this important film and its legacy. Shown in its original aspect ratio and with an introduction from the folks at Turner Classic Movies, Jaws screens twice, at 2 and 7 p.m.

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