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Monday, May 25, 2020

Couch Cinema: The Wolf House

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2020 at 6:46 PM

María tries to feed her "family" in The Wolf House. - COURTESY OF KIMSTIM
  • Courtesy of KimStim
  • María tries to feed her "family" in The Wolf House.
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
The Wolf House (La Casa Lobo) (2018; released in the U.S. 2020)

Where to see it:
Currently available for rent on the Vermont International Film Foundation’s Virtual Cinema platform.

The deal:
This 73-minute stop-motion animation took Chilean artists Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña five years to create. It’s immediately clear why — every second is mesmerizing.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'Normal People'

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2020 at 5:00 PM

  • Hulu Originals
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The series:
“Normal People” (Season 1, 12 episodes, 2020)

Where to see it:

The deal:
Based on the best-selling 2018 novel by Sally Rooney, “Normal People” follows the evolving relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), who grew up in the same town in Ireland’s County Sligo. We meet them as high schoolers: Both are intellectual achievers, but Connell is a beloved athlete and Marianne a pariah. Social class separates them, too: Connell’s mom (Sarah Greene) cleans the mansion where Marianne’s mom (Aislín McGuckin) presides.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Stowe Jewish Film Festival Goes Virtual

Posted By on Sat, May 16, 2020 at 2:05 PM

Still from 'Crescendo' - COURTESY OF MENEMSHA FILMS
  • Courtesy of Menemsha Films
  • Still from 'Crescendo'
Now in its fifth year, the upcoming Stowe Jewish Film Festival is embracing social distancing with an all-virtual experience. And — more importantly, perhaps, for anyone who's running out of thought-provoking streaming options — it's free. For that, founder and cochair Edee Simon-Israel thanks "generous sponsors" and "our marketing and technology partner," Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, which served as the fest's venue in 2019.

The fest will last three weeks, starting May 24, with each of three films available to stream for three days.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sunset Drive-In to Reopen Friday

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2020 at 11:26 AM

The Sunset Drive-In - EVA SOLLBERGER
  • Eva Sollberger
  • The Sunset Drive-In
Since late March, the only movies playing in Vermont have been in people's living rooms. That changes this weekend. Peter Handy, owner of the Sunset Drive-In in Colchester, announced on Facebook Wednesday that he will start showing movies on Friday and continue all week.

The announcement arrived the same day as Gov. Phil Scott's latest press conference on the state's COVID-19 response. After discussing the possibility of drive-in graduations, Scott was asked about drive-in movie theaters.

"I'm not aware of drive-in theaters being precluded from opening at all," the governor responded. He noted that the state has "encouraged drive-in religious services," then reflected that the coronavirus response might lead to "a revival of the past in many respects. We're seeing carhops and curbside service and so forth, and we may see more of the drive-in theater approach."

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael'

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2020 at 5:56 PM

  • Photo Courtesy of Deborah Feingold
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2019)

Where to see it:
Until May 15, stream the movie for $10 per household as part of the Vermont International Film Foundation’s Virtual Cinema program. On VTIFF’s page, you’ll find instructions for viewing the movie on your TV, plus an interview with the director from Seven Days contributing writer Luke Baynes.

The deal:
If you were a movie lover in the 1970s or ’80s, you already know the work of Pauline Kael (1919-2001), who reviewed for the New Yorker from 1968 to 1991. Her opinions were strongly worded, contrarian and frequently very funny. They carried so much power that Bob Fosse and George Lucas, both directors she’d skewered, inserted parodic references to her into their work (remember evil “General Kael” from Willow?).

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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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