Kevin: My Top Movies for 2013

In the midst of awards season and with the Oscars right around the corner, it seems like all the talk around COM has been about movies, so I thought I should be a good film student and make my “Top 5 Movies of 2013” list.

5. Captain Phillips

Pretty much anything with Tom Hanks gets my stamp of approval, but this movie really stands out. Going in, I was a little worried the story was going to get the Hollywood treatment and seem too over the top. I was surprised though; while Tom Hanks does come off as a hero, they don’t make him a saint, and I actually even felt bad for the pirates at some point. Barkhad Abdi makes his film debut as the leader of the pirates, and gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. The director Paul Greengrass’ shaky-camera style from the Jason Bourne movies is in full effect here, and it works perfectly with the cramped shots inside the boat. For a movie where you know the ending going in, there’s an incredible amount of suspense.

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

I’m usually not a huge Coen brothers fan. I liked True Grit but beyond that, I feel like I just don’t get their movies. Inside Llewyn Davis was another pleasant surprise for me. The music alone is great, featuring Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Marcus Mumford. Some of the tracks are depressing (fair warning, the whole movie is pretty depressing) but some are a lot of fun, like “Please Mr. Kennedy,” JT’s protest song asking JFK not to send him to the moon (yes, it’s as strange as it sounds). The movie is slow, but I was never bored. Personally I feel like it got shorted at the Oscars and deserved to at least be nominated in a lot more categories, if not win them.

3. Frozen

Frozen is fun. There’s no other way to put it. The songs are catchy, the characters are goofy, and I haven’t talked to a single person who didn’t like it. It’s a new take on the Disney princess formula, and the characters are all so quirky and odd instead of being fairy tale perfect, and they completely pull it off. I guarantee you’ll walk out of the theater with a smile on your face, and at the end of the day, that’s what movies are about.

2. American Hustle

I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about American Hustle, people seem to either love it or hate it. I thought it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. The dialogue was quick and funny, a lot like David O. Russell’s last movie, Silver Linings Playbook. The cast is a who’s-who and everybody does a great job, most of them taking on roles that completely contradict their usual roles. (When’s the last time you saw someone go from Batman to a potbellied comb-over wearing con man so well?) There are lots of twists and turns, and the movie moves so quickly it doesn’t give you time to try and stop to figure out who’s conning who. Think Ocean’s 11 with goofier 1970’s hair.

1. Much Ado About Nothing

Ok so I know putting a black and white Shakespeare movie as my number 1 looks really pretentious but hear me out. Joss Whedon is about the only guy who could go from writing and directing the Avengers to a small project like this, and have both of them be so great. The story behind the movie is almost as good as the movie; coming off the Avengers, Whedon wanted to make a movie with some friends, so he got together with actors he had worked with before and in 12 days they shot the entire movie at his house. The whole movie feels like that too, it just seems like everyone is having a lot of fun instead of worrying about making a nose-in-the-air Shakespeare movie. I’ll be honest, I had to look up some Sparknotes at the beginning, but once it gets going it’s actually really easy to follow and a great movie.

Sarah: Production 1

Now a first semester junior, I have been putting off Production I for some time. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with production in the past, but always as a production assistant. I observed first-hand how much work goes into directing your own film. I’m currently enrolled in Production I and shot my final film this past weekend. It was even more difficult than I thought it would be, but in the end, it was a totally gratifying experience.

Originally, I thought the class was about learning all the technical aspects of making a film. But really, it is about learning to make a film, start to finish. While the technical side of the class is important, the biggest take-away for me will be learning how to coordinate a production. There is an incredible amount of planning that goes into it. Unlike most films you will ever make, Prod I requires you to make them on your own. Well, not entirely on your own. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have a few stellar friends and classmates willing to help you out. But, you will call all of the shots. Literally.

A note for anyone taking a production class next semester – pre-production is key! I dealt with a million and one problems before I started shooting –actors dropping out, locations falling through and unavailable equipment, just to name a few. I found out 5 days before I my shoot that one of my actresses was a union member. Using her in my film would require paperwork, signatures and a $50 deposit – all due one week before filming. Oops!  Luckily, I settled things with a very understanding woman at the SAG office. Because I was able to deal with these problems beforehand, the actual shoot went smoothly.

That’s not to say production won’t yield its own complications. Murphy’s Law is in full effect on most film sets. A pair of socks I bought as the focus of my film ended up being too dark to be seen on camera. My crew spent an hour in one scene trying to light them. My advice is to schedule yourself plenty of time to shoot. As my professor always says, shooting will take you three times longer than expected. I scheduled using this rule, plus added an hour in between location changes. I expected to be ahead of schedule all day, but I barely maintained it.

So even though I don’t plan on continuing with production, this class was an invaluable lesson in planning and budgeting (time, not money). I hope you all get the chance to get out there and make some movies!

 

Jon: How to Beat the Cold

New England is an amazing place, in part because of its seasons. There are few other places where you can get a real four-season year like you can in the northeast. But, with short days, cold winds, and huge amounts of snow, the winter season can seem long and unbearable to some.

However, a cheery fire and a steaming mug of hot chocolate can make all the difference in combating these mid-winter blues. So, with the toughest season of the year just beginning to show its signs, I’m going to have a go at listing the top five ways to get a break from the Boston winter.

1) Cozy up in a Coffee Shop. It may seem a bit obvious, but bringing a good book and some free time to a toasty coffee shop and relaxing is a great way to make the winter a little brighter. Between the wafting smells of freshly baked pastries, and the comfortable, low key atmosphere, your winter blues will float away like the steam coming off your mocha-soy latte. An on-campus favorite is the Espresso Royale Café –for a filling breakfast try their bagel sandwiches!

2) Catch a Flick. Boston doesn’t have the most theaters per capita, but it does have some of the nicest art house and independent venues I’ve been to. Spending a dark winter afternoon or evening in the supple ambience of an art deco theater can be a great way to brighten your week. The local Brattle Theater (Cambridge) and Coolidge Corner Theater (Brookline) are both accessible by public transit, and frequently screen old favorites, new indie pictures, foreign gems, and even a cartoon marathon from time to time.

3) Go Shopping. I’m sure I’m not the only one among us who suffers from a minor-to-severe case of retail therapy. While I might take out my stress by making questionable purchases (I don’t care what my roommate says – that $200 Japanese tea set was TOTALLY necessary), I’m actually recommending some light mall-crawling because of the locations rather than the stores. The Prudential Center, a popular shopping mall in the Back Bay, is brilliant in the winter, decked out from floor to ceiling in shiny holiday cheer. The Galleria Mall in Cambridge is similarly resplendent during the holiday season. Sometimes during the winter, a healthy dose of bright lights, shiny ornaments, and old fashioned consumerism is just what the doctor ordered.

4) Get to the Gym. I might be sounding like a broken record, but I can’t recommend exercise enough. Getting your heart rate up is clinically proven to elevate mood and help you stay positive and upbeat. Long winters can take quite a toll even on the most hardened of lifetime New Englanders. Some daily exercise is a great way to make those grey skies seem a little bit brighter. For those who have a phobia of exercise machines (“I’ve only been running for HOW long!?”), the FitRec offers classes, rock climbing and pick up sports, all fun ways to stay active without the repetitiveness of working out.

5) Embrace the Cold. It may sound funny at first, but sometimes the best way to beat the winter is throw the reigns over it and turn it into your own personal joyride. From sledding, skating and skiing, to getting in a free-fire snowball fight on Bay State road, the red noses and frozen fingertips can help you find the winter as a source of fun, rather than dreariness. Getting good and drenched in melted snow makes the hot chocolate that much more satisfying as well. Local mass transit means woods and sledding areas out of the city are just a train ride away – just be sure to bundle up!

If you haven’t experienced a New England winter before, you’re in for an extraordinary few months. Tackle it head on, stay on top of your work, and try to have some fun! Winter cheer really does exist, and like the blizzards and snow banks, it can be found in New England like no other place.

Until next time, stay warm and dry!

 

Sarah: Free (and legal!) Movies on Campus

Sarah ImageWe all love free stuff, and as college students, we have plenty of it available. At any given campus event, you might walk away with flip cam, a gift card or, best of all, a free t-shirt. While I welcome all free things, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a free movie. Here are a few (legal) ways to catch a free flick right here on campus.

Krasker Film Library

This place is Mugar’s hidden gem. In the basement of the library hides a secret stash of over 18,000 movies on DVD, Blu-ray and the ever-popular VHS. Krasker has every film from Citizen Kane to Superbad, and plenty in between. All of the films are catalogued and can be reserved online. You can’t take films out of the library, so head here on a rainy day when you have an afternoon to kill.

Geddes Language Center

This is the Krasker of foreign films, housed on the fifth floor of the College of Arts and Sciences building. There are thousands of films in nearly 30 different languages, including Russian, Korean, Italian, ASL, Creole and Yiddish. Language professors typically use this facility for class screenings, but individual students can also reserve films. All you need to watch a film is your BU ID. These films must also stay at the center.

Cinematheque

If anyone knows the worth of a good movie, it is BU’s Film & TV department. Each semester, several writers, directors, producers and actors visit COM as a part of the department’s Cinematheque series. Our guests typically screen a movie or TV episode and then hold a Q&A session afterwards. Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to get COM alumni who have struck some success in the business. Last month, Jennifer Getzinger was here to screen an episode of Mad Men that she directed. Pretty cool, huh?

Redstone Film Festival

Another department event, this film festival is all about student work. All COM students are invited to submit their original work, which is judged by a panel of industry professionals. Once a year, they roll out the red carpet in front of the Tsai Performance Center to screen the top films and announce the winners. It feels like a Hollywood movie premiere right on campus. The theater always sells out, so show up early!

Programming Council Events

BU’s Programming Council hosts more campus events than I can ever keep track of. From open skate to comedy shows to semi-formal dances, PC does it all. My favorite PC events, of course, are free movie screenings. They host “drive-in movie” nights throughout the semester at different locations. When the weather is nice enough, they even project movies on jumbo screens on the BU Beach or Nickerson Field. The usually show double features, like Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses, and serve free popcorn!

And if you just love the ambiance of the traditional movie theater, check out the GSU ticket office on the second floor for discounted tickets to Regal Cinemas. Being a BU student has its perks – take advantage of some of them!

Steph: Night at the Movies

Steph ImageAlright, first COM Ambassador Blog! With the Oscars just around the corner, I’ve decided to talk about all the seriously awesome movie theaters there are in the Boston Area. If you’ve read my bio or know anything about me, you know that I’m crazy obsessed with movies—and Boston has some of the best places to go see them! Here are my favorites:

Regal Fenway

Located about 10 minutes from where I call home, Warren Towers, Regal Fenway is the perfect cure for the mid-week blues. My friends and I needed a break from homework one Wednesday night last semester and decided to walk over to the Regal Fenway and see 50/50. Even though 50/50 was an emotional rollercoaster, (I laughed, I bawled, I swooned over Joseph Gordon-Levitt), it was definitely awesome to be able to catch a quick movie on a weekday. So college.

Coolidge Corner Theater

Coolidge Corner is one of the cutest areas I’ve seen around Boston, and the Coolidge Corner Theater doesn’t disappoint when it comes to cuteness. From the outside, you can tell that the CCT is a cultural landmark, with its neon lights and art-deco style exterior. If you’re dying to see that indie flick that isn’t playing anywhere else, chances are Coolidge Corner will be more than happy to indulge in your indie needs. You have to be prepared, though—my friends and I tried three times to go see A Dangerous Method starring the genetically perfect Michael Fassbender, and it was sold out every time, because it was playing in their 14 seat theater. Talk about intimate. Other fun stuff includes midnight showings of old horror movies and the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show.

AMC Loews Boston Commons

If the Coolidge Corner Theater were a one-bedroom studio, the AMC Loews Boston Commons would be a McMansion. The place is MASSIVE, and so beautiful. Not only does it have a concession stand that would satisfy any sweet tooth, it also includes an ice-cream stand where you can have custom-made milkshakes. As you make your way to your theater, constant reminders of why you love movies surround you. Famous movie quotes are painted onto the ceiling, and vintage movie posters advertising Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and James Bond are framed on the walls. Larger-than-life black and white portraits of Marlon Brando on the set of The Godfather and James Dean on the set of Rebel Without a Cause lead you to your seat. For someone who loves movies as much as I do, it’s a magical place.

Somerville Theater

The Somerville Theater is a bit far off campus, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Located in Davis Square, the Somerville Theater is very reminiscent of Coolidge Corner Theater in terms of old-time charm. The main theater is a converted stage theater, complete with gold curtains and balconies. The other theaters are just as quaint, with light fixtures shaped like owls. And it isn’t just for movies—the Somerville Theater also continues to host live performances. And if you have some time after your movie, you can make your way downstairs to the Museum of Bad Art. Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

So if you’re craving some popcorn and a good movie, there are tons of options at your fingertips. See ya at the movies!