The fifteenth annual Independent Film Festival Boston wrapped up this past Wednesday night at the Coolidge Corner Theatre with a screening of Band Aid and a visit from writer-director-star Zoe Lister-Jones. Here’s a quick look at some films that screened during the festival’s final days.


There’s a generosity you might not notice at first in writer-director Gillian Robespierre’s saucy sophomore effort. It’s an ensemble piece about a reasonably well-to-do Greenwich Village family, with two bickering sisters (Jenny Slate and her young doppelganger Abby Quinn) whose worlds are rocked by the discovery that their dad (John Turturro, perfectly playing the…

The famously private filmmaker is the subject of an appropriately Lynchian — direct yet anti-literal — documentary.

One of my favorite Brattle Theatre memories is a visit from David Lynch back in 2006. He’d brought along his new film Inland Empire, the area premiere being a big to-do for which the Cambridge City Council officially declared December 6th “David Lynch Day.” (In response the filmmaker asked if it was his day, then why couldn’t he smoke anywhere? Lynch really loves his cigarettes.)

After screening his lengthy and confounding opus, the director sat for a Q&A during which he cheerfully and hilariously deflected every question about the film’s deeper meanings and his authorial intent. …

The fifteenth annual Independent Film Festival Boston announced their 2017 Jury Awards at a ceremony this past Saturday night at the Somerville Theatre. Here’s a look at winners in the Feature Categories.

Documentary Feature Special Jury Prize: MAINELAND

Beijing Taxi director Miao Wang chronicles the cultural displacement of Chinese students at Maine’s Fryeburg Academy in low-key observational mode, hanging back and allowing us to absorb recurring themes and motifs without foregrounding them in the edit. Maineland conveys a refreshing ambivalence about the reasons for the kids’ experience, careful to include the school’s mercenary motivations for recruiting students from overseas, as well as the interests of their parents — most of them successful entrepreneurs — in having children conversant in ways of the West. The movie is a real visual treat, with some…

The fifteenth annual Independent Film Festival Boston runs through next Wednesday at the Somerville, Brattle and Coolidge Corner Theatres. Here’s a quick look at six movies worth checking out over the weekend.


The title character is a depressed cubicle drone working at a debt collection agency, but he really wants to be a puppeteer. He’s also a gorilla, or maybe just a guy wearing a cheap gorilla suit that goes unremarked upon by everyone. Whatever the case, the ape in silly sunglasses and people clothes scores a surprising amount of pathos in this bizarre, improbably moving film from directors…

“I knew this day was coming, when I’d have to stand in Boston and explain the accents and the mischief that we did to them.”

Brie Larson costars as Justine in Ben Wheatley’s ‘Free Fire’

“Musicals… I fucking hate them,” scoffed director Ben Wheatley, Britain’s genre-hopping potty-mouth who over six features has zig-zagged around subject matter from crime dramas to horror to the downright unquantifiable. Whether it’s the seventeenth-century psychedelia of A Field in England or High-Rise’s sci-fi dystopia, Wheatley’s down for almost anything. Just don’t expect to see his characters bursting into song. “Sorry. It’s not the musicals’ fault. It’s my fault, it’s all my problem. When people sing instead of fucking talk it makes me crazy.”

Wheatley was at the Brattle Theatre this past week for a special Independent Film Festival Boston screening…

“I’m always moved by people who are trying to look out for each other.”

Earlier this month, Independent Film Festival Boston and the Coolidge Corner Theatre hosted the New England Premiere of writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. This stunning family drama was shot last year on the North Shore and has been flooring festival audiences all over the world ever since its Sundance debut back in January. (It opens in Boston November 25th.) When I saw Manchester by the Sea eleven months ago I said that I didn’t expect to see a better movie this year, and I still haven’t.

Lonergan was back in Boston for the Coolidge screening, where Paul…

The iconic actress and trailblazer shares stories of shattering Hollywood expectations at ‘Jackie Brown’ screening

Earlier this month Pam Grier spent a few days at Harvard University to accept the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research. She also hung out for a couple of nights at the Harvard Film Archive, where the actress granted us pale, sheltered movie nerds a rare audience with royalty in support of the HFA’s Pam Grier Superstar!, a retrospective of the now-seminal, rotgut classics in which she singlehandedly rebuked received wisdom regarding Hollywood’s conceptions of beauty and power.

Pam Grier introduced to the cinema a new kind of femininity — bold, black and…

“I hope to God there are more whistleblowers. We need them desperately.”

One of the scariest scenes in Oliver Stone’s Snowden finds our whistleblowing protagonist grilled by a sinister supervisor via a gigantic, wall-sized Skype screen — the interrogator’s menacing, oversized head dwarfing his underling’s entire body. So it’s fitting that shortly before a screening of the movie, Stone himself appeared larger-than-life on the big screen at the Harvard Film Archive. The controversial filmmaker took questions from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind at Harvard’s Kennedy School last Monday night, their talk simulcast to moviegoers at the HFA. But like any director worth his salt, Oliver Stone first wanted to adjust the lighting.

Fall in love all over again with your favorite movies, presented in the most magnificent of formats, this fall at Somerville Theatre.

The Somerville Theatre.

“There’s a big difference between watching Sherif Ali come out of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, looking at a stray pixel perhaps, and seeing it on the screen the way it’s supposed to be seen,” snarls David Kornfeld, head projectionist at the Somerville Theatre. He’s got me up in the booth and is taking me to school regarding the theater's 70mm & Widescreen Festival, a years-in-the-planning dream project for both Kornfeld and the Somerville Theatre’s Director of Operations, Ian M. Judge.

Kicking off this Friday night with the aforementioned Lawrence, the festival offers ten days of Hollywood epics projected…

The writer-director shared stories of the uphill battle to bring women’s stories to the big screen, the emotional evolution of the film from conception to exhibition, and the thematic connections to her work on ‘Orange is the New Black.’

‘Tallulah,’ coming soon to West Newton Cinema and Netflix.

About halfway through the very warm and wise new film Tallulah, our title character played by Ellen Page comes clean and admits that she was not, as she’s been claiming all along, named after actress Tallulah Bankhead — but rather Tallulah’s Bar and Grill, the long-gone Davis Square haunt that famously featured sixty-five beers on tap. “I waitressed there,” laughs Cambridge-born writer-director Sian Heder. “We did have sixty-five beers on tap but the guy never paid his bills, so we were always out of like sixty of them. There were always collection agencies coming in and we would have to…

Sean Burns

Film critic. Projectionalist.

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