Pick of the Day 5/20: The Rider
May18

Pick of the Day 5/20: The Rider

“No more riding, no more rodeos, if you don’t stop, your seizures are gonna get worse.” That’s kind of crux of Brady Jandreau’s delimma.  Jandreau was injured in a riding accident curtailing his rising star on the rodeo circuit. He’s told his competition days are over. But how do you redefine your whole life?  “Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no...

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Pick of the Day 5/13: The Invisibles
May11

Pick of the Day 5/13: The Invisibles

Welcome to Sunday. In June 1943, Germany infamously declared Berlin “free of Jews.” There were, however, still 7,000 Jews living in the Nazi capital. These terrorized people were hiding in attics, basements, and warehouses, “protected by courageous Berliners.” Only 1,700, however, lived to be liberated. As part of Amherst Cinema’s New Films from Germany series, The Invisibles is a collection of the true stories of four of these...

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Pick of the Day 5/12: Mudbound at Mass MoCA
May11

Pick of the Day 5/12: Mudbound at Mass MoCA

Netflix jumped into the Academy Awards this year with Mudbound, a magnificent film set in the Mississippi Delta during the years surrounding World War II. It’s all about southern race relations and that’s the only thing that ain’t pretty in this masterpiece. Lush and gorgeous cinematography and impeccable performances make this film a solid winner. R&B queen Mary J. Blige makes a remarkable turn in this film and was nominated for...

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Pick of the Day 5/8: You Were Never Really Here
May08

Pick of the Day 5/8: You Were Never Really Here

It’s hard not to admire Jaoquin Phoenix’s work; he doesn’t just pop up any and everywhere and he actually acts. More importantly, he hasn’t morphed into a Marvel Comics hero … yet.  So let’s celebrate him while he’s still free of Stan Lee.  You Were Never Really Here is Phoenix’s 2017 thriller which won him a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor.  He plays, Joe, a former FBI agent...

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Pick of the Day 5/2: Neither Wolf Nor Dog at Tower Theaters
May02

Pick of the Day 5/2: Neither Wolf Nor Dog at Tower Theaters

It’s so beautiful today and you’ve probably completely lost your mind; it’s hard to think about being indoors when there’s no guarantee that winter has really gone into hiberation. But we’ve got a suggestion for you after you settle down and you’re looking for an indoor breather.  Neither Wolf Nor Dog is showing at Tower Theaters in South Hadley today. The film is based on Kent Nerburn’s 1996 novel...

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Pick of the Day 4/30: Patagonia Treasure Trail at the Forbes
Apr30

Pick of the Day 4/30: Patagonia Treasure Trail at the Forbes

Patagonia Treasure Trail is about a mother/daughter’s road trip on horseback into “the environmentally delicate and politically volatile territory of southern Arizona. A large commercial mining company has claimed the Patagonia Mountains, and the environmentalist mother wants to enjoy the area before the digging begins.” Devastated by a job loss, the daughter finds herself at odds with her mother’s political...

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Pick of the Day 4/26: Silenced at the Greenfield Gardens
Apr26

Pick of the Day 4/26: Silenced at the Greenfield Gardens

As an artist, I know how important it is for folks to support local creatives. So tonight, you’ve got a great chance to do just that! Silenced, a film written and directed by local boy Julian Lowenthal, will have a world debut at the Greenfield Gardens. Colleen Lyons, a Belchertown resident, is the producer and owns Vermage Productions. The two have a 7 year history in film making. This is the synopsis of Silenced, according to...

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Local female film producer Colleen Lyon talks about new horror film ‘Silenced’
Apr26

Local female film producer Colleen Lyon talks about new horror film ‘Silenced’

Colleen Lyon is a busy woman in a club of one. The owner of Vermage Productions, a Western Mass movie production company, Lyon laments that she is the only female movie producer in the area. When asked if she gets lonely, she sighs and says, “It’s lonely. Very, very lonely. I know other female producers, but none of them make movies like I do.” Lyons has produced and directed films that have been aired on television, local theaters,...

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Pick of the Day 4/25: Faces Places/Visages Villages
Apr25

Pick of the Day 4/25: Faces Places/Visages Villages

It’s the closing night of the Multicultural Film Festival at UMass. Tonight’s film is a special treat. 89-year old French New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda and acclaimed 33-year-old French photographer JR co-direct Faces Places/Visages Villages. This documentary follows the pair as they travel through French villages meeting and talking to local folks in JR’s photo truck. Together they create giant-sized portraits of some...

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Pick of the Day 2/24: Call of the Forest at Amherst Cinema
Apr24

Pick of the Day 2/24: Call of the Forest at Amherst Cinema

For the love trees! Call of the Forest is a 2017 documentary that sounds the alarm bells about deforestation around the globe. The brilliant scientist Diana Beresford-Kroeger explores how our health and the health of the Earth depends on the state of our forests.  She travels across the globe to explore the science and the challenges of restoring the eco-system.  The movie’s site describes Beresford-Kroeger’s mission:...

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Pick of the Day 4/16: Being Mortal
Apr16

Pick of the Day 4/16: Being Mortal

This PBS Frontline documentary is based on Atul Gawande’s best seller.  The documentary explores the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness and the physicians who treat them. There will be a discussion following the screening of the film. Being Mortal is presented in conjunction with National Healthcare Decisions Day. Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, 10 Vernon St, Brattleboro, 7...

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Pick of the Day 4/13: Brain Damage at Amherst Cinema
Apr13

Pick of the Day 4/13: Brain Damage at Amherst Cinema

It’s Friday the 13th and if you were a big humdrum, you’d watch Friday the 13th. But because you like to think outside the box, your best bet for horror tonight is Brain Damage!   Here’s how Amherst Cinema describes this…uh…film.  “How do you follow up an all-time cult classic like 1982’s BASKET CASE? If you’re the one and only Frank Henenlotter, you next unleash BRAIN DAMAGE: his ultimate Grimm’s...

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Pick of the Day: Foxtrot at Amherst Cinema
Apr09

Pick of the Day: Foxtrot at Amherst Cinema

Michael and Dafna’s son Jonathan is killed while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces; they experience gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce his death.  The family’s overzealous mourning, as well as the army’s bureaucracy, begin to take its toll on Michael.  His rage begins to mount and spiral into another life changing event.  Director Samuel Maoz delivers “a meditation on...

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Pick of the Day: Panique at HCC
Apr03

Pick of the Day: Panique at HCC

Catch the tail end of Holyoke Community College’s 2018 French Film Festival. Bring your escargot and beret to watch Panique, a 1947 adaptation of Mr. Hire’s Engagement by Belgian crime writer Georges Simenon. It’s a “bleak picture of human nature at its vilest and most cruel.” Sounds like a big ol’ downer but everything sounds better in French. Presented in French with English subtitles. Panique will be screened at the Leslie...

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Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film
Mar29

Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film

Black Panther smashed global box office records when it opened in February, and like any good action movie part of the magic of Black Panther is the soundtrack. While watching the movie, there’s one part of the soundtrack that you might not notice at first: the tama, or the talking drums. The album written by Kendrick Lamar to accompany the movie got a lot of hype, but the music that really carries the action of the film is the...

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Pick of the Day 3/27: Chinatown at Amherst Cinema
Mar27

Pick of the Day 3/27: Chinatown at Amherst Cinema

Tonight at Amherst Cinema, Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway star in the 1974 mystery classic mystery Chinatown. The omnipresent Wikipedia describes it as having “many elements of film noir, particularly a multi-layered story that is part mystery and part psychological drama.” Couldn’t say it better myself. There’s a private eye hired by a beautiful dame and mystery, murder, mayhem, and a touch of municipal...

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Cinemadope: Slavery Then and Now
Mar26

Cinemadope: Slavery Then and Now

So much can depend on a word. Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary about race and the sprawling prison-industrial complex that has bloomed in modern America is called “13th,” but it could very well have been titled with another single word: “Except.” That word, nestled into the 13th Amendment to the Constitution from which the film draws its title, has changed the lives of countless men and women. The amendment in question, ratified in...

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Pick of the Day 3/25: Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal
Mar23

Pick of the Day 3/25: Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal

Okay, if you’re into the Grim Reaper, a disillusioned knight, the plague, a terrible stage performer who sees visions, chess and the oh-so-fun Crusades, then you’ll be into Ingmar Bergman’s classic film The Seventh Seal. It involves a lot more but you’ll have to see it to believe it. Just to add to the mystery: the movie ends with the Danse Macabre. Movie starts at 2 p.m. at Amherst Cinema. 28 Amity St.,...

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Pick of the Day 3/20: PVJFF Raise the Roof
Mar20

Pick of the Day 3/20: PVJFF Raise the Roof

Boston artists Rick and Laura Brown of Handhouse Studio embarked on a 10-year journey to reconstruct the elaborate roof painting and ceiling of the Gwoździec synagogue. The project involved over 300 students and professionals from 16 countries. During those years according to the film’s website, the Browns, “grapple not just with the echoes of World War II when these buildings were destroyed by the Nazis, but also with...

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Cinemadope: The Room director returns
Mar19

Cinemadope: The Room director returns

When Tommy Wiseau’s film The Room finally found its audience, it was as a famously awful piece of filmmaking — watching it was like seeing a tornado tear through a garbage dump. Whether or not the director has ever fully grasped the workings of his fame is still an unanswered question, something made more apparent with the success last year of James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which chronicled the making of The Room. Wiseau, who...

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Pick of the Day 3/19: East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem
Mar19

Pick of the Day 3/19: East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem

As part of the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival : Released in 2014, East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a musical documentary which follows Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza as he records a new album with a mix of Israeli and Palestinian musicians.  Broza is able to bring together people from both sides of the divide — something that needs to happen more often these days. 7 – 10 p.m.  Scanlon Hall, Westfield State...

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Pick of the Day 3/13: Netflix
Mar13

Pick of the Day 3/13: Netflix

If you haven’t noticed, winter and spring are in an epic battle for dominance; my money is on spring because nobody puts spring in a corner. Today, however, winter is landing another merciless flurry of punches and opening a great big can of whoop a**.  And if you haven’t noticed, just about everything is closed — except Netflix.  Netflix is home to a seemingly endless number of series, movies, documentaries, cartoons,...

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Cinemadope: The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Returns
Mar07

Cinemadope: The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Returns

Now in its 13th year, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival has proven itself to be one of the area’s most popular cinematic traditions. And with good reason: the festival is a wide-reaching affair that brings its offerings not just to one theater, but to screens throughout the Valley, creating a two-week event that feels like the truly regional experience it is. Just as wide-ranging is the festival’s slate of films, a varied lineup...

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Pick of the Day 3/7: Adam Benzine’s Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
Mar07

Pick of the Day 3/7: Adam Benzine’s Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

The Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival will screen a special director’s cut of Adam Benzine’s 2015 documentary, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah.  It took French journalist, philosopher, and filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, 12 years to make his Holocaust documentary, Shoah which was completed in 1985.  Benzine’s film chronicles the challenges that dogged Lanzmann during the making of Shoah...

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Pick of the Day 2/28: Countdown Zero at Forbes Library
Feb27

Pick of the Day 2/28: Countdown Zero at Forbes Library

It’s kind of a bummer, but real life usually is.  The 2010 documentary Countdown Zero (as part of the Forbes Library’s Resistance Film Series) traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs. It argues that the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons has increased since the end of the Cold War due to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, theft of nuclear materials and weapons, and...

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Cinemadope: A Horror Film Stitched Together from Horror Films at Amherst
Feb23

Cinemadope: A Horror Film Stitched Together from Horror Films at Amherst

It’s always been a point of pride at Amherst Cinema that they are no mere movie house. Plunked down right in the heart of the town’s downtown, flanked by coffee spots and park greens, the theater has always been something of a community hub. Perhaps it would have been their destiny, given the location, but it is an identity the organization has long embraced and actively encouraged, putting on all sorts of events that help bring the...

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Pick of the Day 2/24: Telluride Mountain Film Festival at Hampshire College
Feb23

Pick of the Day 2/24: Telluride Mountain Film Festival at Hampshire College

Hampshire College invites you to enjoy a few hours of action packed films from the Telluride Mountain Film Festival.  Mountainfilm travels year round and worldwide with a selection of its best short films.  This year, 13 films are screening at Franklin Patterson Hall at Hampshire College.  Franklin Patterson Hall is located at 893 West Street, Amherst. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are...

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Pick of the Day 2/19: Hidden Figures at Amherst Cinema
Feb19

Pick of the Day 2/19: Hidden Figures at Amherst Cinema

Hidden Figures As Elon Musk’s Space X program soars, NASA’s illustrious history seems a little dull. One way to put back the shine is to see Hidden Figures, the three time Oscar nominated film starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. It’s the story of three black female mathematicians and their struggles and victories at NASA during the 1960s. A remarkable film with a phenomenal cast, Hidden...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: “Son of The Pink Panther” falls far from the tree
Feb08

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: “Son of The Pink Panther” falls far from the tree

It may come as a surprise to my faithful readers that I actually own a few classy movies — notably, the well-regarded “Pink Panther” series starring the great Peter Sellers as Detective Inspector Clouseau. After Sellers’ death, the producers unwisely decided to try to keep the series going with a “Son Of” sequel. Alas, I am forced to quote the immortal Rocky the Squirrel: “But that trick never works, Bullwinkle!” You know you’re in...

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Things To Do: Love, Anime Style, at Tower Theaters
Feb08

Things To Do: Love, Anime Style, at Tower Theaters

Valentines Day, February 14, catch Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card. Romance and intrigue, Japanese anime style. South Hadley’s Tower Theaters, 19 College Street, South Hadley. 9 p.m. $12.50 in advance; $14 at the door. towertheaters.com. — Gina...

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Cinemadope: Playing yourself in an Iranian film on a real crime
Feb06

Cinemadope: Playing yourself in an Iranian film on a real crime

Review movies long enough, and you’ll hear the tale of Taste of Cherry. The 1997 film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d’Or at that year’s Cannes Film Festival, and was hailed by many as a masterpiece. But when it hit theaters in the U.S., there was at least one very prominent thumbs down — the famous thumb of The Chicago Sun-Times’ influential film critic Roger Ebert, who called the film (a long, quiet, look at a...

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Cinemadope: Different Strokes
Jan16

Cinemadope: Different Strokes

Few artists have captured the public’s fancy like Vincent Van Gogh. His richly textured landscapes, interiors, and portraits, built up with a painterly impasto as inviting as a rich ganache, seem to grow in popularity with every passing year. And while the calendar and coffee mug industries wouldn’t be the same without him, even his most accessible work has always felt like it contained hidden meaning in the ridges and valleys of his...

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Stream Queen: Distract Your Family with These Jolly Seasonal Picks
Dec11

Stream Queen: Distract Your Family with These Jolly Seasonal Picks

If you’ve turned on a radio recently or gone into any store, you may have noticed that the holidays are approaching — some faster than others, as Hanukkah began this week. For most of us, that means that it’s time to prepare for family gatherings, gift exchanges, and overeating. We had our warm-up during Thanksgiving, but the winter holidays are when capitalism goes full bonkers, constantly reminding us that this is a time to be with...

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Literally, what would Jesus do? A chat with Jesus Christ Superstar’s Ted Neeley
Nov06

Literally, what would Jesus do? A chat with Jesus Christ Superstar’s Ted Neeley

Ted Neeley is not the second coming of Jesus Christ. But he does play one in the extremely popular show and accompanying 1973 movie Jesus Christ Superstar. The show went from being protested in the streets to one of the biggest Broadway sensations, touring around the world. Neeley still plays the part decades later, and participates in talkbacks at screenings of the film, but an upcoming event at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield this...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye
Oct23

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and view an exhibit by Kirk Hammett. “Kirk who?” you ask. Why, none other than the lead guitarist for the thrash metal band Metallica. Can’t say I was ever a fan, but Hammett’s collection on display was interesting. Growing up with a love for old horror films, he has amassed a treasure trove of original movie posters. The collection mostly focuses on the...

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