Stream Queen: Shudder Offers Thrills and Chills for Cheap
Oct16

Stream Queen: Shudder Offers Thrills and Chills for Cheap

If you’re anything like me, you’ve shuffled through the Horror section on Netflix, glassy-eyed yet hopeful that somehow, while you weren’t looking, they added something worth watching. It feels like you’ve seen everything in this section worth seeing, and next month they’ll just take away something good and replace it with Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. You barely even check Hulu anymore, because you know the selection is even more...

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Stream Queen: Shows and Films to Lose Your Sanity To
Sep25

Stream Queen: Shows and Films to Lose Your Sanity To

For all the amazing potential of life, sometimes things just suck. In times of confusion and desolation, we often turn to art. Maybe we want to use fictional problems to understand our own real ones, or maybe we just want to turn something on as a distraction. Hard times can be isolating, but the internet provides an entire world of distraction and catharsis and advice that are all just clicks away. Lots of creators have taken...

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What the Film? It’s Northampton Film Fest
Sep25

What the Film? It’s Northampton Film Fest

A birdboy, 1900s Northampton, virtual realities, silly horror, and brimstone are among this year’s offerings at the Northampton Film Festival. Now in its third year under the leadership of Northampton Community Television, the annual multi-day event gets going Wednesday, Sept. 27, with a screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in Pulaski Park in downtown Northampton and closes with the debut of the crowdsourced community cinema...

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Craving Cool Independent Films/TV Online? Check Out Seed & Spark
Aug28

Craving Cool Independent Films/TV Online? Check Out Seed & Spark

In this ever-expanding world of streaming platforms, it can be difficult to look outside the Big Three: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Viewers mainly feel constrained to these options because of their connections with major networks, their buying power for big-name film distribution, and their own original productions. However, if you’ve ever tried to find a truly original, interesting independent film on one of these sites, you’ve...

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Gotta Get ‘Back To The Future’
Aug21

Gotta Get ‘Back To The Future’

Northampton Community TV’s Crowdsourced Cinema project has spawned shot-for-shot remakes of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Princess Bride. But this year’s title — the time travel epic Back to the Future (aka my favorite movie OF ALL TIME) — meant the Advocate wasn’t sitting this one out. The way the project works is people volunteer to shoot a scene, then NCTV cuts the movie into 30-second to three-minute chunks and...

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Cinemadope: Actor-in-Chief, Reagan forever changed the role of US President (Spoiler! Not for the Better)
Aug14

Cinemadope: Actor-in-Chief, Reagan forever changed the role of US President (Spoiler! Not for the Better)

With the ongoing avalanche of reporting on Russia and that nation’s relationship with our current president, it feels almost quaint to look back on the days of the Reagan era. Certainly there was international intrigue then, but today, the jelly beans and faux folksiness of Ron and Nancy’s White House sometimes seem — at least to a writer who went from boyhood to teenager under Reagan — like childhood memories from overnights at a...

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Cinemadope: How Reagan Forever Changed The Presidency
Aug11

Cinemadope: How Reagan Forever Changed The Presidency

With the ongoing avalanche of reporting on Russia and that nation’s relationship with our current president, it feels almost quaint to look back on the days of the Reagan era. Certainly there was international intrigue then, but today, the jelly beans and faux folksiness of Ron and Nancy’s White House sometimes seem — at least to a writer who went from boyhood to teenager under Reagan — like childhood memories from overnights at a...

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Stream Queen: Movies And Shows The Critics Got Wrong
Aug11

Stream Queen: Movies And Shows The Critics Got Wrong

Since its inception in the late 19th century, film has evolved from a seemingly trivial medium into one of the most wide-reaching and popular industries. Film criticism has grown right along with it, as academic and journalistic reviewers endlessly argue over film’s true purpose. Though film and TV criticism depends entirely on the biases and opinions of the critic herself, we all value critics’ opinions over our own. They know what...

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Discussing Far Out Films in the Forbes Library Basement
Aug07

Discussing Far Out Films in the Forbes Library Basement

I’ve always been interested in surrealism, but never quite enough to actually do any research into it beyond looking at some Salvador Dali paintings. But one reference to a surrealist work stuck with me. In the 2011 Woody Allen movie Midnight In Paris, the surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel makes an appearance and an allusion is made to one of his more famous films — the one in which a roomful of party guests are unable to leave after...

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Cinemadope: It Takes Two To Go Down In A Bloody Shootout
Aug02

Cinemadope: It Takes Two To Go Down In A Bloody Shootout

For as long as stories have been told, they have been told about pairs: Odysseus and Penelope, Arthur and Merlin, Bugs and Elmer. It’s a rare tale that doesn’t focus, in some way, on that essential human desire to connect. It can bring us to ecstasy or despair — sometimes both — but there’s no escaping our need for each other. This week, Valley filmgoers have a chance to catch famous pairs on screens all over the area. Some of them...

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StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See
Jul24

StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See

Though digital media has forever changed the face of filmmaking, there’s still one key way independent filmmakers can premiere their work: by entering it into the festival circuit. Each year many films, spanning all lengths and genres, debut to those lucky minority able to attend the most established festivals. Independent film festivals offer the world’s first look at the year’s best films. Moonlight first screened at the Telluride...

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Cinemadope: That Time the MoMA Refused to Return Nazi-Stolen Art
Jul24

Cinemadope: That Time the MoMA Refused to Return Nazi-Stolen Art

My first exposure to Egon Schiele came via Deane G. Keller, an artist and professor whose figure drawing classes remain one of my most lasting memories of art school. We had been working on some hand studies when he suggested I might enjoy the Austrian artist’s work, and when class let out I cut through the trees to the school library to look up the man with the strange name. The collection of work I found amazed me: drawings,...

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Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers
Jul17

Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers

“Wimps and Wanna-Be’s need not apply!” That was the tagline of a print ad announcing an open audition for “FIERCE Male Dancers” who wanted to earn a spot on Madonna’s controversial, ground-breaking Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. It would have been a dream job for any dancer, but nobody — certainly not the seven young men, most barely 20 at the time, who ended up touring the globe with the pop star — could have predicted the impact the...

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Stream Queen: Video Soundtrack Of Your Summer
Jul17

Stream Queen: Video Soundtrack Of Your Summer

When Queen released their music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” back in the ‘70s, it’s doubtful they thought the medium would ever become as quintessential as it has today. In this millennium of viral content and streaming video, music videos have become an artist’s best tool when packaging a song. Though these shorts used to mostly depict artists’ performances, music and video have since coalesced into one discrete, enchanting medium....

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Cinemadope: I Like Mike, Michael Keaton doesn’t get enough credit
Jul03

Cinemadope: I Like Mike, Michael Keaton doesn’t get enough credit

In film, there have always been levels of stardom. There are those stars whose wattage is measured in tooth whiteness, and whose films are expected to earn many millions based more or less on their mere presence — your Pitts, your Cruises, your Lawrences. Then there are those whose star power is moodier, imbued with more actorly gravitas — the Day Lewises, for short. It’s okay if their films don’t always make millions, because they...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Wonder Woman’s Got Nothing on Feline Empowerment
Jul03

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Wonder Woman’s Got Nothing on Feline Empowerment

For Father’s Day, I was treated to a screening of the new Wonder Woman movie. My daughter summed it up well: It was better than good, but not great. What I cannot understand is the fever this movie has generated. Women-only showings? Were there any women-only showings for Tomb Raider? One reviewer is said to have bawled her eyes out when Wonder Woman decked some bad dudes. Did anyone cry during Red Sonja? Wonder Woman has been touted...

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Cinemadope: Better Than Finding A 45-Year-Old Porno
Jun26

Cinemadope: Better Than Finding A 45-Year-Old Porno

Many years ago, I found myself deep in the basement of the old Pleasant Street Theater (now the location of McLadden’s pub in Northampton), cleaning out some old storage lockers. From one of them, I pulled out a dented, dusty, film can, a flat circle of metal about 15 inches across and an inch or so deep. On its side was a peeling piece of yellowed masking tape with a single, suggestive word scrawled across it in marker: “Throat.”...

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Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?
Jun26

Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?

Hanging around the house is something we all do, but usually in an unfocused, squished-between-chores-and-obligations sort of way. But when you stay home for vacation, your dwelling can become a sanctuary, free from the day-to-day grind. If you can’t afford to get out of town, treat your home like a resort: stock it with your favorite goodies, splurge a bit on something comfy, and postpone responsibilities for a while. Indulge in the...

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Cinemadope: City Mouse, Rat Film exposes who the rodents really are in Baltimore
Jun05

Cinemadope: City Mouse, Rat Film exposes who the rodents really are in Baltimore

Fans of filmmaker John Waters might be familiar with the director’s odd fascination with rats. They crop up with some regularity in his life and work — from the original poster for 1977’s Desperate Living, which featured a cooked rat on a restaurant dinner plate, to the opening scenes of his film Pecker some two decades later, which zoomed in on a pair of the rodents in flagrante delicto, the humble rat has become Waters’ spirit...

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Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch
May30

Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch

There has been a trend in Hollywood filmmaking that, for the last decade or so, has steadily changed the look of our blockbusters. It’s a pervasive change, but one that has happened gradually enough that many people aren’t even aware that it has been happening, quite literally in front of their eyes. So then, a warning: If you haven’t noticed, and don’t want the way you look at movies to be changed forever, skip the next paragraph....

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‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)
May22

‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)

Amherst College junior Brian Zayatz’s new documentary, Ask a Punk, opens on a dark basement. You can’t see much other than some hazy Christmas lights in the frame. Some very involved yet calming music — tritones soaked in reverb — plays in the background. This basement in Hadley, along with others throughout the Valley and beyond, could have been finished and furnished with a crisp flat screen, but instead its brick walls are being...

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Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)
May15

Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)

Amherst Cinema is gearing up for the return of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Kyle MacLachlan returns to TV this week in his early role as Cooper, the FBI man who got tied up in the death of Laura Palmer and the mysteries of Twin Peaks when the show of the same name first aired in the early 1990s on ABC. I was in high school then, and watching the original was a life-changer: it was dark and weird and funny and sweet in a way nothing had...

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Cinemadope: Would You Take a Bullet for Art? Documentary on full-throttle artist Chris Burden (w/vid)
May08

Cinemadope: Would You Take a Bullet for Art? Documentary on full-throttle artist Chris Burden (w/vid)

For such a rich subject, films about art and the people that make it all too often feel either forced and flat or ridiculously over the top. Better, usually, to take the documentary route, and let the art speak for itself. That’s the course taken by directors Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey, whose film Burden — screening this week at the Little Cinema in the Berkshire Museum — takes a good long look at the life and times of...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Bad Channels’ Tune Into 666 … if you dare (w/vid)
May08

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Bad Channels’ Tune Into 666 … if you dare (w/vid)

I was saddened when I heard the news that Paul O’Neil, the founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, had died. It seems my favorite bands have either passed away (the Ramones, the Cramps), or are eligible for AARP but continue to stumble on. In addition to Sparks and Alice Cooper, the Blue Oyster Cult is a prime example of the latter. Looking to expand their fan base in 1992, BOC produced the soundtrack for a movie called Bad Channels....

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Rabbit Season: ‘Donnie Darko,’ cult classic about a boy and an apocalyptic bunny, returns to the screen
May01

Rabbit Season: ‘Donnie Darko,’ cult classic about a boy and an apocalyptic bunny, returns to the screen

In the world of film, it is sometimes depressingly simple to point out why a given film is popular: perfectly groomed stars with gleaming teeth, things going boom, good over evil. I get it — we are, by and large, easy to please, and that’s okay. It’s just not that interesting. What is far more difficult to pin down, and so much more engaging to wonder about, are the unexpected hits and cult favorites. What these works do is strike...

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Stagestruck: ‘Life in the (413)’ skewers local culture Saturday
Apr24

Stagestruck: ‘Life in the (413)’ skewers local culture Saturday

Back in the day — way, way back — live radio drama was a staple of the airwaves. As script-toting actors gathered around microphones, their dialogue was peppered with live sound effects, backed by a live band and punctuated with live commercial breaks, often with a live studio audience looking on. Lately, New Century Theatre, in partnership with radio station WHMP, has joined in the genre’s recent rebirth as a staged theatrical event....

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Cinemadope: This Is Spinal Tap deadpans for gold
Apr24

Cinemadope: This Is Spinal Tap deadpans for gold

While the idea of a “mockumentary” now seems almost old-hat, in 1984 director Rob Reiner gave birth to the zany medium. His ridiculously entertaining satire about life on the road with aging, British metal band Spinal Tap during their American comeback tour was mostly improvpotised, with stars Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer leading the charge. At the time, it was almost puzzling in the strength of its deadpan....

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Stream Queen: Blazing flicks to watch while high
Apr18

Stream Queen: Blazing flicks to watch while high

It’s 4/20, and whether you consider today a national holiday or just a chance to gather some friends and smoke, you’ll probably end up watching something. Thankfully, now that it’s no longer the ’70s, stoners can open Netflix or YouTube and watch something unique and outlandish, instead of just staring at a psychedelic Grateful Dead poster. Some high wisdom is obvious. For instance, if you’ve eaten an edible and you’re wondering...

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The DO NOT WATCH List
Apr17

The DO NOT WATCH List

  This week, our resident Stream Queen Lena Wilson offers a journey into some high-minded flicks beyond old Cheech and Chong movies (see pg. 18). But Advocate staff thought it equally important to share a blacklist of movies and TV shows to avoid when high — at all costs. This list was compiled from writers’ personal experience… but that’s probably obvious. Eraserhead (dir. David Lynch, 1977) Watching Lynch work his doomy...

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Film Screening: Holding Hands with Ilse
Apr10

Film Screening: Holding Hands with Ilse

Strangers No More In the 1950s, Hampshire College professor Abraham Ravett relocated with his Polish Jewish family from Eastern Europe to the United States. Ravett was just three at the time of the move, but he carried with him a memory — and a single black-and-white photograph — of the German teenage girl who used to care for him while his parents were at work. He knew only her first name: Ilse. Fast-forward to 2011, when “a major...

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Cinemadope: Hopptornet, a documentary that pushes people to jump
Apr10

Cinemadope: Hopptornet, a documentary that pushes people to jump

Maine Course Like so many of my middle-aged compatriots, I seem to have adopted food as a new hobby. Not cooking, necessarily — quite a bit of this particular enterprise is taken up simply by watching other people cook, it turns out — but eating, at least. And what I’ve come to realize about myself is that I’m addicted to those smallest of plates, the hors d’oeuvre. My dear mother-in-law may work for half a day assembling a...

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Spring Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (April-June 2017)
Apr03

Spring Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (April-June 2017)

Tweet Puppets for the People From its founding in New York’s Lower East Side in 1963 to its decades-long residence in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Bread & Puppet Theater remains one of the country’s most inventive and internationally recognized performing arts troupes. The company’s instantly familiar style of street theater shows — which mix music and dance with drama, puppetry, satire, and slapstick — are always a spectacle...

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Stream Queen: From Low-Budget Dreams to Indie Esteem
Apr03

Stream Queen: From Low-Budget Dreams to Indie Esteem

In our world of studio filmmaking driven by franchises and sequels, creators looking to develop original ideas are often restricted to independent production. While indie filmmaking means working on a shoestring budget, it also often means the cast and crew are creating a passion project, working to make something cinephiles have never seen before. Despite what Netflix tells you, “indie” is less a genre and more a means of film...

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Cinemadope: Banned in the U.S., Documentary about Massachusetts prison for criminally insane turns 50
Apr03

Cinemadope: Banned in the U.S., Documentary about Massachusetts prison for criminally insane turns 50

One of my favorite discoveries from the last year was Documentary Now!, a wonderfully endearing mix of parody and love letter to the modern documentary genre. Originally created for the IFC channel — I first ran across it on Netflix, where you can still check out the first season — the series, created by Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers tackles a different well-known documentary each episode,...

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Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984
Mar27

Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984

Hurt Feelings A few weeks back I found myself with a rare night off — the kids asleep early, the house somehow clean, the bills already paid. I was scrolling through my various Netflix queues when a familiar title popped up: V for Vendetta, the Wachowskis’ 2005 adaptation of Alan Moore’s (Watchmen) famous graphic novel. Something in our current climate had me in the mood to revisit this tale of a neo-fascist regime, holding on to...

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