/Film Boston – Bong Joon Ho’s Mother; Jonathan Demme Accepts the Coolidge Award; The Art of the Steal
Posted on Saturday, March 13th, 2010 by David Chen
Lots of cool film-related stuff happens in Boston, Massachusetts and not that many people are here to document it, preserve it and spread the word about it. Special screenings, Q&As, panel discussions — we have them all, and frequently too. /Film Boston aims to be a bi-weekly column that will bring you audio and video content from film-related events around the Boston area. If you don’t live in Boston, I hope that this column will give you a window into some of the cool stuff that happens here regularly. If you do live here, hopefully you’ll come here to get the heads-up on what’s been going on, and what is to come.
After the break, an interview with director Bong Joon-Ho and a panel discussion with Elvis Mitchell and Jonathan Demme. Plus, I chat with Nick Argott, the director of The Art of the Steal. [Above photo: Screenwriter Jenny Lumet stands at the podium on the stage of the Coolidge Theater, while a Jonathan Demme montage plays on screen]
On February 28, 2010, South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho came to the Harvard Film Archive to present his newest film, Mother. The film was part of a series entitled “Bong Joon-Ho: The Pleasures and Terrors of Genre,” which screened all four of his films, including the rarely-seen Barking Dogs Never Bite. If you haven’t seen Bong’s other films (The Host, Memories of Murder), you owe it to yourself to put them into your Netflix queue, as they are unique, remarkable creations.
I loved Mother. The first 3/4ths of the film were uneven, thriller/whodunit material that has been trod many times before (including by Bong himself in Memories of Murder), but the last 1/4th was absolute genius and left me with images that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to see the movie again when it hits theaters.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Bong after the film for a lengthy chat. For your convenience, I have created two versions of my interview: One with spoilers and one without. Here’s the one without spoilers:
The below interview contains SPOILERS for all of Bong’s films. If you haven’t seen his movies, bookmark this page and come back; this version of the interview is much more interesting in my opinion:
Over the past few weeks, the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA has been screening a bunch of Jonatham Demme films, a prelude to awarding him the Coolidge Award on March 2, 2010. The Coolidge Award “is an annual celebration honoring a film artist whose body of work is recognized as consistently original and challenging.” The award rotates to different categories each year, in order “to reflect the broad range of film arts championed by The Coolidge Corner Theatre throughout its history.” This year, Jonathan Demme won as “English Language Director.”
On the day of the award, the theater screened Demme’s Melvin and Howard and hosted a panel discussion afterwards moderated by the superlative Elvis Mitchell from “The Treatment.” Here is the first 50 minutes of that panel, in which Jonathan discusses the making of the film, and the importance of collaboration in filmmaking. Two of his colleagues, music editor Suzana Peric and renowned cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, also join him (This is a lengthy discussion so you can download it by visiting the Vimeo page and using the “Download video” option on the right side of the screen).
Later in the evening, during the award ceremony, many people got up on stage to pay tribute to Demme. Here’s a speech that author Walter Mosley gave:
Actress Anne Hathaway could not make it to Boston, but sent a letter that screenwriter Jenny Lumet read aloud:
And finally, here’s Jonathan himself, accepting the award and talking about how he first got started in film with the help of legendary director/mentor Roger Corman:
Finally I had a chance to check out Don Argott’s The Art of the Steal, which screened at the Landmark Kendall Square theater on March 3rd, 2010, courtesy of the fine folks at Independent Film Festival of Boston. The plot description explains that “The Art of the Steal plays like a thrilling whodunit as it seeks to solve what happened to the world-renowned Barnes art collection, valued in the ‘billions and billions.’” I found the film exceptionally well-made, evoking the work of Errol Morris and creating thriller material out of humdrum civil procedure. Here’s the trailer:
I also had the chance to chat with the film’s director, Don Argott. Here’s our interview below. Note that The Art of the Steal is out now in theaters and also available on video-on-demand all across the country:
Here’s some other cool stuff that’s happening in Boston in the near future (some info via the Boston Screening Community). Information is subject to change, so always check with the source before trekking out to the screening:
Monday, 3/15 AND 3/22, 6 PM - The Boston Public Library is hosting a series of FREE screenings called “Made in Mass,” featuring movies that were shot in Masssachusetts. These next two weeks will feature Just Cause and A Civil Action.
Monday, 3/15, 7 pm - Coolidge Corner is hosting a screening of Christopher Guest’s Best In Show with veterinary behaviorist Nicholas H. Dodman. Polka Dog Bakery will be raffling off free dog goodies at the screening.
Wednesday, 3/17, 7 pm – The people behind The Boondock Saints are hosting a DVD/soundtrack release party at The Paradise.
Thursday, 3/18, 8 pm – The Brattle is hosting a FREE screening of The Verdict, with special appearances by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and Boston Herald critic James Verniere.
Saturday , 3/20, 8 pm - The Brattle is hosting a screening of The Unknown, with Cirkestra performing the score live.
Tuesday, 3/23, 7 pm – Babson College is hosting a FREE screening of Volver, with an introduction and post-film discussion.
Thursday, 3/25 – The Boston Underground Film Festival begins at Kendall Square.
Thursday, 3/25, 7 pm - Harvard will be hosting a FREE screening of Garlic is As Good as Ten Mothers, featuring an introduction by filmmaker Les Blank. Contributions encouraged.
All This Week - The Coolidge Corner theater continues to screen the Oscar-nominated short films, live action and animated.
All This Week - The Brattle is screening The Red Shoes.
For now, /Film Boston is an experiment, a movie travelogue of sorts. I know the camera audio/video quality can be better, but I hope you find it viewable/listenable, as well as entertaining and interesting.
Hosting an event in Boston that you want me to cover? E-mail me at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Readers should also feel free to e-mail me if you have any other feedback, or any ideas of what you’d like to see here. What do you like about the column? What don’t you like? etc.
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