5 Brilliant Boston Based Movies

When you think about the movies, there are a few locations that spring to mind. New York is a popular city that many filmmakers have tried to capture. London seems to be a popular place to destroy depict with its scenic elements. Then there are cities like L.A, Chicago, and Paris that all have countless amount of movies that take place in their beautiful hubs of humanity. But on the list, would you ever put Boston?

Ah, yes! The town that is synonymous with the Irish, Boston has had its fair share of movies taking place in the centre of it. With the release of Stronger a film that is set during the Boston Marathon Bombing, we take a look at the best movies set in the bustling city.

Ted (2012)

ted ted 2 socialphyThe popular foul-mouthed titular character is a pot-smoking, drug-taking, alcoholic teddy bear who is brought to life by his friend John when they were both younger and are now grown up dysfunctional “adults”. With John wanting to move on with his life alongside love interest Lori, he finds that his reckless pal of fluff is holding him back. Created by Seth MacFarlane, who also voices Ted, and starring Mark Wahlberg as John, Ted is a rambunctious comedy that will appease those who enjoy toilet humour, dark satire, and a goddamn swearing teddy. It’s also narrated by Patrick Stewart who gets to say the best lines in his regal voice. Honestly, it’s worth a watch just to hear him talk about an Apache Helicopter: It’s glorious.

The Departed (2006)

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When you saw The Departed on this list, what was the first thing you did? Was it ruminate on Martin Scorsese’s Best Director win, which he so humbly deserved? Was it wonder why Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t nominated? Or did you launch into your worst Boston accent and do this:


I bet it was the latter. Never fear humble reader because we all do it too. The film those too rapscallions are imitating was, indeed, a wonderful crime drama from Scorsese that was based on a Hong Kong film named Infernal Affairs. It sees the State Police try to infiltrate a violent Irish Mob and sniff out a mole whose feeding information to the criminals. Starring Matt Damon, Jack Nicolson, Mark Wahlberg, and DiCaprio, this is a stunning film that twists and turns shockingly. There’s also some gruesome deaths orchestrated wonderfully by Scorsese.

Spotlight (2015)

Winning the Best Picture Academy award this year (undeservedly, I might add, but that’s a different argument for another day,) Spotlight was brimming with compelling talent and a damnung true story that still ripples throughout society today. Based on the titular group investigative journalists at the Boston Globe, the film revolves around their struggle to uncover child abuse within the Catholic Church and how the religion covered it up. With an acting troupe that consists of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Billy Crudup, Liev Shreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery, and more – the film caught the shock of uncovering the horrors that lurk within one of the most revered institutes, shaking our faith and making us burn in anger.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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A couple of years ago, the baby-faced Matt Damon and the equally baby-faced Ben Affleck emotionally scooped up their first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. And quite rightly so, the turbulent visceral script ached with intellect and a powerful storyline. It also saw the late Robin Williams give one of his best serious roles, scooping him up an Oscar too. Good Will Hunting is about a janitor who happens to be an unrecognised genius but is steeped pent-up aggression after a horrific childhood. Sent to a therapist, they, together, find ways to step forward. Affecting (Affleck-ting?) drama that still stands strong today, Good Will Hunting is an impeccable piece of cinema.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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Ben Affleck is a great director. In fact, he used his talents at crafting films to carve a second chance; making sure we’ve all forgiven him for Gigli. Anyway, after Gone Baby Gone, The Town, andArgo, we’re pretty much sold on his talent for helming movies. His debut feature, the aforementioned Gone Baby Gone sees Ben direct his brother Casey in an alluring neo-noir mystery about the disappearance of a four year old girl in Boston. Turning thriller with a tense intrigue, the movie explores the grittiness of Boston and the feeding press who flock when tragedy strikes. Unpicking everyone within this film, the end will throw rocks within the pit of your stomach.

What do you think? What are your favourite Boston films?

Stronger is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The Disaster Artist – Review

There is an art to a bad movie. It isn’t as simple as clubbing together bad elements in hopes it will be so crap people will love it. You have to start with honourable and good intentions. There has to be a seriousness to it, a desire to craft and create films, and just…..not enough talent to get there.

Movies such as Troll 2, Manos Hands of Fate, and more recently Jupiter Ascending started with unbridled hope that, sadly, could not carry them over the last hurdle. Or the many hurdles that proceeded them.

The most famous of them all is The Room, that garners sell out screenings worldwide and for some bizarre reason, it seems appropriate that Tommy Wiseau’s epic of terrible proportions is left in the hands of James Franco, his brother Dave, and a whole heap of comedic cameos.

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Based on a book written by Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist revolves around Sestero’s life as a wannabe actor in the late nineties. Stricken by nerves and doubt, at a San Fransisco drama class he is overcome by awe when he sees the fearless Tommy perform. After approaching him for encouragement and advice, the pair become comrades, ready to take on Los Angeles and Hollywood together. However, rejection is followed by further rejection until one day they decide to produce, write, direct, and star in their own movie – The Room. Now known as the Citizen Kane of bad movies.

Directed by James Franco, who also stars in the epitomes role of Tommy Wiseau, the strange and mysterious centre of  both The Room and The Disaster Artist. As the wild-eyed being who is both empathetic and a seeming outlier to the human race,  Franco encompasses the strange disposition and fierce hope that Wiseau had within him. Steering clear of straight-up mockery, Franco performs the hapless filmmakers with an intrigue and understanding, whilst still inhabiting the weirder moments of The Room‘s calamitous outcome. There’s this bubble of empathy that echoes in the more stiller scenes where Tommy grapples with his lack of talent or hopelessness, rippling within the depth of a man that has inexplicably become an icon. All this is brilliantly conveyed in Franco: Ferocious ignorance and over-blown confidence, they are all elements that make it a charged performance.

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Alongside him is brother Dave and whilst the pair do have a fantastic “straight talentless man vs bizarre talent-less man” chemistry going on, it’s difficult to see Dave as anyone bar Dave Franco. Especially with the weird stuck-on beard. It’s a shame because there are elements here that work in his favour but without a new accent or a fresh take on Sestro. Dave is sadly eclipsed by brother James’ towering performance.

Despite this, the movie does work and they do gel together. James was always meant to overshadow the production and he does so in a fantastic way.

The Disaster Artist replicates many of the memorable scenes of The Room which’ll happily please those who daily quote the stiff yet hilarious dialogue of the latter. It will not alienate but introduce a new wave of audiences to this crazy Wiseau world. There’s this weird introduction, that doesn’t quite fit into the biopic standard but that is a mere slip in an otherwise superb movie. Because this is a loving homage. A bloody hilarious homage at that. This isn’t a cruel cinematic lashing at someone who has genuinely turned bad press around to make a horror show into a triumph. This is an intricate look at a rather unusual being, who tries desperately to emulate his heroes and make it in the ruthless film industry world.

And, oddly enough, when you think about it, he kinda did.

The Disaster Artist is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Stronger – Review

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the finest actors that we have in the industry. Even when he was playing an isolated boy wrapped in a plastic sphere. No wait, especially when he was playing an isolated boy wrapped in a plastic sphere (Bubble Boy was amazing.)  Let’s face it: since his furrowed crazed eyes as the disjointed Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal has just excelled at every turn. Where are his accolades and awards? In fact, we’re still shocked that his work in Nightcrawler, Enemy, and Nocturnal Animals left him nomination-less (not that it matters, because, he was still critically acclaimed for all those roles and it is worth re-watching to see his fervent intensity.)

Now he is definitely punting for the big ‘O’ with this bait-y stereotypical drama Stronger.

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Based on a true story, the film revolves around Jeff Bauman who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing and has to adjust to his new life as an amputee. With Miranda Richardson and Tatiana Maslany, the movie also looks at how his new circumstance affects the people around him as well as his unwilling rise to fame as the face of the survivors and Boston Strong message. Blighted be constant reporters, as well as horrifying flashbacks, Bauman must learn to transform and find new strength.

Directed by David Gordon Green, Stronger is initially presented as a biographical drama about overcoming and bettering yourself. Yes, on the surface hits every notes of that genre. There is the initial struggle, the life-threatening moment, the determination to get better, and the love. Oh the love. Yes, Stronger hits basic script-writing tropes. But there is a difference here, embroiled in the flaws and faults of the characters presented.

See Jeff isn’t your archetypal survivor. He’s a drinker living with his alcoholic mother and is constantly surrounded by his boisterous, if kind-hearted, family. He fails and falters to hold it together, suffering from cruel PTSD and causing more pain to those around him. Despite every one’s best intentions, at points it seems impossible and that is intricately displayed here.

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Gyllenhaal is naturally brilliant: He has massively wide eyes which express so much anguish and hope all at the same time. Performing as a real life character, it is a laborious balance and these arduous elements are stunningly portrayed by Gyllenhaal as the grief and affliction viscerally transcends the screen.

The real acting triumph here is Tatiana Maslany. She stars as Erin Hurley, Bauman’s on again, off again girlfriend due to him letting her down repeatedly. After the accident, she takes on the role of his carer and it causes a massive strain on their relationship. Maslany is phenomenal, detailing the struggle and burden she too has taken on, especially when Jeff falls into despair. The pair have great chemistry, bouncing the inspiration and the devastation well.

Stronger is powerful, resonant, and feels tragically human. Led by a thunderous cast, this a true life story that’s original because it is completely real.

Stronger is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review (Spoiler Free!)

As the credits of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi rolled, I was overwhelmed with so many feelings. It took time to bring together everything I had just seen, and it might be days before I’m done processing it. Overall, I was happy, and had a nice time with my best friends, celebrating a franchise dear to us. But then the most horrifying, dreadful thought loomed over me…

“I have to review this film without spoiling it”

I cannot stress enough how hard to it is to accurately convey my thoughts on this film without going into detail, but never the less, it makes my blood boil when critics carelessly ruin big films for no good reason, and I do not intend to ruin this for anyone. So if you won’t get a chance to see this upon release, fear not, for this review is spoiler free. However, as I noticed minutes after the midnight screening of The Force Awakens, there are those out there who find some twisted fun in ruining something that’s important to a lot of people, so while we’re going to keep things under wraps, be wary of where you browse, for others may not be so kind.

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To say as little as possible about the plot, The Last Jedi picks up where it’s predecessor left off; Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and seeks guidance for her newfound abilities, while the battle between the Resistance and the First Order rages on. The film does a fairly good job of dividing it’s time between the ongoing threads, though the story concerning Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) messes with the film’s pacing just a little bit, but nothing too damaging. It’s an absolute whirlwind of a film that’s nothing like we’ve seen in the Star Wars saga. Rian Johnson was an excellent choice of director, and the ballsy nature of this film makes the prospect of returning to J.J. Abrams for the last instalment a little bit concerning. Abrams is a good director, but he’s also very safe, which was great for The Force Awakens but will be very jarring after this entry into the franchise, should that still be the route he chooses. Regardless, I’m grateful for Johnsons’ unique stamp on the franchise.

The Last Jedi is far more of a mixed bag than we may have expected or hoped; there are decisions made that are no doubt brave, but will also no doubt confuse or anger a lot of fans, myself included. Certain things that are brought up that are never addressed again, or elements that add nothing of value to the film – Yes, I am referring to Porgs – humour that often doesn’t land (though there are some good zingers in there), and it wouldn’t be unfair to say the film goes on for a little bit too long. Ultimately, it’s just a case of daring decisions that don’t pay off. But on the flip side, there are other decisions that took balls to make and put out there to an audience who have spent two years building up and speculating, and while there’s still every chance that they may not follow through on them, right now I can’t tell you just how refreshed I was by these moments. When The Last Jedi shines, it truly shines. It offers so much in terms of not only the present but the past of this series, asking more questions and giving us more than meets the eye, showing us things and events that are nowhere near as simple as they appear. It’s tantalising, and best of all, it’s doesn’t overplay it; whereas in the prequels these events may have been explained in depth via terrible exposition, The Last Jedi reflects the far more nuanced nature of the original trilogy, proving that less is more and treating the audience with a little more respect.

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Performance wise, it’s top marks all around; Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are both sensational, and our beloved Carrie Fisher is an undeniable force in this film. Oscar Isaac is as charming as ever, not to mention he handles the development to Poe’s character well Domhall Gleeson remains a brilliant and underrated addition to the cast, and John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran sustain a great chemistry in their time together. But all props here to Mark Hamill, a man who never hides just how much he loves this franchise, and how he loves his fans even more, and this film provides his most satisfying and rewarding performance to date. The events that took place after Return of the Jedi are ever present in the way he acts, and though his stamp on the series was already forever solidified, he truly outdoes himself here. And as far as the action is concerned, we’re treated to some excellent space battles with a lot of grip to them, and the fight scenes that take place between the characters are shot to perfection. Johnson has provided us with easily some of the best combat to be seen in a Star Wars film.

When the film finished, nothing about it felt real; it’s a natural feeling when you wait so long for it, the idea that it’s finally there in front of you is difficult to grasp. You feel like you should still be anticipating it, but even further than that, seeing the events that took place and what they mean for Star Wars is nothing short of surreal. Perhaps part of it was not accepting that this film is flawed, that those moments that didn’t work just did not feel real, but ultimately, it’s an unique and indescribable experience that truly has a lot to offer.

To all you Star Wars fans out there, I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. Above all else, it’s a beautiful time to love this franchise.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is on DVD & Blu-Ray now!