“Call Me Lucky” Deftly Handles a Dark Subject #MFF15

BY  |  Monday, May 04, 2015 5:28pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Yesterday Montclair filmgoers stepped out of the sun and into the darkness to view a powerful film about a sinister subject and very courageous man. Bobcat Goldthwait’s “Call Me Lucky” played at the Bellevue Theater as part of the Montclair Film Festival.

Crimmins

The movie, borne out of a conversation between Robin Williams and Goldthwait, starts by chronicling the career of Barry Crimmins a brilliant, caustic political comic from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Although he didn’t achieve widespread fame, Crimmins helped launch the careers of comics Stephen Wright, Dennis Leary, Paula Poundstone, Lenny Clarke and many others.

Crimmins, 61, born and raised in Skaneateles, NY, just outside of Syracuse, wants to do two things—overthrow the American government and close the Catholic Church. Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, U.S. foreign policy, rampant commercialization and hecklers all get a piece of Crimmins’ acidic wit as you see in snippets from his act. Viewers come away with the impression of a very smart, very angry man.

Underneath the bluster is a dedicated artist willing to help younger comics break into show business by producing shows at the Ding Ho Restaurant in Cambridge, MA and Stitches, a club in Boston. The first part of the film features interviews with Crimmins, friends, family and a litany of comics commenting on his material and working with him. Steven Wright recalls how Crimmins would pay him by throwing him money rolled into a ball. Continue Reading

#MFF15 Highlight From Day 3: Slow West

BY  |  Monday, May 04, 2015 3:06pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

slowwest

Slow West­­

This enormously entertaining Western takes some time to pay off, as its name might suggest, but once it does, it’s satisfying in the extreme. The feature directing and writing debut of former musician John Maclean features a wonderful leading performance by Michael Fassbender as Silas, a cigar­chomping bounty hunter who’s out to kill Rose, the love of his compadre Jay (Kodi Smit­McPhee), who’s wanted for murder. The visual architecture of the film is practiced and well­executed considering Maclean’s previous experience, which consists entirely of two shorts (both also starring Fassbender). Continue Reading

Time Out of Mind: Bringing Homelessness into Focus

BY  |  Monday, May 04, 2015 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Time Out of Mind

Everyone has a story. Some stories we are eager to learn, others we turn a blind eye to. The invisibility of the homeless is the message at the center of Time Out of Mind, a film shown on Saturday at the Montclair Film Festival.

“I don’t exist!”, shouts George Hammond, a destitute man in New York City played by Richard Gere in a powerful performance. George doesn’t have ID or a birth certificate and has no recollection of his Social Security number, but the validation of our existence doesn’t come from documents. We exist through our connections. From being seen, heard, and acknowledged.

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Montclair Film Festival: A Look Back At Day 2 #MFF15

BY  |  Sunday, May 03, 2015 4:10pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

It’s now the third day of the Montclair Film Festival, which runs through May 10th. Here are some of the offerings that were on view yesterday, the second day of the festival.

A Conversation with Richard Gere and Stephen Colbert

Veteran actor and philanthropist Richard Gere sat down with Stephen Colbert at the Wellmont Theater to discuss his career and his latest film, Time Out of Mind, which also screened at the festival later that afternoon. Not many of Gere’s other films were mentioned, but Colbert went into detail on the uniqueness of Time Out of Mind, a portrait of a homeless New Yorker played by Gere, whose director, Oren Moverman, was in the audience. (Moverman also co-wrote Love and Mercy, another film at the festival.) Gere discussed how his Buddhist beliefs have impacted on his view of objective reality (which sparked a half-joking debate on pragmatic philosophy between Colbert and Gere) and Colbert didn’t hesitate to tease Gere on the compliments he received from the audience and festival Executive Director Tom Hall, which all had something to do with compliments from mothers. Continue Reading

Bittersweet Comedy “Hello, My Name Is Doris” Melts Hearts At Montclair Film Festival #MFF15

BY  |  Sunday, May 03, 2015 10:44am  |  COMMENTS (1)

doris

Montclair laughed and lurched with Sally Field, who takes moviegoers on an emotional ride as the title character in “Hello, My Name is Doris.”

“Doris” was challenging for writer/director Michael Showalter, who co-wrote and starred in “Wet Hot American Summer,” because of the balancing act of moving between comedy and drama.

“A lot of the best comedy comes from pain or painful, embarrassing situations. We all see the humor, but this movie was the first time I allowed [the audience] to see the other side of it,” Showalter told Baristanet on the red carpet at the Wellmont Theater before the screening of the opening night film for the fourth annual Montclair Film Festival.

“Hello, My Name Is Doris,” winner of the Audience Award at SXSW, begins with sixty-something Doris Miller, played by Sally Field in her return to a leading role, facing life after the death of her mother, whom she lived with and cared for in a house full of hoarded objects. Clutching a retro lamp she finds discarded on the street. Doris clings to objects in her life and dresses with her own original brand of whimsical eccentricity. Grieving and yet ready for a change, she is encouraged by her best friend Roz (Tyne Daly) to attend a self-help seminar where she gets taken in by smooth, slick motivational speaker (Peter Gallagher) who plants the seed of change in Doris with his new-age mantra to replace the word “impossible” with “I’m possible.” Continue Reading

Flower Children Take Center Stage At Montclair State’s “Hair”

BY  |  Saturday, May 02, 2015 7:35am  |  COMMENTS (0)

hair-web.jpg.thumbnail.488xWar is bad. Drugs are good. At least, according to the 1960s.

In case you need anymore convincing, you should probably see James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot’s “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” at Montclair State University’s Memorial Auditorium, which is directed by Gary John La Rosa and presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance and the John J. Cali School of Music. The self-aware musical, often acknowledging that it is indeed a performance for an audience, premiered on Wednesday, April 29, which is the same date it opened on Broadway in 1968. Continue Reading

Bill Pennington To Discuss Billy Martin Biography At Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center

BY  |  Friday, May 01, 2015 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Billy Martin

Loyal and distrustful, sentimental and self-destructive, that was Billy Martin, and there will never be another like him. As a player, he was a clutch performer on five World Series championships. As a manager, he won everywhere he went.

But in Bill Pennington’s new definitive biography, “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius,” the Yankee hero and anti-hero is unveiled as more than a troublemaking hothead with a brilliant baseball mind.

Pennington, a longtime reporter for the New York Times, will be at the Museum on Wednesday, May 6 at 7 p.m. to discuss the multifaceted legend, followed by a signing of his acclaimed new book.

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Learn Your Home’s History at the Montclair Historical Society

BY  |  Friday, May 01, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Crane_House_MontclairIf you’re a Montclair history buff, or simply love your house, you may be interested in researching your home’s past at a free workshop at the Montclair Historical Society Saturday, May 2nd at noon.

As part of the society’s Restoration Fair, the workshop helps participants learn who owned their plot of land through history, who owned or lived in their house (and in some cases, learn the former residents’ occupations), view old photos and glean other details about their home.

Barton Ross, a Preservation Architect and Planner who formerly served on the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, will lead the workshop and use various holdings from the Historical Society. Participants can research their home by using the Albert P. Terhune Library at the Montclair Historical Society, which includes tax maps and fire insurance maps from 1899-2008 (selective years), as well as maps from 1857 onward that show an overview of Montclair history and development. Telephone directories from 1897 through the 1950s will show who lived or owned in your home during those years.

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A Conversation with Michael Ian Black on His Conversation at the Montclair Film Festival

BY  |  Friday, May 01, 2015 7:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

michael ian black

One of my favorite offerings at the Montclair Film Festival is the In Conversation Series. It allows the audience to sit in on discussions between leading voices in film and other creative storytelling mediums. It’s like you’re at a dinner party with your idols and celebrity crushes (not really, but it’s the next best thing). Past conversations have been with Stephen Colbert and Julie Taymor, Patrick Wilson and Christian Borle, and Kristen Connolly and Ben Rosenfield.

This year’s In Conversation Series is packed with talented and inspiring people—Richard Gere, Jonathan Demme, Abigail Disney, and a big personal favorite, Michael Ian Black.

MIB, as I like to call him, is seriously funny, a great writer and, as it turns out, a great interviewer. For the past few months, he has been interviewing interesting people on the Audible original series How to Be Amazing. On Sunday, May 3, Black will come to town for the Montclair Film Festival to do a live taping of the latest episode with comedian, actor, and filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait.

I had my own conversation with Michael Ian Black. Below are his thoughts on the How to Be Amazing Audible series, Goldthwait, and taping live at MFF:

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Montclair Center BID Hosting Workshop for Business Owners

BY  |  Thursday, Apr 30, 2015 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Today’s Consumer Expectations — What You NEED To Know To Grow Your Business

Montclair Center BID and Main Street New Jersey will host a half-day Customer Experience workshop with Pamela Herrmann at the Montclair Public Library on May 6.

Hosted just steps away from the heart of the 2015 Great Amercian Main Street-award winning Montclair Center, the workshop titled “Today’s Consumer Expectations — What You NEED To Know To Grow Your Business,” will featuring nationally-acclaimed customer acquisition and retention expert Pamela Herrman. Herrman is devoted to helping companies create an exceptional customer experience and then leverage their reputation online to drive more traffic and increase sales and profits. With over 25 years as an entrepreneur, inventor, social media expert, and best-selling author, she melds consumer behavior, business best practices and Internet marketing together into “one perfectly packed stick of dy-no-mite!”

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