Boston on Film, Part 1

The Departed

BOSTON ON FILM, PART 1

VIRTUAL REPERTORY SERIES

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8 – TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2020

Prior to the arrival of the current health crisis, The Brattle had been in discussion with the Massachusetts Historical Society about a summer program focusing on the dichotomy of Boston’s image in Hollywood films. What was originally envisioned as a series of in-person conversations and a repertory series at The Brattle has now, of course, moved online. The thesis behind the project is that Boston is presented as two different cities in popular culture – particularly Hollywood films – on the one hand, a working-class city where crime is commonplace and on the other a city of the upper crust and effete higher learning.

Join us this week as we explore the way Greater Boston has developed a reputation for being a dark and sinister location with a seething criminal underbelly thanks in large part to the legacy of cult crime drama THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE and the success of films like MYSTIC RIVER and THE DEPARTED.

PANEL DISCUSSION

Thursday, July 9 at 5:30 PM

Massachusetts Historical Society will host an online conversation between the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr, Suffolk University’s Robert Allison, and author Chuck Hogan to further discuss this subject. Click here to register →


Wednesday, July 9 • Double Feature

THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE

Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1973 • dir Peter Yates w/Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan • 102 min

Considered by many to be the quintessential Boston movie, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE is a fantastic character study of a down-on-his-luck small time hood (a spectacularly hangdog Mitchum). Eddie can’t catch a break – he’s due for sentencing on a booze-running rap in New Hampshire and neither his fellow crooks nor the cop he informs for will go to bat for him. Trapped between the mob and a hard place, Eddie makes a decision that could cost him everything. Shot all over Greater Boston in the early 1970s, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE is a time-capsule of a poorer, grittier, and tougher city that films like THE DEPARTED and GONE BABY GONE seek to re-evoke in the present day.

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THE TOWN

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

2010 • dir Ben Affleck w/Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm • 125 min

Since Chuck Hogan, the author of the book that THE TOWN is adapted from, is participating in the panel that inspired this series, we’re obligated to include it… But we would have anyway because it is a standout in the Boston Crime (Film) Wave of the early 2000’s. Director/star Ben Affleck plays Doug MacRay, leader of a Charlestown bank robbing crew who finds an unexpected romance with a former hostage unaware of his true identity. As his personal and professional lives become dangerously close, Doug makes a decision to get out of the criminal life – but not before being coerced into pulling one last job… knocking over Fenway Park. With callouts to EDDIE COYLE and THE DEPARTED, THE TOWN clearly owes a debt to the Boston films that came before it but it stands on its own as an impressive crime thriller.

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Thursday, July 9

BLOWN AWAY

Streaming on Starz; for rent elsewhere

1994 • dir Stephen Hopkins w/Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Suzy Amis • 121 min

One of the first of a new wave of Hollywood films to be shot in Boston, BLOWN AWAY is a (sometimes overly serious) mid-90s thriller that stars Jeff Bridges as an ex-IRA footsoldier turned police bomb squad cowboy. When his former mentor, a loony bomber with an agenda beyond Irish Independence (Jones) escapes prison and flees to Boston, their long simmering conflict threatens to take down half the city with it. Questionable accents abound in this film which is actually pretty fun and makes decent use of our local landmarks as backgrounds for big, fiery explosions though it doesn’t really try to dig much deeper than that.

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Friday, July 10

LIFT

Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

2001 • dir DeMane Davis, Khari Streeter w/Kerry Washington, Lonette McKee, Eugene Byrd • 85 min

One of the most disappointing things about looking at the films set in Boston is the overwhelming whiteness of it all, so it is refreshing to see any one of them tell a Black story. When that film is as good as this independent production from co-directors DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter and it features an early starring role for Kerry Washington, it’s even more special. Washington plays Niecy, a slick professional shoplifter who supports herself by conning high-priced stores into letting her write bad checks and use stolen credit cards. Usually, Niecy works alone but, when she becomes determined to steal her unloving mother a special gift, she makes a questionable alliance with a dangerous crew of thieves. LIFT plays with the ‘one more job’ neo-noir template adding complicated family dynamics and a female protagonist to the mix to give it a fresh spin.

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Saturday, July 11

THE DEPARTED

For rent only

2006 • dir Martin Scorsese w/Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson • 151 min

A spot-on screenplay from local William Monahan, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg in main roles, and great work by local crewmembers all add authenticity to Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set adaptation of the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. Though Scorsese’s artifice sometimes comes off as just that – leading to something of an outsider’s view of our city – the twists and turns of this crime drama are still thrilling. Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio star in dueling roles as, respectively, a mole in the police department and a police informer in the mob run by Jack Nicholson’s Whitey Bulger-esque boss.

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Sunday, July 12 • Double Feature

GONE BABY GONE

Streaming on Starz; for rent elsewhere

2007 • dir Ben Affleck w/Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck • 104 min

This dark and disturbing neo-noir, directed by Ben Affleck from Dennis Lehane’s novel, follows a small-time detective team (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) as they become drawn into a sure-to-end-in-tragedy kidnapping case involving a young girl snatched from her neglectful mother. Set in Dorchester and filmed all over Boston, GONE BABY GONE is one of the most insular of the Boston Crime Wave films. It mostly eschews shots of major landmarks and widely recognizable locations for closely packed streets of triple-deckers, run-down criminal dens, and dilapidated interiors.

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MYSTIC RIVER

Streaming on HBO Max; for rent elsewhere

2003 • dir Clint Eastwood w/Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney • 138 min

The film that solidified the arrival of the Boston Crime Wave, Clint Eastwood’s MYSTIC RIVER is also adapted from the work of Dennis Lehane and focuses on the damaging legacy of abuse and crime. Three childhood friends who have followed different paths in life find themselves drawn together once again when a young woman is murdered. Sean (Bacon), is a cop investigating the crime. Jimmy (Penn), an ex-con, is the father of the victim. Dave (Robbins) is a man damaged from an abduction and rape he endured as a child who becomes a suspect in the case. This devastating film was a success with audiences and critics alike – garnering 6 Oscar nominations, winning 2 for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.

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Monday, July 13

KNIVES OUT

Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

2019 • dir Rian Johnson w/Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas 130 min

Phew! Yesterday’s double feature was a doozy, let’s lighten it up for a minute with this relatively breezy whodunnit from Rian Johnson. KNIVES OUT is a curious film in the Boston film canon… It sort of bridges the gap between part one of our program and some of the films that will be coming up in part 2. The focus is on a wealthy, pseudo-intellectual family living in the suburbs of Boston who all become suspects when the scion of the group, a famous mystery writer, is murdered. In this version of a Boston crime film, the police are more sympathetic, the real suspects are all well-off, and the more disadvantaged characters are the ones who end up with the upper hand… And no one is trying too hard at their accents – except for maybe Daniel Craig’s Southern gentleman detective.

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Tuesday, July 14 • Double Feature

GOOD WILL HUNTING

Streaming on HBO Max; for rent elsewhere

1997 • dir Gus Van Sant w/Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck • 126 min

One of the first films of the 90s to put Boston back on the map as a shooting location also serves as a bridge between part one and part two of this series. GOOD WILL HUNTING stars Matt Damon as Will, an intelligent but troubled working class kid from South Boston who begins to think about breaking out of his old life when he meets a girl (Driver), is discovered as a math genius by an MIT professor (Skarsgaard), and finds a mentor in a court ordered therapist (an Oscar winning Robin Williams). Though many aspects of the film have weaved their way into pop culture and it made overnight sensations out of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, GOOD WILL HUNTING is more than just its reputation – it’s a touching and effective character study with engaging performances at its heart.

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Streaming on Prime; free on IMDBTV; for rent elsewhere

2016 • dir Ben Affleck w/Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges • min

Another working class character study, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is one of the most recent Oscar winners crafted and rooted in the Boston area. Lee (Affleck), a young man working as a janitor, learns that his brother has died and so he heads home to Manchester-by-the-Sea to attend to the funeral and take care of his nephew, Patrick (Hedges). As Lee and Patrick’s relationship develops, Lee must struggle with the intense emotions that he feels being back in his hometown because of a tragedy from his past and the guilt that he carries with him. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a profoundly moving and deep film about the lasting effects of unimaginable grief with a shattering performance from Casey Affleck at its center.

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Wednesday, July 15

LOVE STORY

Streaming on Cinemax; for rent elsewhere

1970 • dir Arther Hiller w/Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley • 100 min

Description coming soon – stay tuned!

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THE PAPER CHASE

For rent only

1973 • dir James Bridges w/Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, John Houseman • 113 min

Desc

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Thursday, July 16

LEGALLY BLONDE

Streaming on Hoopla; for rent elsewhere

2001 • dir Robert Luketic w/Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair • 96 min

Desc

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Friday, July 17

NOW, VOYAGER

Streaming on HBO Max; for rent elsewhere

1942 • dir Irving Rapper w/Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains • 117 min

Desc

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Saturday, July 18 • Double Feature

ALTERED STATES

For rent only

1980 • dir Ken Russell w/William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban • 102 min

Desc

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KNOWING

Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent

2009 • dir Alex Proyas w/Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne • 121 min

Desc

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Sunday, July 19

THE BOSTONIANS

Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1984 • dir James Ivory w/Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Tandy • 122 min

Desc

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LITTLE WOMEN

For rent only

2019 • dir Greta Gerwig w/Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh • 135 min

Desc

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Monday, July 20 • Double Feature

SPOTLIGHT

Streaming on IMDBTV for free; for rent elsewhere

2015 • dir Tom McCarthy w/Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams • 129 min

Desc

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BETWEEN THE LINES

Streaming on Criterion, Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1977 • Dir Joan Micklin Silver w/John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jeff Goldblum • 101 min

Desc

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Tuesday, July 21

NEXT STOP WONDERLAND

For rent only

1998 • dir Brad Anderson w/Hope Davis, Alan Gelfant, Philip Seymour Hoffman • 104 min

Desc

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Wednesday, July 22 • Double Feature

FUNNY HA HA/h3>
Streaming on Prime, Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2002 • dir Andrew Bujalski w/Kate Dollenmayer, Mark Herlehy, Christian Rudder • 89 min

Desc

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Screens with…

HAVE YOU SEEN MY CAR?

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2005 • dir Josh Safdie & Mickey Sumner • 6 min

GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH

For rent only

2009 • dir Damien Chazelle w/Jason Palmer, Desiree Garcia, Sandha Khin • 82 min

Desc

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Thursday, July 23

CHILDREN OF INVENTION

Free on Tubi, IMDB; for rent

2010 • dir Tze Chun w/Cindy Cheung, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu • 86 min

Desc

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Friday, July 24 • Double Feature

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY

Streaming on Shudder; for rent

1981 • dir Lucio Fulci w/Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni • 86 min

Desc

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SESSION 9

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

2001 • dir Brad Anderson w/David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle • 97 min

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Date

TITLE

SteamingNotes

Vitals

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