Virtual Vacation USA

Sometimes it’s best not to get involved


Friday, April 3 – Thursday, April 9, 2020

This program of films takes us on a virtual journey around the United States to cities we can, unfortunately, only dream of visiting right now. In each of these titles, cities both large and small appear as characters in their own right. Sometimes, as in LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF, they are the point of the exercise but usually, they pretend to just be in the background – an often uncredited supporting player in the action. Stay tuned for a future installment that will take us around the world!

Friday, April 3 • Double Feature


Streaming on Vudu for free w/ads; for rent elsewhere

1998 • dir Bennett Miller w/Timothy ‘Speed’ Levitch • 76 min

You might remember “Speed” Levitch from Richard Linklater’s Waking Life but before he was an animated philosopher, Levitch was one of the most idiosyncratic bus tour guides of New York City. Levitch’s unique, fast-talking commentary on the history, architecture, and culture of NYC was captured over the course of over 3 years by filmmaker Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) for this entertaining and revealing film. – NH

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Streaming on Netflix only; not available for rent

1986 • dir Spike Lee w/Tracy Camilla Johns, Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, Raye Dowell • 84 min

There has perhaps never been a filmmaker who captured Brooklyn with the same breadth and depth as Spike Lee. Here, in his first feature-length film, Tracy Camilla John stars as Nola Darling, a young, independent woman who juggles three suitors. Shot as a series of character vignettes, largely in black and white in and around the neighborhood of Fort Greene, the film captures the gritty, frenetic energy of the city while also paying tribute to its cultural vibrancy. – AD

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Saturday, April 4 • Double Feature


Streaming on Kanopy; For rent elsewhere

2003 • dir Thom Anderson • 169 min

LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF is an astounding achievement from film essayist Thom Anderson. Anderson collects hundreds of movie clips to take us on a virtual tour of L.A. through the (literal) lens of the cinema. The resulting film addresses the way that the city is represented – or mostly mis-represented – in the movies. A must watch for any cinephile. – NH

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Brattle Theatre Boston Premiere, March 2005


Streaming for free on Vimeo

2017 • dir Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson • 65 min

THE GREEN FOG, created by filmmaker Guy Maddin (with co-directors Galen Johnson and Evan Johnson), pays an unusual tribute to both Alfred Hitchcock and the city of San Francisco. In this mind-bending art film/surrealist comedy, scenes from other films and television shot in the Bay Area are patched back together to recreate Hitchcock’s revered thriller Vertigo. – RL

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Virtual Late Show


Streaming on Hulu and Sundance Now; free on Tubi; for rent elsewhere

2015 • dir Sean Baker w/Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O’Hagan, James Ransome • 88 min

Los Angeles, along with New York City, is one of cinema’s hometowns. Sometimes it feels like every perspective has been seen, every story has been told, every neighborhood has been explored… until a breath of fresh air like TANGERINE comes along. This psuedo-screwball dramedy follows the wonderfully outrageous Sin-Dee and Alexandra as they embark on a Christmas Eve odyssey in search of Sin-Dee’s cheating boyfriend/pimp. – NH

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Sunday, April 5 • Double Feature


Streaming on AmazonPrime and Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2019 • dir Joe Talbot w/Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Mike Epps, Rob Morgan • 121 min

A stunningly gorgeous elegy for a San Francisco that is rapidly disappearing, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO follows Jimmie (Fails) and his best friend Mont (Majors) on a quest to reclaim and restore the Victorian home that Jimmie’s grandfather built. – NH

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For rent only

2008 • dir Barry Jenkins w/Wyatt Cenac, Tracey Heggins • 88 min

Normally we wouldn’t recommend a film that is only available for rent online but this debut feature from Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins is just so great (and a great double feature with LAST BLACK MAN) that we couldn’t leave it out. A young African-American couple wake up after a one-night stand and proceed to spend the day together getting to know each other. They wander the streets of San Francisco reflecting on their lives and experiences as well as what it means to be a minority in a rapidly gentrifying city. – NH

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Monday, April 6 • Double Feature


Streaming on Epix; free w/ads on Vudu; for rent

1990 • dir George Armitage w/Fred Ward, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh • 97 min

Junior, a violent, sociopathic ex-con (Baldwin) decides to move to Miami. Barely off the plane, he murders a Hare-Krishna at the airport and then shacks up with Susie, a naïve hooker (Leigh) who dreams of a happy home. Soon, Junior has stolen a badge and gun from the grizzled cop chasing him (Ward) and goes on a crime spree. This blackly funny crime film has a great energy to it and the performances from all three leads are top-notch. – NH

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Streaming on Criterion and Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1989 • dir Jim Jarmusch w/Masatoshi Nagase, Yûki Kudô, Nicoletta Braschi, Elizabeth Bracco, Joe Strummer, Rick Aviles, Steve Buscemi, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Cinqué Lee • 110 min

Following a tryptic of stories occuring all in the same night, writer/director Jim Jarmusch takes viewers on a tour of Memphis, Tennessee in all of its romantic, decrepit glory. The ghost of Elvis, a shabby hotel (run by shock rock pioneer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins), and a gunshot are the commonality between all characters in this dreamy, offbeat drama. – RL

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Tuesday, April 7 • Double Feature


Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

1986 • dir John Hughes w/Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Edie McClurg • 103 min

How can Ferris Bueller possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this? He won’t – because he does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he never gets caught. Join Ferris (Broderick), his best friend Cameron (Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Sara) as they take one wild and memorable day off from school through the streets of Chicago. Directed by John Hugues, the film is a love letter to the spirit, architecture and landscape of the city the director grew up in. – KB

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Streaming on Vudu for free w/ads; for rent elsewhere

1992 • dir Cameron Crowe w/Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Matt Dillon, Sheila Kelley, Jim True-Frost, Bill Pullman, Chris Cornell • 99 min

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, SINGLES is a time capsule of Seattle during the worldwide craze for grunge music and fashion. The film follows the interlocking lives and relationships of a group of twenty-something friends – most of whom live in the same apartment complex – whose lives revolve around the city’s ever-expanding music scene. – KB

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Wednesday, April 8 • Double Feature


Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2017 • dir Kogonada w/John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey • 100 min

When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin (Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana – a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings – and not much else. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Richardson), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. With its naturalistic rhythms and empathy for the complexities of relationships, debut writer/director/editor Kogonada’s COLUMBUS unfolds as a gently drifting, deeply absorbing conversation. – NH

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Brattle Theatre Boston Premiere Sept 2017


Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

2016 • dir Jim Jarmusch w/Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani • 118 min

With his thoughtful eye for the aesthetics of place, it’s no wonder we’re including two Jim Jarmusch films in this program. In PATERSON, Jarmusch zeros in on the titular city by following a poet/bus driver also named Paterson (Driver) during his seemingly mundane but quietly compelling daily routines for exactly one week. There is not too much drama but so much emotional richness in this film that it will hopefully feel like a balm in these challenging times. – NH

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Bonus: If you want a grittier look at Paterson, NJ, the horror film ALICE, SWEET ALICE was also shot there (in the late 70s) and offers a decidedly different perspective. Also streaming on Prime.

Thursday, April 9 • Double Feature


Streaming on AmazonPrime and Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2017 • dir Greta Gerwig w/Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts • 94 min

Despite being the capital of California, Sacramento lives in the shadow of more glamorous cities like L.A. and San Francisco. But Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a strong-willed teenager (Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her mother (Metcalf), shines a light on the director’s hometown. “I knew this was a special place, but its physical beauty – the tree canopy, the wide streets, the neighborhoods, the river – I didn’t realize how wonderful they were until I moved to a vertical city like New York,” Gerwig said of returning home to capture the city’s trademark muraled walls, the Tower Bridge, and the Fabulous Forties neighborhood. – AD

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Streaming on Prime; free w/ads on Vudu; for rent elsewhere

1985 • dir Susan Seidelman w/Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, Aidan Quinn • 104 min

Susan Seidelman’s cult feminist comedy of errors about a bored suburban housewife and a free-spirited drifter, captures the zeitgeist of a long-lost downtown punk-rock Manhattan. – AD

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Writing Credits:

NH – Ned Hinkle
AD – Alissa Darsa
KB – Kim Baillargeon
RL – Rachel Lanza