Tag: movies

Does Hollywood Pick on Baltimore Too Much?

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“Again and again, Hollywood has used the city of Baltimore as a punching bag,” Joe Queenan wrote in this weekend’s  Wall Street Journal. His evidence? The new John Cusack/Edgar Allan Poe movie, in which the streets of Baltimore play host to elaborately macabre murders. And, of course, The Wire. And in Twelve Monkeys, the virus that almost destroys the world comes from Baltimore. And did you know that Hannibal Lecter started out as a psychiatrist in — you guessed it — Baltimore?

“Does everything about Baltimore have to be negative?,” Queenan begs. “Does every single TV show have to spit on this struggling but vibrant metropolis? Do movies set there always have to be about crooked house-siding guys and serial killers and deadly viruses and murderous drug dealers and demented Edgar Allan Poe fans?”

But if you’re looking for negativity, it’s no surprise you see it everywhere. Sure, The Wire showed Baltimore’s seedy side, but it hardly portrays the city as “an open sewer,” as Queenan claims. If anything, the show belies a deep affection for Baltimore’s quirks and characters. Movies like Madonna’s W.E., a Wallis Simpson biopic, hardly harm the city’s reputation, even if Simpson was (as Queenan describes her) a “perceived Nazi sympathizer.” And I very much doubt anyone walks away from Silence of the Lambs thinking, “Man, I’d better cross Baltimore off my to-visit list!”

Those of us who love Baltimore treasure it for its complexities, its potent mix of refined history and twenty-first century collapse. This is not a simple city, and the stories that get made about it — the best ones, at least — revel in those layers. Queenan suggests that the city deserves more upbeat Baltimore films like — wait for it — Step Up 2. Step Up 2! Maybe it had an uplifting ending — I can’t remember; I think I fell asleep — but I guarantee that The Wire has brought more nuanced, thoughtful attention to our city than that movie ever did. Sometimes a little negativity — or should we call it honesty? — is the best gift of all.

Another Made-in-Maryland Movie: Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell to Star in “Better Living Through Chemistry”

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Actress Olivia Wilde will star in "Better Living Through Chemistry"

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Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde and Ray Liotta will come to Maryland in the coming months to begin shooting the film “Better Living Through Chemistry,” a movie about a pharmacist’s affair with one of his trophy-wife customers. Filming of the comedy will take place in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, Baltimore City and the Eastern Shore. The production has the potential to create 340 jobs for local crew, actors and extras.

The film will be co-directed by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier from their script, and will be produced by Felipe Marino and Joe Neurauter of Occupant Entertainment (“The Wackiness”, “Peep World”).

“Better Living Through Chemistry” is the latest in a series of recent projects that are choosing to film in Maryland. Last month, the Netflix series “House of Cards” began shooting in various locations around the State and independent film “Jamesy Boy” wrapped production.  The HBO film “Game Change” which also shot in Maryland, premiered on the cable network in March, and HBO series “VEEP” premiered in April to rave reviews.

 

Maryland Film Festival to Feature Foreign Films, Shorts and More

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Melissa Warlow, Executive Director of the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund

 

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It’s a film frenzy.

Three days of nonstop movies, featuring nearly four-dozen feature films and 75 shorts. It takes place May 3-6 at the Charles Theatre, Windup Space and the Maryland Institute College of Art. More than 20,000 attended last year’s Maryland Film Festival, Director Jed Dietz estimates.

“Movie making in America is terms of volume and creativity is all concentrated now in the smaller and independent film,” Dietz says.

Foreign films, shorts across a variety of genres and two feature films made by artists who have connections to Baltimore are among the highlights of this year’s event.

With movies from Turkey, Iran and half a dozen other countries, the festival has one of its strongest selections of foreign films ever, Dietz says.

“A few years ago, a foreign film meant one from Western Europe,” Dietz says. “That world has changed completely.”

Dissident Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest, had to make his movie surreptitiously — hence the title, This is Not a Film.” Panahi had to smuggle it out of Iran by loading it on a USB flash drive hidden in a cake.

The opening night of the Maryland Film Festival will begin, as always, with a selection of shorts. The mini-movies come in a variety of genres throughout the festival: comedy, drama, documentary, experimental and something called “The Passion of the WTF Shorts.” The latter includes a “macabre depiction of a high school formal” and a peek at underground moped gangs in Richmond, Va.

The festival’s longstanding emphasis on short films is one of the reasons why the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund has given  it $230,000 since 2007, fund Executive Director Melissa Warlow says.

Short films bring out a lot of budding young filmmakers, which energizes the audience, Warlow says.

Read the rest of the story at Bmore Media

 

HBO’s "Game Change," Shot in Maryland, Premieres Sat.

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Game Change, which was filmed in and around Baltimore, will have its D.C. premiere tomorrow night at the Newseum — star Julianne Moore and executive producer Tom Hanks are rumored to attend — and a screening in Baltimore on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Landmark. (Okay, so not as glamorous as the D.C. premiere, but free popcorn and parking!) Both events are invitation only. 

The controversial movie, based on the bestselling book of the same name, airs on Saturday at 9 p.m. on HBO. It follows John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate to the ticket’s ultimate defeat. Judging by the trailer (see it on our homepage), Moore as Palin and Harris as McCain give eerily accurate portrayals — at least in mannerisms and body language — of the two conservative icons.  The movie also stars Woody Harrelson as McCain operative Steve Schmidt. Baltimore Sun TV Critic David Zurawick describes Moore’s and Harris’s performances as “uncanny” and deems Harrelson’s “Emmy-caliber.”

HBO and Maryland have had a long and successful relationship, shooting both The Wire and The Corner here and recently wrapping the series VEEP in Maryland. The filming of Game Change added approximately 160 local production crew and 1,800 local acting and extras jobs to the state economy, according to Governor O’Malley’s website .

Baltimore Classic Film "Diner" Leaves Lasting Mark

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Vanity Fair’s March issue features a story about Baltimore’s classic 1982 film, “Diner” and its impact on pop culture.

Entitled, “Much Ado About Nothing,” writer S.L. Price asserts that the Barry Levinson movie introduced the concept of talking about, well, nothing, a style popularized on Seinfeld eight years later and also seen in Pulp Fiction, The Office and in anything by Judd Apatow.

“In Diner…Levinson took the stuff that usually fills time between the car chase, the fiery kiss, the dramatic reveal—the seemingly meaningless banter (“Who do you make out to, Sinatra or Mathis?”) tossed about by men over drinks, behind the wheel, in front of a cooling plate of French fries—and made it central,” writes Price.

The film depicts a gang of 20-something pals in 1959 Baltimore as they struggle with adulthood. 

Read the whole story at VanityFair.com

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