Cinema Shardiso by Jack Neary

The following entry is being cross posted from Jack Neary’s own blog, “Shards”.

So I saw THE FIGHTER recently. Not a bad movie. Not a great movie, by any means, but not bad. I think the movie would have had more teeth if it had gone whole hog and admitted it was about Dicky and not Micky. I’m from Lowell, but I have had no interaction with any of these guys, so my observation is simply as a moviegoer. And if the movie had been about Dicky, then it could have turned on that phone call when Dicky discovered that Micky had listened to him about the approach to the Vegas fight. That happens, Dicky is redeemed, he cleans himself up, the movie is about him. On the other hand, I’m sure Dicky’s story was a bit under-told, and perhaps his redemption might not be as viable as Micky’s achievement. I don’t know. Still, Bale wins the Oscar, over Jeremy Renner, who received the only Oscar nomination scored for a better movie, THE TOWN.

I am from Lowell, though, and I have to say this…

Watching THE FIGHTER prompted me to watch HIGH ON CRACK STREET, the searing, 59-minute documentary that is a crucial part of the plot of THE FIGHTER. Because it’s a short film, you won’t find it on Blockbuster or Netflix. But you can find it very easily online, and you can watch it for free on your computer.

So if you see THE FIGHTER….

…and then you see HIGH ON CRACK STREET…

…and you are from Lowell…

…then you can’t be very happy about the way Hollywood has depicted your city.

Sure, both stories, interwoven as they are, are legit and worth telling.

But, my God…are these films the city’s cinematic legacy?

Sure, Ricky Gervais’ THE INVENTION OF LYING showed scenes of Lowell at its nicest. But it did not acknowledge the name of the city. So that doesn’t count.

I’ve written a play about Lowellians, entitled THE PORCH. Perhaps sometime, some theatre in Lowell will stage it. So far, one has rejected it. Too bad. I think folks in the area would appreciate its message of hope and friendship. But I can’t help at the moment.

I’m just sayin’…

There are Lowellians out there living sane, productive, and INTERESTING lives, and they have stories to tell. Paul Marion and other local writers pen wonderful material about the city.

But the rest of the world sees us in THE FIGHTER and HIGH ON CRACK STREET and…

I’m just sayin’…

I think I saw THE SOCIAL NETWORK and I think it was pretty good. I just can’t remember all that much about it. I’ll watch it again. If it takes Best Picture, that’s fine with me. Besides, I am a huge fan of director David Fincher, whose SEVEN is one of my all-time favorite films.

Jeff Bridges is terrific in TRUE GRIT but it looks like he hasn’t shaved or bathed since before CRAZY HEART. I don’t think you should win back-to-back Oscars without changing your clothes. Good, solid movie, though, from the Coen Brothers, who stepped a little away from their customary quirkiness to tell an old fashioned western story extremely well. Hailee Steinfeld? Superb.

Colin Firth is probably going to win the Best Actor Oscar, but, for some reason, as good as he is in THE KING’S SPEECH, I had a little trouble getting past the technical acting-out of the stammering George VI. That’s not fair, I know, but…that’s my reaction. What I took away from that movie was the nuanced, moving, brilliantly subtle work of Geoffrey Rush. My God, is he good in this movie. Can’t win the Oscar, though. Not with Christian Bale as competition.

Michelle Williams turns in a star performance in BLUE VALENTINE, which also features Tewksbury’s Maryann Plunkett as Williams’ mother in the film. Williams scored an Oscar nom, her second, for her work. But, for my money, the standout performance in BLUE VALENTINE belongs to Ryan Gosling, who breaks your heart as a man who just wants to be a husband and father, but who doesn’t have the life skills to provide for his family. Just a beautiful job of acting.

I kind of have a feeling I saw INCEPTION, but I’m just not sure if it was a dream. I’ll have to look for the ticket stub.

Okay, are you sitting down–I still say that the best film I have seen this year is TOY STORY 3. It is meticulously structured, hysterically funny, occasionally scary, and downright moving. There is a moment late in the film that I still can’t believe happened, it was so fresh and surprising. It will be Best Animated Feature but…I think it needs to be considered as best of the year.

4 Responses to Cinema Shardiso by Jack Neary

  1. PaulM says:

    I could not agree more with Jack. I give The Fighter its due as part of our community narrative. I watched the Chronicle whole half-hour on the story-behind-the-story the other night. I appreciate the school-of-hard-knocks redemption story and respect the effort to get it told. I honor the good works being done, often quietly, by Micky Ward and Dicky Ecklund. I met Micky briefly for the first time in the WCAP studio a couple of months ago. He seems to be a great guy. The people who care about art and story and community narrative and the “lure of the local” in Lowell can take a cure from Mark Wahlberg, who pursued the story The Fighter tells with tenacity and imagination. Let’s use The Fighter as a call to action for more Lowell stories on screen and in print.

    Let’s use our wisdom, resources, contacts, networks, etc. to do as much as we can to support the Jack Nearys, Stephen Crokes, Jim Higgins, Judith Dickerman-Nelsons, Chath pierSaths, Kate Hanson Fosters, Steve O’Connors, and others who are working the Lowell subjects and materials as writers and filmmakers in meaningful, creative ways.

  2. PaulM says:

    I should have mentioned Jerry Bisantz of Image Theatre in my list of Lowell stories workers. Hes done some fine work on stage with his revolving troupe.

  3. Jerry Bisantz says:

    Hey, guys! Yes, Jack, I agree with you about “The Fighter”. Good movie, great performance by Bale. Jack,
    I saw “The Porch” and really enjoyed it. As you know, we (Image Theater) produced a Jack Neary play( “The Big Apple” ) as our very first full length production way back in 2005. We rented The Freshman Academy. Not a bad space. They quadrupled our rent after subsequent perfs.
    The space now has no theatrical lights, hell, you can’t even turn the lights on! My wife, Sharon , directed “Our Town” at the Little Theater” space because she CANNOT use the Freshman Academy space because of the lighting situation. If we can’t fit it (a play) upstairs at The Old Court (I LOVE those guys!) or at the ALL Art Gallery (or The Whistler House who were so nice to us for a small productioon) than that’s difficult.
    Space, man, space… always looking….. But, Jack, I love your play and think it should be done.
    Jerry Bisantz

  4. Jack Neary says:

    Thanks, Paul. And thanks, Jerry.

    It would be so wonderful for some organization (with space) to step forward and provide a home for Image. Jerry’s enthusiasm is boundless, and he deserves a permanent theatrical residence. Three Cheers for The Old Court for its support of Jerry’s work!

    And thanks, Paul, for acknowledging so many local writers. Let me add Andrew Wetmore and his Merrimack Valley Playwrights group to that list. The group meets monthly, in Lowell.