Local films, festivals, and faces

‘Faust’ for gamers and film fans

Gösta Ekman as Faust in F.W. Murnau’s 1926 silent film to be screened at Coolidge Corner with a new score.
courtesy of photofest
Gösta Ekman as Faust in F.W. Murnau’s 1926 silent film to be screened at Coolidge Corner with a new score.

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s popular Sounds of Silents series honors the tradition of musical accompaniment to silent classics but it also brings silent films to new audiences. That couldn’t be clearer than with its latest collaboration with Berklee College of Music’s film scoring department. Monday at 7 p.m., F.W. Murnau’s silent epic, “Faust” (1926), screens with an original score composed and performed live by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) with vocal accompaniment from the 24-voice Berklee-based Video Game Music Choir (think “Glee” for the Final Fantasy set). The choir’s ethereal blend of voices is mostly chanting and vocal harmonizing as they perform the scores composed for video games. In the case of “Faust,” they will lend their voices to the wordless score penned by the BSFO. Created in 2009 by Berklee senior Julia Seeholzer and made up of Berklee students, the choir now performs regularly in the Boston area. A Video Game Orchestra has existed on campus since Berklee grad Shota Nakama launched it in 2008. It’s no accident that so much video game music thrives at Berklee; it’s one of the few music schools in the country that offers courses in the exploding field of composing music for video games.

Over the past five years, the Coolidge has commissioned the orchestra, under the direction of film scoring professor Sheldon Mirowitz and with the participation of the film scoring department, to compose and perform new musical scores for five silent films: “Sunrise,” “It,” “Battleship Potemkin,” “Piccadilly,” and, last in the lineup, “Faust.” A big-budget German production, “Faust” won Murnau his contract with Hollywood’s Fox Studios, for which he made his best-known silents. The film is based on the classic German legend and modeled mainly on Goethe’s interpretation of the story; it stars Gösta Ekman as Faust and the legendary Emil Jannings as Mephisto.

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Indie darling

Tribeca Film has acquired the North American rights to a pair of films written and directed by Newton resident Alex Karpovsky, who is also an actor and currently stars in the HBO hit series “Girls.” Shot entirely in Boston, “Rubberneck” was co-written by Karpovsky and Canton resident Garth Donovan and produced by Donovan, Michael Bowes, and Adam Roffman, program director of the Independent Film Festival Boston, where “Rubberneck” screened last spring. Described as “a slow-burn character study-turned-psychosexual thriller,” “Rubberneck” is about a Boston research scientist (Karpovsky) who becomes obsessed with a female co-worker (Jamie Ray Newman). The second film, “Redflag,” also produced by Bowes, is a comedy starring Karpovsky as a newly single indie filmmaker who hits the road with an old friend (Onur Tukel) to promote one of his films.


Tribeca Film plans releases for both films in February, including select theatrical and on-demand offerings.

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Alex Karpovsky of Newton co-wrote, directed, and stars as a scientist obsessed with a woman in “Rubberneck.”

Binoche bounty

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From her Oscar-winning performance in “The English Patient” to her recent Cannes Film Festival award-winning turn in Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” Juliette Binoche’s career has included a stunning range of international films. The Museum of Fine Arts looks back at some of her most memorable performances in “The Films of Juliette Binoche,” a series that runs Wednesday through Dec. 30. It begins with “Certified Copy” (screening Wednesday and Friday), Kiarostami’s provocative romantic drama from 2011. Binoche’s highly regarded work in “Blue,” the first of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “three colors” trilogy, as a woman dealing with the deaths of her husband and their only child, will be showcased on Wednesday and Thursday. Other films in the series include “Damage” (Saturday and Dec. 23), a sensual drama from 1992 that features Binoche in one of her best roles, working with legendary director Louis Malle. The popular romantic comedy “Chocolat,” with Binoche playing opposite Johnny Depp, screens Dec. 26 and 27.

Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient” (Dec. 26 and 27) may have introduced Binoche to most Americans, but many consider her role as a homeless painter losing her sight in Leos Carax’s 1991 film “The Lovers on the Bridge” (Dec. 28 and 30) to be her finest. Then there are those like me who are partial to Olivier Assayas’s “Summer Hours” (Dec. 28 and 29), his 2009 family drama with Binoche memorable alongside her fellow French actors Charles Berling and Jérémie Rénier.

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Loren King can be reached at loren