Spring Arts Preview 2015
A deaf filmmaker breaks the language barrier.
On the set of his latest film, The House Across the Street, Boston filmmaker Arthur Luhn (far right) used every means at his disposal to communicate his vision to his actors. “Writing, texting, gesturing, you name it,” he tells me via Facebook chat. But not speaking. Born deaf, Luhn’s native language is American Sign Language (ASL). His previous two features—an Indiana Jones–style adventure flick called The Golden Legacy, and Conned, a heist picture set in Southie—both featured deaf actors and were shot largely in ASL, subtitled in English. The House Across the Street, which will have a red-carpet premiere April 9 at AMC Loews Boston Common 19, is his first film primarily in English. The language barrier was a challenge as a director, he says, but one he and his actors handily overcame. “Jessica Sonneborn, the lead, was very patient,” he types, “and she gave me exactly what I wanted.”
Luhn grew up in Vermont, where his forward-thinking mother learned sign language so he could grow up in a household where he could communicate. She also made sure he became fluent in English, learning to read written words he had never heard. He attended high school, and later Boston University, with an interpreter. A few years later, adrift in his twenties, he picked up a discount camera at a department store and started making films. In the visual medium of film, Luhn says he found his calling, and a way to make his own experience visible: “ASL is a visual language, so cinema is in fact the preservation of the language.”
But in House—a thriller shot in East Bridgewater, Hanover, and Easton—“ASL has just a cameo” role, he says. Maybe it’s the equivalent of Guillermo del Toro making his first English-language film. Luhn has been eyeing L.A.; he’s not by nature an indie auteur, and wants to make films with mass appeal, in the tradition of Lucas and Spielberg. Would he stop using ASL altogether if it meant reaching a broader audience? “[That’s] as intelligent a question as I’ve ever been asked,” he types. “No comment.” —S. I. Rosenbaum
Red-carpet premiere, $25, 4/9, 5 p.m., AMC Loews Boston Common 19, eventbrite.com.
The Ultimate Bostonian’s Spring Movie Checklist
April 15, XLRator Media
Dane Cook stars in…an astronaut thriller? The premise: Four trainees agree to be guinea pigs in a 400-day deep-space simulation. Then things go haywire, and surprise: It may not have been a simulation after all. Hilarious! Shooting Dane Cook into space, though: Seriously, can we do that IRL?
Avengers: Age of Ultron
May 1, Walt Disney Studios
Chris Evans, Boston’s hunkiest reluctant superhero, returns as Captain America—alongside Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr.
Pitch Perfect 2
May 15, Universal Pictures
Pittsfield’s Elizabeth Banks has a smoking-hot 2015 ahead: She’s in the Magic Mike sequel, and returns as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. Now, her “jukebox musical” is back—last time around, she starred and produced, but this time Banks is making her full-length feature-film directorial debut.
May 29, Columbia Pictures
Cameron Crowe—the man behind Gen X movie-night staples Say Anything, Singles, and Almost Famous—returns to romance, making military contractor Bradley Cooper choose between sexy Air Force pilot Emma Stone and ex-flame Rachel McAdams. Newton’s John Krasinski gets in the way as McAdams’s hubby
Entourage and Ted 2
June 5, Warner Bros., and June 26, Universal Pictures
It’s the spring and summer of Wahlberg, and even if Marky Mark isn’t getting any traction with Marty Walsh on that pardon he’s looking for, we’re willing to forgive the long-ass wait for this Entourage movie he’s producing—but only because of the reported cameos by Gronk and Brady. Brady, of course, returns later in June for a seminal role in Ted 2, in which Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed bruin set off to make a Boston baby, by any means necessary. Dream ending: They adopt Keytar Bear?
June 19, Walt Disney Studios
Disney’s latest Pixar comedy is pretty much every homegirl’s fantasy: Amy Poehler and this month’s Boston cover lady, Mindy Kaling, star as the competing voices in a young girl’s head. Poehler (“Joy”) and Kaling (“Disgust”) are joined by the likes of Bill Hader (“Fear”) and Lewis Black (“Anger”).