Halifax film screening picks — August 29-September 4

29 Aug
August 29, 2016

Tuesday at the Central Library the August series of free screenings of Coen brothers films wraps up with Hail, Caesar!, this year’s fantastic entry in the ever-building Coen canon. Presenting this week is Chris Campbell—NSCC Screen Arts faculty member, blogger, and, yes, a constantly informative Twitter follow.

In fact every day is like Tuesday this week at the movies—it’s the ass end of the summer, frankly, and Cineplex is cutting you some slack by offering cheap-Tuesday prices, Monday through Friday this week.

  • Halifax area screening pick for this week:
    • Tuesday (Aug 30) — Hail, Caesar!, Central Library, 6pm, free. Joel & Ethan Coen, USA, 2016, 100 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening pick for this week
    • Tuesday (Aug 30) — Love & Friendship, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $8. Whit Stillman, Ireland/USA, 2016, 92 minutes

Halifax film screening picks — August 22-28

22 Aug
August 22, 2016

Cineplex Park Lane has a few 25th anniversary screenings this week of Thelma & Louise, a film that holds up well, a little too well, as Megan Garber puts it, because its “fundamental fact… that ultimately drives its plot, and the one that makes it feel so disappointingly fresh today—is the women’s recognition that they can’t trust the law, because the law doesn’t trust them.”

Park Lane has a large number of other special screenings this week, including what may or may not be the “director’s”/final cut of Close Encounters of the Third Kind this Friday night—programmed simultaneously with the third instalment of Indiana Jones, in an act of seemingly in-joke-esque scheduling. This is truly the week of peak Indy for Cineplex, as there are screenings of all three chapters of the original trilogy (see below for timings—the whole trilogy plays in order this Saturday). There is also a Wednesday screening of Unlocking the Cage, the new animal rights documentary. The reviews have been mixed-to-good for this one, but at minimum a new doc by D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus is always notable, it seems to me.

Tuesday at the Central Library the August series of screenings of Coen brothers films continues with A Serious Man, a film that is probably, no, definitely, in my top three Coen films ever. Your host this week is the always fun film fan-and-maker, CBC columnist, and Coast contributor Tara Thorne.

The latest release from stop-motion animation studio Laika has arrived, and the reviews are the best yetKubo and the Two Strings is “clearly made by people who understand that the border between classic children’s stories and horror lies deeper in the neighborhood of the latter than we might assume.”

If you missed the Halifax engagement of Swiss Army Man, there’s a chance to see it this Wednesday at the historic Astor Theatre in Liverpool.

Halifax film screening picks — August 15-21

15 Aug
August 15, 2016

Indignation is screening at Cineplex Park Lane, and with its strong reviews it seems to be another step in the (in her words) “slow, long upward climb” of Toronto actress Sarah Gadon, who has quite transcended her Cronenberg-it-girl beginnings. It’s also the directorial debut for the longtime screenwriting partner of Ang Lee, Professor James Schamus, Ph.D., of whose work I am a longtime fan—yes, even his under-appreciated Hulk movie.

The Thrillema is back this week with 1999 horror milestone The Blair Witch Project, a film that seemed like an aberration and a gimmick on its release, but not so much now—”its influence wasn’t immediate, but delayed until technology caught up with it.” There is a regular Thrillema presentation on Wednesday at 8pm, and on Thursday, a slightly earlier screening paired with a meet-and-greet with Jordan of The Night Time Podcast and Earl Lattie of Paranormal Investigations Nova Scotia (PINS).

David Huddleston, portrayer of “big dons or capos and tempestuous men,” and best known for the title role in The Big Lebowski, died on August 2. On Tuesday at the Central Library, as part of an August series of screenings of Coen brothers films, you can revisit this classic with Kendra Barnes—an incredibly knowledgeable programmer with Carbon Arc, and a good Twitter follow to boot.

Cineplex’s August Indiana Jones revival continues with more screenings of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and this Friday at Park Lane, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the first in a series of intended final episodes that will soon outnumber the preceding films. Originally intended as an apology for Temple of Doom, the film brings back for me teenage opening night memories, thanks to the film breaking and burning in the middle of the nail-biting tank chase scene. But I digress.

Halifax film screening picks — August 8-14

08 Aug
August 8, 2016

Captain Fantastic has arrived at Cineplex Park Lane, accompanied by generally strong reviews—notices that consistently point up an excellent turn by Viggo Mortensen. “Mr. Mortensen, whose intensity has the sting of possession, has a way of making you believe his characters can do whatever they set their minds to,” says Manohla Dargis of the NY Times.

Park Lane is keeping its Indiana Jones retrospective rolling with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a sequel that due to its dark content inspired the creation of the PG-13 rating.

The Atlantic Film Festival’s family-friendly summer outdoor screening series wraps up this Saturday at the Pondside Amphitheatre in Dartmouth Crossing with David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and a whole bunch of Muppets in Labyrinth. “Childhood has been this way forever: wonderful and hard and full of horror. Labyrinth just helps us remember what, deep down, in the dark, we’ve always known.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:

Halifax film screening picks — August 1-7

01 Aug
August 1, 2016

This week offers a Spielberg throwback double whammy, with the great Raiders of the Lost Ark screening on Friday and Sunday, preceded by the less-than-great Jurassic Park on Wednesday.

The Atlantic Film Festival’s family-friendly summer outdoor screening series continues this Friday outside at Grand Parade with Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel Fantastic Mr. Fox, and also on Saturday at the Pondside Amphitheatre in Dartmouth Crossing with a singalong (lyrics on screen) screening of Frozen.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Aug 3) — Jurassic Park, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:25pm, $6.99. Steven Spielberg, USA, 1993, 127 minutes.
    • Friday (Aug 5) — Fantastic Mr. Fox, Grand Parade, 9:10ish, doors open at 8:10pm, free. Wes Anderson, USA, 2009, 87 minutes.
      Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. Steven Spielberg, USA, 1981, 115 minutes.
    • Saturday (Aug 6) — Frozen, Pondside Amphitheatre (Dartmouth Crossing), 9:10ish, doors open at 8:10pm, free. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee, USA, 2013, 107 minutes.
    • Sunday (Aug 7) — Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $6.99. Steven Spielberg, USA, 1981, 115 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — July 25-31

25 Jul
July 25, 2016

Closet Monster is here for Pride Week and hopefully beyond. The Newfoundland coming-out story, a first-time directorial effort from 26-year-old Newfoundlander Stephen Dunn is yet to be released in the US (due August 19), but has garnered rave reviews in its festival run, including this from the Hollywood Reporter—”Autobiographical but also singularly imaginative, this formally exuberant bildungsroman plays like a Gregg Araki film with a dash of Cronenbergian psychosomatic body-rebellion thrown in.”

The Thrillema is back this week with an excellent alt-art-trash nugget, Zombi 2, so titled because the 1979 Luico Fulci directed film was created as a sequel to Zombi, which was actually George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as re-edited by Dario Argento and re-scored by Goblin. Oft-reviled for its shark-eating zombie and eyeball-piercing scenes, Zombi 2 features “enough worm-ridden zombie flesh, horrendously fake yet appalling gore, and completely superfluous female nudity to make this a winner.”

The Atlantic Film Festival’s family-friendly summer outdoor screening series continues this Friday outside at the Central Library with a definitive Miyazaki anime classic, 1997’s Princess Mononoke.

Out of town this week, King’s Film Society in Annapolis Royal has Dark Horse, the Welsh race horse documentary, “a feel-good story enlivened by the fact that there’s no overly sentimentalized hokum to be found,” and the Astor Theatre Cinema Series in Liverpool brings back Luca “I Am Love” Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (July 25) — A Place in the Sun, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7:00pm, $6.99. George Stevens, USA, 1951, 122 minutes.
    • Wednesday (July 27) — Zombi 2, Museum of Natural History, 8pm, free advance tickets. Lucio Fulci, Italy, 1979, 91 minutes.
    • Friday (July 29) — Princess Mononoke, Central Library (outdoors), 9:30ish, doors open at 8:30pm, free. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1997, 133 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (July 26) — Dark Horse, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal),  7:30pm, $8. Louise Osmond, UK, 2014, 85 minutes.
    • Wednesday (July 27) — A Bigger Splash, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France, 2015, 124 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — July 18-24

18 Jul
July 18, 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the crowd-pleasing, critically acclaimed comedy-drama from New Zealand director Taika Waititi (following on festival favourite What We Do in the Shadows) has moved in at the Oxford.  The NY Times’ Manohla Dargis says Waititi is “still finding his way, but he’s already a director who—as he does in a shot of a friendly, undefeated child pausing to wave at a pursuer—can distill a worldview into a single, perfect cinematic moment.” Meanwhile, Swiss Army Man has made way by moving over from the Oxford to Park Lane.

Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship is back in Halifax at the Scotiabank Theatre in Bayers Lake.

The Atlantic Film Festival’s family-friendly summer outdoor screening series continues this Friday with the 2014 hit The Lego Movie.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (July 20) — A Place in the Sun, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7:00pm, $6.99. George Stevens, USA, 1951, 122 minutes.
    • Friday (July 22) — The Lego Movie, Sullivan’s Pond, Dartmouth, 9:30ish, doors open at 8:30pm, free. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, USA/Australia/Denmark, 2014, 100 minutes.

Like Someone in Love; Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (Netflix Canada picks)

16 Jul
July 16, 2016

Netflix offers just one film from the remarkable oeuvre of Abbas Kiarostami, the master filmmaker whose recent death rocked the film world.  Like Someone in Love contains many of Kiarostami’s trademark elements, including multiple extended scenes of conversations in cars, but also allowed the director to stretch out of the limitations of filming in his native Iran—shooting intimate interior sequences, and filming entirely in Japanese, a language completely foreign to him. It is a film whose meticulous, stepwise revelation and questioning of its characters rewards a patient viewing—and then “doesn’t so much end as screech to a stop” in the most obliquely abrupt way.

While Kiarostami deftly avoided political entanglements with his work, his fellow Iranian director Jafar Panahi has not been so lucky. Barred from making films for twenty years in Iran, he continues, despite his house arrest and lack of distribution, to find clever ways to bypass this ban. In the case of Taxi, he has stumbled upon the approach of driving around Tehran and filming amateur actors with small cameras including a dash cam (riffing on Kiarostami films, most obviously Ten, though the viewer who has not seen those films misses nothing crucial). The conceit is that he is posing as a taxi driver only to be recognized to the surprise of some of his passengers. Multiple levels of ironic comment, and the sheer invention of the episodes, generate a sense of pure fun that you wouldn’t expect from a politically resistant film, and the result is one of the ten best-reviewed films of 2015.

Halifax film screening picks — July 11-17

11 Jul
July 11, 2016

Swiss Army Man, a.k.a. the farting corpse movie, has arrived at the Oxford, where it is sure to continue dividing the opinion of audiences—a film “as likely to be described as a classic, an ambitious misfire, and one of the worst films ever made by any three people who see it together.”

And speaking of dividing opinion, the Scotiabank Theatre at Bayers Lake has Sultan, the Salman Khan vehicle that has already set new Bollywood box office records while inspiring at least one prominent critic not to review it, following on an inexcusably insensitive comment by its star, one that he has yet to satisfactorily account for.

The Cinema Series screening at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool this Wednesday is Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship.

For the Atlantic Film Festival’s first Halifax waterfront screening of the summer, they’ve gone in the vaults and pulled out the 1978 Ralph Bakshi rotoscoped, animated version of The Lord of the Rings.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (July 11) — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 5pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
    • Wednesday (July 13) — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:45pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
    • Thursday (July 14) — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 5pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
    • Friday (July 15) — The Lord of the Rings (1978), Tall Ships Quay (Halifax waterfront), approx. 9:30pm, gates open 8:30pm, free. Ralph Bakshi, USA, 1978, 133 minutes.
  • South Shore screening pick for this week:
    • Wednesday (July 13) — Love & Friendship, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Whit Stillman, Ireland/USA, 2016, 92 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — July 4-10

04 Jul
July 4, 2016

One of my favourite experiences at the greatly missed Wormwood’s Cinema was a repertory screening of Jonathan Demme’s brilliant, never-equaled Talking Heads live-show doc Stop Making Sense. I can still recall the projectionist coming out before the screening to advise us that he would be turning up the sound very far—and that we should feel free to dance on the seats. I don’t think the staff at Cineplex Park Lane will be similarly accommodating at screenings this week so you might want to confine your dancing to the aisle.

Park Lane also has some throwback screenings of a classic piece of Canadian cultural ephemera, 1983’s Strange Brew, through Wednesday (your mileage will likely depend on how much nostalgia you feel for Bob and Doug McKenzie), and this Sunday, with Dartmouth Crossing, has a matinee screening of 1951’s A Place in the Sun, with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor—”They are almost like reflections of each other; when they kiss, something incestuous and thrillingly forbidden throbs out of the screen.”

The Atlantic Film Festival’s summer outdoor series continues at Dartmouth Crossing this Saturday with an outdoor screening of How To Train Your Dragon—dusk hits at 9:36pm this Saturday, so you can expect doors to open around 8:30pm I believe, although AFF’s posted times continue to be contradictory at best.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (July 4) — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 2:30pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
      Strange Brew, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:50pm & 9:25pm, $6.99. Rick Moraines & Dave Thomas, Canada, 1983, 90 minutes.
    • Tuesday (July 5) — Strange Brew, Cineplex Park Lane, 1:30pm, $6.99. Rick Moraines & Dave Thomas, Canada, 1983, 90 minutes.
      — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 10:05pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
    • Wednesday (July 6) — Strange Brew, Cineplex Park Lane, 10:05pm, $6.99. Rick Moraines & Dave Thomas, Canada, 1983, 90 minutes.
    • Thursday (July 7) — Stop Making Sense, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:50pm, $6.99. Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 minutes.
    • Saturday (July 9) — How to Train Your Dragon, Pondside Amphitheatre, Hector Gate (Dartmouth Crossing), approx. 9:36pm, free. Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois, USA, 2010, 98 minutes.
    • Sunday (July 10) — A Place in the Sun, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $6.99. George Stevens, USA, 1951, 122 minutes.