Halifax film screening picks — June 20-26

20 Jun
June 20, 2016

This week, Cineplex Park Lane has a handful of screenings of Ali, the 2001 Muhammad Ali biopic much noted for Michael Mann’s direction and Will Smith’s acting, but also criticized (despite its length) as a reductive take on a complex persona. (For a more focused view of a key period of Ali’s life, you might want to check out Bill Siegel’s excellent—and much shorter—documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali, which I see is on Mubi for another 15 days.)

I finally caught up with Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, and I’m recommending it, despite some reservations. Kate Beckinsale is excellent, Chloe Sevigny maybe not so much, Tom Bennett is simply absurd, and there are perhaps a few too many moments when characters are mere tokens for their essential qualities rather than responding humanly to their situations. But it’s all a good laugh and at 92 minutes never has a chance to get boring.

There’s just one screening this week in the Cineplex Classic Films series of the David Lean/Noel Coward classic Brief Encounter, and it’s this Wednesday, 7pm, at Dartmouth Crossing.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (June 20) — Ali, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:30pm & 9:40pm, $6.99. Michael Mann, USA, 2001, 157 minutes.
    • Tuesday (June 21) — Ali, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm, $6.99. Michael Mann, USA, 2001, 157 minutes.
      — The Boy and the Beast, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:40pm, regular pricing. Mamoru Hosoda, Japan, 2015, 120 minutes.
    • Wednesday (June 22) — Brief Encounter, Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.99. David Lean, UK, 1945, 86 minutes.
    • Thursday (June 23) — Ali, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:30pm, $6.99. Michael Mann, USA, 2001, 157 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening pick for this week:
    • Sunday (June 19) — The Meddler, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 8pm, $9. Lorene Scafaria, USA, 2015, 100 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — June 13-19

13 Jun
June 13, 2016

Another week, another festival! Following on the heels of a successful tenth edition of HIFF this week is the fifth edition of OUTeast, Atlantic Canada’s only exclusively LGBTQ+ film and video festival. There’s an extensive program this year but perhaps the most artistically daring selection is the real-time drama Paris 05:59—”while some hetero audiences will unquestionably feel sidelined by the explicit orgy, the loss is theirs.”

The documentary section of the program includes a couple of notable Hot Docs selections: Strike a Pose, which catches up with Madonna’s Blond Ambition dancers some 25 years on, and Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, which documents the role that hysterical homophobia played in a false gang-rape conviction in 1997.

On Sunday, the final day’s program features the French lesbian romance Summertime, and a directorial debut from SNL’s Chris Kelly, Other People, which garnered a nice notice in The Guardian, and sounds like a funnier James White.

In theatres this week you can catch Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen confection Love & Friendship, which is a riding a wave of glowing reviews, and which I frankly cannot wait to see. And this Sunday, Cineplex Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing have the sublime David-Lean-directed Brief Encounter, a truly peerless film—”the best romantic film of all time.

Out of town this week, on Wednesday the Astor Theatre in Liverpool has The Meddler, and Fundy Cinema in Wolfville has The Man Who Knew Infinity.

Halifax film screening picks — June 6-12

06 Jun
June 6, 2016

HIFF, the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival, is here for its 10th annual iteration, and once again, along with well-curated showcases for short films, there are some brilliantly chosen features. One of the most notoriously tricky to program is Portuguese director Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights trilogy. At 382 minutes in total length, its US distributor decided to release the three parts in consecutive weeks this past December. At the Directors’ Fortnight—the art-film showcase that runs in parallel with the Cannes festival—it showed on consecutive days, but there is also an argument for showing the whole thing in succession, as TIFF did last year (with two one-hour breaks), and as HIFF will do this Sunday at 3pm 1pm—PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGE. The film is not an adaptation of the Arabian Nights in any strict sense, but rather takes its structure as a framing device for stories of austerity policies and their consequences in contemporary Portugal. Props to the festival for making this screening absolutely free—note that this will take place at 1649 Brunswick Street, unlike the rest of the week’s screenings at Deep Water Church on North Street.

Another highly anticipated feature is Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, an ambitious portrait of one of the world’s greatest photographic artists—and a part-time Nova Scotian at that. As well, you can catch the riskily shot-on-location Mina Walking, which won the Canadian Discovery Award for its story of a 12-year-old street-seller girl in Kabul, and the highly experimental 88:88 by Isiah Medina—another Canadian first feature, one that has been making “ripples to reckon with.”

The Thrillema returns this week with 1982’s George-Romero-directed, Stephen-King-written “anthology of human phobias,” Creepshow.

I deserve a slap on the wrist for failing to note last week that A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to I Am Love, is in town—it was at the Oxford last week, but has now moved over to Cineplex Park Lane.

Out of town this week, the King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal has a Tuesday screening of the documentary Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, a film built out from rediscovered long-missing interview tapes. In Wolfville, Fundy Cinema this Sunday the John Carney’s latest musical delight, Sing Street.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (June 7) — Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal),  7:30pm, $8. Lisa Immordino Vreeland, USA, 2015, 95 minutes.
    • Sunday (June 12) — Sing Street, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 8pm, $9. John Carney, Ireland/USA/UK, 2016, 105 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — May 30-June 5

30 May
May 30, 2016

Dalhousie University will award an honorary doctorate to filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin tomorrow, and tonight she will be presenting her documentary Trick or Treaty?, in which she “digs into the tangled history of Treaty 9,” at the Central Library. The screening will be hosted by filmmaker Sylvia Hamilton, with filmmaker Catherine Anne Martin offering a traditional Mi’kmaq welcome, and Halifax poet laureate Rebecca Thomas performing a poem. Obomsawin will remain for a discussion after the film.

Cineplex Park Lane has a couple of screenings this week of The Boy and the Beast, last year’s anime hit in Japan from Momoru Hosoda, who might be the current leading candidate for “new Miyazaki”.

This Sunday, Fundy Cinema in Wolfville has the New Zealand film The Dark Horse, which has gathered a large number of positive reviews for its lead performance by Cliff Curtis. The film made the rounds of the 2014-15 festivals but only last month got a North American commercial release.

  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (May 30) — Trick or Treaty?, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Alanis Obomsawin, Canada, 2014, 85 minutes.
      — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
    • Tuesday (May 31) — The Boy and the Beast, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:50pm, regular Tuesday-discount pricing. Mamoru Hosoda, Japan, 2015, 120 minutes.
    • Wednesday (June 1) — The Boy and the Beast, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:50pm, regular pricing. Mamoru Hosoda, Japan, 2015, 120 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Sunday (June 5) — The Dark Horse, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 8pm, $9. James Napier Robertson, New Zealand, 2014, 124 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — May 23-29

23 May
May 23, 2016

The Dalhousie Art Gallery Wednesday noir series concludes this Wednesday with the 1955 Robert-Aldrich-directed Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer mystery, Kiss Me Deadly, a “jagged, baroque, nightmarish picture captures the paranoid mood of the McCarthy era, the Cold War and nuclear angst.”

Out of town this week, the King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal has a Tuesday screening of the Zhang Yimou picture Coming Home. In Wolfville, Fundy Cinema concludes its Wednesday documentary series with Gayby Baby, and this Sunday has The Brand New Testament, which Carbon Arc screened in March.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (May 23) — Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Cineplex Park Lane, 1:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1986, 103 minutes.
      — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:50pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
    • Tuesday (May 24) — Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Cineplex Park Lane, 7:15pm & 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1986, 103 minutes.
    • Wednesday (May 25) — Kiss Me Deadly, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Robert Aldrich, USA, 1955, 106 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (May 24) — Coming Home, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal),  7:30pm, $8. Zhang Yimou, China, 2014, 111 minutes.
    • Wednesday (May 25) — Gayby Baby, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Maya Newell, Australia, 2015, 85 minutes.
    • Sunday (May 29) — The Brand New Testament, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Jaco Van Dormael, Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2015, 113 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — May 16-22

16 May
May 16, 2016

It’s the penultimate week of the Dalhousie Art Gallery Wednesday noir series—this week it’s one of my personal favourites, Charles Laughton’s remarkable, bordering-on-surreal one-off, The Night of the Hunter, a film deliberately “keyed to the basic emotions of love and fear, just as the great silent movies were.”

Cineplex has some 30-anniversary screenings of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off this weekend.

The Lobstera film that truly understands the “existential hellscape of modern dating”—is still at Park Lane, through Thursday at least, and has a Fundy Cinema screening in Wolfville on Sunday.

Halifax film screening picks — May 9-15

09 May
May 9, 2016

There are only three weeks left in the Dalhousie Art Gallery Wednesday noir series—this week’s selection is one of the all-time greats, Jules Dassin’s Rififi, the 1955 film that survived blacklisting to earn recognition as a genuine masterpiece.

Park Lane has booked some additional Prince-memorial screenings of Purple Rain, and with Dartmouth Crossing has some more Classic Film Series screenings of Rocky. Meanwhile the well-reviewed Susan Sarandon vehicle The Meddler has moved in at the Oxford, while The Lobster has hopped over to Park Lane.

It took me a couple of weeks, but I caught up with Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room. I’m not sure if it’s quite as strong as his previous effort Blue Ruin, but it’s an enjoyable-if-gory suspenser that benefits from a helping of Saulnier’s patiently-observed melancholy realism stirred into the genre mix.

In Wolfville on Sunday, Fundy Cinema has Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to Blue.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (May 9) — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:30pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
      — Purple Rain, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. Albert Magnoli, USA, 1984, 111 minutes.
    • Tuesday (May 10) — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:30pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
      — Purple Rain, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. Albert Magnoli, USA, 1984, 111 minutes.
    • Wednesday (May 11) — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
      Rififi, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Jules Dassin, France, 1955, 122 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (May 10) — 45 Years, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $8. Andrew Haigh, UK, 2015, 95 minutes.
    • Sunday (May 15) — Born to be Blue, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Robert Budreau, Canada/UK, 2015, 97 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — May 2-8

02 May
May 2, 2016

The nation-spanning travelling roadshow that is TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival hits Halifax this week, with a week of free screenings at the Central Library. I haven’t seen any of the films that are on offer, but if forced to pick a top three that I hope to see:

There’s also a screening of Les êtres chers, which played Carbon Arc a couple of weeks ago, and Guantanamo’s Child, the Omar Khadr doc, previously screened by CBC in a shortened version—the full version is coming up May 16 on Documentary Channel.

The Dalhousie Art Gallery Wednesday noir series returns this week with The Sniper, a San-Francisco-set psycho-assassin tale directed by Edward Dmytryk.

Across Canada tonight there are screenings of Purple Rain, in memory of Prince—the Halifax screening is at Park Lane. It wasn’t so long ago that The Thrillema screened this, kicking off with a memorable intro.   And this Sunday, Cineplex Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing have Classic Film Series matinee screenings of Rocky.

There are a number of notable films on Cineplex screens this week, including the well-reviewed Green Room, director Jeremy Saulnier’s follow-up to the remarkable Blue Ruin, and the first English-language film from esteemed young Danish director Joachim TrierLouder Than Bombs.

I can strongly recommend one of last year’s festival favourites, the (really) darkly humorous The Lobster, which has arrived at the Oxford for a Halifax engagement. It is also playing in Liverpool this Wednesday at the Astor Theatre.

In Wolfville, Fundy Cinema has the Chilean documentary The Pearl Button on Wednesday, and the drone thriller Eye in the Sky, on Sunday.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (May 2) — Purple Rain, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. Albert Magnoli, USA, 1984, 111 minutes.
    • Tuesday (May 3) — Our Loved Ones (Les Êtres Chers), Central Library, 6pm, free. Anne Émond, Canada, 2015, 102 minutes.
    • Wednesday (May 4) — The Forbidden Room, Central Library, 6pm, free. Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson, Canada, 2015, 119 minutes.
      — The Sniper, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Edward Dmytryk, USA, 1952, 88 minutes.
    • Thursday (May 5) — Guantanamo’s Child, Central Library, 6pm, free. Patrick Reed & Michelle Shephard, Canada, 2015, 80 minutes.
    • Saturday (May 7) — Ninth Floor, Central Library, 4pm, free. Mina Shum, Canada, 2015, 82 minutes.
    • Sunday (May 8) — Rocky, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $6.99. John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119 minutes.
      The Demons, Central Library, 1:30pm, free. Philippe Lesage, Canada, 2015, 118 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (May 4) — The Lobster, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/Greece/France/Netherlands, 2015, 118 minutes.
      The Pearl Button, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Patricio Guzmán, Chile/France/Spain, 2015, 82 minutes.
    • Sunday (May 8) — Eye in the Sky, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Gavin Hood, UK, 2015, 102 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — April 25-May 1

25 Apr
April 25, 2016

This Friday, Carbon Arc‘s final screening before summer hiatus is Francofonia, the latest from Alexander Sokurov, best known for his single-shot wonder Russian Ark. This latest is an essay-film portrait of the Louvre that expands out into “a chatty and occasionally brilliant rumination on art, history and death.” The film is also being screened in Wolfville on Wednesday by Fundy Cinema (which also has two screenings this Sunday of Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa).

The Thrillema is back on Tuesday with another screening bringing cult-film fans and cineastes together—David Lynch’s unique and unforgettable 1977 debut feature, Eraserhead—a film that he says could not even find an audience today if it was being released for the first time—”The midnight movie circuit was what saved or brought a lot of films to the public.”

20th Century Fox are trying to make April 26 Alien Day happen, and so on Tuesday Cineplex Park Lane has a double-header of the first two films in the franchise.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (Apr 26) — Eraserhead, The Thrillema @ the Museum of Natural History, 8pm, free advance tickets, donations accepted. David Lynch, USA, 1977, 88 minutes.
      Alien + Aliens double feature, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, regular cheap-Tuesday pricing. Ridley Scott, UK/USA, 1979; James Cameron, USA, 1986. 254 minutes.
    • Friday (Apr 29) — Francofonia, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Alexander Sokurov, Germany/France/Netherlands, 2015, 88 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (Apr 26) — RoomKing’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $8. Lenny Abrahamson, USA, 2015, 118 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Apr 27) — Francofonia, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Alexander Sokurov, Germany/France/Netherlands, 2015, 88 minutes.
    • Sunday (Apr 24) — Anomalisa, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Charlie Kaufman, USA, 2015, 90 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — April 18-24

18 Apr
April 18, 2016

This Wednesday is National Canadian Film Day, and perhaps the most notable local screening has director Andrea Dorfman on hand for a screening of her 2003 classic (can we say that now?) Love That Boy, the Halifax-shot rom-com that features a teenage Ellen Page in a supporting role.

Carbon Arc’s NCFD screening, pushed to the usual Friday slot, is the sophomore feature from Anne Émond, Our Loved Ones (Les Êtres Chers)—this is a co-presentation with Reel Canada and in fact a free screening. In the late (9:30pm) slot on Friday it’s The Invitation, which is interesting for a couple of reasons: the back story about director Karyn Kusama’s fight to shape her films and get them released is absolutely fascinating, and this is the latest film to try releasing to theatres and to pay-per-view simultaneously. The film itself is getting great reviews and the trailer by itself scared the shit out of April 10’s Carbon Arc audience, as I can testify.

Novel Tech Ethics is back with another screening-plus-discussion event tonight with Concussion, and though the film is in truth neither bad nor great, it’s one of the better issue-analysis films of the past few years, and offers a decent serious Will Smith performance, which is something we don’t get enough of in my book.

Cineplex’s Classic Film Series this week has the only film based on a Rogers & Hammerstein musical not to receive any Academy Award nominations (not sure whether that’s good or bad, because my Oscars feelings are complicated), Carousel, set in Maine, and, um, Heaven. Insert Liverpool FC reference here.

Out of town this week, the Astor Theatre in Liverpool has the raved-about Charlie Kaufman animated feature Anomalisa, nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, which has yet to play Halifax after being pulled from its Carbon Arc screening by Paramount Studios. Fundy Cinema in Wolfville has the songbird documentary The Messenger on Wednesday, and Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart on Sunday.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
  • South Shore and Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Apr 20) — Anomalisa, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Charlie Kaufman, USA, 2015, 90 minutes.
      The Messenger, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Su Rynard, Canada, 2015, 89 minutes.
    • Sunday (Apr 24) — Mountains May Depart, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Jia Zhangke, China/France/Japan, 2015, 131 minutes.