Halifax film screening picks — February 20-26

20 Feb
February 20, 2017

After a ten-week run at the Oxford, Manchester by the Sea has moved out to Bayer’s Lake and made way for another of 2016’s very best, The Salesman, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee that has seen accelerating media attention and ticket sales since its director, Asghar Farhadi, announced that he will not attend the Oscars this Sunday, due to Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

The Dal Art Gallery continues its First Features series on Wednesday with a key film of the New German Filmmakers movement, The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, the directorial debut of Margarethe von Trotta. When the film first played New York in 1979, Vincent Canby took an extremely positive view in the Times, calling this tale of a young woman who robs a bank to finance a day-care centre “a didactic film, but… never smug in the manner of a film that knows all the answers.” Before that, on Tuesday, the Gallery continues its Black Music Biographies series with Cadillac Records, for those of you like me who can never get enough Jeffrey Wright: “The man is equally credible as a statesman and a bluesman. If that’s not range, what is?

If we’ve learned one thing over the last many years it’s that the Brits are better prepared for zombies, so fans of the genre will be happy to note that Cineplex Park Lane this weekend has some limited screenings of the next UK zombie sensation The Girl with All the Gifts.

This is an excellent week for documentary screenings:

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Feb 21) — Cadillac Records, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm, free. Darnell Martin, USA, 2008, 109 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 22) — The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Margarethe von Trotta, West Germany, 1978, 89 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 24) — Kedi, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm & 9pm, $7. Ceyda Torun, Turkey/USA, 2016, 80 minutes.
      The Girl with All the Gifts, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, regular pricing. Colm McCarthy, UK, 2016, 111 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 25) — Sharkwater, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, free (donations for WWF Canada). Rob Stewart, Canada, 2006, 89 minutes.
      — The Girl with All the Gifts, Cineplex Park Lane, 10:15pm, regular pricing. Colm McCarthy, UK, 2016, 111 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 26) — The Girl with All the Gifts, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, regular pricing. Colm McCarthy, UK, 2016, 111 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Feb 21) — A Man Called Ove, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $10. Hannes Holm, Sweden, 2015, 116 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 22) — The Eagle Huntress, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Otto Bell, UK/Mongolia/USA, 2016, 87 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 26) — La La Land, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — February 13-19

12 Feb
February 12, 2017

Last week, Jackie came and went at Cineplex Park Lane; this week, perhaps an even bolder bio-pic by Pablo Larraìn, Neruda, plays Friday only at Carbon Arc. The creativity of these two films, writes David Fear, “gives credence to the growing notion that, by taking a more fragmented, expressionistic route, you actually get closer to nailing the complexity of a life famously lived.” Neruda was Chile’s entry this year for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

On Saturday, Carbon Arc has the Iranian film Inversion (presented in partnership with the Phoenix Cultural Center of Toronto—note the higher ticket price of $13). The film by Behnam Behzadi screened at last year’s Cannes festival in Un Certain Regard. “Nothing that happens in Inversion is overstated or even overtly dramatized, yet there’s an invisible tension that pulls us through the movie,” says Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman.

Tonight Cineplex Park Lane has the surprisingly well-engineered 3D conversion of Titanic (1997)—an actually watchable digital re-do for which Cameron spent over 60 weeks in 2011-12, going through the more than 260,000 frames of the film and giving notes. The original 2D version will screen at Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Park Lane Valentine’s throwback is The Princess Bride, about which Cary Elwes spilled quite a few production secrets a couple of years ago with a book about the making of the film.

The Dal Art Gallery continues its First Features series on Wednesday with the remarkable debut of Derek Jarman, Sebastiane, which it bills as “one of the first LGBT films—and perhaps the only one in Latin.” “One of a kind, it’s compulsively interesting on many levels,” says Time Out NY. Before that, on Tuesday, the Gallery continues its Black Music Biographies series with the HBO TV bio-pic Bessie, with Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith.

Fundy Cinema in Wolfville on Wednesday has The Red Turtle, a Studio Ghibli production—by the Dutch-British director Michaël Dudok de Wit—that doesn’t follow the house style and yet bears Ghibli’s “strong sense of color, philosophy and symbolism” such that it has now been acknowledged with an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. On Sunday, Fundy has 20th Century Women, so this might be the best viewing opportunity for Haligonians who missed it.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Feb 13) — Titanic (3D), Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. James Cameron, USA, 1997, 195 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Feb 14) — Bessie, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm, free. Dee Rees, USA, 2015, 115 minutes.
      The Princess Bride, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, $6.99. Rob Reiner, USA, 1987, 98 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 15) — Titanic (2D), Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.99. James Cameron, USA, 1997, 195 minutes.
      Sebastiane, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Derek Jarman & Paul Humfress, UK, 1976, 85 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 17) — Neruda, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Pablo Larraín, Chile/Argentina/France/Spain, 2016, 107 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 17) — Inversion, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm & 9pm, $13. Behnam Behzadi, Iran, 2016, 84 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Feb 15) — The Red Turtle, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Michaël Dudok de Wit, France/Belgium/Japan, 2016, 80 minutes.
      — La La Land, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.
    • Thursday (Feb 16) — La La Land, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 17) — La La Land, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.
      — Manchester by the Sea, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7pm, $10. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 18) — La La Land, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 19) — La La Land, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Damien Chazelle, USA, 2016, 128 minutes.
      20th Century Women, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Mike Mills, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
      — Manchester by the Sea, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7pm, $10. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — February 6-12

06 Feb
February 6, 2017

At long last the un-bio-pic Jackie has arrived in Halifax, featuring a performance by Natalie Portman that is “a brilliant reproach to every biopic that believed putting a pretty brunette in a pillbox hat was enough,” as well as unsettling, jagged, and glissing music by Mica Levi that is even more impressive than her dissonant score for Under the Skin. The first English-language feature for the gifted Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, it subtly calls back to previous films like No and The Club, but owes little obvious debt to previous Kennedy films. And, as Manohla Dargis has proposed, it is also a remarkable riposte to Christopher Hitchens, who was repulsed by Jackie’s self- and myth-construction. “She married John F. Kennedy; she also helped invent him.

There still hasn’t been a Halifax screening of Maliglutit (Searchers), the new film from Zacharias Kunuk—who is still best known for the 2001 Caméra d’Or (Cannes first-feature prize) winning Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner—but thanks to Fundy Cinema you can see it this Wednesday in Wolfville. Not a remake per se of John Ford’s The Searchers, but a film that unapologetically uses it as source and outline, it played recently at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, where Kunuk and TIFF programmer Jesse Wente also did live commentary during a screening of Ford’s original.

A number of film series continue in Halifax this week:

20th Century Women, the moving Amarcord-influenced gem from Mike Mills, is no longer playing Halifax, but it can be seen this weekend in Liverpool at the Astor Theatre.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Feb 6) — Pulp Fiction, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, $7.99. Quentin Tarantino, USA, 1994, 154 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Feb 7) — Miles Ahead, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm, free. Don Cheadle, USA, 2015, 100 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 8) — Ivan’s Childhood, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union, 1962, 94 minutes.
      Shallow Grave, Cineplex Park Lane, 8pm, $7.99. Danny Boyle, UK, 1995, 92 minutes.
      Trainspotting, Cineplex Park Lane, 10pm, $7.99. Danny Boyle, UK, 1995, 92 minutes.
    • Thursday (Feb 9) — Pulp Fiction, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $7.99. Quentin Tarantino, USA, 1994, 154 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 10) — Tanna, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Martin Butler & Bentley Dean, Australia/Vanuatu, 2015, 100 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screenings this week:
    • Monday (Feb 6) — Hidden Figures, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Theodore Melfi, USA, 2016, 127 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 8) — Maliglutit (Searchers), Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Zacharias Kunuk & Natar Ungalaaq, Canada, 2016, 94 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 10) — 20th Century Women, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Mike Mills, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 11) — 20th Century Women, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Mike Mills, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 12) — 20th Century Women, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Mike Mills, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
      — Manchester by the Sea, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — January 30-February 5

30 Jan
January 30, 2017

Carbon Arc is back! The exquisitely-curated series of weekend screenings returns to the Museum of Natural History this Friday with (as usual) one of the best-reviewed films of the past months—Ira Sachs’ follow-up to Love is Strange, Little Men, “a deceptively slight movie which brings us towards the revelation that life is disappointment, and that happiness comes in being ready for it.”

Also this Friday, Cineplex kicks off Flashback Film Fest (does exactly what it says on the tin, now rebranded from the comparatively vague name “Great Digital Film Festival”) with a Coen brothers double bill: the unimpeachable Fargo, and the recently restored Blood Simple. Saturday night features 1997’s Starship Troopers, now slated for a forthcoming remake that will hew closer to the original novel, an idea that the original’s director Paul Verhoeven finds repellent. “The novel was fascistic and militaristic… You feel that going back to the novel would fit very much in a Trump Presidency.Troopers is of course the ruthlessly violent capstone of a science fiction thematic trilogy that grows increasingly direct in its parallels of near-future societies with Nazism (beginning with Robocop in 1987 and continuing with Total Recall in 1990). Sunday your Super Bowl counter-programming is the recent 4K remaster of Michael Mann’s Heat, the De Niro v Pacino event film that continues to exert considerable influence on action filmmakers, notably Christopher Nolan and the Russo brothers.

The First Features screening series at the Dal Art Gallery continues this week with the seldom-seen debut feature from Stanley Kubrick—Fear and Desire. This hour-long film will be paired with the half-hour doc The Seafarers, which mentions Halifax, and which might have led to him making a second film specifically about Halifax.

A couple of top-drawer docs are showing this week.  This evening at the Central Library, the Radical Imagination Project is screening “Nettie Wild’s clear-eyed documentaryA Place Called Chiapas, the highly regarded 1998 film that offered plenty of insight but no clear answers about the Zapatista uprising in response to NAFTA in 1994. This Sunday at the library, it’s Mina Shum’s Ninth Floor, part of 2015’s TIFF Canada’s Top Ten, and a fearless interrogation of racism in Canada as well as a resurfacing of a remarkable, forgotten moment in the nation’s history.

There are plenty of quality films screening out of town this week as well: Manchester by the Sea, Hidden Figures at the Astor in Liverpool, and Arrival at King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal. Lion is playing the Astor on Wednesday and Fundy Cinema in Wolfville on Sunday.

  • In theatres, notable:
  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Jan 30) — A Place Called Chiapas, Central Library, 6:30pm, free, presented by the Radical Imagination Project. Nettie Wild, Canada, 1998, 89 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 1) — Fear and Desire, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Stanley Kubrick, USA, 1953, 62 minutes (+ 30 minute doc The Seafarers).
    • Friday (Feb 3) — Little Men, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Ira Sachs, USA, 2016, 86 minutes.
      Fargo, Cineplex Park Lane, 7:30pm, $7.99. Joel & Ethan Coen, UK/USA, 1996, 98 minutes.
      Blood Simple,  Cineplex Park Lane, 10pm, $7.99. Joel & Ethan Coen, USA, 1984, 99 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 4) — Starship Troopers, Cineplex Park Lane, 10pm, $7.99. Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997, 129 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 5) — Ninth Floor, Central Library, 2pm, free. Mina Shum, Canada, 2015, 82 minutes.
      Heat, Cineplex Park Lane, 8:30pm, $7.99. Michael Mann, USA, 1995, 170 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screenings this week:
    • Monday (Jan 30) — Manchester by the Sea, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Feb 1) — Lion, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Garth Davis, Australia/UK/USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
    • Friday (Feb 3) — Hidden Figures, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Theodore Melfi, USA, 2016, 127 minutes.
      Arrival, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $10. Denis Villeneuve, USA, 2016, 116 minutes.
    • Saturday (Feb 4) — Hidden Figures, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Theodore Melfi, USA, 2016, 127 minutes.
    • Sunday (Feb 5) — Lion, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Garth Davis, Australia/UK/USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
      — Hidden Figures, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Theodore Melfi, USA, 2016, 127 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — January 23-29

23 Jan
January 23, 2017

“The personal is the political, as second-wave feminists liked to say, and so it is in 20th Century Women,” says Manohla Dargis in her strong NY Times review. The third feature from Mike Mills—husband of Miranda July—is now playing at Cineplex Park Lane, and I have it on good authority that you should make it a priority.

The First Features screening series at the Dal Art Gallery continues this week with the debut feature by a director who embodies cinema itself—Federico Fellini’s The White Sheik, co-written with co-luminary Michelangelo Antonioni, no less. There hasn’t been a DVD release of this one since the now-out-of-print 2003 Criterion—used copies of which are going for as much as US$79 on Amazon—so this free screening is pretty much the deal of the month.

One of the most insightful film reviews I’ve read in a while is this take on Martin Scorsese’s Silence by Toronto critic Adam Nayman. On the topic of whether the film constitutes cultural ammo for the right wing, he writes: “The idea of holding a film set in the 17th century accountable to present-tense attitudes is as small-minded as it gets—the rich irony being that the themes Scorsese is getting at here do in fact very much apply to the here and now.” Paramount has added hundreds more screens this past weekend (though not in Halifax, where it is exclusively at Scotiabank Theatre in Bayers Lake), but box office receipts continue to fall, so I’d encourage you to get out and see it on the big screen while you still can.

It has also been playing this past weekend at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, which venerable institution has added a series of upcoming weekend engagements for currently critically-acclaimed releases: Manchester by the Sea, Hidden Figures, La La LandFundy Cinema in Wolfville has Cameraperson on Wednesday and The Edge of Seventeen this Sunday.

  • In theatres, new and critically acclaimed:
  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • Halifax area screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Jan 25) — The White Sheik, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Federico Fellini, Italy, 1952, 88 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (Jan 23) — Silence, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Martin Scorsese, USA/Taiwan/Mexico/UK/Italy/Japan, 2016, 161 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Jan 25) — Cameraperson, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016, 102 minutes.
    • Friday (Jan 27) — Manchester by the Sea, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.
    • Saturday (Jan 28) — Manchester by the Sea, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.
    • Sunday (Jan 29) — The Edge of Seventeen, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Kelly Fremon Craig, USA, 2016, 99 minutes.
      — Manchester by the Sea, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2016, 137 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — January 16-22

16 Jan
January 16, 2017

Beautiful, unsettling, and one of the finest religious movies ever made“—Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating adaptation of the Shūsaku Endō novel, in its physical portrayal of 17th-century Japan is also of the most meticulous reconstructions of a historic period and place that I have seen in years. It carries my highest recommendation. As of this post it is playing only at Scotiabank Theatre in Bayers Lake.

For the winter & spring edition of its Wednesday free screenings series, the Dal Art Gallery has chosen an excellent theme—First Features. It kicks off this week with arguably the greatest-ever directorial debut, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Also this Wednesday the Central Library continues its series of screenings of Stanley Kubrick films with The Shining, introduced by Mark Palermo.

This Sunday, in advance of the marking of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, there is a free screening at Dalhousie University’s McCain Building of 2000’s Paragraph 175, “the definitive screen chronicle to date of homosexual persecution under the Third Reich.” The screening will be followed by a keynote and panel discussion.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the latest feature in the Cineplex Classic Films series, a film that continues to be Audrey Hepburn’s most identifiable role, but which is also features a toxically racist caricature as portrayed by the late Mickey Rooney. Cineplex has also brought back Moonlight to Halifax, at the Scotiabank Theatre in Bayers Lake.

Out of town, the Astor Theatre in Liverpool wraps up a multi-day engagement of Moonlight on Monday, and then brings in The Edge of Seventeen for a couple of Wednesday screenings. Fundy Cinema in Wolfville has Arrival on Wednesday and The Violin Teacher on Sunday.

Halifax film screening picks — January 9-15

09 Jan
January 9, 2017

“Do we look or look away? Are we bearing witness or intruding on private emotions? At what point does our concern shade into voyeurism?”—these are the dilemmas that director Kirsten Johnson explores in her film Cameraperson, including what she feels is her betrayal of her own mother. One of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2016, it “unfolds with beauty and purpose — mixing the fluidity of a dream with the acuity of an essay.” If, like me, you missed it when it played Carbon Arc in November, it has been rescheduled to this Wednesday at Liverpool’s historic Astor Theatre.

Incidentally, the Johnson-lensed Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ acclaimed 2014 doc about Edward Snowden, was added to Netflix Canada on Christmas Day. Also, if you missed the Oxford run of Moonlight, which just picked up the Golden Globe for best dramatic film, Liverpool’s Astor is giving you another chance to see it this weekend (it’s playing this Friday through Monday).

This Wednesday the Central Library continues its series of screenings of Stanley Kubrick films with arguably the finest film ever made about World War I: Paths of Glory, introduced by the inimitable Carsten Knox.

I finally pushed past my feelings about Casey Affleck’s 2010 sexual harassment case and went to see Manchester by the Sea, which indeed is centred on a top-tier performance by Affleck. But the real star of the film for me is the screenplay by under-appreciated genius Kenneth Lonergan, whose understated direction allows his script to shine. The film is still pulling in sizeable audiences at the Oxford, while the other buzz film of this season, La La Land, is unfortunately only playing the Scotiabank Theatre out at Bayers Lake. Let me assure you that it is worth the pilgrimage.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • Halifax area screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Jan 11) — Paths of Glory, Central Library, 5:30pm, free, introduced by Carsten Knox. Stanley Kubrick, USA, 1957, 88 minutes.
  • South Shore screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Jan 11) — Cameraperson, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016, 102 minutes.
    • Friday (Jan 13) — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.
    • Saturday (Jan 14) — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.
    • Sunday (Jan 15) — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — January 2-8

02 Jan
January 2, 2017

“Do we look or look away? Are we bearing witness or intruding on private emotions? At what point does our concern shade into voyeurism?”—these are the dilemmas that director Kirsten Johnson explores in her film Cameraperson, including what she feels is her betrayal of her own mother. One of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2016, it “unfolds with beauty and purpose — mixing the fluidity of a dream with the acuity of an essay.” If, like me, you missed it when it played Carbon Arc in November, you can see it this Wednesday at Liverpool’s historic Astor Theatre. Update: unfortunately the Astor is having projector problems and Cameraperson is cancelled… it has been rescheduled for Wednesday January 11.

Incidentally, the Johnson-lensed Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ acclaimed 2014 doc about Edward Snowden, was added to Netflix Canada on Christmas Day. Also, if you missed 2016’s best film—I of course mean Moonlight—when it played at the Oxford, Liverpool’s Astor is giving you another chance to see it this weekend (it’s playing this Friday through Monday). Update: due to the Astor’s projector issues, this weekend’s Moonlight screenings have been moved to January 13-16.

This Wednesday the Central Library kicks off a series of screenings of Stanley Kubrick films with the enduring, standard-setting sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, introduced by the always engaging Kendra Barnes.

Cineplex Park Lane this week continues with screenings of The Sound of Music (the restored edition of which looks fantastic on the big screen) and the batshit crazy 1972 disaster film The Poseidon Adventure, which has had an obsessive cult around it for decades now.

Fundy Cinema in Wolfville starts up again this Sunday with Last Cab to Darwin. “Smartly directed by Jeremy Sims, this sweet-hearted film mostly manages to avoid triteness even as it casually packs an emotional punch.” says Daniel Gold in the NY Times.

I finally pushed past my feelings about Casey Affleck’s 2010 sexual harassment case and went to see Manchester by the Sea, which indeed is centred on a top-tier performance by Affleck. But the real star of the film for me is the screenplay by under-appreciated genius Kenneth Lonergan, whose understated direction allows his script to shine. The film is still pulling in sizeable audiences at the Oxford, while the other buzz film of this season, La La Land, is unfortunately only playing the Scotiabank Theatre out at Bayers Lake. Let me assure you that it is worth the pilgrimage.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • Cineplex Events screenings of note:
  • Halifax area screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Jan 4) — 2001: A Space Odyssey, Central Library, 5:30pm, free, introduced by Kendra Barnes. Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA, 1968, 149 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Jan 4) — Cameraperson, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016, 102 minutes. Update: unfortunately the Astor is having projector problems and Cameraperson is cancelled… No word yet on any reschedule date.
    • Friday (Jan 6) — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.
    • Saturday (Jan 7) — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.
    • Sunday (Jan 8) — Last Cab to Darwin, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Jeremy Sims, Australia, 2015, 123 minutes.
      — Moonlight, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.

Ten of the very best films of 2016 are already on Netflix Canada

31 Dec
December 31, 2016

Why wait for all of the films on year-end best-of lists and award nomination slates to find their way to streaming services? Here are ten of the very best-reviewed films of the year (as measured by Metacritic) that are available right now to watch online.

The Witch

Directed by: Robert Eggers (directorial debut)
Notable performances: Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie the goat
Honours & Awards: Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor (Anya Taylor-Joy), numerous directorial awards
Watch because: the film earns its scares the hard way—by delivering a meticulous recreation of 17th-century settler reality worthy of Terrence Malick.
Trailer and reviews for The Witch

The Lobster

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos (DogtoothAlpsAttenberg)
Notable performances: Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell’s paunch
Honours & Awards: Jury Prize at Cannes 2015
Watch because: no film demonstrates a deeper understanding of “the existential hellscape of modern dating.”
Trailer and reviews for The Lobster

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Directed by: Taika Waititi (What We Do in the ShadowsThor: Ragnarok)
Notable performances: Sam Neill and breakthrough child star Julian Dennison
Honours & Awards: numerous film festival audience awards
Watch because: if any film meets the definition of “crowd pleaser” on this list, it’s this one. What to watch when you crave a fun ride that doesn’t insult your intelligence.
Trailer and reviews for Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Sing Street

Directed by: John Carney (OnceBegin Again)
Notable performances: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton
Honours & Awards: National Board of Review, USA: Top Ten Independent Films
Watch because: “… this isn’t just a nostalgia trip. It’s an homage to teenage kicks and the urgency of getting them any way you can.”
Trailer and reviews for Sing Street

Green Room

Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin)
Notable performances: Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.), Patrick Stewart
Honours & Awards: National Board of Review, USA: Top Ten Independent Films
Watch because: you can come for the stunt casting and stay for the unbearably ratcheting tension. Jeremy Saulnier mixes the groundedness of Blue Ruin with some well-chosen genre touches, and brings no small knowledge of punk rock.
Trailer and reviews for Green Room

The Wailing

Directed by: Hong-jin Na (The ChaserThe Yellow Sea)
Notable performances: Kim Hwan Hee, Kwak Do-won, Jun Kunimura
Honours & Awards: the most trophies (five) at S. Korea’s Blue Dragon Awards
Watch because: it bends about five different horror genres, hits an incredible high midway with a duelling-shamans scene that you won’t soon forget, and still manages to top it all at the end with a suspenseful climax featuring counterpoint between two apparently supernatural figures, one appropriating a Passion gospel text, the other a Resurrection passage. “It also knocked Captain America: Civil War out of the top spot and became the eighth-biggest opening of a Korean-language movie in Korea ever.”
Trailer and reviews for The Wailing

Rams

Directed by: Grímur Hákonarson (Summerland)
Notable performances: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson
Honours & Awards: Un Certain Regard prize – Cannes 2015
Watch because: the feuding, sheep-farming rural Icelandic brothers at the centre of this absurd, joyful, melancholy, tragic tale are two characters you won’t soon forget. I picked this as my under-appreciated gem of 2016 in a recent year-end round-up.
Trailer and reviews for Rams

Under the Sun

Directed by: Vitaly Mansky
Notable performances: Lee Zin-mi (the 8-year-old girl & ostensible subject of this doc), the North Korean government handlers who were unaware they were being recorded
Honours & Awards: Budapest International Documentary Festival – Festival Prize
Watch because: this is perhaps the most visually compelling film on the list—Mansky has an Antonioni-esque eye for geometry and modernist architecture. But also because this deconstructed-propaganda film that has been hailed by Trump’s own actually has unintentionally critical relevance to Trump’s movement.
Trailer and reviews for Under the Sun

The Treasure

Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East Of Bucharest; Police, Adjective)
Notable performances: Cuzin Toma, Adrian Purcarescu
Honours & Awards: Prix un certain talent – Un Certain Regard Cannes 2015
Watch because: …the deadpan comedy of repetition… cleverly lulls us into a rhythm whereby we think we know what is going to happen, only to pull the rug several times.
Trailer and reviews for The Treasure

13th

Directed by: Ava DuVernay (Selma)
Notable performances: many, many progressive talking heads. and Newt Gingrich.
Honours & Awards: 3 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards inc. Best Doc Feature (TV/Streaming)
Watch because: there really hasn’t been a more urgent American documentary in years.
Trailer and reviews for 13th

Halifax film screening picks — December 26-January 1

26 Dec
December 26, 2016

Tentpole/blockbuster franchise films aren’t really my regular beat here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some praise to Rogue One, which for me is the best such entertainment since Mad Max: Fury Road (if not quite its equal, blemished as it is with a couple of needless CGI-based cameos). For me it’s not just a better Star Wars movie than The Force Awakens, it’s indeed the best since The Empire Strikes Back, productively mining rather than simply recycling the first film and its sequels, and dialoguing not just with those films but also with their sources and original context. And thanks no doubt to those Panavision Super 70 lenses used in filming, it’s the first one that screens this impressively as an IMAX conversion. Gareth Edwards, I officially forgive you for your Godzilla remake.

The overwhelmingly well-reviewedhot miracle” that is La La Land has arrived at the Scotiabank Theatre Bayers Lake, and, speaking of musicals, Park Lane has screenings this week of The Sound of Music.

If you didn’t follow your usual Christmas tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life this weekend, you can still catch a Boxing Day screening today.