Black Cop + summer hiatus

28 May
May 28, 2018

Black CopAfter a series of festival engagements (starting with the most recent edition of TIFF) and numerous awards, as well as a US distribution deal, Cory Bowles’ “confidently shot and edited” feature debut Black Cop is hitting Cineplex screens this Friday. If it does well, it will be extended, so going this weekend to Park Lane in Halifax means helping to give other people a chance to see this important film on the big screen, too. Be forewarned that it is only playing in the late slot—at least, for now. UPDATE: Early show added! As well as additional showings after this weekend.

Unfortunately a number of factors are dictating that this blog go on hiatus for the summer. Between my packed summer schedule, my current level of engagement with some other interests, and the technical requirement to migrate this site to a different theme platform (a thing I do not wish to rush), I’m not in a position to carry on at the moment. But I will continue to show up on Twitter and I’m targeting a September 1 return. Keep in touch!

Halifax screening picks—May 21-27

21 May
May 21, 2018

No Date, No SignatureThis (Monday) evening, the Iranian film screening series resumes (presented at Carbon Arc) with No Date, No Signature, last year’s well-regarded social drama “shot in elegant, nearly black-and-white images highlighted with faint traces of color.

The Greta Gerwig screening series at the Central Library continues Tuesday with Frances Ha, the 2013 film that Gerwig co-scripted with her partner Noah Baumbach, introduced by Chris Campbell.

Maison du Bonheur, Canadian Sofia Bohdanowicz’s shot-on-16mm Agnes-Varda-inspired bio-doc about an elderly French astrologer, which gained some positive notice at last year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto, screens at the Alliance Française this Thursday for a suggested donation of $5.

Lean on Pete, the latest very highly regarded film from Andrew Haigh, director of Weekend and 45 Years, gets one more Halifax screening this Thursday at 4:30pm, Cineplex Park Lane.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • Halifax screenings this weekend:
      • Monday (May 21) — No Date, No Signature, Museum of Natural History, 6pm, $15. Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, 104 minutes.
      • Tuesday (May 22) — Frances Ha, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Noam Baumbach, USA, 2012, 86 minutes, introduced by Chris Campbell.
      • Thursday (May 24) — Lean on Pete, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, regular pricing. Andrew Haigh, UK, 2017, 121 minutes.
        Maison du bonheur, Alliance Française, 6:30pm, $5 suggested donation. Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada, 2017, 62 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—May 8-13

08 May
May 8, 2018

Carbon Arc is on hiatus until the fall, but the cinema’s own Siloen Daley is also festival director for this week’s AFX, the Animation Festival of Halifax. In a similar spirit to HIFF, the festival is aimed not only at independent filmmakers but also people who love films—in this case, animated films. The two features being presented are the “winning and confusing in equal measureNight is Short, Walk on Girl, from Japan, and “a breezy watch bolstered by its motley crew of odd characters,” Satellite Girl and Milk Cow, from Korea. The two key returning showcases of shorts are the 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows on Thursday and the festival-director-curated Vegan Delights, on Saturday.

“While Sunset Boulevard appears to attack the pretentions and excesses of the silent era, in fact its argument about the bad old days of Hollywood is more complicated than that,” writes Pamela Hutchinson in The Guardian. The film is screening at Park Lane at a couple of odd times: 4:20pm today (Tuesday), 10:15pm tomorrow (Wednesday). All About Eve, a natural companion to Sunset Boulevard, has Wednesday Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing screenings as well.

The Greta Gerwig screening series at the Central Library continues this evening (Tuesday) with Mistress America, introduced by Zack Miller.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • Halifax screenings this weekend:
      • Tuesday (May 8) — Sunset Boulevard, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:20pm, $6.99. Billy Wilder, USA, 1950, 110 minutes.
        Mistress America, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Noam Baumbach, USA, 2015, 84 minutes, introduced by Tara Thorne.
      • Wednesday (May 9) — All About Eve, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, Park Lane, 7:15pm, $6.99. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950, 138 minutes.
        Sunset Boulevard, Cineplex Park Lane, 10:15pm, $6.99. Billy Wilder, USA, 1950, 110 minutes.
      • Thursday (May 10) — 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows, Museum of Natural History, 6:30pm, $10. Various directors & countries, 2017, 93 minutes.
        — Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Museum of Natural History, 9pm, $10. Masaaki Yuasa, Japan, 2017, 92 minutes.
      • Friday (May 11) — The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow, Museum of Natural History, 9:30pm, $10. Chang Hyung-yun, Korea, 2014, 81 mins.
      • Saturday (May 12) — Vegan Delights, Museum of Natural History, 9:30pm, $10. Various directors, Canada, “fairly recent”, 75 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 30-May 6

30 Apr
April 30, 2018

Lean on Pete is another very highly regarded gem from Andrew Haigh, director of Weekend and 45 Years—the latter being an extremely rare instance of a contemporary film going straight into the Criterion Collection for its home video release.  This latest is “a boy-and-his-horse movie that’s scraped free of everything false or sentimental about the genre,” writes Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice. Cineplex Park Lane hasn’t made it easy to see with its irregular screening times, so plan ahead.

Tonight (Monday) at Park Lane, the well-reviewed documentary Summer in the Forest presents everyday life in L’Arche, the community for people with intellectual disabilities outside of Paris, founded by now-octogenarian Jean Vanier, who is interviewed. “Just watching the residents leads you to confront and change many of your own preconceptions,” says Ken Jaworowski of the NY Times.

If you missed the commercial theatre run of Greta Gerwig’s masterfully delightful Lady Bird, know that you can see it for free Tuesday evening at the Central Library, with the added bonus of an intro from Tara Thorne.

This Sunday afternoon, Cineplex rolls out another Classic Films selection, All About Eve, which is widely acknowledged as featuring Bette Davis’ greatest role.

With the racist garbage that is Beirut still playing at Cineplex Bayers Lake, I’m pleased to say that alternative, actually Lebanese film entertainment kicks off this weekend with the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada coming to Halifax. Sunday’s opener at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium is Ziad Doueiri’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee The Insult, which had its only previous Halifax screening at Carbon Arc on March 2. This time around it will cost you $25 instead of $8, as it is being presented as a red carpet event.

As an admirer of the 2010 Algeria civil war story Of Gods and Men (Des hommes et des dieux), I’m pleased to see that the latest from director Xavier Beauvois, the First World War drama Les gardiennes (The Guardians), is being presented by Fundy Cinema this Sunday in Wolfville.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • In theatres, new & notable:
    • Halifax screenings this weekend:
      • Monday (Apr 30) — Summer in the Forest, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, regular pricing. Randall Wright, UK/France/Palestine, 2017, 108 minutes.
      • Tuesday (May 1) — Lady Bird, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Greta Gerwig, USA, 2017, 93 minutes, introduced by Tara Thorne.
      • Sunday (May 6) — All About Eve, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Cross, 12:55pm, $6.99. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950, 138 minutes.
        — The Insult, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium @ Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6:30pm, $25. Ziad Doueiri, France/Lebanon, 2017, 112 minutes.
    • Wolfville screenings this week:
      • Sunday (May 6) — Les gardiennes (The Guardians), Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Xavier Beauvois, France, 2017, 100 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 23-29

23 Apr
April 23, 2018

“The Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski is not well known here, but an appreciation of this often funny but also harrowing and heartbreaking film does not require expertise on its subject,” says Glenn Kenny of the NY Times about The Last Family, a film which debuted at Polish festivals in 2016, and has finally made its way to North America, collecting positive reviews in the process. You can catch it this Friday at Carbon Arc.

If you missed The Death of Stalin when it played Halifax, Fundy Cinema in Wolfville gives you a couple more chances with two screenings this Sunday.

You Were Never Really Here, the latest from Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) features a searing performance from Joaquin Phoenix, an amazing musical score by Jonny Greenwood, and some remarkable directorial choices by Ramsay—and is somehow much less than the sum of its parts. “Nagging in its grimness and, were it not for the rooted presence of Joaquin Phoenix, difficult to believe in,” says Anthony Lane in the New Yorker; “The gravity and force of Mr. Phoenix’s performance and Ms. Ramsay’s direction are impressive, but it’s hard not to feel that their talents have been misapplied, and that there is less to the movie than meets the eye,” says Tony Scott in the New York Times. Well, yeah.

In last week’s edition of the picks, I mentioned that Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs has set off quite a discussion of the continuing acceptance of Orientalism in Western media. I took in a screening on Wednesday, and I have to say that there was more, not less of this than I was expecting. An actual white saviour empowers the masses to rise up against an Oriental despot at the fulcrum of this plot, but the most shocking moments entail the usage of a mushroom cloud as a kind of glib narrative punctuation. I can’t tell whether ignorance or cynicism is more at fault here, but the former is inexcusable and the latter is pretty tiresome.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • In theatres, seen & notable:
    • Halifax screenings this weekend:
      • Friday (Apr 27) — The Last Family, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $8.75. Jan P. Matuszynski, Poland, 2016, 123 minutes.
    • Wolfville screenings this week:
      • Sunday (Apr 22) — The Death of Stalin, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Armando Iannucci, UK/France, 2017, 107 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 20-22 [weekend edition]

20 Apr
April 20, 2018

You Were Never Really Here, the latest from Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) features a searing performance from Joaquin Phoenix, an amazing musical score by Jonny Greenwood, and some remarkable directorial choices by Ramsay—and is somehow much less than the sum of its parts. “Nagging in its grimness and, were it not for the rooted presence of Joaquin Phoenix, difficult to believe in,” says Anthony Lane in the New Yorker; “The gravity and force of Mr. Phoenix’s performance and Ms. Ramsay’s direction are impressive, but it’s hard not to feel that their talents have been misapplied, and that there is less to the movie than meets the eye,” says Tony Scott in the New York Times. Well, yeah.

In Monday’s edition of the picks, I mentioned that Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs has set off quite a discussion of the continuing acceptance of Orientalism in Western media. I took in a screening on Wednesday, and I have to say that there was more, not less of this than I was expecting. An actual white saviour empowers the masses to rise up against an Oriental despot at the fulcrum of this plot, but the most shocking moments entail the usage of a mushroom cloud as a kind of glib narrative punctuation. I can’t tell whether ignorance or cynicism is more at fault here, but the former is inexcusable and the latter is pretty tiresome.

In the Fade was absolutely shredded by some critics at the festivals last fall, but there are numerous smart people who really like it, too, so… I dunno? Carbon Arc have picked it as tonight’s (Friday’s) screening, so that is at least a promising sign.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • In theatres, seen & notable:
    • Halifax screenings this weekend:
      • Friday (Apr 20) — In the Fade, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $8.75. Fatih Akin, Germany/France, 2017, 106 minutes.
    • Wolfville screenings this week:
      • Sunday (Apr 22) —The Shape of Water, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Guillermo del Toro, USA, 2017, 123 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 16-22

16 Apr
April 16, 2018

In the Fade was absolutely shredded by critics at the festivals last fall, but there are numerous smart people who really like it, too, so… I dunno? Carbon Arc have picked it as this Friday’s screening, so that is at least a promising sign.

Speaking of divided opinions, the new Wes Anderson stop-motion animated opus Isle of Dogs is here, and it has set off quite a discussion of the continuing acceptance of Orientalism in Western media. I haven’t had a chance to take it in yet, but when I do I will update this post with my own view.

I mentioned last week that I quite enjoyed A Quiet Place, but this dissenting view is very much worth a read.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • In theatres, new & notable:
    • Halifax screenings this week:
      • Friday (Apr 20) — In the Fade, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $8.75. Fatih Akin, Germany/France, 2017, 106 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 9-15

09 Apr
April 9, 2018

The two local-ish screenings coming up this week that have most sharply piqued my interest aren’t in Halifax—they’re in Wolfville. Commence logistical planning…

Ava is the “not so delicate” debut feature by Iranian-Canadian director Sadaf Foroughi that won best first feature film at the Canadian Screen Awards. It’s only had two Halifax screenings (that I can recall), both at festivals, but this Sunday it’s playing twice in Wolfville at Fundy Cinema. Before that, this Wednesday Fundy has a screening of Australian director Jennifer Peedom’s documentary Mountain, replete with “staggering shots” of the mountains that humans climb in search of the sublime, and narration by Willem Dafoe.

Carbon Arc this Friday also has a feature by a woman director, in this case Japan’s Atsuko Hirayanagi, with Oh Lucy!, “an against-the-odds charmer about a woman, a tragic wig and an improbable journey.”

I don’t always take note of short film showcases in this column, but you gotta sit up and take notice when Black Cop director Cory Bowles curates two hours’ worth of some of the best recent shorts by Black directors. The Dal Art Gallery is co-presenting this Thursday’s free  “Black on Both Sides” program with Halifax Public Libraries at the Central Library, where the films will be introduced by local actor, filmmaker, and activist Koumbie.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the latest horror-genre sensation, maybe the first since Get Out, to garner uniformly positive critical reviews as well as big box office. I’m referring of course to John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, which arrived on Cineplex screens this past Friday, and which impressed Jeanette Catsoulis of the NY Times: “You may go in jaded, but you’ll leave elated or I’ll eat my words.” Absolute top-drawer genre picture with nicely curated reference points—War of the Worlds, 28 Days Later, Aliens, The Descent—but very much does its own thing.

    • In theatres, seen & recommended:
    • In theatres, new & notable:
    • Halifax screenings this week:
      • Thursday (Apr 12) — Black on Both Sides, Central Library, 6pm, free. Various directors, 10 short films, total running time 121 minutes.
      • Friday (Apr 13) — Oh Lucy!, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $8.75. Atsuko Hirayanagi, USA/Japan, 2017, 95 minutes.
    • Wolfville screenings this week:
      • Wednesday (Apr 11) — Mountain, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Jennifer Peedom, Australia, 2017, 74 minutes.
      • Sunday (Apr 15) — Ava, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Sadaf Foroughi, Iran/Canada/Qatar, 2017, 102 minutes.

Halifax screening picks—April 2-8

02 Apr
April 2, 2018

Lynn Shelton built her career directing comedy films that embody some of the worst tendencies of American indies—”the kind of movie that prides itself on its dialogue—but then relies on a montage set to gentle strumming to begin the healing.” But then a successful swerve into television altered her approach and now she’s back with… an actually good film? “I’m a completely different filmmaker than I was,” she tells Anne Thompson of IndieWire. “I felt so at ease, and so confident. I didn’t have the same angst. I don’t want to diss my other films, but the process of making them was much more anxiety producing because I hadn’t put in the hours.” The fruit of her labours, Outside In, a post-prison rehabilitation drama, plays at Carbon Arc this Friday.

Halifax screening picks—March 26-April 1

26 Mar
March 26, 2018

The Death of Stalin seems like a timely comedy for the dark Trumpian timeline we currently find ourselves on, but the Village Voice’s Bilge Ebiri says it “would be a brilliant, harrowing film even without all that contemporary resonance.” I’m just delighted that it’s arrived in Halifax.

“In a fairer world, Portrait of Jason would have done what [Shirley Clarke’s] earlier works didn’t—it would have launched her, turned her into one of the most sought-out, most admired, and busiest directors of the time,” writes Richard Brody in The New Yorker.  “In director Shirley Clarke’s daring and ground-breaking documentary,” says the Dal Art Gallery’s note for this Tuesday’s screening, “would-be cabaret performer, hustler, and gender preference pioneer Jason delivers an electrifying monologue about what it is like to be black and gay in mid-Sixties USA.” This is the latest in the Gallery’s Women Filmmakers 1931-1969 series of free screenings, rescheduled from two weeks ago for nor’easter reasons.

Carbon Arc this Friday is showing the sexual-assault-themed The Light of the Moon, and they are doing it in partnership with the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, which seems to me like a really creative and responsible way to handle such a screening. “The film’s concerns are profoundly therapeutic, but it nimbly avoids every therapy-drama cliché,” says Sheri Linden of the LA Times.

Speaking of filmmakers and responsibility around themes of sexuality and violence—Steven Soderbergh’s new shot-on-iPhone suspenser Unsane is on a couple of Cineplex screens in Halifax, but I can’t bring myself to add it to my “recommended” list. From a strictly film-technique point of view, there’s much that’s praiseworthy, but too much of the content is awkwardly written or just out of place in 2018.  It has, however, inspired a very thoughtful take by the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis.