Halifax screening picks — December 11-17

11 Dec
December 11, 2017

Some four years ago, we began to see longform/in-depth articles about the “worst movie ever made,” The Room, so I suppose it was inevitable that we’d get the movie about the making of the movie, The Disaster Artist. Polling says that about half of the early audiences are familiar with the 2003 original, so it’s safe to say the strong cast is playing an equally important role in turning chicken shit into chicken salad.

Halifax screening picks — December 4-10

04 Dec
December 4, 2017

I don’t usually highlight short films in this column, but tomorrow’s free screening, presented by AFCOOP at the Central Library, is so topical this week that it’s hard to ignore. “Reflections on the Halifax Explosion in New Local Films” will feature Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience, the 45-minute documentary that won Best Canadian Deaf Film at the Toronto International Deaf Film Arts Festival (TIDFAF), as well as new shorts that AFCOOP commissioned from five local animators (Becka Barker, Carbon Arc’s Siloen Daley, Josh Owen, Jim McSwain and Sam Decoste) in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

In other free screenings this week, on Wednesday there’s a Thrillema screening of Donnie Darko and a Strange Adventures Dartmouth screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this weekend:
    • Monday (Dec 4) — Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Dec 5) — Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:15pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.
      Reflections on the Halifax Explosion in New Films, Central Library, 7pm, free. Various directors, screening + Q&A, 2 hours.
    • Wednesday (Dec 6) — Howl’s Moving Castle, Japanese w English s.t., Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2004, 119 minutes.
      The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alderney Landing Theatre, 7pm, free, doors at 6pm, presented by Strange Adventures Dartmouth, with work by local artists available to view. Henry Selick, USA, 1993, 76 minutes.
      Donnie Darko, The Thrillema @ Natural History Museum, 8pm, free advance tickets available. Richard Kelly, USA, 2001, 113 minutes.
      Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:35pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.
    • Thursday (Dec 7) — Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:15pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.

Halifax screening picks — November 27-December 3

27 Nov
November 27, 2017

“Yes, Thelma is a horror movie—a lovely, transfixing one—but don’t look to it for cheap scares,” says The Village Voice’s Bilge Ebiri, “the terror here cuts far deeper.” This weekend, Cineplex Park Lane has screenings of the latest from Norwegian director Joachim Trier. Fans of Carrie and The Exorcist take note, and maybe check out the rather striking trailer.

The Bluenose-Ability Film Festival, “Atlantic Canada’s first and only disability film festival,” opens this Thursday at the Central Library with a fully accessible screening of Best and Most Beautiful Things, a documentary which has been a divider of critics. Responses have ranged from a NY Times golden-checkmark review from Neil Genzlinger calling it “a remarkably forthright documentary” to RogerEbert.com’s Neil Allen “a film with a subject that it achingly wants to share, but has little idea how to best talk about it.”

Also on Thursday, the Dalhousie Art Gallery’s “Russian Revolutions” fall series of free screenings wraps up with Russian Ark, a film that is famously composed of one 96-minute tracking shot of the Hermitage Museum—”the longest uninterrupted Steadicam shot in cinema history.”

Cineplex is wrapping up its retrospective of Studio Ghibli films with Howl’s Moving Castle, showing in the English dub version this Sunday. The Cineplex Classic Films selection for December is Miracle on 34th Street, which frankly has less to offer cinephiles than any other “Christmas classic” I can think of (maybe get at me here or on Twitter if you can think of a film that is more Christmas-canonical yet less worthy). Bah humbug?

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this weekend:
    • Thursday (Nov 30) — Best and Most Beautiful Things, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Garrett Zevgetis, USA, 2016, 90 minutes.
      Russian Ark, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 7pm, free. Alexander Sokurov, Russia/Germany/Canada/Finland, 2002, 96 minutes.
    • Friday (Dec 1) — Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.
    • Saturday (Dec 2) — Miracle on 34th Street, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm & Park Lane, 1pm, $6.99. George Seaton, USA, 1947, 96 minutes.
      Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 9pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes.
    • Sunday (Dec 3) — Howl’s Moving Castle, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2004, 119 minutes.
      Thelma, Cineplex Park Lane, 79pm, regular pricing. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2017, 116 minutes

Halifax screening picks — November 24-26 [bonus weekend edition]

24 Nov
November 24, 2017

Lady Bird, rated by Metacritic as one of the five best-reviewed films of 2017, is both very familiar, and yet a breath of fresh air. “You might think you’ve seen this all before. You probably have, but never quite like this,” says A.O. Scott in the NY Times, which encapsulates well how I feel about this film. It’s my strongest recommendation this weekend, and it has now expanded from Park Lane to play at Bayers Lake as well.

The Square, on the other hand, is a film I’ve never quite made my mind up about. Winner of the Palme D’or at Cannes this year, it divided critics and still divides me. On the one hand, I feel that its analysis of the art world and social ethics has been rather over-praised. On the other hand, I found myself constantly entertained and amused by its many discrete episodes, sometimes riveted, so much so that I’m actually surprised to rediscover that it runs fully 142 minutes. If you’re interested, my advice is to move quickly as it’s sure to have a short run at Park Lane.

Carbon Arc wraps up its 2017 fall season this Friday with Sami Blood, the Swedish film that has won widespread acclaim for “examining with rare anthropological acuity the abuse of the indigenous Sami people of northernmost Europe.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this weekend:
    • Friday (Nov 24) — Sami Blood, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Amanda Kernell, Sweden/Denmark/Norway, 2016, 110 minutes.

Halifax screening picks — November 20-26

20 Nov
November 20, 2017

On Cineplex screens, Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck came and went in a week, but now Park Lane has Lady Bird, rated by Metacritic as one of the five best-reviewed films of 2017. “Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is a pitch-perfect coming-of-age comedy,” says Vox.

Carbon Arc wraps up its fall season this Friday with Sami Blood, the Swedish film that has won widespread acclaim for “examining with rare anthropological acuity the abuse of the indigenous Sami people of northernmost Europe.

Halifax screening picks — November 13-19

13 Nov
November 13, 2017

I’ll be honest—as a parent to an autistic person I kind of dread films that attempt to explore neurodiverse characters. It feels like there’s been a flood of such things lately, ranging from shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor, to movies that assign magical-autistic savant-stereotype qualities to a protagonist without fully copping to itBaby Driver leaps to mind. But Friday’s Carbon Arc screening Dina, which, yes, has received some criticism for not foregrounding some key context to the film, has seen some really positive notices not just from mainstream critics but also from at least one prominent autistic writer, so I am in.

Carbon Arc also has a Saturday screening of Brigsby Bear, “a sweet and sometimes delightful melancholic story of a lonely man saved by imagination and love, says the NY Times’ Manohla Dargis, who writes further, “That sounds like a bushel of cornball and might have devolved into pure ick if the director, Dave McCary, didn’t lead from the heart and wasn’t adept at navigating seemingly clashing tones.”

On Cineplex screens, Ai Weiwei’s brilliant Human Flow came and went in a week, but now Park Lane has Todd Haynes’ “vitally personal” Wonderstruck, his first since Carol.

The Dal Art Gallery on Tuesday afternoon continues its “Russian Revolutions” series of free screenings with the universally critically praised 2014 Andrey Zvyagintsev film Leviathan.

  • In theatres, new/notable:
  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Nov 13) — A Silent Voice, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:40pm, regular pricing. Naoko Yamada, Japan, 2016, 129 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Nov 14) — Leviathan, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 2:30pm, free. Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2014, 141 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Nov 15) — Casablanca, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing & Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942, 102 minutes.
    • Thursday (Nov 16) — A Silent Voice, Cineplex Park Lane, 4pm, regular pricing. Naoko Yamada, Japan, 2016, 129 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 17) — Dina, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles, USA, 2017, 101 minutes.
    • Saturday (Nov 18) — Brigsby Bear, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Dave McCary, USA, 2017, 97 minutes.

Halifax screening picks — November 6-12

06 Nov
November 6, 2017

Like magic, the calendar has flipped over to November, and suddenly there are good films in commercial cinemas again. In fact there are three films on Cineplex screens in Halifax right now that I can personally recommend—the last time that was true was late March.

  • The Florida Project is Sean Baker’s “brilliant, buoyant, and ultimately heart-wrenching” follow-up to the remarkable debut Tangerine—seemingly drawing a dash or two of inspiration from The 400 Blows, it takes the point of view of its youngest characters in its timely portrayal of impoverished residents of a Florida welfare hotel on the outskirts of Disney World.
  • Human Flow, by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s is “the most necessary and comprehensive documentary to date about our planet’s current refugee crisis,” making brilliant use of mobile phone and drone footage along with more conventional cameras. With due attention to people displaced by the Syrian civil war and by ISIS in neighbouring Iraq, it also has time for Palestinians in Gaza, Mexican migrants on the US border, and the massive refugee encampments of sub-Saharan Africa, spanning 23 countries while crediting 12 cinematographers. I have never seen anything quite like it before.
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer is Yorgos Lanthimos’ grittier, creepier and only slightly more reality-grounded follow-up to The Lobster, playing out at Bayers Lake instead of Park Lane, presumably because of the drawing power of Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. They are both excellent but the movie very much belongs to Barry Keoghan, whose thought on first read of this script was “This is weird. This is really really weird.

Carbon Arc this Friday has Columbus, the debut feature from a well known name, ok, pseudonym in cinephile circles—Kogonada, master of the supercut. “Few performances—and few films—glow as brightly with the gemlike fire of precocious genius.” Note that at time of writing, there were only twenty advance tickets left. And then I bought one of them.

It’s impossible to tell from the Dal event listing who exactly is organizing and presenting this Thursday’s discussion and screening of Unrest, the doc about ME/CFS, a.k.a. chronic fatigue syndrome, but the film has had such excellent critical notices that I’ve chosen to feature it as a pick.

Friday and Saturday, Cineplex Park Lane has the animated Japanese manga adaptation A Silent Voice, a story of bullying and tables turned that has been widely critically praised. Not everyone agrees on its merits, it must be said.

Hey, have you ever heard of this film Casablanca? I guess it’s pretty good and you can see a matinee on Sunday at a couple of Cineplex locations.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Thursday (Nov 9) — Unrest, Marion McCain Building (Scotiabank Auditorium), 6135 University Ave, 6:30pm, free. Jennifer Brea, USA, 2017, 98 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 10) — Columbus, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7—advance tickets sold out, some available at the door. Kogonada, USA, 2017, 104 minutes.
      A Silent Voice, Cineplex Park Lane, 9pm, regular pricing. Naoko Yamada, Japan, 2016, 129 minutes.
    • Saturday (Nov 11) — A Silent Voice, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, regular pricing. Naoko Yamada, Japan, 2016, 129 minutes.
    • Sunday (Nov 12) — Casablanca, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm & Park Lane, 1pm, $6.99. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942, 102 minutes.

the death of Pasolini: remembrance and reconstruction

02 Nov
November 2, 2017

42 years ago today, the great filmmaker and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini was killed under circumstances that perhaps will never be fully clarified, beaten and then run over by his own car. This will be the first time the anniversary of the tragic and violent event has passed since the death of the only person ever convicted for his murder.

Just three years ago, a comparatively minor but related injustice occurred when Abel Ferrara’s remarkable film Pasolini, in which Willem Dafoe gives a spot-on portrayal of Pasolini’s last days, showed at the major festivals but failed to gain distribution in North American theatres. This likely had something to do with Ferrara’s angry stand-off with his distributor over the final cut of Welcome to New York, the directorial cut of which is reported to have been an uncompromised take on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. In the UK, it took an intervention by the British Film Institute to get the Pasolini film into theatres, and a Blu-ray release from the Institute to get it into homes. No such white knight came to the film’s rescue in North America, so you need a European-region-compatible Blu-ray player if you want to see it (incidentally, the BFI disc is currently very reasonably priced at Amazon).

As I look back over my past blog posts about Pasolini films, it occurs to me that I never did blog my impressions of his last two features Arabian Nights and Salò—I guess it’s too late to do first impressions, but I hope before the end of the year to blog some second or third impressions of those films, if only to satisfy completist tendencies.

 

Halifax screening picks — October 30-November 5

30 Oct
October 30, 2017

Somehow this fall (mostly due to illness, really) I have contrived to miss The Florida Project at TIFF, at AIFF, and now on its opening weekend in Halifax, but I’ll be seeing it at my first opportunity—the film is one of the six best reviewed films of 2017 so far, and if you’ve beat me to it, I’m jealous.

The Thrillema is back with its annual Halloween double feature tonight, starting with the unimpeachable Night of the Living Dead, a film that partly owes its enduring influence to an accident of the most pedestrian kind, and proceeding to Halloween II, the film with half-baked plot twists that ruined the franchise, on some accounts. As usual there are no advance tickets left but there will be standby seats.

This Thursday the Dal Art Gallery has a free screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s most densely autobiographical film, The Mirror, and I don’t know if there’s a better example of a film being simultaneously impenetrable and absorbing. No matter how little you know about the director’s life, the film’s effect is hypnotic: “The smallest details (a stammering child, the wrinkle in the turned page of a book) stick like burrs, and we are left to wonder if any director has delved with more modesty and honesty into the heartbreak of the past.” Note that the screening has been moved from the Gallery, upstairs to the MacAloney Room (406) on the 4th floor of the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Carbon Arc has two screenings this weekend. Friday it’s Person to Person, the mostly tepidly reviewed ensemble comedy that nonetheless has some well-respected defenders, including David Ehrlich. Saturday brings the neo-slapstick comedy Lost in Paris, “a daft and deft farce about the Last Canadian Who Should Ever Get Herself into a Fix in the Most Gorgeous City on Earth.

  • In theatres, seen & recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Oct 30) — Frankenstein (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm, $6.99. James Whale, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      — Night of the Living Dead, The Thrillema @ Natural History Museum, 7:30pm, limited free standby seats. George A. Romero, USA, 1968, 96 minutes.
      Dracula (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, $6.99. Tod Browning, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      Halloween II, The Thrillema @ Natural History Museum, 9:30pm, limited free standby seats. Rick Rosenthal, USA, 1981, 92 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Oct 31) — Frankenstein (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm & 9:15pm, $6.99. James Whale, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      Dracula (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Tod Browning, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Nov 1) — Spirited Away [English dub], Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 3:45pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001, 125 minutes.
      Spirited Away [Japanese w/English subtitles], Cineplex Park Lane 7pm & 9:45pm, Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001, 125 minutes.
    • Thursday (Nov 2) — The Mirror, MacAloney Room (406), 4th floor, Dalhousie Arts Centre, 7pm, free. Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1975, 106 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 3) — Person to Person, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Dustin Guy Defa, USA, 2017, 84 minutes.
    • Saturday (Nov 4) — Lost in Paris, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Dominique Abel & Fiona Gordon, France/Belgium, 2017, 83 minutes.

Halifax screening picks — October 23-29

23 Oct
October 23, 2017

I spent most of last week music-festing and I’m playing hurried catch-up with the cinema scene today, but here are a couple of quick hits on screenings of note this week:

  •  In theatres, notable
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Oct 25) — My Fair Lady, Cineplex Park Lane, 7:30pm & Dartmouth Crossing, 7:00pm, $6.99. George Cukor, USA, 1964, 170 minutes.
    • Friday (Oct 27) — The Teacher, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Jan Hřebejk, Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2016, 102 minutes.
      Dracula (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Tod Browning, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      Frankenstein (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm & 9pm, $6.99. James Whale, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
    • Saturday (Oct 28) — Frankenstein (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. James Whale, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      Dracula (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 9pm, $6.99. Tod Browning, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
    • Sunday (Oct 29) — Spirited Away, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001, 125 minutes.
      Dracula (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Tod Browning, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.
      Frankenstein (1931), Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, $6.99. James Whale, USA, 1931, 90 minutes.