Archive for month: December, 2015

Velvet Goldmine; I’m Not There (Netflix Canada picks)

31 Dec
December 31, 2015

Velvet Goldmine – Todd Haynes, USA, 1998, 124 minutes

I’m Not There – Todd Haynes, USA, 2007, 135 minutes

One of two Todd Haynes features that I did not see in theatrical release, Velvet Goldmine is a winning discovery on Netflix, with more than enough glam rock indulgence and rock-opera-esque twists to compensate for whatever it lacks in character specificity. The original songs are stylistically true enough that when we hear the first actual song from the era—T Rex’s “Cosmic Dancer”, nearly an hour in—it blends seamlessly rather than distracting. In retrospect it’s not surprising that the film continues to generate a cult with successive generations of viewers. As the director points out in a recent interview, the fluidity of sexual identity continues to be a subversive, relevant topic.

The other Haynes film to be found on Netflix Canada, I’m Not There, was a happy rediscovery. Sure I remembered that it features six different Bob Dylans, notably Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, and Christian Bale… but I’d forgotten that we also get Ben “Q” Whishaw as poet-Dylan, and a remarkable performance by Heath Ledger, in another reminder of what a loss he represents, opposite a soulful Charlotte Gainsbourg. The meta-biopic approach holds up really well on repeated viewing, and only lags in the last ten minutes or so, which needs to find individual endpoints for six different Dylans. A persuasive and surprisingly coherent riot of surfaces, the film is carried along by an inspired soundtrack and a number of creative casting choices, including a funny yet weirdly appropriate David Cross as Allen Ginsberg.

 

Halifax film screening picks — Dec 28-Jan 3

28 Dec
December 28, 2015

Update Tuesday December 29—Just saw Joy and I am pleasantly surprised to report that it is a genuinely inventive, smart and thoughtfully crafted film. All the more surprising after the garbage that was American Hustle. Adding it forthwith to my list of recommendations below.

It seemed like it took forever to get here, but the best-reviewed film of 2015, Todd Haynes’ masterpiece Carol, is finally in Halifax theatres. Don’t miss it as I’m sure it won’t be around for very long—it is only playing at Cineplex Park Lane, at the moment.

Speaking of Park Lane, the late night screening there this weekend is James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens, the second film in a franchise that seems to roll on relentlessly despite having never bettered this instalment.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for this week:

  • Tuesday (Dec 28) — Carol, Cineplex Park Lane, 12:45pm,‎ ‎4pm,‎ ‎7:15pm &‎ ‎10:10pm, ‎regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). John Crowley, UK/USA, 2015, 118 minutes.
    Joy, Cineplex multiplexes everywhere, various times, ‎regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). David O. Russell, USA, 2015, 125 minutes.
    — Brooklyn, Cineplex Oxford, 1pm, 3:50pm, 6:45pm & 9:40pm, ‎regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). John Crowley, Ireland/UK/Canada, 2015, 112 minutes.
  • Friday (Jan 1) — Aliens, Cineplex Park Lane, 11:30pm, $6. James Cameron, USA, 1986, 137 minutes.
  • Saturday (Jan 2) — Aliens, Cineplex Park Lane, 11:30pm, $6. James Cameron, USA, 1986, 137 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — Dec 21-27

21 Dec
December 21, 2015

Seven years ago today, I went to a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life that was mistakenly framed by the projectionist for a wider aspect ratio than the film’s native Academy standard 4:3—resulting in lots of scenes where Jimmy Stewart’s forehead was cut off at the eyebrows. Yes, it’s a film that can be constantly reconsidered from various perspectives but that wasn’t a perspective I was looking for. Hoping for better things from today’s digital projection systems at the local Cineplex screenings this week. Merry Christmas!

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for this week:

  • Monday (Dec 21) — It’s a Wonderful Life, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Frank Capra, USA, 1946, 130 minutes.
  • Tuesday (Dec 22) — Brooklyn, Cineplex Oxford, 4pm, 6:45pm & 9:30pm, ‎regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). John Crowley, Ireland/UK/Canada, 2015, 112 minutes.
    — Spotlight, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 10pm, & Scotiabank Theatre (Bayers Lake), 10:05pm, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). Tom McCarthy, 2015, USA, 129 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Dec 23) — It’s a Wonderful Life, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Frank Capra, USA, 1946, 130 minutes.
  • Thursday (Dec 24) — It’s a Wonderful Life, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Frank Capra, USA, 1946, 130 minutes.
  • Friday (Dec 25) — It’s a Wonderful Life, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, 7:40pm & 10:45pm, $6. Frank Capra, USA, 1946, 130 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — Dec 14-20

14 Dec
December 14, 2015

Brooklyn is a really nice movie. There, that is about the faintest-sounding praise you can give, isn’t it? And yet… it also happens to be sparklingly intelligent, entertainingly witty, and, yes, tremendously moving. So maybe don’t hold its niceness against it. The Canadian-Irish co-production has a Nick Hornby screenplay adapted from a Colm Tóibín novel, and features excellent casting across the board, with an especially great starring turn by Saoirse Ronan. It’s playing at the Oxford, and also has a Tuesday night screening in Annapolis Royal.

As for me, I’ll be driving to Liverpool on Wednesday to see Taxi, the latest from Iranian dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi, because I’m too excited about it to wait for the March screening in Wolfville. You might be a cinephile if…

A couple of local screening series wrap up for 2015 this week. Tonight (Monday) at the Central Library, the Radical Imagination Project screens the documentary Cultures of Resistance (which you can also see in its entirety on Vimeo), and Wednesday at the Dalhousie Art Gallery the final instalment in the fall science fiction series is the rotoscoped Philip K. Dick novel adaptation by Richard Linklater, A Scanner Darkly.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for this week:

  • Monday (Dec 14) — Cultures of Resistance, O’Regan Auditorium @ Halifax Central Library, 6:30pm, free, presented by the Radical Imagination Project. Iara Lee, USA, 2010, 73 minutes.
  • Tuesday (Dec 15) — Brooklyn, Cineplex Oxford, 6:45pm & 9:30pm, ‎regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). John Crowley, Ireland/UK/Canada, 2015, 112 minutes.
    — Spotlight, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing & Scotiabank Theatre (Bayers Lake), various times, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). Tom McCarthy, 2015, USA, 129 minutes.
    — Room, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 1:10pm, 4pm, 6:45pm &‎ ‎9:35pm‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). Lenny Abrahamson, 2015, USA, 118 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Dec 16) — A Scanner Darkly, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Richard Linklater, USA, 2006, 100 minutes.

Here are my Annapolis Valley and South Shore screening picks for this week:

  • Tuesday (Dec 15) — Brooklyn, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal),  7:30pm, $8. John Crowley, Ireland/UK/Canada, 2015, 112 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Dec 16) — Taxi, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Jafar Panahi, 2015, Iran, 82 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — Dec 7-13

07 Dec
December 7, 2015

Now that I’ve had a chance to see Spotlight, I have to make it my top recommendation for this week. It is, as they say, a “solid procedural”—but if all procedurals were this excellent, that wouldn’t sound like faint praise. There isn’t a smidgen of cinematic innovation in this film, but there’s a perfection of pace, tone, and balanced perspective that I rarely see in this sort of film. And, simply, it has something important to impart.

The Dal Art Gallery film series returns from a two-week hiatus for the penultimate screening of the fall science fiction series—the Spielberg PKD adaptation Minority Report.

The Thrillema is back for a December screening, and a special one it is—with the Museum of Natural History in renovation mode, Menz & Mollyz Bar has stepped up to host a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas. You’re invited to message the Thrillema kids via Facebook to get on the VIP list if you want to hang out and party afterwards without paying the bar’s usual cover.

If that isn’t enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then maybe this weekend’s late-night Cineplex Park Lane screenings of Die Hard will make you want to say “Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho!”

The Fundy Film Society in Wolfville has the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra tour doc Around the World in 50 Concerts on Wednesday.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for this week:

  • Tuesday (Dec 8) — Spotlight, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing & Scotiabank Theatre (Bayers Lake), various times, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). Tom McCarthy, 2015, USA, 129 minutes.
    — Room, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55‎pm, ‎3:50pm,‎ ‎6:40pm &‎ ‎9:30pm‎‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continues through Thursday (at least). Lenny Abrahamson, 2015, USA, 118 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Dec 9) — Minority Report, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Steven Spielberg, USA, 2002, 144 minutes.
  • Thursday (Dec 10) — The Nightmare Before Christmas, Menz & Mollyz Bar, 2182 Gottingen Street, 8pm, free advance tickets at Strange Adventures. Henry Selick, USA, 1993, 76 minutes.
  • Friday (Dec 11) — Die Hard, Cineplex Park Lane, 11:30pm, $6. JohnMcTiernan, USA, 1988, 132 minutes.
  • Saturday (Dec 12) — Die Hard, Cineplex Park Lane, 11:30pm, $6. JohnMcTiernan, USA, 1988, 132 minutes.

Here are my Annapolis Valley screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Tuesday (Dec 8) — The Wrecking Crew, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal),  7:30pm, $8. Denny Tedesco, USA, 2008/2015, 101 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Dec 9) — Around the World in 50 Concerts, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Heddy Honigmann, Australia/Finland/Sweden/Netherlands, 2014, 95 minutes.
  • Sunday (Dec 13) — Grandma, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Paul Weitz, 2015, USA, 92 minutes.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Netflix Canada picks)

04 Dec
December 4, 2015

Only Lovers Left Alive – Jim Jarmusch, UK/Germany, 2013, 123 minutes

I kind of dragged my heels getting around to watching Only Lovers Left Alive. Honestly, apart from the two canonical films of the tale of Nosferatu—and, OK, at least one memorable one-liner in the first Blade—I can’t remember truly enjoying a vampire film. Add to that my natural suspicion of an art-house director going “genre” in a late career phase—and natural doubt that there is any point to watching vampires that aren’t scary—and I just couldn’t get past my own skepticism.  Well, the vampires are nothing to fear here, but you also need not fear that Jarmusch has fallen off—there’s enough languorous pacing, laconic wit, and fantastic music to please any Jarmusch devotee. There is also a pair of excellent performances by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, set against incredibly atmospheric night-time location shots, and a narrative spiked with pop-culture Easter eggs and surprise gear changes.