Archive for month: November, 2016

Halifax film screening picks — November 28-December 4

28 Nov
November 28, 2016

Animation with Love, the Halifax animated film festival, is back this weekend for its sixth and biggest-yet instalment. Neatly divided into a fan day, an industry day, and a family day this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it includes multiple shorts showcases (one local, one international) and three feature screenings: Miss Hokusai from Japan, Psychonauts, the Forgotten Children from Spain, and the very new (TIFF 2016 pick yet to be widely released) American film My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea, with a star-studded vocal cast that features the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Maya Rudolph, and Susan Sarandon.

The other festival happening this weekend is BAFF, the Bluenose-Ability Film Festival, the only Atlantic film festival that showcases disability culture. Opening night on Thursday features Invitation to Dance, a 2014 documentary that “invites us into a world where the freeing, sensuous power of dance is available to many different kinds of bodies.”

The Thrillema is back on Tuesday for a monthly hit of cult goodness with (hard as it is for me to choose) perhaps the most essential David Cronenberg film, 1983’s Videodrome.

The Central Library continues its Featured Director screenings of Martin Scorsese films with a Tuesday screening of Scorsese’s 25-years-later sequel to The HustlerThe Color of Money (1986), introduced by the always engaging local film critic Carsten Knox.

Tonight at the QEII Royal Bank Theatre at the Halifax Infirmary, Novel Tech Ethics is back with another excellent panel for a film-and-discussion screening of the sci-fi gem Gattaca.

Cineplex Park Lane continues its John Hughes revival series with a Friday screening (and probably more to be added) of the venerable John Candy vehicle Uncle Buck.

Fundy Cinema has two excellent selections this week, the Guatemalan feature Ixcanul which played Carbon Arc last month, and L’avenir (Things to Come), the Isabelle Huppert vehicle which was a festival highlight at TIFF and AFF in September.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, new and widely acclaimed:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (Nov 28) — Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:50pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1987, 92 minutes.
      Gattaca, QEII Royal Bank Theatre-Halifax Infirmary, 7pm, free, panel discussion to follow. Andrew Niccol, USA, 1997, 106 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Nov 29) — The Color of Money, Central Library, 6:30pm, free, introduced by Carsten Knox. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1986, 120 minutes.
      Videodrome, The Thrillema @ Museum of Natural History, 8pm, free advance tickets. David Cronenberg, Canada, 1983, 89 minutes.
      — Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:10pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1987, 92 minutes.
    • Thursday (Dec 1) — Invitation to Dance, Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen), 7pm, free. Simi Linton & Christian von Tippelskirch, USA, 2014, 86 minutes.
    • Friday (Dec 2) — Miss Hokusai, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $10. Keiichi Hara, Japan, 2015, 90 minutes.
      — Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 9pm, $10. Pedro Rivero & Alberto Vázquez, Spain, 2015, 76 minutes.
      Uncle Buck, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1989, 99 minutes.
    • Sunday (Dec 4) — My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 3pm, $10. Dash Shaw, USA, 2016, 75 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Nov 30) — Ixcanul, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala/France, 2015, 100 minutes.
    • Sunday (Dec 4) — Things to Come (L’Avenir), Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany, 2016, 100 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — November 21-27

21 Nov
November 21, 2016

Following successful screenings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals in September, The War Show, an intimate portrait of the Syrian civil war that “succeeds at doing what many docs attempt: infusing humanity into the headlines” will be shown in Halifax this Tuesday at King’s College. The screening is free but donations for Syrian relief are encouraged, and it will be followed by an audience Q&A with film co-writer Spencer Osberg and Syrian journalist Raja Salim.

Speaking of acclaimed documentaries, this Friday Carbon Arc will show the “grim, unfussy and deeply movingDreamcatcher, one of the best-reviewed films of last year,

The Central Library continues its Featured Director screenings of Martin Scorsese films with a Tuesday screening of the cinematic milestone Taxi Driver, introduced by local blogger and NSCC Screen Arts faculty member Chris Campbell.

The Dal Art Gallery Wednesday free Shakespeare film screening series continues this week with Joss Whedon’s 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, which places the play “at a Hollywood house party, in black and white, with modern dress but Shakespearean dialogue.”

Cineplex Park Lane continues its John Hughes series, marking American Thanksgiving with a Thursday screening of Planes, Trains and Automobiles—expect additional screenings to be added.

On Wednesday in Liverpool, the Astor Theatre has two screenings of the Cold War comedic thriller Operation Avalanche, a “goofily entertaining satire of youthful ambition co-opted as a tool of government intrigue.” Tuesday’s King’s Theatre screening in Annapolis Royal is Captain Fantastic, while on Sunday in Wolfville, Fundy Cinema has the wonderful New-Zealand-set romp Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, new and widely acclaimed:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (Nov 21) — The Sting, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.99. George Roy Hill, USA, 1973, 129 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Nov 22) — Pretty in Pink, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:50pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1983, 93 minutes.
      Taxi Driver, Central Library, 5:30pm, free, introduced by Chris Campbell. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1976, 113 minutes.
      The War Show, Alumni Hall @ U King’s College, 7pm, free/donations encouraged. Andreas Dalsgaard & Obaidah Zytoon, Denmark/Germany/Syria, 2016, 100 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Nov 23) — The Sting, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm; Park Lane 7:20pm, $6.99. George Roy Hill, USA, 1973, 129 minutes.
      — Much Ado About Nothing, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Joss Whedon, USA, 2012, 108 minutes.
    • Thursday (Nov 24) — Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1987, 92 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 25) — Dreamcatcher, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Kim Longinotto, UK/USA, 2015, 104 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (Nov 22) — Captain Fantastic, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $8. Matt Ross, USA, 2016, 119 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Nov 23) — Operation Avalanche, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 1:30pm & 7pm, $8. Matt Johnson, Canada/US, 2016, 94 minutes.
    • Sunday (Nov 27) — Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Taika Waititi, New Zealand, 2016, 101 minutes.

Guillermo del Toro’s “Buñuel in Mexico” TIFF Master Classes & the state of Buñuel on film & disc

16 Nov
November 16, 2016

Last week’s “Luis Buñuel in Mexico” three-night master class with Guillermo del Toro at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto was a fantastic event. Before I get to some screening takeaways, I want to say up front that I really like how TIFF is delivering on curation & access with an event like this. $62.25 members/$75 general public for six films over three evenings—with GdT himself dishing insight—was value for money (and indeed sold out very quickly).  TIFF’s director of adult learning Theresa Scandiffio did a great job of keeping things on time and on point, and no doubt did a lot of work behind the scenes to make this event happen.

When del Toro first started dropping hints about this event, I was hoping it would be part of a broader retrospective of Buñuel’s work, similar to what London’s ICA did a year ago. As it turned out, three consecutive nights as one-off event worked out really well for me, as I was able to go to Toronto for a week and take in the whole thing.

Too often—and this is one of the first points that del Toro touched on—Buñuel’s Mexican output has been dismissed as inferior to his later, better-known European films like That Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Belle de Jour. Del Toro’s six-pack of mostly-underappreciated Buñuel works included four films recognized to varying degrees as artistic masterpieces (Él, Nazarín, Viridiana, Los Olvidados), as well as two (deceptively) straightforward melodramas (Susana, El Bruto), and he came prepared to defend all of them. In the 1950s, he pointed out, Mexico was the Hollywood of the Spanish-speaking world, and films made there were dominating screens in Spain and elsewhere. If drama is a torture of despair, melodrama is a torture of hope, del Toro observed, and Susana and El Bruto, while respecting formula (something del Toro defends as a form of cinematic discipline), stir in plenty of subtle Buñuelian elements, with frankly sexual moments, playfully—and often darkly—Freudian imagery, and of course the inevitable dash of foot fetishism. I came away convinced that these two films are, in the words of Philip French, “significant bricks in a major oeuvre.”

Buñuel and Hitchcock are del Toro’s two favourite filmmakers, he told us, and Él, Buñuel’s most Hitchcockian film, was one of the two biggest discoveries for me personally, of the six films. Much like Rossellini’s La Paura, it’s a case of a master filmmaker deeply absorbing the techniques of Hitchcock’s British and early American films, and then taking that narrative to a darker place than Hitchcock was ever prepared to go. But, fascinatingly, it is also immediately clear that it was enormously influential in turn on Vertigo—leaving me with the feeling much like suddenly having heard for the first time the opposite side of a phone conversation.

Nazarín was the other film that fascinated me the most. The most Pasolini-esque of Buñuel’s films (yet preceding all of Pasolini’s films) with its ironic Christ-figure at the centre of the narrative, it was the most allegorical and perhaps the most difficult of the films on offer. Its narrative direction is not always clear but its individual episodes are fascinating; I very much look forward to a re-watch, perhaps paired with his later, similar film Simon of the Desert.

The other two films were more familiar to me. I remembered the gripping social-realist aspects of the award-winning Los Olvidados—I’d forgotten about the brilliant nightmare sequence, which I doubt I will forget again. Viridiana is by far the most familiar and most cherished of these films for me, but of course it’s been available as a decent Criterion-released DVD for ten years now.

And that brings me to one of the major issues that del Toro raised on the second night of the master classes—the poor quality of some of the prints. I was glad for the opportunity to see what are likely the best-available versions of these films, but the quality of the prints and transfers was, well, a mixed bag. Del Toro says that he would be willing to put some effort behind getting them properly restored and released as high-quality Blu-rays—if I can help out some way, Señor del Toro, and/or TIFF friends, sign me up! I would love to see that happen for all six, but especially for Él and Nazarín.  In the meantime, here are your best options for home viewing. None of them are available in an English-friendly Blu-ray release.

 

Halifax film screening picks — November 14-20

14 Nov
November 14, 2016

Moonlight comes with my highest recommendation of 2016, but don’t take my word for it—the reviews for this film are easily the best for any film of the last two years (as measured by Metacritic). A love story as deep and heartrending as any you can name (Casablanca and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg leap to mind as touchstones), it is also so much more—a pontification-free engagement with social realities of African Americans.

The acquisition of the Video Difference film collection by the Halifax Public Libraries and Dalhousie University this year was a wonderful outcome from a sad story, and now the Libraries will launch the legacy collection this week with a pair of well-chosen screenings. Friday evening at the Central Library it’s Steven Soderbergh’s under-appreciated (though Palme-d’Or-nominated) King of the Hill, and Saturday afternoon at the Woodlawn Library you can catch the Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps.

The Central Library also hosts a Monday screening of the landmark 2002 Alanis Obomsawin documentary Is the Crown at War with Us?, presented by the Radical Imagination Project, and a Tuesday screening of Martin Scorsese’s 1985 black comedy After Hours, introduced by local blogger and NSCC Screen Arts faculty member Chris Campbell.

Speaking of Martin Scorsese, Cineplex Park Lane has Monday and Tuesday screenings of his milestone final-concert film of The Band, The Last Waltz. Park Lane also continues its John Hughes series with a Friday screening of Pretty in Pink—expect additional screenings of that one to be added.

There have a been a number of cinematic Shakespeare adaptations that re-set his plays in a modern setting, but for my money no film has done this more effectively than the Ralph Fiennes directed Coriolanus. You can see it this week as part of the Dal Art Gallery’s Wednesday free Shakespeare film screening series.

Amongst its various selections each year, the Atlantic Jewish Film Festival usually includes at least one film that has met with wider critical acclaim outside of the Jewish film festival circuit, and this year is no exception. The notable pick this year is The Kind Words, a film that met with generally favourable reviews at various 2015 festivals including TIFF—it screens Sunday afternoon at the Museum of Natural History.

Also at the Museum this Friday, Carbon Arc has that annual staple/diversion, another showcase of TV commercials from the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity, a.k.a. the “Cannes Ads.”

On Wednesday in Wolfville, Fundy Cinema has the acclaimed documentary Fire at Sea, which recently played Carbon Arc, and on Sunday, 2015 film festival favourite Our Little Sister, from the unimpeachable Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, new and widely acclaimed:
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Monday (Nov 14) — Is the Crown at War with Us?, Central Library, 6:30pm, free. Alanis Obomsawin, Canada, 2002, 96 minutes.
      The Last Waltz, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1978, 117 minutes.
    • Tuesday (Nov 15) — The Breakfast Club, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1985, 97 minutes.
      After Hours, Central Library, 5:30pm, free, introduced by Chris Campbell. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1985, 97 minutes.
      — The Last Waltz, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, $6.99. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1978, 117 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Nov 16) — Coriolanus, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Ralph Fiennes, UK, 2011, 123 minutes.
    • Thursday (Nov 17) — The Last Waltz, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:45pm, $6.99. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1978, 117 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 18) — Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Various directors and countries, 2016, 113 minutes.
      King of the Hill, Central Library, 8pm, free (tickets available at door from 7pm). Steven Soderbergh, USA, 1993, 103 minutes.
      Pretty in Pink, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:50pm & 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1983, 93 minutes.
    • Saturday (Nov 19) — The 39 Steps, Woodlawn Library, 2pm, free (tickets available at door from 1pm). Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1935, 86 minutes.
    • Sunday (Nov 20) — The Kind Words, Museum of Natural History, 2:15pm, adults $14, students/60+ $12.75. Shemi Zarhin, Israel, 2015, 118 minutes.
      — Pretty in Pink, Cineplex Park Lane, 3:50pm & 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1983, 93 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
    • Wednesday (Nov 16) — Fire at Sea, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Gianfranco Rosì, Italy, 2016, 108 minutes.
    • Sunday (Nov 20) — Our Little Sister, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan, 2015, 126 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — November 7-13

07 Nov
November 7, 2016

This Friday, Carbon Arc has Cameraperson, one of the best-reviewed films of this year, “the kind of film that makes you see other movies through fresh eyes.” On Saturday, the documentary co-presentation with Alliance Francaise is Demain (Tomorrow), which won Best Documentary at the 2016 César Awards.

I count myself as a fan of Julie Taymor’s adaptation of The Tempest, which is no longer on Netflix Canada, but is playing this Wednesday as part of the Dal Art Gallery’s series of free screenings of Shakespeare adaptations.

Cineplex Park Lane this Friday has another John Hughes classic—this week it’s The Breakfast Club. Festival favourite American Honey, from Andrea Arnold, has arrived at the Oxford.

  • In theatres, critics’ top 3:
    1. American Honey, Andrea Arnold, UK/USA, 2016, 163 minutes [79] — Halifax showtimes
    2. Sully, Clint Eastwood, USA, 2016, 96 minutes [74] — Halifax showtimes
    3. Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson, USA, 2016, 115 minutes [72] — Halifax showtimes
  • Halifax area screening picks for this week:
    • Tuesday (Nov 8) — Sixteen Candles, Cineplex Park Lane, 4pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1984, 93 minutes.
      — Goodfellas, Central Library, 5:30pm, free, introduction by Zack Miller, Carbon Arc Cinema programmer. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1990, 145 minutes
    • Wednesday (Nov 9) — The Tempest (2010), Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Julie Taymor, USA, 2010, 110 minutes.
    • Friday (Nov 11) — Cameraperson, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016, 102 minutes.
      The Breakfast Club, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, $6.99. John Hughes, USA, 1985, 97 minutes.
    • Saturday (Nov 12) — Demain, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 8pm, $7. Cyril Dion & Mélanie Laurent, France, 2015, 118 minutes.