Archive for month: March, 2017

Halifax film screening picks — March 27-April 2

27 Mar
March 27, 2017

“When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”
— Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s adoptive daughter, in a February 2014 open letter

I’m not sure exactly how Woody Allen’s expensive image rehabilitation process is going, but it’s been at least no smoother than his directing career. Cafe Society was the first of his last three films to be favourably reviewed, but then six months ago came his tepidly reviewed Amazon Prime series—now it’s back to the vaults for a restored edition of 1979’s Manhattan, which hits Cineplex Park Lane this weekend. Part of me would really love to know the chain of decisions that landed on re-releasing a film that is so particularly emblematic of the intersection between the person and the persona. And indeed another part of me would really love to be able to get past what we now know and return to my original, innocent experience of this, yes, beautiful film. I’m not here to criticize those who choose to attend—I think watching the work on its own terms is both possible and ethically defensible. But it’s too soon for me, and maybe it always will be—what I’m feeling right now is a big ol’ nope.

Now in the category of big, big yes, how about the consistently brilliant Hirokazu Kore-eda, who has built up an incredible catalogue of work—even though, he says, his films are harder than ever to make.  His latest, After the Storm, has gathered his best reviews since 2009’s Still Walking, and Carbon Arc has booked it for this Friday, in just its second week of North American release.  The next night, there’s an encore showing of the popular cats-in-Istanbul doc Kedi—which at the time of writing on Sunday March 26 is already sold out of advance tickets (26 tickets available at the door starting at 6:30pm).

The Thrillema is back on Tuesday with the Brian De Palma nugget Phantom of the Paradise, the “musical rock opera horror comedy film” that crashed and burned everywhere on first release in 1974—everywhere, that is, except Winnipeg, where it was a massive hit. For the last couple of years, as the revival cult has spread, a crowd-funded documentary, Phantom of Winnipeg, has been in the works to tell the story of why Winnipeg so loved this eccentric film.

The Dal Art Gallery First Features series continues this Wednesday with I Shot Andy Warhol, the 1996 debut of Canadian director Mary Harron, featuring Lili Taylor in her signature role as Valerie Solanas—and of course Yo La Tengo briefly playing their favourite band, The Velvet Underground.

Novel Tech Ethics is back this evening with another screening-and-panel event on mental health issues. Tonight’s film is Unbroken Glass, the personal documentary by Dinesh Das Sabu that has been called “a fascinating look into how we are caught between influences of our past and present.” The expert-led panel discussion will touch on schizophrenia, family resilience & coping, living as a cultural minority in America, early parental death, and suicide.

The highlight of out-of-town screenings this week is the 2016 Palme D’Or winning I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach, which plays Fundy Cinema in Wolfville Wednesday evening. As well, Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, which hasn’t played in Nova Scotia since its October Cineplex engagements, is back for a couple of Fundy screenings this Sunday.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Monday (Mar 27) — Unbroken Glass, QEII Royal Bank Theatre – Halifax Infirmary (1796 Summer entrance), 7pm, free. Dinesh Das Sabu, USA, 2016, 57 minutes, followed by panel discussion.
    • Tuesday (Mar 28) — Phantom of the Paradise, The Thrillema @ Natural History Museum, 8pm, free tickets in advance and at the door. Brian De Palma, USA, 1974, 91 minutes.
      — Saturday Night Fever, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:25pm, $9.95. John Badham, USA, 1977, 118 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Mar 29) — I Shot Andy Warhol, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Mary Harron, UK/USA, 1996, 103 minutes.
    • Friday (Mar 31) — After the Storm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan, 2016, 117 minutes.
    • Saturday (Apr 1) — Kedi, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm & 9pm, $7. Ceyda Torun, Turkey/USA, 2016, 80 minutes.
  • South Shore and Annapolis Valley screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Mar 28) — Lion, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $10. Garth Davis, Australia/UK/USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Mar 29) — I, Daniel Blake, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Ken Loach, UK/France/Belgium, 2016, 100 minutes.
    • Friday (Mar 31) — Hidden Figures, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7pm, $10.
    • Saturday (Apr 1) — Paterson, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Jim Jarmusch, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
      — Hidden Figures, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7pm, $10.
    • Sunday (Apr 2) — Paterson, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Jim Jarmusch, USA, 2016, 118 minutes.
      — Queen of Katwe, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Mira Nair, USA, 2016, 124 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — March 20-26

20 Mar
March 20, 2017

Bruce McDonald’s summer-of-’76 Cape Breton road movie Weirdos, “a tender but never sappy memory piece” that premiered at TIFF (and locally at AFF) last September, has arrived at Cineplex Park Lane, hot on the heels of Daniel MacIvor picking up the Best Original Screenplay trophy at the Canadian Screen Awards last Sunday. Tara Thorne in last week’s issue of The Coast says “Weirdos was the first film made under the newly structured provincial tax credit system, shot in beautiful black and white by Becky Parsons all around Nova Scotia in the autumn of 2014″—a bit of a strange way to frame the film’s production story, to be fair. In fact, as producer Mike MacMillan related at AFF in Halifax, the film was originally set to be filmed in the summer, when our provincial premier, in foolishly uninformed fashion, based on a discredited economic theory, and contradicting his own explicit promise, gutted the province’s film tax credit system. When the funding basis for the film disappeared overnight, the shooting schedule had to be delayed until fall, which in turn prompted the shift to black and white, in order to conceal any visible signs of fall foliage. But this indeed is a lovely look for the film, and the CSA-nominated production design by Matt Likely is downright heroic in my book—absolutely nails the details of 1970s Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, Cineplex Park Lane has a 40th anniversary screening of Gene Siskel’s favourite film, Saturday Night Fever, the definitive John Travolta vehicle that indeed has a production history worth reading.

The Dal Art Gallery First Features series continues this Wednesday with The Seventh Continent, the 1989 debut of Michael Haneke to which “all the icy gloom of Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher, and Caché can be traced back.

The last of three “Fashion Forward” film screenings Thursday at Art Bar +Projects is The Fifth Element, the apeshit crazy 1997 sci-fi film that “allowed costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier unleash his imagination in a series of hyper ostentatious garments that took inspiration from the designer’s haute couture collections.”

Friday, Carbon Arc returns from March Break hiatus with the eco-doc Call of the Forest: the Forgotten Wisdom of Trees.

If you missed Jackie during its brief Halifax run, Fundy Cinema in Wolfville gives you a second chance with a couple of screenings this Sunday.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Mar 21) — Saturday Night Fever, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $9.95. John Badham, USA, 1977, 118 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Mar 22) — The Seventh Continent, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Michael Haneke, Austria/France/Germany, 1989, 108 minutes.
    • Thursday (Mar 23) — The Fifth Element, Art Bar +Projects (1873 Granville St), 6:30pm, free. Luc Besson, France, 1997, 126 minutes.
    • Friday (Mar 24) — Call of the Forest: the Forgotten Wisdom of Trees, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7. Jeffrey McKay, Canada/Germany/Ireland/Japan/USA, 2016, 82 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Mar 21) — Moonlight, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $10. Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016, 110 minutes.
    • Sunday (Mar 26) — Jackie, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Pablo Larraín, USA/Chile/France, 2016, 99 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — March 13-19

13 Mar
March 13, 2017

Well, the award-season tide of brilliant films arriving in our town has subsided, but many of the best are still here in theatres, including, in a pleasant surprise, Paterson and I Am Not Your Negro still at Cineplex Park Lane. As well, Moonlight is still at the Oxford, so maybe all of that eases the pain of Carbon Arc‘s March Break hiatus.

This Thursday at Art Bar +Projects there’s a free screening of Blade Runner, the evergreen (if overcooked and blemished by elements of noir-imported misogyny) sci-fi feature that will be followed by this summer by the long-belated sequel Blade Runner 2049. 2007’s so-called “Final Cut” of the 1982 release came back to UK theatres a couple of summers ago, which occasioned this beautiful custom trailer by the British Film Institute. This is the second of three “Fashion Forward” film screenings on the theme of predicting the future of fashion, in anticipation of Dialect, the NSCAD Fashion Show, on April 17.

The Dal Art Gallery First Features series continues this Wednesday with My American Cousin, the 1985 coming-of-age drama by Sandy Wilson that is “definitely deserving of its status as a Canadian classic.”

Halifax film screening picks — March 6-12

06 Mar
March 6, 2017

You don’t often see two films as excellent as Paterson and I Am Not Your Negro playing Cineplex Park Lane at the same time, but that is the case right now, at least until Thursday. Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, “a movie that’s filled with poetry and that is a poem in itself,” is perhaps my favourite film of 2016, built from the poetic foundations of Ron Padgett and William Carlos Williams, while Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is one of the most original documentaries in years, featuring a “startlingly muted and emotional performance from the oft-boisterous” Samuel L. Jackson, and constructed entirely from the words of the great writer James Baldwin, in a way that “captures all that’s galvanizing and forceful about Baldwin’s words and demeanor.”

Moonlight has moved in at the Oxford, and it makes me happy to think that many more people will see it as a result of its Best Picture win at the Oscars, making it the first film by a black director, the first LGBT film, and the lowest-budget film (in adjusted dollars) ever to win. But perhaps its win should not have been so surprising, as this carefully-thought-out pre-awards prediction piece demonstrates.

Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking “social thriller” Get Out seems to be accumulating new thought pieces by the day. I particularly enjoyed one from Richard Brody of The New Yorker, who says that “Peele recaptures and reanimates the spirit of the films of Luis Buñuel.”

Fire up the orgasmatron—this Thursday at Art Bar +Projects, NSCAD University and the Atlantic Film Festival are presenting Barbarella, the 1968 camp-psychedelic sci-fi classic that presents Jane Fonda (and cast) in a series of trickily-executed outfits by Paco Rabanne that have left an indelible mark on fashion, and a title character that when viewed “from a contemporary angle, where female characters are still often expected to conform to male-dictated ideals of sexual desire… starts to look almost progressive.” This is the first of three free film screenings on the theme of predicting the future of fashion, in anticipation of Dialect, the NSCAD Fashion Show, on April 17.

While Carbon Arc is on March Break hiatus for a couple of weeks, the Dal Art Gallery First Features series continues this Wednesday with The Element of Crime. This 1984 debut from Lars Von Trier is a highly stylized film that bears little resemblance to his later minimalism that began with the Dogme 95 movement—it suggests that he could have been the next Terry Gilliam.

This Sunday in Wolfville, Fundy Cinema has a couple of screenings of Julieta, the film that has had many critics talking about Pedro Almodóvar’s return to form, including The Guardian’s Mark Kermode.

Halifax film screening picks weekend extra — March 3-5

03 Mar
March 3, 2017

I’ve never posted a weekend extra edition of my weekly picks before, but in the two years I’ve been doing this there’s never been this many great films playing Halifax at once. And though The Salesman and Toni Erdmann have already come and gone, Paterson and I Am Not Your Negro have arrived, and (drum roll! the envelope please! no not that envelope…) Moonlight is back to a full slate of screenings at the Oxford.

If Moonlight was, by far, my favourite among this year’s Oscars Best Picture noms, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is for sure my favourite 2016 film that wasn’t nominated (though it has accumulated various other awards for the film, the screenplay, and Adam Driver’s acting). Easily one of Jarmusch’s greatest films, it pulls off one of the hardest film challenges I can think of, which is to make the act of writing poetry, and poetry itself, cinematic. “Paterson manages to convey the inner workings of the creative process like few films before it,” says Tirdad Derakhshani. I really can’t put it better than that. Paterson starts today at Cineplex Park Lane.

(Just a reminder for poetry lovers that Fundy Cinema in Wolfville this Sunday has A Quiet Passion, the new Terence Davies directed biopic about Emily Dickinson as portrayed by Cynthia Nixon.)

You don’t often see documentaries playing at Park Lane but there aren’t many documentaries that arrive with the social significance and ecstatic reviews of the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro, which opens there today—”bursts with fierce urgency, not just for the long-unresolved history it seeks to confront, but also in its attempt to understand what is happening here, right now.”

Speaking of Oscar nominations, tonight at 7pm Carbon Arc has the Best Foreign Language Film nominee from Sweden, the “morbidly funny and moving” A Man Called Ove, a crowd-pleaser that pleased me as well at its Atlantic Film Festival screening. That’s followed at 9:30pm by another notable from September’s AFF, Werewolf, the made-in-Cape-Breton substance-abuse drama that is returning for just its second Halifax screening, following four sold-out screenings at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film’s director, Cape Breton native “the fearless Ashley McKenzie,” will be present for a Q&A.

I saw Jordan Peele’s brilliant “social thriller” Get Out on Sunday and I’m still buzzing from it. If you’ve already seen it, check out his guest appearance on this week’s NY Times’ Still Processing podcast with Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham for a very entertaining and revealing conversation.