Author Archive for: c0v3yf17m

Footnote (Netflix Canada picks)

03 Apr
April 3, 2015

Joseph Cedar, Israel, 2011, 107 minutes

Some films attempt to find the epic in the marginal but few succeed better, and certainly none more literally, than this gem of a drama set in the hothouse of academia. A father-son pair of Talmudic scholars at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem share a painfully difficult relationship that threatens to melt down completely when one of them is set to receive the Israel Prize, the nation’s highest honour. A misunderstanding leads to a confrontation with the prize committee that might be the most intense verbal showdown on film since Bruce McGill’s courtroom explosion in The Insider. The movie steadfastly refuses to take sides, deconstructing both male egos from various points of view including those of their wives. A brilliantly constructed script—that deservedly won top prize at Cannes—is matched by top-notch performances by Lior Ashkenazi and stage comedian Shlomo Bar Aba.

Halifax film screening picks — March 30-April 5

30 Mar
March 30, 2015

If there is a horror film that has been more raved about in the past few months than It Follows, I don’t know what it is (ok maybe The Babadook). After successful screenings at TIFF and here at AFF this past September, the sophomore feature from David Robert Mitchell has finally made it back here through commercial distribution channels, and is playing this week at Scotiabank Cinema in Bayers Lake.

Tuesday, The Thrillema pays tribute to the recently passed, widely mourned Leonard Nimoy with a throwback screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, for my money still one of the most entertaining submarine-warfare dramas ever made, notwithstanding the fact that it is set in space, 270 years from now. Tickets are free but all taken as of Monday at noon so check the Facebook event listing or Twitter for availability.

The Dal Art Gallery series on Wednesday Max Ophüls’ The Reckless Moment—”A terrific noir melodrama of blackmail and self-sacrifice, with top-notch performances by Joan Bennett and James Mason,” says The Independent’s Anthony Quinn.

Carbon Arc screens the highly regarded Russian submission for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Leviathan, this Friday. Not to be confused with the equally highly regarded recent commercial fishing documentary of the same name, this fictional drama is “a modern reworking of the Book of Job… set on a peninsula by the Barents Sea and tells the story of a man who struggles against a corrupt mayor who wants his piece of land.”

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Mar 30) — It Follows, Scotiabank Cinema Bayers Lake, 1pm,‎ ‎3:35pm,‎ ‎6:25pm,‎ ‎& 9:05pm‎, regular pricing, continuing through the week but screening times change on Friday. David Robert Mitchell, USA, 2013, 97 minutes.
  • Tuesday (Mar 31) — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 8pm, The Thrillema @ the Museum of Natural History, advance tickets free, info here. Nicholas Meyer, USA, 1982, 112 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Apr 1) — The Reckless Moment, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Max Ophüls, USA, 1949, 82 minutes.
    The Sound of Music, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Robert Wise, USA, 174 minutes.
  • Thursday (Apr 2) — ’71, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:10pm,‎ ‎6:50pm, &‎ ‎9:45‎‎pm, regular pricing, final day. Yann Demange, UK, 2014, 99 minutes.
  • Friday (Apr 3) — Leviathan, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7. Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2014, 142 minutes.

Holy Motors (Netflix Canada picks)

27 Mar
March 27, 2015

Leos Carax, France, 2012, 116 minutes

Starting another new blog feature this week—Netflix Canada picks. It’s my intention each weekend to pick a film that I consider a hidden Netflix gem, and give a quick recommendation. I’ve heard from a number of friends that they find it frustrating to “find something good” on Netflix, especially in Canada—but my own watch list is a rather backed-up queue of about 100 films, so I intend to share some of those picks here.

Most reviews of Holy Motors make it sound very complex, and it is certainly layered and unpredictable—and all the more easily enjoyed for it. Part sci fi, part anthology film, part road movie, and a fantastic instance of the “lots of crazy stuff happens in one magic night” type, it is a clever a genre mashup as you could want. Its Decameron-esque structure runs from sexually weird and ribald episodes to sentimental and tragic romance—the latter thanks to a brilliant cameo performance, complete with show-stopping musical number, by Kylie Minogue channeling Catherine Deneuve circa Umbrellas of Cherbourg. There are also very specific references to Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady and Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, but you need not be familiar with any of these sources to experience all of what this film has to offer. Highly recommended.

Halifax film screening picks — March 23-29

23 Mar
March 23, 2015

“Thrilling, tense, and directed with prodigious confidence, ’71 announced itself as one of the best films at [the 2014] Berlin Film Festival. Its director, Yann Demange, wasn’t well known outside the UK. That’s about to change.” So wrote TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey for last year’s festival program notes, and ever since, as this film has been making its way through the festival circuit and then commercial distribution, Demange’s inbox has been jamming up with project offers. In the meantime you can check out his astounding debut, a thriller set in The Troubles in Belfast that is doubtless the best film to play Halifax so far this year. More about him in this recent profile from The Guardian.

Carbon Arc returns from a two-week hiatus this week with the Flaubert update Gemma Bovery, from director Anne “Coco Before Chanel” Fontaine, and the Dalhousie Art Gallery film noir series returns as well, with the Fatal-Attraction-esque 1940s thriller Pitfall, featuring a 30-year-old Raymond Burr private-eye-ing it up.

Cineplex’s Classic Film Series has a few 50th anniversary screenings of The Sound of Music kicking off this Sunday.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Tuesday (Mar 24) — ’71, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:15pm,‎ ‎7:20pm,‎ ‎& 10:00pm‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continuing through Sunday. Yann Demange, UK, 2014, 99 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Mar 25) — Pitfall, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. André de Toth, USA, 1948, 86 minutes.
  • Friday (Mar 27) — Gemma Bovery, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7. Anne Fontaine, France, 2014, 99 minutes.
  • Sunday (Mar 29) —The Sound of Music, Cineplex Oxford & Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm (both theatres), $6. Robert Wise, USA, 174 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — March 16-22

16 Mar
March 16, 2015

Carbon Arc and the Dal Art Gallery film series are both still on hiatus until next week, but it turns out that the March break week has a surfeit of film screenings and film-related events. I’m personally looking forward to this Saturday’s 30th anniversary Cineplex screening of The Breakfast Club, which is about as generationally-definitive as films get.

Speaking of Generation X, Sunday also offers a rare chance (for Halifax) to pose your questions to the inimitable director Kevin Smith, as he is coming to the Spatz Theatre for a live Q&A with the screening of his Canadian-themed comedy-horror Tusk, the first of a projected “True North Trilogy” which is slated to proceed with further instalments Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws. Folks, I don’t make this stuff up.

This Friday sees the Halifax premiere of the locally shot and produced rom-com Relative Happiness, based on the bestselling novel written by Cape Breton author Lesley Crewe. There will be a Q&A to follow with the stars, producers, and director Deanne Foley, moderated by The Coast/CBC entertainment pundit and gal-about-town Tara Thorne.

Last but not least, for Brain Awareness Week (not making that up either) the Novel Tech Ethics film screenings are back, with everyone’s favourite J-Law-starring rom-com-dram Silver Linings Playbook on Monday and the politically problematic yet widely praised animated war documentary Waltz With Bashir on Thursday, complete with panel discussions on the mental health issues the films raise.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Mar 16) — Silver Linings Playbook, QEII Royal Bank Theatre @ Halifax Infirmary (Main floor, 1796 Summer St. entrance), 7pm, free, followed by panel discussion. David O. Russell, USA, 2012, 122 minutes.
    — We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Halifax Central Library, 7pm, free, presented by the Radical Imagination Project as part of their “Whose Knowledge? Whose Power?” series. Documentary about Anonymous (“fascinating, incisive” says The Village Voice) by a former Frontline producer. Brian Knappenberger, USA, 2012, 94 minutes.
    — Casablanca, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Final screening. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942, 102 minutes.
  • Tuesday (Mar 17) — What We Do In The Shadows, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:15pm,‎ ‎7:30pm,‎ ‎& 10:05pm‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continuing through Thursday. Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, USA/New Zealand, 2014, 86 minutes.
  • Thursday (Mar 19) — Waltz With Bashir, QEII Royal Bank Theatre @ Halifax Infirmary, 7pm screening cancelled.
  • Friday (Mar 20) — Relative Happiness, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, regular pricing, post-screening Q&A at theatre, reception at The Arms, Lord Nelson Hotel. Full slate of regular screenings daily as well, with another Q&A following the Saturday 7pm screening.  Deanne Foley, Canada, 2014, 94 minutes.
  • Saturday (Mar 21) — The Breakfast Club 30th Anniversary, Cineplex Park Lane & Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm (both theatres), regular matinee pricing. With a “newly remixed bonus content featurette that takes a look back at the film that defined a genre.” John Hughes, USA, 1985, 113 minutes.
  • Sunday (Mar 22) — Kevin Smith live Q&A with Tusk, Spatz Theatre @ Halifax Citadel High School, 6pm, $58.99 advance/$63.99 day of show. Film: USA, 2014, 105 minutes. Event info here.

Halifax film screening picks — March 9-15

09 Mar
March 9, 2015

Carbon Arc and the Dal Art Gallery film series are both on hiatus this week, but there are some solid film screenings happening in Halifax this week—notably a Cineplex presentation of Casablanca.

Casablanca isn’t just a movie, for many, it’s the movie—and this week you have a relatively rare opportunity to catch a pristine presentation on the big screen (Oxford on Sunday, Dartmouth Crossing on Wednesday & Sunday).

My cheap night pick for Tuesday is the widely enjoyed vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows, which played at TIFF Midnight Madness showcase in September as well as the Outlier Film Festival in Halifax in November. If you missed it then you’ve got the opportunity to catch up this week at Park Lane.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Tuesday (Mar 10) — What We Do In The Shadows, Cineplex Park Lane, 4pm,‎ ‎7:20pm,‎ ‎& 9:50pm‎, regular pricing, continuing through Sunday. Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, USA/New Zealand, 2014, 86 minutes.
  • Wednesday (Mar 11) — Casablanca, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942, 102 minutes.
  • Thursday (Mar 12) — School of Babel, Halifax Central Library, 7pm, free, in French with English subtitles, co-presented by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 & Alliance Française Halifax. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2015 Césars, this film follows the lives of a group of youth—Irish, Serbian, Brazilian, Tunisian, Chinese and Senegalese—who recently immigrated to France. Julie Bertuccelli, France, 2014, 94 minutes.
  • Sunday (Mar 15) — Casablanca, Cineplex Oxford & Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm (both theatres), $6. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942, 102 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — March 2-8

02 Mar
March 2, 2015

There’s a resurgence of interest lately in the 1940s and ’50s director of westerns and thrillers, Anthony Mann (for a quick intro see this 17-minute late-career 1968 BBC TV profile/interview on YouTube). The Wednesdays film noir series at the Dal Art Gallery gives you a chance to sample his work with the 1948 thriller Raw Deal.

“A woman helps spring her boyfriend from the state prison so they can flee to South America, but he insists on first collecting the $50,000 owed to him from a ruthless double-crosser played by Raymond Burr,” says the Museum of the Moving Image’s intriguing summary.

It’s otherwise a week of social justice film screenings in Halifax, including a new doc about the plight of Baha’is in Iran from Iranian Canadian Maziar Bahari, whose own story of imprisonment, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, was recently screened here by Carbon Arc. Note that this Saturday’s screening is a presentation of the local Baha’i community and included a panel discussion afterward.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Mar 2) — Honour Your Word, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, 7pm, free, director Martha Stiegman in attendance, co-presented by AFCOOP. 60-minute 2013 doc (trailer here) about the political & conservation struggles of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
  • Wednesday (Mar 4) — Raw Deal, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Anthony Mann, USA, 1948, 79 minutes.
  • Friday (Mar 6) —  Vessel, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7, co-presented by Halifax Sexual Health Centre. Winner of the SXSW Film Festival’s audience award for documentary, as well as a special jury citation for “political courage,” Diana Whitten’s Vessel offers a vivid profile of the abortion-rights group Women on Waves, as well as its founder, Rebecca Gomperts (trailer here).
  • Saturday (Mar 7) — To Light A Candle, 11:30am, room 301 @ Halifax Central Library, free, hosted by Baha’i Community of Halifax. Maziar Bahari, Iran/Canada, 53 minutes, trailer here, followed by panel discussion. Bring a brown bag lunch if you like; finger foods and beverages available.

Halifax film screening picks — February 23-March 1

23 Feb
February 23, 2015

The Thrillema cult-film screening series is back this week, rolling out Stuart Gordon’s comedic sci-fi-gore-alicious H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, Re-Animator (1985).

It makes for a tough choice on Wednesday night which also has the latest in the noir series at the Dalhousie Art Gallery—Orson Welles’ still under-appreciated The Lady From Shanghai (1948), a film which Jean-Luc Godard considered one of the ten best American sound films ever made.

Carbon Arc has one of this year’s Oscars’ best animated feature nominees, the latest from Ireland’s Cartoon Salon, Song of the Sea, with two screenings this Friday.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Feb 23) — Living Without Money, Halifax Central Library, 7pm, free. 52-minute 2010 doc about 68 year old Heidemarie Schwermer, a German woman who made a deliberate choice to stop using money 14 years prior. If you can’t make the screening, fittingly enough the whole film is online—for free.
  • Tuesday (Feb 24) — Medicine for Melancholy, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm. Black History Month screening series wraps up with this 2008 day-in-the-life drama about a contemporary black couple, set in San Francisco.
  • Wednesday (Feb 25) — The Lady from Shanghai, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Film Noir retrospective continues with this 1947 Raymond Chandler novel adaptation.
    Re-Animator, The Thrillema @ the Museum of Natural History, 8pm, free, advance tickets available at Strange Adventures.
  • Friday (Feb 27) —Song of the Sea, 7pm & 9pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7.

Halifax film screening picks — February 16-22

16 Feb
February 16, 2015

It’s not every week that Halifax gets an indie film release before most of the country, but that’s what’s happening this Friday at the Carbon Arc screening of sixties pop doc The Wrecking Crew. The three Canadian cinemas that are opening it this weekend are Vancity Theatre in Vancouver, Bloor Hot Docs in Toronto—and Carbon Arc.

The story of the unsung session musicians who recorded six Grammy Record of the Year winners in a row (1966 to 1971) was actually completed in 2008 and screened at festivals then, but filmmaker Danny Tedesco (son of one of the musicians) has been working for the past six years to find the funding to license over 120 music cues. With that job complete the film is now seeing a commercial release.

Carbon Arc, unusually, has two films screening this Friday, with Canadian coming-of-age drama Tu Dors Nicole, which got good notices at Cannes, screening at 7pm, with The Wrecking Crew following at 9pm.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Feb 16) — Mr. Turner, Cineplex Oxford, regular pricing (playing Monday through Thursday). Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his performance as J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s biopic.
  • Tuesday (Feb 17) — Pariah, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm, free. A “tender, sporadically goofy, yet candid examination of emergent identity” said NPR in 2011 about this multi-award-winning tale of a young, black lesbian in Brooklyn.
  • Wednesday (Feb 18) — The Brasher Doubloon, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Film Noir retrospective continues with this 1947 Raymond Chandler novel adaptation.
  • Thursday (Feb 19) — CKDU Film-e-oke/Howling Moon Karaoke, Plan B/2180 Gottingen St, 8pm-11pm, $3 suggested donation. Looks like a fun event for CKDU’s 30th anniversary—get ready to re-enact scenes from Casablanca, Jaws, The Princess Bride, and, inevitably, The Big Lebowski.
  • Friday (Feb 20) — Tu Dors Nicole, 7pm, and The Wrecking Crew, 9pm, Carbon Arc Cinema at the Museum of Natural History, $7 each.



Halifax film screening picks — February 9-15

09 Feb
February 9, 2015

Trying something new, starting today… I’m going to be combing through local event listings, weekly, to come up with recommended film screenings for the Halifax area. This week’s current film pick was a pretty easy one—Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater is a surprisingly strong depiction of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s 118-day stint in an Iranian prison. The squeamish need not fear—this is a journey of the soul, not torture porn, and the ever-appealing Gael García Bernal does a fine job of inhabiting this role, while Stewart successfully cracks the problem of making an extended detention interesting on the screen. Friday’s Carbon Arc screening at the Museum of Natural History. (Above you can see the real-life and film-fiction Baharis side by side, with Jon Stewart and Cameron Bailey at TIFF this past September.)

My repertory pick of the week is the 40th anniversary re-release of Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon, which it so happens was Al Pacino’s next role after The Godfather Part II. This is a Cineplex Classic Film Series screening at Dartmouth Crossing on Wednesday.

Here are my Halifax area screening picks for selected days this week:

  • Monday (Feb 9) — Payback, Halifax Central Library, 7pm, free. Based on Margaret Atwood’s bestselling book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, dir. Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes).
  • Tuesday (Feb 10) — Faat Kiné, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 5pm, free. 2000’s now rarely-seen capstone film from Senegal’s “father of African film,” Ousmane Sembene.
  • Wednesday (Feb 11) — Dog Day Afternoon, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6.
  • Thursday (Feb 12) — Mr. Turner, Cineplex Oxford, regular pricing (playing Monday through Thursday). Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his performance as J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s biopic.
  • Friday (Feb 13) — Rosewater, Carbon Arc Cinema at the Museum of Natural History, 7pm, $7.
  • Sunday (Feb 15) — Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed, Fundy Film Society at Al Whittle Theatre, Wolfville, 4pm and 7pm, $9. Haven’t yet seen this tale of a 1966 Spanish road trip quest to meet John Lennon, but it looks like it would make for a fun actual Sunday road trip to Wolfville.