Author Archive for: c0v3yf17m

Halifax film screening picks — April 20-26

20 Apr
April 20, 2015

There is a pretty confusing event listing in The Coast that suggests there are Monday and Tuesday screenings of the documentary Highway of Tears this week—but both screenings are on Monday—6pm at Spatz Theatre, and 7PM at the Bus Stop Theatre. This documentary, which premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Toronto last year, chronicles the notorious, decades-long string of murders and disappearances of young Indigenous women along British Columbia’s Highway 16. These are fundraiser screenings for the Loretta Saunders Scholarship Fund, and there will be post-screening Q&As hosted by director Matt Smiley with Loretta’s sister, Delilah Saunders.

It’s a good week for fans of short films by emerging filmmakers.  The week kicks off with a screening of short films by NSCAD film students at Cineplex Park Lane, starting with thesis films at 6pm (see this article in The Coast), and then the Film 1&2 shorts at 7:30pm.

Then the Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival opens Wednesday, 6:30pm at the Central Library, and continues through Saturday with free screenings at daVinci College on Thursday and the Black Cultural Centre on Friday and Saturday. Opening night features a five-film lineup that includes the notable 12-minute short “Righteous” by the estimable Cory Bowles.

The Dal Art Gallery noir series continues this week with the only classic film noir to be directed by a woman—The Bigamist (1953), directed by and starring Ida Lupino.

The Novel Tech Ethics screening of Waltz With Bashir, originally scheduled for March 19, is now happening this Thursday. The politically problematic yet widely praised animated war documentary will be followed by an expert panel discussion on the topics of post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, memory, and coping & resilience.

Carbon Arc will wrap up its spring series of Friday screenings this week with Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame, a documentary about legendary bike racer and bike builder Giuseppe Marinoni.

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

The Tempest (2010) (Netflix Canada picks)

17 Apr
April 17, 2015

Julie Taymor, France, 2010, 120 minutes

Listen, I dig a superhero CGI-fest as much as the next person, but I feel the gender imbalance when it comes to roles, scripts, writers and directors is nothing short of egregious here in 2015. I’m at least relieved that, following the exit of Michelle McLaren from the Wonder Woman film, her replacement appears to be Patty Jenkins, and not, you know, some dude. While we wait for that one to drop we still have Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, in which Helen Mirren—as you would expect—kicks ass and effortlessly carries this spectacle that looks way more expensive than its $20 million budget. The striking visual effects are by Kyle Cooper, who made his name creating title sequences (most notably Seven) but who went on from here to supervise the effects for Tron: Legacy, Prometheus, and Iron Man 3. Prospera is an appealing superhero, depending on brains and techno-magical mastery to seek redress for past wrongs to her and her family, as well as on her sidekick Ariel who with his teleportation, invisibility, telekinesis and weather control is like a bunch of X-Men rolled into one. The film has its flaws, including a jarringly genre-hopping music score by Elliot Goldenthal, and a hounds-of-hell chase sequence pitched awkwardly somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Benny Hill. But the casting is brilliant across the board (yes, even Russell Brand is an inspired choice here), and so seamlessly has the origin story been wound around Mirren’s Prospera that you would never believe that a certain previous draft of this script featured a male lead. Did I mention that that previous draft was by William Shakespeare?

Halifax film screening picks — April 13-19

13 Apr
April 13, 2015

Inescapably this week’s major film story in Halifax is the provincial Liberal government’s ruthless and shortsighted gutting of the local industry in last week’s budget. Seems like the right time to rally around and celebrate one of the classics of local production of the past two decades. Thom Fitzgerald’s docu-drama homage to mid-2oth-century muscle magazines premiered at Sundance in 1999, and this Sunday there’s an opportunity to have a fresh look—there’s a special OUTEast Film Festival benefit screening at the Company House. This is a $10/ticket fundraiser in support of a couple of local plays that will be travelling to the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May.

Speaking of revisiting mid-20th-century myth-making, The Radical Imagination Project has another screening at the central library in their gentrification-themed film series tonight. The well-regarded 2010 documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to unearth what really happened in the large-scale urban renewal projects of the time, specifically the titular redevelopment in St. Louis, and to reinstate its residents as worth protagonists in their drama of survival and adaptation.

Ever seen Joseph Losey’s remake of Fritz Lang’s M? Yeah, me neither, but even the concept of having Losey take a crack at that story seems pretty intriguing to me. Dal Art Gallery’s film noir series, artfully curated by Ron Foley MacDonald, offers up this 1951 version at this Wednesday’s screening.

Carbon Arc this Friday has the Zellner brothers’ English/Japanese Fargo-referencing meta-fable Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, which I haven’t seen either but which looks thoroughly intriguing. I dig this pull-quote from Todd McCarthy: “A work of rigorously disciplined eccentricity, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is at once entirely accessible and yet appealing only to a rarified crowd ready to key into its narrow-bandwidth sense of humor.”

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

  • Monday (Apr 13) — The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Halifax Central Library, 7pm, free, presented by the Radical Imagination Project. Chad Freidrichs, USA, 2011, 79 minutes.
  • Tuesday (Apr 14) — It Follows, Scotiabank Cinema Bayers Lake, 2:10‎pm, 4:50pm,‎ 7:35pm,‎ 10:00pm‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continuing through Sunday (at least)—times changing slightly on Friday. David Robert Mitchell, USA, 2013, 97 minutes. Smart-horror sensation in the third & fourth week of its Halifax run.
  • Wednesday (Apr 15) — M, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Joseph Losey, USA, 1951, 88 minutes.
  • Friday (Apr 17) — Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7. David Zellner, USA, 2014, 104 minutes.
  • Sunday (Apr 19) — Beefcake, 7pm, The Company House – 2202 Gottingen St, $10 advance tickets here. Thom Fitzgerald, Canada, 1999, 97 minutes.

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (Netflix Canada picks)

10 Apr
April 10, 2015

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky

Michel Gondry, France, 2013, 88 minutes

I like to think the world subdivides into people who think like Michel Foucault, people who think like Noam Chomsky, and, I suppose, people who don’t think in much of a structured way at all. I’m probably a natural Foucauldian but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the Chomskyian way as well. But, even more, I appreciate hand-drawn film animation—especially when it is as artful as this, illustrating a fascinating and humanizing conversation with the beloved linguistic theorist and political activist, without become overly distracting on the one hand or overly didactic on the other. All of Gondry’s films have a certain eccentric, artisanal quality but this may top them all as a transparent labour of love. I can’t think of another documentary film like it.

Halifax film screening picks — April 6-12

06 Apr
April 6, 2015

“Everyone should see Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales… catch it as part of a crowd and you may experience an all-too-rare phenomenon when the first segment ends: a cinema full of people cheering and applauding.” That’s just a taste of Nicholas Barber’s piece in The Guardian arguing that Wild Tales could inspire the return of the anthology film, or as the Brits like to call them, portmanteaux. This Friday you can see it in Halifax at a Carbon Arc screening.

Carbon Arc also has a Wednesday screening this week of Xavier Dolan’s cathartic 2014 Cannes Jury Prize winner Mommy, co-presented with Alliance Française Halifax and Séries FICFA.

The Dal Art Gallery noir series this Wednesday has In A Lonely Place, one of the essential films by the great director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause, Bigger Than Life, Johnny Guitar). Humphrey Bogart stars in this adaptation of the novel by Dorothy Hughes.

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

  • Monday (Apr 6) — The Sound of Music, Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $6. Robert Wise, USA, 174 minutes. Final screening for this engagement.
  • Tuesday (Apr 7) — It Follows, Scotiabank Cinema Bayers Lake, 2:10‎pm, 4:50pm,‎ 7:40pm,‎ 10:05pm‎, regular pricing discounted Tuesday, film continuing through Sunday. David Robert Mitchell, USA, 2013, 97 minutes. Smart-horror sensation in the second & third week of its Halifax run.
  • Wednesday (Apr 8) — In a Lonely Place, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 8pm, free. Nicholas Ray, USA, 1950, 94 minutes.
    Mommy, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $5 suggested donation. Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2014, 138 minutes.
  • Friday (Apr 10) — Wild Tales, 7pm, Carbon Arc Cinema @ the Museum of Natural History, $7. Damián Szifrón, Argentina & Spain, 2014, 122 mins.

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.