The Atlantic Film Festival—challenging films, challenging website. OK most of the films aren’t really that challenging, but the new website is an act of digital sadism that I haven’t seen the like of in some time. That as may be, I have braved the digital frontier to come back with a dozen picks for the weekend phase of this year’s edition:
- Old Stone (Lao shi) [AFF] [TIFF] — Said to be a remarkably mature debut for Chinese-Canadian writer-director Johnny Ma, “exposing with stunning clarity the infuriating red tape and flawed logic of China’s system.”
- Multiple Maniacs [AFF] [TIFF] — The long out-of-circulation second feature by John Waters “restored to its full revolting glory.”
- Weirdos [AFF] [TIFF] — I love the idea of a Bruce McDonald remix of Going Down the Road in theory; I’m crossing my fingers that it works out in practice. As of this writing the Friday gala is sold out but the Saturday repeat screening still has tickets available.
- Toni Erdmann [AFF] [TIFF] — “Here is the world’s first genuinely funny, 162-minute German comedy of embarrassment.” Pretty much the best-reviewed movie of this year, and for sure the most buzzed-about, this film is very much at the top of my personal most-anticipated list.
- Tharlo [AFF] — “Pema Tseden’s magnificent Tharlo, the Tibetan auteur’s fifth feature and the film in which he decisively transcends the influence of Abbas Kiarostami…” Wait, there’s a Tibetan auteur who is strongly influenced by Abbas Kiarostami? How did I not know this?
- Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) [AFF] [TIFF] — Canadian animator Ann Marie Fleming enlists the vocal talents of Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar for this story of a young Canadian poet attending a poetry festival in Iran. Loving this unlikely premise and indeed awkwardly long title.
- American Honey [AFF] | [TIFF] — Director Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights) picked up the Jury Prize (third place, effectively) at Cannes for this über-buzzed film.
- Personal Shopper [AFF] | [TIFF] — One of my favourite directors of recent years, Olivier Assayas, shared the Best Director award at Cannes for a film that generated boos at one screening and a four-minute standing ovation at the next.
- Things to Come (L’Avenir) [AFF] [TIFF] — A remarkable pairing of directorial talent in Mia Hansen-Løve and acting talent in Isabelle Huppert: “Huppert is such a persistently and prolifically rigorous performer that she risks being taken for granted in some of her vehicles, but this is major, many-shaded work even by her lofty standards.”
- I, Daniel Blake [AFF] [TIFF] — Ken Loach, Palme D’Or, ’nuff said.
- Trespass Against Us [AFF] [TIFF] — Speaking of magic combos, how can you say no to Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in the same film?
- Werewolf [AFF] [TIFF] — Cape Breton director Ashley McKenzie follows up her well-regarded short films with her first feature, a portrait of a couple living a hardscrabble life with methadone addiction.
Before the festival kicks off on Thursday, on Wednesday night at Cineplex Park Lane you can get a virtual taste of the big-city festival experience with a special premiere of the new Oliver Stone political thriller Snowden, where the film is followed by a live-via-satellite Q&A featuring Stone and the film’s subject, Edward Snowden.
There are some pretty excellent screenings out of town this week as well: on Tuesday, King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal has Terence Davies’ Sunset Song, while Fundy Cinema‘s Wednesday documentary screening is Hockney. On Sunday, Fundy has one of the better films from last year’s festival: Simon Stone’s excellent update of Ibsen’s The Daughter.
- In theatres, new/notable:
- Halifax area screening picks for this week:
- Monday (Sep 12) — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, $6.99. Nicholas Meyer, USA, 1982, 112 minutes.
- Tuesday (Sep 13) — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, $6.99. Nicholas Meyer, USA, 1982, 112 minutes.
- Wednesday (Sep 14) — Snowden (Premiere Live – a Conversation with Oliver Stone), Cineplex Park Lane, 8:30pm, $14.95. Oliver Stone, USA, 2016, 134 minutes + Q&A.
- Friday (Sep 16) — Old Stone (Lao shi), Cineplex Park Lane, 1:30pm, AFF: tickets. Johnny Ma, Canada/China, 2016, 80 minutes.
— Multiple Maniacs, Cineplex Park Lane, 3pm, AFF: tickets. John Waters, USA, 1970, 91 minutes.
— Weirdos, Cineplex Oxford, 7pm, AFF: tickets. Bruce McDonald, Canada, 2016, 89 minutes.
— Toni Erdmann, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:15pm, AFF: tickets. Maren Ade, Germany, 2016, 162 minutes.
- Saturday (Sep 17) — Tharlo, Cineplex Park Lane, 2pm, AFF: tickets. Pema Tseden, China, 2015, 123 minutes.
— Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming), Cineplex Park Lane, 4:30pm, AFF: tickets. Ann Marie Fleming, Canada, 2016, 88 minutes.
— Weirdos, Cineplex Park Lane, 6:30pm, AFF: tickets. Bruce McDonald, Canada, 2016, 89 minutes.
— American Honey, Cineplex Oxford, 7pm, AFF: tickets. Andrea Arnold, UK/USA, 2016, 158 minutes.
— Personal Shopper, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, AFF: tickets. Olivier Assayas, France, 2016, 105 minutes.
- Sunday (Sep 18) — Things to Come (L’Avenir), Cineplex Park Lane, 6:30pm, AFF: tickets. Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany, 2016, 100 minutes.
— I, Daniel Blake, Cineplex Park Lane, 7pm, AFF: tickets. Ken Loach, UK/France/Belgium, 2016, 100 minutes.
— Trespass Against Us, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:30pm, AFF: tickets. Adam Smith, UK, 2016, 94 minutes.
— Werewolf, Cineplex Park Lane, 9:45pm, AFF: tickets. Ashley McKenzie, Canada, 2016, 78 minutes.
- Annapolis Valley screening picks for this week:
- Tuesday (Sep 13) — Sunset Song, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $8. Terence Davies, UK/Luxembourg, 2015, 135 minutes
- Wednesday (Sep 14) — Hockney, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 7pm, $9. Randall Wright, UK, 2014, 112 minutes.
- Sunday (Sep 18) — The Daughter, Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (450 Main Street, Wolfville), 4pm & 7pm, $9. Simon Stone, Australia, 2015, 95 minutes.