Halifax screening picks — August 28-September 3

28 Aug
August 28, 2017

Good Time marks the emergence of the filmmaking Safdie brothers into the mainstream, sort of, and the certification of Robert Pattinson as a ridiculously talented actor (if Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars, among others, didn’t convince already). It’s the quintessential almost-can’t-watch-but-can’t-look-away film, but my recommendation this week is that you watch, while it’s still here. I can also highly recommend as a post-screening listen this episode of the Film Comment podcast featuring Pattinson, the Safdies, co-writer Ronald Bronstein, and FC editor Nicolas Rapold at a sneak preview in NYC.

The Trip to Spain is garnering positive reviews, though not at the level of its essential, brilliant predecessors, The Trip and The Trip to Italy, but this review by David Ehrlich has me hoping for another fine instalment. But honestly it doesn’t matter—if Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon decide their next collaboration entails reading their grocery lists, I am here for it.

I’m also here for the 3D conversion of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, even though I am historically not a fan of digital post-conversion. As the 3D trend continues to recede, director James Cameron’s 2010 words about quickie conversions now seem prescient: “They will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.” But this post-convert was no quickie, employing a team of more than 1,400 artists and technicians working for a year.

On Tuesday at the Central Library, the Featured Director series of free screenings of Stanley Donen classics continues with Zack Miller introducing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, known for its remarkable dance numbers.

This Wednesday the Cineplex Studio Ghibli retrospective continues with the Japanese version (subtitled in English) of Castle in the Sky playing at Dartmouth Crossing and Park Lane.

Halifax screening picks — August 21-27

21 Aug
August 21, 2017

It’s a good week in Halifax for fans of Japanese animation. At Park Lane you can see In This Corner of the World, a coming of age tale set in pre-war Japan, and based on a manga that ran from 2007 to 2009. Nerdist.com says that, according to the press notes, director Sunao “Katabuchi and his team spent years researching how Kure and Hiroshima looked at the time, making sure every building, house on the hill, Japanese naval vessel in the harbor, and even road was historically accurate.” And on Sunday there is another instalment of this year’s Studio Ghibli retrospective, with the English dub of Castle in the Sky playing at Dartmouth Crossing and Park Lane.

On Tuesday at the Central Library, the Featured Director series of free screenings of Stanley Donen classics continues with Tara Thorne introducing Funny Face, featuring a one-off team-up of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

David Lowery’s “film of mesmerizing visual ideas and conceptual integrity,” A Ghost Story, continues at Park Lane and also screens Wednesday afternoon and evening in Liverpool at the historic Astor Theatre. Meanwhile the latest demonstration of Steven Soderbergh’s fondness for the caper-film genre, Logan Lucky, is playing just about everywhere.

Netflix Canada picks—2017 festival season tee-up edition

19 Aug
August 19, 2017

Some of the hottest directors in world cinema will be screening new work at festivals next month. Here are some defining films by key directors of the season that you can watch right now on Netflix.

Whatever you think of the Atlantic Film Festival renaming itself after the part of the shark that you have to clear when you jump it, you have to like Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name as the pick for 2017’s closing gala—the Italian/American/Brazilian/French co-pro in English, Italian, and French is very much on message with the addition of “International” to the festival name. In North America, Guadagnino perhaps first came to public attention with 2009’s I Am Love, and then convinced Tilda Swinton to return for the wonderful A Bigger Splash by promising her she wouldn’t have to speak.

The newly rebranded festival in Halifax has also booked Mary Shelley, the new film from Haifaa al-Mansour, director of Wadjda, the first feature film in history to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. As fascinating as the production story may be, the film itself is a triumph of narrative skill, brilliantly balancing realism and idealism with a young protagonist you won’t soon forget.

Fans of Sean Baker’s extraordinary Tangerine were elated to hear this week’s announcement that his follow-up The Florida Project will be screening at TIFF in Toronto next month. Famous in part for being shot on three iPhones, Tangerine is in fact a beautifully shot and directed film: “An overt, outrageous comedy, it follows two transgender prostitutes on a day when one of them has a singing gig and the other is on a mission of vengeance to find her boyfriend and crush him for his various infidelities.

Ruben Östlund’s The Square was a surprise winner at Cannes earlier this year, and now it will be making its North American debut at TIFF. His gloriously biting Force Majeure is a little slice of cinematic near-perfection—let’s hope the ill-conceived American remake never actually gets made.

Finally, Hirokazu Kore-eda has a curveball lined up for TIFF audiences this year in the form of crime drama The Third Murder, but 2015’s Our Little Sister is right in Kore-eda’s sweet spot—a carefully drawn Japanese domestic drama, the sort of quietly gripping, insightful film for which you rarely if ever see a North American equivalent.


Halifax screening picks — August 15-20

14 Aug
August 14, 2017

Pretty much everything is on summer hiatus at the moment, but there is another screening of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest on Wednesday.

Halifax film screening picks — August 7-13

07 Aug
August 7, 2017

North by Northwest is one of those rare films that I can’t see too many times—among Hitchcock’s films, there are others that I admire more as works of art, but none that are more purely enjoyable. Cineplex has Classic Films screenings this Sunday at Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing.

The Featured Director series of free Central Library screenings continues with another Stanley Donen classic, the Bob-Fosse-choreographed musical The Pajama Game, introduced by Nick Malbeuf.

Carbon Arc is still off season but is co-presenter/host this Saturday for the Iranian film I’m Not Angry!, “a strong, jittery social drama that captures the frustrations of Iran’s younger generation.”

A local film festival has its last outdoor screenings of the summer this Friday (Meatballs & Strange Brew at the Public Gardens) and Saturday (The Lego Batman Movie at the Dartmouth Crossing Pondside Amphitheatre).

Halifax film screening picks — July 31-August 6

31 Jul
July 31, 2017

Another Featured Director series of free screenings at the Central Library is starting up on Tuesday, this time showcasing the films of Stanley Donen, who at 93 years of age is still kicking and still believes in romance. This week’s screening is the transcendent Singin’ in the Rain, introduced by Chris Campbell.

The six-film Studio Ghibli retrospective continues with the Japanese-language version of Kiki’s Delivery Service Wednesday evening at Cineplex Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing.

Halifax film screening picks — July 24-30

24 Jul
July 24, 2017

I saw Dunkirk, and my reaction is mixed. As a gripping in-theatre experience, it’s the most suspenseful and rousing film I’ve seen this year: “time and again, the action swells and dips, like a wave, then suddenly delivers a salty slap in the face.” And it delivers that in a refreshingly minimal-CGI way, with up to 60 actual period planes and warships filmed at a time.

But considered afterward—as an emotional experience, and an intellectual object to analyze and enjoy hashing through with friends… it offers next to nothing, “muddled sound and fleeting fury signifying something or other.” It’s the cinematic equivalent of empty calories from a celebrity chef.

Your best option for viewing it in Halifax is the IMAX Digital presentation at Scotiabank Theatre, Bayers Lake, but that is arguably only the fourth best format in which it being distributed (behind IMAX 70mm, 70mm, and IMAX Laser), a reminder that our beloved city still finds itself very much on the periphery of cinematic distribution.

One of the most interesting one-off film events this week is a Halifax City Hall screening of Milk for Pride Week, on Wednesday. All tickets are taken as of Monday but watch the Facebook event page in case some free up. There’s also an outdoor/waterfront screening of The Pirates! Band of Misfits on Friday, and Sunday, the latest monthly-ish instalment of a six-film Studio Ghibli retrospectiveKiki’s Delivery Service at Cineplex Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing.

Out of town this weekend, the Astor Theatre in Liverpool has Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled; earlier, on Tuesday, King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal has The Sense of an Ending.

  • In theatres, seen and recommended:
  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Wednesday (Jul 26) — Milk, City Hall, 7pm, free advance tickets. Gus Van Sant, USA, 2008, 128 minutes.
    • Friday (Jul 28) — The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Tall Ships Quay, 9pm, free, please bring food donation. Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt, UK/USA, 2012, 88 minutes.
    • Sunday (Jul 30) — Kiki’s Delivery Service, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 12:55pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1989, 102 minutes.
  • Annapolis Valley & South Shore screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Jul 25) — The Sense of an Ending, King’s Theatre (209 St. George St., Annapolis Royal), 7:30pm, $10. Ritesh Batra, UK/USA, 2017, 108 minutes.
    • Friday (Jul 28) — The Beguiled, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Sofia Coppola, USA, 2017, 94 minutes.
    • Saturday (Jul 29) — The Beguiled, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Sofia Coppola, USA, 2017, 94 minutes.
    • Friday (Jul 30) — The Beguiled, Astor Theatre (59 Gorham Street, Liverpool), 7pm, $8. Sofia Coppola, USA, 2017, 94 minutes.

Halifax film screening picks — July 17-23

17 Jul
July 17, 2017

The original summer blockbuster Jaws is back at Cineplex Park Lane for at least one screening this Friday.

There’s a local annual film festival, and it might be ok to call it the Atlantic International Film Festival, though you probably can’t call it AIFF, and it is presenting an outdoor free screening of The Grand Seduction this Friday evening at the Public Gardens.

Halifax film screening picks — July 10-16

10 Jul
July 10, 2017

This Sunday, Cineplex’s Classic Films series brings you maybe the greatest performance of Marilyn Monroe on film—Some Like It Hot. “You may prefer things classical or like them hot; Wilder’s film achieves both,” wrote Peter Bradshaw when the restored edition of this cheekily gender-playful comedy of cross-dressed errors returned to screens in 2014.

The much buzzed-about convention-busting rom-com The Big Sick, “which tells a great story with waves of deep feeling and questions of identity and makes the whole thing feel like a breeze,” has moved in at the Oxford.

The Central Library’s Featured Director series of free screenings of Richard Linklater films wraps up on Tuesday with the drawn-from-real life dark comedy Bernie, which features Jack Black forgoing his usual schtick for a “satirical creation of considerable substance.” Carbon Arc programmer Zack Miller introduces this screening.

The local film festival, whatever it’s called now, has an outdoor family-friendly free screening of Moana lined up for this Saturday evening.

Halifax film screening picks — July 3-9

03 Jul
July 3, 2017

This weekend saw a couple of very notable films open on Cineplex screens. The new remake of The Beguiled, which won Sofia Coppola the best director prize at Cannes, has moved in at Park Lane, and the new non-sequel yet box-office-successful comic actioner from Edgar Wright, Baby Driver, is at theatres all over.

The Central Library’s Featured Director series of free screenings of Richard Linklater films continues this week with Before Sunrise, the first of an unplanned trilogy of films famously driven by the undeniable chemistry of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, a film with a series of closing shots that are maybe Linklater’s best film-school flourish—a touching homage to the legendary finale of Antonioni’s masterpiece L’Eclisse. Local journalist Tara Thorne introduces this screening.

On Wednesday, Cineplex continues its monthly screenings of six of anime giant Hayao Miyazaki’s films with a Japanese audio (English subtitled) screening of My Neighbour Totoro at Park Lane and Dartmouth Crossing.

Saturday afternoon the North Memorial Library offers you a change to see this year’s most essential film, so far, for free—Get Out screens at 1:30pm.

  • In theatres, notable:
  • Halifax screenings this week:
    • Tuesday (Jul 4) — Before Sunrise, Central Library, 6:30pm, free, introduced by Tara Thorne. Richard Linklater, USA/Austria/Switzerland, 1995, 101 minutes.
    • Wednesday (Jul 5) — My Neighbour Totoro, Cineplex Park Lane & Dartmouth Crossing, 7pm, $12.95. Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1988, 86 minutes.
    • Saturday (Jul 9) — Get Out, North Memorial Library, 1:30pm, free. Jordan Peele, USA, 2017, 103 minutes.