All Posts By

Ryan LaVia

Hearts Beat Loud

By | 2018-2019 Season | No Comments

Hearts Beat Loud (USA)

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:30 pm

Director: Brett Haley
Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Blythe Danner
Running Time: 97 minutes
Language: English
Rating: PG

Sarasota Film Festival: Best Narrative Feature: Traverse City Film Festival: Best U.S. Fiction Film; Wisconsin Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature

“One of the nicest things about “Hearts Beat Loud,” and there are several nice things, is the way that Offerman and Clemons seem like father and daughter.”—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Frank (Nick Offerman, (TV’s Parks and Recreation) owns a record shop in Brooklyn, where his passion for music is still felt through the torn posters on the wall and makeshift record crates. A widower, Frank has raised his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons, The Only Living Boy in New York), alone for the last 11 years, and he’s having trouble coming to terms with her imminent departure for university.

While Sam is taking summer school in preparation, Frank convinces her to take a study break for a jam session, where they create their first original song, “Hearts Beat Loud.” Realizing the song’s potential, Frank uploads it to the internet. When he hears their song playing in a coffee shop, he wants to pursue the band and Sam’s talents as a musician and songwriter.

While Sam discourages him, she struggles with leaving in her own ways: her discovery of her passion for music and her relationship with her girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane, American Honey; The Miseducation of Cameron Post) create emotional turmoil that serve as fodder for her songwriting talents. Director Brett Haley (I’ll See You in My Dreams; The Hero) moves the audience through emotionally charged moments with beautiful original music written by his longtime collaborator Keegan DeWitt. At the heart of the film is a story about family, saying goodbye, and making way for new beginnings.

Angelique’s Isle

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Angelique’s Isle (Canada: Northern Ontario)

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:20 pm

Directors: Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Michelle Derosier
Cast: Julia Jones, Tantoo Cardinal, Aden Young, Charlie Carrick
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: English and Anishinaabemowin with English subtitles
Rating: PG

Based on the novella, “Angelique Abandoned”, by James R. Stevens which was inspired by the true story of a 17-year-old Anishinaabe woman, Angelique’s Isle is a harrowing true tale of perseverance and survival on Lake Superior. Young Angelique (Julia Jones) finds her new-found contentment in marrying Charlie (Charlie Carrick) a Métis voyageur, suddenly threatened when Charlie signs on with slippery wheeler-dealer Cyrus Mendenhall (Aden Young) to search the shores of Lake Superior in 1845 for a rich copper strike.

Despite the warnings from her grandmother, Green Thunderbird (Tantoo Cardinal), Angelique agrees to accompany Charlie with Mendenhall’s expedition.
Upon discovering what looks to be a huge copper boulder on Isle Royale, Mendenhall asks the couple to remain behind to guard the find while his group goes back for reinforcements and supplies. However, as the weeks pass, Charlie and Angelique soon realize that they must fend for themselves.

As winter comes, they endure the increasing cold and a dwindling food source. While the harsh winter has a dire effect on Charlie, Angelique is left to face her inner demons and reconcile her true identity as she struggles to survive. In light of the messages sent by her grandmother, Angelique realizes that perhaps it is her rich indigenous roots that will be the source of her salvation.

An impressive, regionally-produced film, Angelique’s Isle draws greatly from the mood of the rugged northern Ontario landscape, which includes Thunder Bay and Terrace Bay. Local audiences will recognize Fort William Historic Park and the shoreline around Chippewa Park/Fort William First Nation. The cast also features local performers including Pierre Schreyer, Dennis Dubinsky, Anthony Rock, Jessie McKay and Gabe Ferrazzo.

NOSFA is pleased to feature Angelique’s Isle for its Thunder Bay premiere.

Beast

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Beast

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:30 pm

Director: Michael Pearce
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James
Runtime: 107 minutes
Language: English
Rating: 14A

Toronto Film Festival Nomination: Platform Award; Miami Film Festival Nomination: Best Screenplay; London Film Festival Nomination: First Feature

“There is nothing more enjoyable than a film that shatters your expectations, turning a confident hunch about what’s coming next into smithereens of doubt. The British thriller “Beast” does it strikingly well.”—Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the identity of the Beast is never in any doubt. But in Beast, writer/director Michael Pearce’s powerful debut feature, that one-word title leaves room for debate. Just who is this Beast?

The story is set on Jersey, a channel island with a population of about 100,000. The chief suspect is Pascal Renouf (Johnny Flynn), a dark anti-hero of the Wuthering Heights variety. The police think he might be behind a recent spate of murders, but the first time we meet him, he’s rescuing a young woman named Moll (Jessie Buckley) from an impulsive first date that’s about to become an assault.

Moll’s attraction to Pascal is problematical. She may have started from a sense of obligation. She may be keeping it up just to annoy her family, especially her icy, imperious mother (Geraldine James), or because no one else is willing to give this rough guy a break. Whatever her reasons, she definitely exists inside her own troubled bubble. She drinks, sometimes wanders, suffers nightmares – and there’s nothing normal about the way she eats cake.

But Pearce cleverly steers us into this dark drama Moll-first. She may be just as bleak and tormented as her beau, but because she talks more and is surrounded by family, we feel we know her better. Pascal is a poacher with a police record, which is difficult to spin as anything other than a negative.

Ireland’s Buckley delivers a disturbing yet measured performance, with Flynn providing the perfect counterpoint. Who is the Beast? Perhaps it’s the prurient viewer who decides to brave this twisted tale. Beast is a thrill ride, a plunge into darkness that feels like it may never pull up.

Leave No Trace

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Leave No Trace (USA)

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:30 pm

Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Dale Dickey
Running Time: 109 minutes
Language: English
Rating: PG

Independent Film Festival of Boston: Best Narrative Feature; Taormina International Film Festival: Best Screenplay

“Debra Granik’s drama about a damaged war vet (Ben Foster) living off the grid with his teen daughter, brilliantly played by breakout star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, is hypnotic, haunting and one of the year’s best.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Following her breakout hit Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace is an intimate and complex coming-of-age story following a father and daughter struggling to maintain their unconventional lifestyle, set against the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest.

Will (Ben Foster, Hell or High Water, The Messenger) is a PTSD-inflicted veteran and widower living off the grid with his daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), in a public park near Portland. When Tom makes a mistake that alerts the authorities to their existence, the family is removed from the park and placed in a home by state officials. Immersed in a world she has never experienced, Tom is drawn to the friendships, community, and comforts of her new surroundings. Meanwhile, Will is confronted with the triggers of the modern world.

Leave No Trace is a surprisingly endearing portrait of a father and daughter forced to contemplate whether family survival means sticking together or letting go. The lush Oregon landscape expertly contrasts the tension-filled narrative, with Foster delivering one of his most memorable performances to date — though it’s McKenzie who truly makes her mark. From the director who launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career, Leave No Trace is sure to make McKenzie a newcomer to watch.

Blindspotting

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Blindspotting (USA)

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:30 pm

Directed by: Carlos Lopez Estrada
Cast: Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs
Running Time: 95 minutes
Language: English
Rating: 14A

Cinetopia Film Festival: Director’s Award; Nashville Film Festival: Best Original Song; Palm Springs International Film Festival: Directors to Watch Award.

“A funny and relevant new Oakland-set buddy dramedy….about two friends, one white, one black.”—Leslie Katz, San Francisco Examiner

The debut feature from Carlos López Estrada, Blindspotting is written by its two stars – Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs (Broadway’s Hamilton) –and set in Oakland, California, from which both men hail. It’s a raw, personal story that combines biting humour and stark violence to showcase the sharp racial and class inequalities in many America’s urban centers. Painful to watch, at times, it is also very, very funny and a work of gloriously intelligent cinema.

The movie opens with Collin (Diggs) counting down the three days left on his probation in a halfway house. He works for a moving company, firing humourous barbs back and forth with best friend Miles (Casal) as they do their pick-ups. Collin is black, Miles white, though both are from the same Oakland ‘hood. Collin seeks to re-establish himself as a trustworthy member of society. Miles is his support system, but also a potential hindrance to growth.

Blindspotting (the term means the inability to see what is right in front of you) follows Collin and Miles as they struggle to define themselves in a universe that already has them pegged as losers. Their comic misadventures, often buoyant and a delight to behold, are always one step away from tragedy. As Collin’s probation countdown inches towards zero, it is unclear how the story will end, and on which genre it will settle.

And that is the great strength of the film: we’re never sure where it will go, and so expect the unexpected. The powerful performances provide ample support to the twisting narrative which sees a cathartic conclusion. With director López Estrada’s additional fine flourishes, the movie becomes a magnificent meditation on the state of the nation, and a profoundly rewarding viewing experience.

Three Identical Strangers

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Three Identical Strangers (USA)

Location: SilverCity
Show times: 6:30 & 8:35 pm

Director: Tim Wardel
With: Robert Shafran, David Kellman, Eddy Galland
Running Time: 96 minutes
Language: English
Rating: PG

Berkshire International Film Festival: Best Documentary Feature, Audience Award, Jury Award Documentary Director; Chicago Film Critics Festival: Audience Award, Documentary; Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, Documentary.

“A documentary with a story so outlandish it might well have been rejected by a Hollywood studio had a screenwriter pitched it as the basis of a fictional movie.” Peter Howell, Toronto Star

In Tim Wardle’s Sundance Special Jury Prize– winning documentary, a chance encounter brings three identical triplets together nearly two decades after they were separated at birth and adopted by separate families. However, their elation at their reunion is soon undermined by the realities of fame, family, and a creeping suspicion that something sinister tore them from one other in the first place.

Robert Shafran arrives at college ready to reinvent himself, but when strangers continue to refer to him as “Eddy,” their welcomes quickly become unnerving. Robert soon finds himself face-to-face with his exact double: Eddy Galland. The pair’s astonishment at finding each other and the incredible story of their past and chance meeting is quickly picked up by local media, catching the attention of David Kellman, their identical triplet. With the three brothers happily reunited and busy taking full advantage of their newfound celebrity, their parents take up the less pleasant task of investigating what separated the three young men in the first place.

When their questions are met with evasive and unsatisfactory responses from the triplets’ adoption agency, a larger conspiracy bubbles to the surface, with an indeterminate number of victims at play. A film of triumph and tragedy, and a true testament to the power of documentary film, Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers leads its audience through an emotional journey about how we understand our families and ourselves.

Call Me By Your Name

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Call Me By Your Name (USA)

March 22nd at SilverCity

6:30pm & 8:55pm

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothée Chalamet
Runtime: 130 minutes
Language: English, Italian, French, German

Rating: N/A

AFI Awards: Movie of the Year; Boston Online Film Critics Association: Best
Actor (Timothée Chalamet), One of Top Ten Films of the Year; Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet), Best Adapted Screenplay, Most Promising Performer (Chalamet); 19 other wins, 68 nominations

“A lush and vibrant masterpiece about first love set amid the warm, sunny skies, gentle breezes and charming, tree-lined roads of northern Italy.”—Christie Lemire, RogerEbert.com

The latest from Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino ( I Am Love, A Bigger Splash) explores the tender, tentative relationship that blooms over the course of one summer between a 17-year-old boy on the cusp of adulthood (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s research assistant (Armie Hammer).

Guadagnino’s camera presides languidly over the rambling villa used as a vacation home by American professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his family. Each summer, the professor invites a doctoral student to visit and help with his research. When hunky 24-year-old Oliver (Hammer) shows up, Perlman’s 17-year-old son, Elio (Chalamet) is initially cool and distant. After all, he has a beautiful girlfriend who takes up most of his emotional time.

Cast inadvertently into playing the role of good host, squiring fellow American Oliver around town and country, Elio finds himself confounded by a growing physical attraction to the visitor. Their courtship is tentative and awkward, consisting of looks and glances, touches and caresses. Elio’s parents look on, blissfully unaware of the heated passions that are boiling beneath the surface.

With a script by James Ivory, Guadagnino has fashioned André Aciman’s 2007 novel of sexual awakening into a note-perfect tale of forbidden love. Call Me By Your Name is, above all, a kind of reverie amidst a golden summer of bike rides, swimming holes, and outdoor dinners. Its lush sensuality casts a very special spell that is impossible to resist.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

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Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (United Kingdom)

March 8th at Silvercity

6:30pm & 8:30pm

Director: Paul McGuigan
Cast: Jamie Bell, Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters
Runtime: 105 minutes
Language: English

Rating: N/A

Hollywood Film Awards: New Hollywood Award, Jamie Bell; British Independent
Film Awards Nominations: Best Supporting Actress, Casting, Production Design, Actor (Jamie Bell); San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards, Nomination: Best Actress (Annette Bening)

“The acting is wonderful, with Annette Bening outstanding as the vain, deluded and not always likeable actress, and Bell at last finding a period and part that really suit him as an adult actor.”—Matthew Bond, The Mail on Sunday, (UK)

Annette Bening makes this story of Gloria Grahame’s last days a must-see. As the faded movie star now in her late 50s, with a penchant for much younger men – in this case 20-something Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) whose memoir serves as source material– she is mercurial, sexy and always riveting.

The film opens with Grahame getting ready to go onstage at a theatre outside Liverpool only to collapse in her living room. Then the scene shifts to Turner’s Liverpool home where he hears of her illness and then flashes back to how they originally met and began their affair. Given that their initial connection is so strong – their first dance together is wonderful (remember, Bell danced as Billy Elliott) – we’re drawn into the mystery of what went wrong between them.

It’s basically a two-handed chamber drama, goosed occasionally by appearances from Peter’s family (Julie Walters plays his mother) and scenes in California and New York, usually set in just one room.

Bening will get attention for the fact that she forgoes her vanity for the role, but the performance is more than skin deep. She is charming, given to flashes of anger, and pulses with energy. Bell holds his own – which is a feat in itself – and, even though there are some familiar beats here, the movie will get even the biggest cynic teary-eyed.

Meditation Park

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Meditation Park        (Canada)

February 22, 2018

Showtimes: 6:30pm & 8:25pm at Silvercity

Director: Mina Shum
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Tzi Ma, Sandra Oh, Zak Santiago, Liane Balaban
Runtime: 94 minutes
Language: English

Rating: N/A

“[Writer/Director Mina] Shum mines her favourite theme – immigrant experience in Canada – in what seems at first to be a gentle slice of life but eventually develops a powerful emotional force.”—Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

Maria (Cheng Pei Pei) has spent decades of devoted marriage dutifully excusing the prejudices and vices of her husband Bing (Tzi Ma). Whether he’s insisting that she never mention their estranged son or swilling his inexplicably preferred cocktail of red wine and Coca Cola, Maria chooses to focus on the considerable sacrifices he’s made for their family.

But when she discovers another woman’s thong in his pocket (and handles the racy undergarment as if it were toxic waste), she’s no longer able to turn a blind eye to his indiscretions. Flushed out of her domestic sanctum, she engages in some unintentionally comic sleuthing that not only uncovers clues to Bing’s clandestine activities but also introduces her to new East Vancouver communities and ultimately sets her on a course to self-discovery.

Mina Shum makes an inspired return to narrative filmmaking with this richly detailed, unmistakably Vancouver story that recalls her breakout film, Double Happiness (a NOSFA feature in 1996). Viewers who came to know Cheng Pei Pei through her ferocious turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will delight in watching Maria’s long-dormant inner fire being slowly stoked as she asserts herself in ways Bing had always discouraged.

Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever coughed up $20 to park in a private residence’s backyard will find hilarity in Shum’s depiction of a turf war between rival racketeers in the form of initially ornery Don McKellar (who later proves to have a more empathetic side) and a band of brightly clad Chinese-Canadian seniors. Packed with note-perfect performances—including the exceptional Sandra Oh as Maria’s conflicted daughter—Shum’s bittersweet film is emotionally rewarding and endlessly relatable.

C’est La Vie

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C’est la Vie   aka Le sens de la fête (France/Belgium/Canada)

February 8 at SilverCity

6:30pm & 8:45 pm

Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Cast: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Suzanne Clément, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gilles Lellouche
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: French

Rating: N/A

Globes de Cristal Awards, two nominations: Best Film, Best Actor (Jean-Pierre Bacri)

“C’est la vie! pours a fizzy flute of French champagne and keeps the bubbles flowing.”—Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

This effervescent comedy from celebrated French directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano (The Intouchables) invites us to an opulent château to attend a très extravagant wedding, where the groom is a self-absorbed stuffed shirt, the band is at war with the organizers, and the chief planner is desperately looking for the exit.

Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a battle-weary veteran of the wedding-planning racket. His latest — and what he intends to be his last — gig is a hell of a fête, involving stuffy period costumes for the caterers, a vain, hyper- sensitive singer who thinks he’s a Gallic James Brown, and a stuffy, micromanaging mama’s boy of a groom who is determined to make Max’s night as miserable as possible.

But what makes the affair too bitter to endure is that Max’s colleague and ostensible girlfriend, Joisette (Xavier Dolan regular Suzanne Clément), seems to have written him off, coolly going about her professional duties while openly flirting with a much younger server. It’s going to be a very long night… especially once the groom’s aerial serenade gets underway.

Everything that could go wrong does go wrong in this energetic and madcap farce. An upstairs/downstairs dynamic keeps Max running around the grand château like a lively fire fighter and conductor who douses disasters.

An Altmanesque ensemble work brimming with offbeat, lovable characters, and hilarious set pieces, C’est la vie! is a fiendishly smart, sprawling comedy as only the French do it. As the well-chosen closing-night gala for the Toronto International Film Festival, the film won a warm standing ovation for its directors onstage.

The Florida Project

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The Florida Project (USA)

January 25, 2018, SilverCity

6:30 & 8:25 pm

Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
Runtime: 111 minutes
Language: English | Spanish | Portuguese

Rating: 14A

“It’s one of the most effective, honest portraits of childhood you’ll ever see, and a touching, poignant snapshot of American life in 2017.”—Adam Graham, Detroit News

Toronto Film Critics’ Association Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe); Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (Best Supporting Actor, Willem Dafoe); AFI Awards, Movie of the Year. 19 other wins, 24 other nominations.

Director Sean Baker bounces off his electrifying, iPhone-shot Tangerine with yet another intimate, emotional roller coaster about people on the margins. This time it’s the margins of Disney World, but shot in 35mm.

“Florida Project” is what Walt Disney called his Orlando development, transforming swamp land into the Magic Kingdom. Not too far away, seemingly worlds apart, is the Magic Castle, a cheap, pastel-coloured motel run by Willem Dafoe’s Bobby. Seemingly savvy Bobby is regularly undone by his empathy when dealing with his struggling clientele–and, most importantly, their children – who inhabit his motel.

The story actually centers on six-year-old Moonee, (Brooklynn Prince), an adorable child and brilliant discovery. Moonee and a rotating roster of friends find ways to make the most of their motel-strip environment: spitting on cars, gawking at topless bathers, curling up to horrified tourists or embarking on a perpetual hunt for ice cream.

All the while, Baker observes an intricate economy at work, where someone’s loss is always another’s gain. When one child moving out of the motel sadly has to let his toys go due to the lack of the space in the car, the other kids have a field day. When Moonee’s young, reckless mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite) finds ways to be self-sufficient, it’s at a cost.

The Florida Project is perceptive to the charm and strength of character found in humble places. The film lingers on small details and passing amusements, the ebb and flow of days that may seem aimless but actually build purposefully toward an emotional downpour and a challenge to our humanity.

Lucky

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Lucky USA

January 11, 2018
Showtimes: SilverCity 6:30 & 8:20 pm
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston
Runtime: 88 minutes
Language: English
Rating: 14A

Gijon International Film Festival: Best Actor, Harry Dean Stanton & Best Original Score; Satellite Awards, Best First Feature: John Carroll Lynch; Locarno International Film Festival: Ecumenical Jury Prize: John Carroll Lynch. Five other wins, 10 other nominations.

“Everything Harry Dean Stanton has done in his career, and his life, has brought him to his moment of triumph in “Lucky,” an unassumingly wonderful little film about nothing in particular and everything that’s important.” – Joe Leydon Variety

Lucky is a living testament to the talent and formidable screen presence of the late Harry Dean Stanton. It was written for the nonagenarian actor by his longtime assistant, Logan Sparks, along with Drago Sumonja. While it’s fictional, it incorporates many facets of the actor’s life and personality.

The film opens with a shot of a tortoise crawling through the desert and disappearing behind a rock—an arresting image, especially in a widescreen frame. Then there’s a lilting harmonica rendition of “Red River Valley,” played by the title character, Lucky.

Lucky is an old man who lives by himself and follows a daily routine: walking into town, ordering coffee, buying cigarettes, talking to the regulars at the café, then arriving home in time to watch his favorite game shows on television. At night he repairs to the local bar and hangs out with his cronies. Then a sudden fall interrupts his routine and earns him a lecture from his doctor. This sends a fateful signal to Lucky that he has to face what he calls reality—what we might call mortality.

Actor John Carroll Lynch, making his directorial debut, demonstrates a sure hand, making adroit and appropriate choices. The cast features mostly friends and admirers of Stanton including Ed Begley, Jr., Tom Skerritt, James Darren, and director David Lynch, who recently cast Stanton in TV’s Twin Peaks. They add colour and depth to a film that is seemingly simple but rich in subtext.

The main title, writ large, says “Harry Dean Stanton is Lucky.” While that may be true, the viewers are the real lucky ones to have such a beautiful film to remember the actor by.