Director: Elizabeth Chomko
Cast: Michael Shannon, Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner
Runtime: 101 minutes
Heartland International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award; Toronto Film Festival
nomination: Audience Choice Award; Philadelphia Film Festival nomination: Best
First Feature. One other win, 3 other nominations.
“An excellent cast (including Michael
Shannon and Hillary Swank) hit the right notes in an evenly wrought family
drama that rings true.”—Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
The subject of memory loss has been tackled
before in such acclaimed films as “Still Alice” and “Away from
Her” (both NOSFA films). But director Elizabeth Chomko, drawing from the
lives of her own grandparents, creates authenticity within what would otherwise
be a familiar domestic dynamic. This is a family that shouts together, that
leaves bruises, that cackles at things that would crush others.
“What They Had” follows siblings
Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nicky (Michael Shannon) as they come together after
their Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother (Blythe Danner’s Ruth) goes missing during a
snowstorm – with the movie detailing Bridget and Nicky’s subsequent efforts at
convincing their father Burt (Robert Forster) to move Ruth into a nursing home.
Chomko does an effective job of initially
establishing the characters and the situation in which they find themselves,
and it’s clear, too, that the writer/director has suffused the proceedings with
authenticity that generally proves difficult to resist – with this especially
true of the impressively believable chemistry between Swank and Shannon’s
respective figures (ie they feel like genuine siblings).
Chomko manages to avoid the staginess
associated with stories of this ilk and instead cultivates an intimacy that’s
awfully tough to resist. Despite the gravity of the situation, Chomko also
cultivates some moments of levity that feels genuine.
In “What They Had,” you laugh as much as you cry, and thanks to its strong ensemble, means you believe in the movie’s truth.
Director: Don McKellar Cast: Tanaya Beatty, Brandon Oakes, Tantoo Cardinal Runtime: 113 minutes Language: English Rating: 14A
International Film Festival Nomination: Audience Award
provides ample space for Brandon Oakes and Tanaya Beatty to deliver
career-making performances.”—Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
Unable to let go
of the memory of her missing sister, Suzanne, and eager to bring
some sense of closure to her family’s pain, Annie Bird (Tanaya
Beatty) travels from her home in Moosonee to Toronto to retrace her twin’s
steps and find the answers she and her family desperately crave.
McKellar (“The Grand Seduction;” “Child Star”) directs
this adaptation of Joseph Boyden’s Giller Prize– winning
novel. Overcoming her reluctance about leaving her mother, Mary-Lou
(Tantoo Cardinal, “Angelique’s Isle”), and encouraged by her uncle Will
(Brandon Oakes, TV’s “Arctic Air”) to take a break, Annie eventually
agrees to join her friend on her trip to Toronto. Despite her initial
hesitation, Annie is soon drawn into investigating the clues the city
holds of her sister’s disappearance and strikes out on her own to follow the
While Annie is
away, Will faces his own challenges at home. The consequences of
Suzanne’s connections to local organized crime and Will’s friendly
relationships with the local police force make him a target
for violence and intimidation and eventually lead him to take
measures into his own hands to protect his family.
Anchored by Brandon Oakes’ performance as Will, “Through Black Spruce” demonstrates the indelibility of family bonds, the complex and far-reaching nature of our communities, and the pervasive impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Lily Franky, Kirin Kiki, Sakura Andô
Runtime: 121 minutes
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Cannes Film Festival: Palm d’Or; Boston
Society of Film Critics Awards, Central Ohio Film Critics Association, César
Awards, National Board of Review: Best Foreign Language Film; Academy Award,
Golden Globe, BAFTA Awards nominations: Best Foreign Language Film
“A moving meditation on what truly
constitutes the meaning of family.”—Peter Howell, Toronto Star
A poet laureate of family and morality,
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s humanist triumphs include “Like Father, Like Son,” (NOSFA
film) a meditation on the meaning of parenthood that picked up the jury prize
at Cannes in 2013. “Shoplifters,” which won the 2018 Palme d’Or at Cannes,
revisits the theme and goes deeper, telling a story about a Tokyo family that
subsidizes its working-class existence with petty thefts.
Things are particularly cramped in the
two-room apartment of a retired granny (“After the Storm’s” Kirin Kiki) who
makes everyone hide when the landlord comes around. She’s supposed to be there
on her own, not bunking down with her family, who scratch out an existence
through tenuous jobs and little store-raiding forays.
One cold winter night, they bring home a
neglected little girl they find on the street, intending to take her back after
she’s been fed and warmed up. In time, though, we learn she’s more like them
than she seems.
Kore-eda unveils the family’s manifold
mysteries slowly, with beguiling grace. When the shoplifters execute their
crimes, they usually do so with slick cunning and leave their victims none the
wiser, more so appearing mischievous than mean-spirited.
The director, though, reaches in and steals your heart right in front of your eyes, like a magic trick, and you have to admit you didn’t even see it coming.
Directors: Betsy West, Julie Cohen Featuring: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Clinton, Sharron Frontiero Runtime: 98 minutes Language: English Rating: PG
Academy Award Nominations: Best Documentary
Feature, Best Song; National Board of Review, Sarasota Film Festival, Minneapolis-St.
Paul International Film Festivals: Best Documentary Feature. Six other wins, 40
“This woman is a force, and the great
service this clear-eyed and admiring documentary provides is to emphasize not
just Ginsburg’s work on the court but how extraordinarily influential she was
before she even got there.”—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“RBG”, which chronicles the life of Ruth
Bader Ginsburg, is a homage by two admiring female filmmakers, but as her story
unfolds, one sees why Bader Ginsburg deserves the star treatment.
The directors expertly weave the details of
a fascinating life, a Brooklynite of humble origins who managed to get into the
Harvard Law School in the early 1950s when women were rare creatures, making
the university’s Law Review — a coveted position — before using her very fine
legal mind to shape the law as a professor and jurist.
What emerges is an intriguing portrait of a
woman described as shy and retiring but is also shown to be a work horse and a
master legal strategist. The film gives due credit to her late husband, Marty,
a successful tax lawyer who supported her at every turn until his death in 2010.
The story also shows the progress of U.S.
society, legally and socially, over several decades to the present day where
Bader Ginsburg finds herself the best known dissenting voice on an increasingly
conservative court, something which has earned her cultural touchstone status —
i.e., Notorious R.B.G. The canny judge’s sole misfire: publicly criticizing
then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
No doubt Trump and company would love to see the last of her. But Bader Ginsburg, who has survived two bouts of cancer and works out regularly at the gym, is tougher than her diminutive form would suggest.
Austin Film Critics Association: Best
Original Screenplay; Independent Spirit Awards, Toronto International Film
Festival: Best First Feature; 13 other wins, 37 nominations.
“Caustic, sharp and funny as hell, director
Boots Riley’s acerbic take on surviving (just) in the contemporary business
world assumes its rightful place beside O Lucky Man! And Putney Swope.”—Liam
Lacey, Original Cin
Rapper Boots Riley has an
impressive debut as a director with “Sorry to Bother You”, a no-mercy
satire that gets up in your face, breaks all the rules – and then invents new
rules so it can break them too.
(Lakeith Stanfield (“Get Out,” TV’s “Atlanta”)
is Cassius Green, an African-American telemarketer who gets nowhere until he’s
told by a colleague (Danny Glover) to use his more saleable white voice (David
Cross provides the vocal mayo). Suddenly, the young man is rolling in green. He
is finally able to move out of his garage apartment owned by his uncle (Terry
Crews) – and start living large with his artist-activist girlfriend, Detroit
(the super-terrific Tessa Thompson.)
Cassius is soon crossing a picket line
formed by his striking co-workers and getting hit on the head with a soda can,
an image that soon goes viral. But by turning his white voice into bank,
Cassius gets to quickly move up the corporate ladder. He joins the elite on the
top floor, selling a form of 21st-century labour slavery called Worry Free
Living, run by sarong-wearing, orgy-throwing CEO Steve Lift (a gonzo Armie
Then the proceedings shift into over-the-top surreal. Riley is a filmmaker who’s flying on his own visionary fumes and is the sort of singular talent who’s capable of a ferociously funny kick in the butt to capitalism. “Sorry to Bother You” introduces a filmmaker in a creative fever.
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole
Runtime: 123 minutes
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
Cannes Film Festival: Jury Prize; Sao Paulo
International Film Festival: Audience Award; Academy Awards, Golden Globes,
BAFTA Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Language
Awards. 18 other wins, 35 other nominations
“Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki brings an
undeniable emotional pull to this harrowing portrait of a poverty-stricken
child’s fight to survive in the slums of Beirut.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
In “Capernaum”, a boy who has been hardened
by life on the streets of Beirut is suing his parents for bringing him into the
world. If that sounds tough, it is. Zain, who’s about 12 years, endures more
than any kid should have to. Life at home is unbearable, and when his parents
sell off his beloved 11-year-old sister to the landlord’s son to be his wife,
Labaki’s camera follows the boy unobtrusively
through a series of unfolding episodes. He makes friends with a nice African
woman and agrees to take care of her toddler while she’s at work. When she
doesn’t come home one night, Zain finds himself a full-time babysitter for a
child who needs his mother’s milk, an occasional bath, and constant attention.
He is still a child himself; what is he to do?
“Capernaum” may be viewed as Dickensian in
tone or reminiscent of neo-realist films from the 1940s and ‘50s. What happens
onscreen is painfully real. Zain is not an idealized hero: he steals and
connives on a daily basis, doing whatever it takes to survive.
“Capernaum,” which roughly translates to “chaos,” is a deeply empathetic movie, made all the more remarkable by Labaki’s work with non-professional actors. One can only imagine how the filmmakers devised this harrowing tale. But by some alchemy, “Capernaum” is not dreary or depressing: it’s impossible to look away from because it is so alive, like its indefatigable young protagonist.
Director: Gustav Möller
Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi
Runtime: 85 minutes
Language: Danish with English Subtitles
Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award; Top
Foreign Films: National Board of Review; Montclair Film Festival: Audience
Award; Seattle International Film Festival: Best Director; Zurich Film
Festival: Critic’s Choice Award; 23 additional wins, 33 nominations.
“The Guilty” is a nerve-wracking
exercise in tension that also manages to reveal itself in layers, leaving
assumptions dashed on the floor.”—Tom Long, Detroit News
“The Guilty” is a clever, thoroughly
engrossing film from Denmark that marks the directorial debut of Swedish-born
Gustav Möller, who also co-wrote the screenplay. .
The novelty here is that it all takes place
inside one office, the headquarters of emergency services. Our protagonist is stuck
there as a kind of punishment while an internal review case is pending. He
hopes to be out on the street soon. This and other elements of his back
story are imparted piecemeal over the course of the picture.
Because this is only a temporary
assignment, he isn’t as knowledgeable as his colleagues about how to handle
emergency calls—and, more important, how to keep a professional distance. Alas,
he can’t help himself after he receives a call from a woman who has apparently
been abducted and is being driven somewhere against her will. Using the latest
technology, he makes decisions and assumptions that reveal his inexperience in
a series of twists that keep us guessing what is really happening right to the
Audacious and brilliant, this set-up is in the class of “Locke” (a NOSFA film), which features Tom Hardy talking on his cell phone while driving for nearly 90 minutes. Jakob Cedergren is completely convincing in the lead and carries the film. “The Guilty” is the work of a real talent, an impassioned storyteller.
Director: Jon S. Baird
Cast: John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Stephanie
Runtime: 97 minutes
Boston Society of Film Critics, San Diego
Film Critics Society Awards: Best Actor (John C. Reilly); Golden Globe
Nomination: Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (John C. Reilly); 19 other
“Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are the
heart and soul of this great tribute to iconic film comedy team.”—James
Verniere, Boston Herald
Jon S. Baird’s “Stan & Ollie” tells the
true story of how Laurel and Hardy attempted to rally in their final years,
only to be faced with their own mortality and changing tastes.
However, “Stan & Ollie,” despite the
somewhat tragic arc of the characters, is an upbeat, serio-comic movie that
does wonderful tribute to the two men, and admirably depicts their routines, both
their on-stage antics and off-screen relationship.
Reilly’s tragic Ollie is a soft-spoken courtly
soul, who’s also an inveterate gambler, often blowing all his cash, leaving him
in a dire state. Reilly’s breathes convincing life into Ollie through his big
fat suit. Coogan fares just as well as the sharper Laurel, who can’t stop
hustling and hoping for a comeback.
As Hardy’s health deteriorates, the still
vital Laurel braces to go on, but is he any good without his partner? The sour
part of the relationship comes from the fact that Hardy, who views the whole
thing just as a job than a calling, once made a movie without Laurel, which the
latter views as a stunning betrayal.
The two are ably supported by Nina Arianda
and Shirley Henderson as their loving, but strong willed wives. Both
reveal hidden depths, and the movie acknowledges how deeply both loved their
“Stan and Ollie” is expertly acted, with director Baird doing a good job depicting both the lighter side of the duo and the off-screen drama. This is a charming little sleeper.
Director: Armando Iannucci
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambour, Michael Palin
Runtime: 106 minutes
Rating: 14A (coarse language)
Denver Film Critics Society, Empire Awards
UK, European Film Awards: Best Comedy; National Society of Film Critics, San
Diego Film Critics Society Awards: Best Screenplay. 13 other wins, 34
“The Soviet Union may be no more, but we
can still laugh about the bad old days.”
–Chris Knight, National Post
“The Death of Stalin” is based on a French
comic-book series depicting the aftermath of the notorious Soviet dictator’s
demise. It is brilliant and hilarious, a delicious mélange of political satire
The premise is straightforward: Josef
Stalin dies by choking in his office one night. When his body is discovered the
next morning, his closest colleagues gather and frantically jockey for power,
exposing their own peccadilloes while sabotaging each other’s chances to become
Russia’s supreme leader.
Like director Iannucci’s “Veep” on TV,
this movie depends on great writing, expert casting, as well as timing,
delivery and staging that make the most of a knockout screenplay. The
filmmakers assume that we don’t know anything about the history they’re
depicting. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to take an entrance exam to enjoy
The cast is daunting. Steve Buscemi may not
spring to mind to play Nikita Krushchev, but he is amusing, as is Jeffrey
Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Rupert Friend, and the
other members of the ensemble. Beale, primarily a stage actor, is overwhelming
in his ferocious interpretation of Levrenti Beria, the wiliest and nastiest man
in the Soviet Politbureau. .
Iannucci conducts the proceedings like the conductor of a great orchestra with an array of virtuosos at his command. “The Death of Stalin” is a breath of fresh air and a genuinely great screen comedy.
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlie Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny,
Runtime: 121 minutes
National Board of Review: Top Ten
Independent Films; Venice Film Festival, Best Actor (Charley Plummer); Les Arcs
European Film Festival: Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score;
Best Adapted Screenplay. Four other wins, 15 nominations.
“Plummer is so good in this role, a young
man who refuses to ask for help, insistent on making his own way – watch his
face whenever he receives payment for a job well done, the actor flushing with
joy at his ability to provide for himself.”—Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews
“Lean on Pete” is a movie about a boy, a
horse and the challenges that befall them, which may imply that the viewer is
entering Tearjerker Central. However, British
writer-director Andrew Haigh (“Weekend,” “45 Years”) avoids sentiment. Sobs are earned the hard way in this moving
drama, which grips the viewer with scrappy humour, grit and grace.
Charlie Plummer (“All the Money in the
World”) stars as Charley, a motherless boy who lives in Portland, Oregon, with
his jobless father, Ray (Travis Fimmel). The well-meaning n’er-do-well dad is
also soon out of the picture, so the teen scrapes by working for Del (Steve Buscemi),
a local horse trainer. It’s there that Charley develops a bond with Lean on
Pete, a five-year-old horse about to outlive his usefulness.
For Del and jockey Chloë Sevigny the animal
is future dog food, nothing more. But to Charley, Pete is a kindred spirit.
Eventually, the lad has no choice but to hit the road, walking with Pete (he
never rides) toward some vague vision of the future with a distant relative. Reality
intrudes. But all is not lost.
Working Willy Vlautin’s novel, director Haigh shows a poet’s eye for landscape. Charley meets many people on his journey, affecting him in ways too moving to spoil. Anchored by Plummer’s extraordinary performance, the hypnotic and haunting “Lean on Pete” works miracles in miniature, painting a portrait of a marginalized America that cuts deep.
Director: Piotr Skowronski
Cast: Zara Jestadt, David Crowe, Rick Stolz, Nick Biskupek
Runtime: 90 minutes
indebtedness and unemployment are forces of oppression in Maggie’s (Zara
Jestadt) world. When she finds her efforts to become a nurse derailed,
Maggie sets her attention on her last viable option for getting out of debt and
building a future; an obscure program that promises debt forgiveness in
exchange for a work term commitment.
for a clean slate, Maggie turns to Travis, her ex-boyfriend and current
recruiter for The Program. Meanwhile, growing dissent in the streets casts
doubt on The Program’s promise of financial freedom as people begin questioning
what really goes on inside the work camps. Maggie and Travis will soon
discover first hand the dark truth behind the promise and must brace themselves
for a struggle of survival.
Jestadt is a standout in this locally-produced feature.
Piotr Skowronski is a graduate of the Confederation College Film Production
Program. His award winning short films include “Cat and Mouse,” and “A
Handful of Soil” and several other titles. His debut feature, “These
Lovers,” premiered at the 18th Shanghai International Film Festival, was part
of Telefilm’s the Best of Canada section and was also showcased by NOSFA in
2014. His latest feature “The Discarded” premiered at the Montreal World
Milosz Skowronski (producer) Milosz Skowronski has been actively producing and managing productions for nearly a decade. From television, theatrical and web-based commercial projects, to short films, and two features, Milosz has become one of the most active producers in Northern Ontario.
Director: Marielle Heller
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtain
Runtime: 106 minutes
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards: Best
Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay. Academy Award Nominations:
Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay. 45 other wins, 83
“McCarthy brings her dowdiest, most
disagreeable A-game to a caustically funny, improbably affecting enterprise.”—Ann
Hornaday, Washington Post
Based on a true story, “Can You Ever
Forgive Me?” stars Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel,
the late biographer and forger whose brilliant tale of deception speaks volumes
about our obsessions with celebrity and authenticity.
It’s the 1980s. After decades spent
composing respectful profiles of successful women such as Katharine Hepburn and
Tallulah Bankhead, Lee finds herself out of step with the emergent trash-talk
trend in biography. Her new book about Estée Lauder is a commercial failure,
her agent (Jane Curtin) has given up on her, and her finances have nosedived.
Sliding into middle age with no other
skills to fall back on, Lee lights upon a fresh method of capitalizing on the
public’s fascination with fame. Teaming up with an old acquaintance (a charming
Richard E. Grant) freshly released from prison after serving time for armed
robbery, Lee begins selling the stolen and/or forged correspondence of dead
writers and actors. The gig is a success but success has a way of drawing
Adapted from Israel’s eponymous memoir by Tony Award-winning playwright Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”) and writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“The Land of Steady Habits”), “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is an incisive comment about commodification, legitimacy, and opportunities for women. McCarthy seizes the opportunity to expand her already-impressive repertoire: her performance here brims with intelligence, acerbic wit, and an alluring sense of mischief.
Director: Isabel Coixet
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson
Runtime: 113 minutes
Cinema Writers Circle Awards (Spain): Best
Film, Director, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Bill
Nighy); Gaudi Awards: Best Art Direction, Original Score. Eight other wins and
32 other nominations.
“The Bookshop is a gentle, quiet
film…it’s beautifully evocative of the musty, inviting smell of a bookshop on
a cool day, or of the nostalgic pleasure of old photographs.”—Moira MacDonald,
Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a woman of
modest means, decides one day to turn a damp old house in a decaying seaside
town into a bookshop, despite condescending discouragement from her banker and
lawyer, and genteel but vicious opposition from the wealthy lady of the manor,
Mrs. Gamart (Clarkson).
Clarkson plays Mrs. Gamart with terrifying
graciousness. She wants to transform the old house into an arts centre, a plan
that has nothing to do with art and everything to do with petty
Florence receives quietly valiant moral
support from Mr. Brundish (Nighy), the reclusive last remnant of the town’s
oldest family. Florence also gets a business boost when she decides to carry
250 copies of Nabokov’s Lolita, newly published in Britain and
Mortimer’s Florence, who is motivated not
so much by high-flown idealism as stubborn everyday determination, holds our
attention as the central figure. Her scenes with Nighy are lovely bits of
low-key drama and deadpan comedy.
Director Isabel Coixet crafts some pinpoint
period atmosphere. She evokes the feel of small-town life in 1950s Britain,
making it both peculiar and picturesque.
There is no obvious dramatic conflict, and
that is in some ways the point. Director Coxiet is catching the very English
quality of the bookshop battle, which is fought through passive-aggressive
politeness, subtle class-conscious bullying, and backhanded bureaucratic
“The Bookshop” is an old-fashioned mood piece, one that benefits greatly from period atmosphere and dependable work from Mortimer, Nighy and Clarkson.
Director: Barry Jenkins
Cast: Stephan James, Kiki Layne, Regina King
Runtime: 110 minutes
Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, National
Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Best Supporting Actress: Regina King; 83 other
wins, 154 nominations.
“This movie works as a timeless romance, a
family drama, a legal thriller and a poignant social commentary. A great
American novel has been turned into a great American film.”—Richard Roeper,
For the follow-up to his Oscar-winning
hit and Film Circuit favourite “Moonlight”, Barry Jenkins returns
with this moving period piece about a pregnant woman fighting to
prove her fiancé’s innocence after he is wrongfully jailed for rape.
Based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of
the same name, “If Beale Street Could Talk” marks the first
English-language film adaptation of the legendary US writer
and activist’s work. Set in the early 1970s in the
predominantly Latin American community of East Harlem, the film
follows Tish (newcomer Kiki Layne), a 19-year-old woman who falls in love
with Fonny (Stephan James, “Race;” “Selma”), a young sculptor. Their
brief idyll is broken when Fonny is suddenly arrested, placed in a
police line-up (where he is the only black man) and framed for the
rape of a local woman.
Tish, who has just discovered she is
pregnant, and her family must fight to prove Fonny’s innocence. With
this thought-provoking and still-timely story, Jenkins manages
to preserve both the politics and the romantic spirit of Baldwin’s
celebration of the power of love and hope in times of despair.
One of the most highly anticipated films of the year, “If Beale Street Could Talk” reunites writer-director Jenkins with “Moonlight’s” powerhouse production team for a stunning and honest story of an American couple determined to fight for love, freedom, and justice in their own society.
Director: Jennifer Baichwal With: Alicia Vikander (narrator) Runtime: 87 minutes Language: English Rating: PG
Nominations: Film Critics Association
Awards, Alan King Documentary Award & Best Canadian Film; Luxembourg City
Festival: Best Documentary nomination; Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best
“Stunningly, even hypnotically shot – from
the world’s largest landfill in Kenya, to the most polluted city in Russia…to
tons of tusks representing 10,000 dead elephants. A hard doc to walk away from
unaffected.”—Jim Slotek, Original Cin
“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” the latest
eco-doc from Jennifer Baichwal (“Manufactured Landscapes,” “Watermark” both
NOSFA films) co-directed by Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, shows
viewers some of the large-scale changes we are making to the planet. They are
equal parts stunning and scary.
There are the world’s largest excavating
machines, straight out of a sci-fi nightmare, as they gobble Germany’s farmland.
We visit the largest garbage dump in Africa, a scavenger’s mecca that grows by
10,000 tonnes of trash each day, near to where 750,000 people live. There’s a
stop at Norilsk, the most-polluted city in Russia, where kids ride their bikes
near oil and chemical plants.
However, not all the film’s segments are
doom-and-gloom. The film visits an electric-car-battery plant in Michigan,
and delivers a time-lapse trip through the 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel in
Switzerland, which will reduce the dangers and pollution of trucking freight
along mountain roads. There are opening and closing scenes of Kenya’s Nairobi
National Park, where mammoth mounds of elephant tusks are set ablaze to stop
them being sold on the black market.
The movie takes its title from the
Anthropocene epoch, a proposal that we rename this time period (currently known
as the Holocene) as the Anthropocene, to mark the dubious honour of the time
when Homo sapiens began to significantly affect Earth’s geology and ecosystem.
The filmmakers’ stunning images, captured around the world, make it clear that whenever it started, it is scarily ongoing.
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
Runtime: 84 minutes
Language: Polish, French, German, Croatian, Italian, Russian with English
Cannes Film Festival: Best Director,
National Board of Review: Best Foreign Language Film; Palm Springs
International Film Festival: Best Actress; Academy Award Nominations: Best
Foreign Language Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography; 29 other wins, 99
“Its greatest strengths…are its two
knockout leads, who give the story its heat, its flesh and its
heartbreak.”—Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up
to his Oscar-winning “Ida” (a NOSFA feature) is another black-and-white drama
lived in the aftermath of WW II, tracing the emotional paths of a Polish
musician and a singer as they drift in and out of each other’s lives from 1949
Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is a musician who’s
talented but a little bit lost. While working on a project to record vanishing
folk songs, he meets blonde Zula (Joanna Kulig), a big-city performer posing as
a rural choirgirl to land a job that’ll get her back to Warsaw.
Over the next decade, Wiktor and Zula (loosely
based on Pawlikowski’s parents) will encounter one another all over Europe, as
their relationship fades and rekindles on either side of the Iron Curtain. They
meet in Paris, then Berlin. Wiktor finds success as a film composer; Zula
becomes the jewel of the Soviet entertainment circuit. They could be happy, but
instead keep finding reasons not to be.
On its face, “Cold War” is as emotionally
chilly as its title suggests, with its protagonists betraying one another – and
themselves – more out of cynical calculation than any patriotic belief.
But Pawlikowski, Kot and Kulig let us see how and why those betrayals happen, hinting at the failures of nerve, or the misguided ideological convictions, that infect Wiktor and Zula’s values and drive their decisions. Their fates joined, Zula and Wiktor struggle both with personal demons and historical forces that persist in tearing them apart.
Director: E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin Featuring: Alex Honnold Runtime: 97 minutes Language: English Rating: PG
2019 Academy Award, Capri Hollywood, &
BAFTA awards: Best Documentary Feature; Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards:
Most Compelling Living Subject, Best Cinematography, Most Innovative
Documentary, Best Sports Documentary; 12 other wins, 44 nominations.
“Watch this and gasp. Oscar winner Free
Solo is a stunner!”—John Doyle, Globe and Mail
By the age of 30, Alex Honnold was known as
one of the most accomplished rock climbers of his generation. He was featured
in adventure magazines and authored the memoir ‘Alone on the Wall.’ But he
remained obsessed by a challenge that no climber had ever achieved: to ascend
free solo — without safety ropes — up the 3,000-foot cliff of El Capitan in
California’s Yosemite National Park.
Directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
previously made the acclaimed mountain-climbing movie, “Meru.” They follow
Honnold over two years as he tests the limits of his ambition. “If you’re
seeking perfection, free soloing is as close as you can get,” Honnold
But Chin, an experienced adventure
photographer who’s cheated death before, has a different take: “If you’re
pushing the edge, eventually you find the edge.” Honnold has long been a
loner, living out of his van for nine years. We watch as he makes lifestyle
changes with a new girlfriend, Sanni, who exudes patience but still frets over
him. Will that emotional attachment be helpful or harmful when he needs total
It’s Honnold’s strange unnerving confidence
that somehow placated McCandless and allowed the filmmakers to watch and
document his stunningly dangerous climb. All of it, the climb and the intensity
of watching, is breathtaking.
You don’t need to be a climbing enthusiast to marvel at the wonders of both humans and nature captured in extraordinary cinematography. For movie-going suspense, nothing can match the real-life daring in “Free Solo.”
Director: Jesse Peretz
Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd
Runtime: 105 minutes
Central Ohio Film Critics’ Association
Awards Nomination: Best Actor (Ethan Hawke); New Mexico Film Critics’ Awards:
Best Actress; Nantucket Film Festival Nomination: Audience Award
“It’s got heart and laughs in equal
measure, and it sings a sweet, sweet song.”—Adam Graham, Detroit News
Any film that opens with Chris O’Dowd
talking directly to the camera is starting on the right foot, his attitude and
off-kilter humour are irresistible, especially when he makes hilarious
classroom comparisons of TV’s “The Wire” to Shakespeare and Dickens.
In “Juliet, Naked” he plays Duncan,
a film studies teacher obsessed with a onetime singer/songwriter who has long
since disappeared. His entire existence is given over to pretentious babbling
about Tucker Crowe for a small but fanatical fan base online.
After fifteen years, his girlfriend Annie
(Rose Byrne) is at the end of her rope. She questions their relationship
and her very existence in a boring seaside village where she runs a historical
museum inherited from her father. One day she posts a response to one of Duncan’s
essays about a long-lost demo recording by Crowe and receives a response from Tucker
Crowe (Ethan Hawke) himself. He’s about to travel to the UK and wants to meet
her, which is how and why the plot thickens.
Based on a Nick Hornby novel, the film’s comedic elements run the gamut from subtle to broad, but the characters remain believable throughout. There is an unforced quality to the film that is very appealing: it’s fresh and original, and the cast simply couldn’t be better. Hawke even gets to sing and, as evidenced in the Chet Baker biopic “Born to be Blue,” he’s quite good. Tired of formula-driven films? Try “Juliet, Naked.
Director: Richard Eyre Cast: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead Runtime: 105 minutes Language: English Rating: PG
Norwegian Film Festival: Andreas Award,
Richard Eyre; Chlotrudis Awards Nomination: Best Actress; London Critics Circle
Film Awards Nomination: Young Performer of the Year; 2 other nominations.
“It’s always rewarding to watch Thompson
bring her lucid wit and deep emotional reserves to bear on a meaty role.”—Justin
Chang, Los Angeles Times
What should take preference: the laws of
society or the tenets of a religion? When should a child be granted permission
to make “adult” decisions? Do beliefs trump facts?
In this smart adaptation of Ian McEwan’s
2014 novel, “The Children Act,” Emma Thompson plays a British High Court Judge
tasked with rendering a decision with, literally, life and death consequences:
whether a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness (Fionn Whitehead) should be forced to
receive a blood transfusion, against his will, that will potentially save his
So devoted is Fiona to the cause that she
has let her childless, 30-year marriage to husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) fall by
the wayside. This neglect prompts Jack to genially ask permission to seek
sexual gratification elsewhere with a younger woman, which prompts Fiona to
file for divorce.
In an unprecedented move, Fiona visits the
boy in the hospital, trying to understand why this talented, young poet and
musician would choose to let leukemia do him in at the expense of a full and
Fiona’s decision affects her own life as
powerfully as the boy’s. Thompson reveals a woman buffeted by forces she’s
laboured for decades to keep at a safe distance.
While Whitehead and Tucci are both very effective, it’s Thompson who carries the film, both literally and emotionally. Her burden here weighs down almost every line of dialogue, registers in almost every expression on her face. This is acting of the highest order.
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles
Runtime: 113 minutes
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original
Screenplay; AFI Awards USA: Movie of the Year; Chicago Film Critics Association
Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, National Society of Film
Critics Awards: Best Actor. 51 other wins, 94 nominations
“Paul Schrader offers one of the year’s
best movies-a faith-in-crisis powerhouse about a pastor -Ethan Hawke hitting a
new career peak-who is politically awakened by an eco-activist and a new kind
of love.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Feeling down about dying polar bears,
deforestation and the state of the world in general? Paul Schrader’s beautiful,
bruising “First Reformed” is the movie for you. Ethan Hawke is superb
as Toller, an ex–military chaplain reckoning with a painful past. He’s been
made the pastor of a tiny, historic church in upstate New York, which should be
a balm for him. But even though he spends his days trying hard to do the Lord’s
work – extending particular kindness to an anxious young wife and mother-to-be,
played with tremulous sensitivity by Amanda Seyfried – his nights become
intense sessions of journal keeping and destructive drinking.
With “First Reformed,” Schrader, best known
as the writer of “Taxi Driver,” a director he’s given us his share of
terrific, sometimes underappreciated pictures like “Forever
Mine” and “Patty Hearst” – has made a fine existential-crisis
movie. And for all its serious intent, it isn’t torture to watch.
Part of the movie’s understated triumph lies in its casting: Hawke is an actor who clearly cares, and worries, a lot–the tree of life is practically etched into his forehead. As the hyper-conscientious Toller, he conveys both the selfishness and the true anguish of people who just can’t let go of their own pain. But he also offers a shred of hope in the idea that in the end, caring too much might be just the thing that saves us.
Director: Rohena Gera
Cast: Ahmareen Anjum, Tillotama Shome
Runtime: 99 minutes
Language: English and Hindi with English subtitles
Cabourg Romantic Film Festival, World
Cinema Amsterdam: Audience Award; Cannes Film Festival: Gan Foundation Award,
Rohena Gera; Braunschweig International Film Festival: Best Film; seven other
”This is a delicately observed and
attractive drama with some great Mumbai cityscapes and an excellent performance
from Tillotama Shome.”—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Set in modern-day Mumbai, “Sir” is a
thoughtful study of class and the way it can both restrain and empower. Writer-director
Rohena Gera has crafted an intelligent romance within the confines of
upper-crust Indian society.
Ratna (Tillotama Shome) is a young widow
transplanted from her small village to the megalopolis of Mumbai, where she’s
employed by a wealthy family of builders to serve as a chambermaid for their
son, Ashwin (Vivek Gomber). As the story begins, Ashwin’s impending wedding has
been called off after his fiancée was found to have had an affair. Left alone
to work for his dad’s company and brood a lot around the house, Ashwin will
slowly develop a bond with Ratna that extends beyond a mere master-servant
relationship into something more.
Still, Indian society remains strictly
hierarchical for the most part, and “Sir” ultimately reveals how
unbridled emotions cannot survive in such an environment. Westernized in
thought and attitude, Ashwin treats Ratna like a friend rather than a maid, but
faces the pressure of his family and social standing. And Ratna, who as a young
widow has very few opportunities in life, is smart enough to know that her
story with Ashwin will never end happily ever after.
With “Sir’ as her first fictional effort, director Gera has crafted a warmly nuanced look at love in a place filled with constraints and contradictions, and where a broken heart could perhaps be the first step toward emancipation.
National Society of Film Critics, Reykjavik
International Film Festival: Best Film; Cannes Film Festival: CICAE Award,
Chloé Zhao; National Board of Review: Top Ten Independent Films; 18 other wins,
41 other nominations.
“A beautiful, luminous film and one of the
year’s best.”—Liam Lacey, Original Cin
With a film that rides an invisible line
between drama and documentary, Beijing-born director Chloé Zhao opens up a new
frontier for our romance with the cowboy in “The Rider.” Real-life wrangler Brady Jadreau stars in a
version of his own true story, as a rodeo champion who is thrown out of work by
a near-fatal head injury. In fact, the film’s entire cast play versions of
themselves, with only their last names changed. Their collective performances
are authentic and unforced, thanks to director’s Zhao’s artistry.
This is a movie that is literally about
getting back on the horse. But in Brady’s case, that proves to be a dangerously
dubious option, so he settles for a job in a supermarket,
then finds work as a horse trainer—while caring for his mentally
challenged teenage sister, feuding with a father who has a gambling problem,
and cheering on a quadriplegic buddy paralyzed by a bull-riding accident. Still,
the rodeo siren beckons Brady and the urge to tempt fate is strong.
As grim as all that may sound, “The Rider” is a thing of exquisite beauty. It’s strangely rewarding to watch a movie with two winning characters who are mentally challenged. The real-time sequences of Brady coaxing trust from unbroken horses cast an extraordinary spell. And between the rhapsodic landscapes courtesy of exquisite cinematography by Joshua James Richards and the spare dialogue, Zhao grounds the Zen-like myth of cowboy culture in a rare authenticity.
Director: Lars Kraume Cast: Jonas Dassler, Michael del Coco, Sina Ebell Runtime: 111 minutes Language: German with English subtitles Rating: PG
Munich Film Festival: Best National
Director; Bavarian Film Awards: Best Young Actor, Jonas Dassler; three other
wins, 8 other nominations.
“This is a solid, good-looking piece of filmmaking which is
elevated by a clutch of strong performances from the young cast.”—Wendy Ide,
Lars Kraume’s “The Silent Revolution” is
based on a true story set in post-war Germany.
Theo (Leonard Scheicher) and Kurt (Tom
Gramenz) are two teenage East German lads who travel to West Berlin to visit
the grave of Kurt’s grandfather, a former SS officer. (This is pre- Berlin
Wall.) Before going home, the curious
boys decide to go the cinema where they see a newsreel about the 1956 Hungarian
Uprising as told from the West German point-of-view. It is a deadly violent
affair. Among the victims is a revered soccer star. The boys can’t wait to
share the shocking news with their East German classmates.
Theo and Kurt get their classmates to
participate in a silent protest as a way to commemorate the victims. Since
every action in East Germany was inherently political, their odd behaviour ends
up being investigated by a host of authoritarian figures.
The higher-ups decide to give the entire
class only one week to reveal the person responsible for the idea, or everyone
will be banned from ever graduating in all of East Germany.
The ripple effect of a seemingly quite innocent
idea and the subsequent, disproportionate reaction to it is fascinating to
“The Silent Revolution” deftly lies out the
story’s complex socio-political and historical background, illustrating the
differences between 1950s East and West Germany and between post-war Germany
and the recent Nazi past.
“The Silent Revolution” is an insightful look at a little-known chapter in Germany’s not-so-distant past.
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Director: Christian Petzold Cast: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese Runtime: 101 minutes Language: German and French with English subtitles Rating: PG
Nuremberg Film Festival: Best Film; Berlin
International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Sydney Film
Festival Nominations: Best Film. Six other nominations.
“Director Petzold summons Kafka and
Hitchcock in this taut thriller which explores present-day fascism and
anti-immigration sentiments through the lens of Germany’s troubled past.”—Liam
Lacey, Original Cin
“Transit,” director Christian Petzold’s
moody meditation on exile and rootlessness, is unsettling and powerful.
The director takes the Casablanca-like
story from a wartime novel by the German writer Anna Seghers and places it in a
more-or-less current setting using contemporary dress. German-born presumably
Jewish refugee Georg (Franz Rogowski, a Joaquin Phoenix lookalike) escapes
occupied Paris and flees to Marseilles ahead of advancing troops. There he adopts
a dead man’s identity in a daring scheme to get the necessary transit passes
for a ship to Mexico.
While he waits, he meets other desperate
refugees including the mysterious Marie (Paula Beer), separated from the
husband who would help her escape. The film’s tension is provided by whether Georg
will get to use the documents. He is also torn over Marie with whom he begins
an affair, only to learn she is the dead writer’s wife. Georg also gets
distracted by other distressed souls, including a small boy and his deaf
mother, and a lonely architect.
There are references to “camps” and
“cleansing.” Everyone spends a lot of time in queues, waiting in offices, fearful
and fretting. The spectre of fascism looms as sirens scream and illegals are
rounded up. The film makes the link between wartime fascism and current
anti-refugee sentiment quietly explicit and highly effective. Petzold
makes palpable the refugees’ plight, their fear, shame, despair, and sense of
Petzold is familiar to NOSFA patrons from his previous films “Phoenix” and “Barbara.”
Director: Emmanuel Mouret
Cast: Cécile de France, Edouard Baer, Alice Isaaz
Runtime: 109 minutes
Language: French with English subtitles
César Awards (France): Best Costume Design;
César Award Nominations: Best Actress (Cécile de France), Best Actor (Edouard
Baer), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design.
Toronto International Film Festival Nomination: Platform Award. Eight other
“Mademoiselle de Joncquieres”
takes a stealthy and slow-burn approach before fully revealing its true colors
as a shrewdly choreographed roundelay of scheming, seduction and revenge in the
spirit of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”—Joe Leydon, Variety
A gender war plays out in the French countryside
in “Mademoiselle de Joncquières,” an artfully directed and sinfully
entertaining costume drama.
Cécile de France and Édouard Baer star as
Madame de la Pommeraye and the Marquis de Arcis. She’s a wealthy widow with
sharp wit and cunning observation. He’s a limited-time romantic, concocting all
the right words to have his way with women before breaking for the exit.
As his latest spurned lover, Madame Pommeraye
seeks revenge by hiring Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Alice Isaaz), an idolized
young beauty whose unfortunate circumstances led to her own mother drawing her
into sex work.
Pommeraye’s scheme involves hiding
Joncquières’s profession while dangling her like prey, orchestrating the
Marquis’s obsession in a plot that makes for some politely hilarious
Lush costumes, languid pacing and the
elaborate syntax of the 18th-century all create an exquisitely measured effect.
The twisting plot is delightful to follow, and the film is always gorgeous to
Director Emmanuel Mouret’s endlessly witty script draws on source material from 18th-century playwright and libertine Denis Diderot. The borders between friendship, love, and betrayal have always been hard to delineate, let alone redraw, no matter how well people can talk.
Cast: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal Runtime: 121 minutes
César Awards: Best Director, Best
Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound; Venice Film Festival: Best
Director; four wins, 17other nominations
“Equal parts comedy, drama, love story and
horror story, the saga simply refuses to be easily lassoed.”—Peter Howell,
Director Jacques Audiard has crossed the
Atlantic to work in that most American of genres, the western. And what a
western it is. From the very first moments of “The Sisters Brothers,” it
is clear that Audiard wants to bring something new — a particularly eccentric
balance of wit, tenderness, and toughness of spirit — to the form.
Based on Canadian author Patrick deWitt’s
award-winning novel, “The Sisters Brothers” tells the knockabout
story of two notorious assassins, Eli and Charlie Sisters (John C. Reilly and
Joaquin Phoenix). Grizzled, cynical, and not inclined to take prisoners, the
Sisters brothers navigate, with brutal efficiency and a modicum of luck, the
wilds of the American Far West at the height of the Gold Rush in 1851, when
quick thinking and an even quicker draw are the requisite means of survival.
Contracted by Oregon City crime boss The
Commodore (Rutger Hauer) to kill Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), a prospector
he claims has betrayed him, the brothers encounter myriad complications on
their eventful ride down to San Francisco and through the Sierra Nevada:
witches, bears, a madam who owns a town and commands a murderous army of fur
trappers, and a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) tracking the same peculiar man they
Inflected with dark humour, a dreamlike quality and a good deal of reverence, the film tips its hat to the tradition of the genre while providing its own unique stamp.
Director: Tom Harper Cast: Julie Walters, Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo Runtime: 101 minutes
Language: English Rating: PG
“A happy-sad drama of starstruck fever that
lifts you up and sweeps you along, touching you down in a puddle of well-earned
Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley, “Beast” a
NOSFA screening) has dreamt of becoming a country music star. But Glasgow isn’t
exactly Nashville, and, as a convicted criminal and single mother of two young
children, Rose-Lynn is more country song than country starlet.
Just released from prison, forced to wear
an ankle monitor and keep curfew, she can’t return to her job as the house-band
singer at Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry. Sporting her white cowboy hat and white
leather cowboy boots, Rose-Lynn lands a new job as a housekeeper for the
lovely, and very posh, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). After catching her singing on
the job, Susannah’s kids quickly become Rose-Lynn’s biggest fans and Susannah
her enthusiastic patron, determined to help her get to Nashville. But
Rose-Lynn’s dreams come at a cost. Her mother (Julie Walters), has always done
what she can to help her daughter, but she also wants her to take
responsibility and act like the grownup that her kids need her to be.
Buckley delivers an unforgettable
performance as Rose-Lynn, showing off a smashing singing voice. Director Tom
Harper brings Nicole Taylor’s beautiful, textured script, full of authentic
characters and unexpected turns, to life in Glasgow, a city that, like his
protagonist, might appear gritty on the surface, but is bursting with spirit
Rose-Lynn’s story reminds us that taking responsibility doesn’t have to mean giving up hope. And sometimes when we’re chasing our dreams, we realize we were living them all along.
Director: David Lowery Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek Runtime: 93 minutes Language: English
National Board of Review: Top Ten Independent Films of Year; Golden Globe Nomination, Best Actor Comedy or Musical: Robert Redford; Toronto Internatinal Film Festival Nomination: People’s Choice Award; San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay. 5 other nominations.
“Forrest Tucker’s swan song moments in The Old Man & the Gun are well tailored for Robert Redford’s swan song as an actor. It’s a damn good performance that also serves as a fitting curtain call.”—Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
Written and directed by David Lowery (A Ghost Story) and featuring magnetic performances from Academy Award winners Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun breathes invigorating new life into an old genre.
Based on the true story of career criminal and prison-escape artist Forrest Tucker, the film revives a cinematic tradition of reflecting on America’s outlaw fixation while delivering an exhilarating tale of felonious mischief.
Having first been put away at age 15, Forrest (Redford) has spent much of his life in jail and much of his energy breaking out – he successfully escaped incarceration 18 times. Forrest is now in his seventies, free, and living in a retirement community, yet he cannot resist the lure of another bank heist. He assembles a gang who, though armed, rely mainly on creativity and charisma to claim their loot. They are pursued by Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), whose official duty is galvanized by the purity of his love for the chase.
With Redford subtly invoking his own storied resumé as the embodiment of a certain masculine ideal, and a sublime supporting cast that includes Danny Glover, Tom Waits, and Elisabeth Moss, The Old Man & The Gun is both entertaining and elegiac. Infused with Hollywood’s history of outlaw charm, this is the type of glorious bank-robber movie they just don’t make anymore.
Director: Gilles Lellouche Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Philippe Katerine, Benoit Poelevoorde Runtime: 122 minutes Language: French with English Subtitles
Globes de Cristal Awards: Best Film, Best Actor(s) Nominations: Philippe Katerine, Benoit Poelevoorde; Prix Louis Delluc Award Nomination: Best Film.
“A surefooted crowdpleaser with enough warmth and the committed talents of a stellar ensemble cast to fend off any sense of predictability.”—Allan Hunter, Screen International
French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche delivers Le Grand Bain (aka Sink or Swim) an amiable comedy drama, set in the world of all-male synchronized swimming. With plenty of heart, the top-tier cast lends the witty story some welcome sparkle.
Le Grand Bain features Mathieu Amalric as the depressed, unemployed new recruit; Guillaume Canet as an uptight factory manager; Jonathan Zaccaï as the dim but lovable one; Benoît Poelvoorde as the bordering-on-bankrupt salesman; and Jean-Hugues Anglade as an aging wannabe rock-star, desperate to impress his daughter.
With more than a passing resemblance to The Full Monty, each character airs their problems as the team bond in swimming pool, sauna and bars—training, talking and learning to redefine their masculinity, let go, live a little and love again.
Whilst the focus is firmly on the men, there are a couple of strong female characters, most notably Virginie Efira and Leïla Bekhti as the swim team trainers, and Marina Fois as Bertrand’s wife.
Thanks to its Gallic male-bonding charms, Le Grand Bain remains afloat thanks to a cracking cast, solid direction and cinematography, and lightly comedic touch. Once the gang hits Norway for the synchronized swimming championships and the uplifting finale, the film nicely builds to its hilarious crowd-pleasing climax.
Hollywood Music in Media Awards: Best Original Score, Independent Film; Toronto International Film Festival Nomination: Audience Award; Satellite Awards Nomination: Best Original Score, Best Costume Design; 8 other nominations.
“Keira Knightley, Dominic West and, of course, the costumes make this fin de siecle portrait of French literary giant and pioneering feminist worth seeing.”—James Verniere, Boston Herald
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, celebrated French writer and gay icon, was not your average early-20th-century woman. And Colette is not your average period drama. Like the subject herself, Wash Westmoreland’s film is energetic, fearless, and unapologetically feminist.
We meet Colette (Keira Knightley) as a teenage girl in the Burgundian countryside, infatuated with Willy (Dominic West), a charming but much older Parisian publisher. When she joins him in the city as his bride, Colette begins to turn heads. Ripe for adventure and unafraid of her desires, Colette challenges the social and gender conventions, and sexual taboos, of Belle Époque Paris.
Willy is all in – at first. He even encourages Colette to write as one of his “factory” authors, and the fruits of her labour, the Claudine books, quickly become a literary sensation. There’s only one problem: though Claudine is Colette, she also belongs to Willy. Whether they’re having sex, arguing about whom they’re having sex with, or debating Colette’s writing, Knightley and West’s chemistry leaps off the screen, capturing the attraction and the scandal at the heart of a tumultuous relationship.
Writers Westmoreland, the late Richard Glatzer, and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, capture Colette and her world with an intelligence, passion, and wit worthy of the writer herself. Though the film’s period details are exquisite, under Westmoreland’s elegant direction they are background to the woman at the centre of this story. Colette’s battle to have her voice heard in a patriarchal society is as relevant today as it was more than 100 years ago. She didn’t let them win; neither should we. And the closing credits, featuring images of the principals, adds further authenticity to the rewarding production.
Director: Felix van Groeningen Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney Runtime: 120 minutes Language: English
Chicago International Film Festival: Best Feature; Hollywood Film Awards: Breakthrough Direction; Best Supporting Actor: Timothée Chalamet; San Diego Film Critics Society Awards: Best Supporting Actor, Timothée Chalamet Golden Globe Awards Nomination: Best Supporting Actor: Timothée Chalamet; 14 other nominations.
“Every last thing the movie shows us about addiction, and the effect it can have upon those who are trying to save an addict from himself, is entirely authentic.”—Owen Glieberman, Variety
Based on the bestselling pair of memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff, Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
Fresh from his breakout role in Call Me by Your Name, Academy Award nominee Timothée Chalamet turns in another dazzling performance in Beautiful Boy.
Playing a young man raging and suffering through drug addiction, he confirms his status as one of the very best actors of his generation. He is matched every step of the way in this moving drama by Steve Carell, who continues to build on his comic achievements with powerhouse dramatic turns in Foxcatcher, The Big Short, and most definitely here.
David Sheff (Carell) is a kind, loving, middle-class dad. He and his wife, Vicki (Amy Ryan), seem to have done everything right for their family. So when son Nic (Chalamet) gets addicted to methamphetamine, David can’t believe it, can’t stop it, and can’t help but risk everything to try to get his son back. As he grapples with Nic’s lies, betrayals, and constant flirtations with death, the film reminds us of who Nic used to be – a sweet, thoughtful, beautiful boy.
Adapting the bestselling books that David Sheff and Nic Sheff wrote about their experiences, Belgian director Felix van Groeningen brings both realism and poetry to a tragically timely story. As the Sheffs confront the intractable, unpredictable beast of addiction, they must at the same time confront the fact that Nic’s pain might also be his choice. Beautiful Boy doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of this family’s struggle, but frames it with a surprising amount of life, love, and hope.
Director: Bo Burnham Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson Runtime: 93 minutes Language: English
Golden Globe Nominee, Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Elsie Fisher;
American Film Institute: Movie of the Year; Chicago Film Critics, Audience Award; National Board of Review: Best Directorial Debut. 31 other wins, 56 other nominations
“As much as (director) Burnham can be applauded, it’s impossible not to clap even harder for the pitch-perfect acting of newcomer Elsie Fisher, a marvel in the lead role of an apparently unremarkable 13-year-old.”—Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade is a movie about how small moments can define your future, but only if you let them.
It’s an assured first feature from Burnham, who up until now has been best known as a comedian, YouTube personality, and director of a few comedy specials.
Eighth Grade is a gentle, clear-eyed drama about a girl named Kayla (Elsie Fisher) in her last week of middle school, trying to figure out who she’s going to be in the face of peer pressure, her own insecurity, and the performance demands of social media.
A lesser filmmaker might spin this premise into a familiar cautionary tale of kids and the internet, but Burnham keeps the focus tight on Kayla, who copes with her misfit status by making videos espousing a confidence and style she doesn’t have; she’s faking it, but she hasn’t yet figured out that everyone around her is faking it, too.
Eighth Grade drifts along with Kayla, embodied by the gifted Fisher, who is actually a movie veteran, mostly specializing in voiceovers (Despicable Me et al) – as she nudges awkwardly toward teenhood, setting boundaries with her well-meaning dad (Josh Hamilton, low-key great), making a new, slightly older friend (Emily Robinson) and figuring out how to talk to boys.
Eighth Grade is a modest, intimate movie that contains a whole world, one that manages to make a distinctive mark in the annals of teen angst. It’s an intense time in life and Eighth Grade gets it down pat.
Tickets to our Gala Party at Bight are $20 and include delicious hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and entertainment by the Damon Dowbak Trio featuring Dino Pepe and Richard Tribe – cash bar.
Come and discuss your favourite films with friends. We’re sure you will have a great time!
You do not need to be a member to buy a ticket! Festival and gala tickets are available at Fireweed (cash only) and Wojo’s Mojo on Algoma (credit & debit offered), and at the theatre on Thursday. The party starts at 8:00 following our screening of Lady Bird. You don’t have to see the film to come to the party!
Cheers Thunder Bay for all of your support over the years! For more details on our tickets: Membership and Tickets
Director: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi
Runtime: 100 minutes
Boston Online Film Critics Association: Ten Best Films of the Year; International Cinephile Society Awards: Best Actor, Robert Pattinson, Prix du Jury: Ben & Joshua Safdie; Three other wins, 36 nominations.
“At once a swift, relentless chase thriller and an exhilarating mood piece that recalls the great, gritty crime dramas of Sidney Lumet and Abel Ferrara, “Good Time” is also exactly what it says it is: a thrill, a blast, a fast-acting tonic of a movie.”—Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
Much acclaim has been issued to Robert Pattinson’s performance in Good Time, the indie venture from director brothers Josh and Ben Safdie. He is indeed impressive, and the breathless thriller built around it is pretty fantastic too.
The premise is dead simple. Pattinson’s increasingly desperate hustler Connie scrambles to raise bail money for his troubled, mentally-challenged brother Nick (co-director Ben Safdie), who’s been arrested after a botched bank robbery. Connie was there too, and only got away through dumb luck.
Over the course of one frenzied night, driven by a combination of guilt and fraternal responsibility, Connie will lay waste to half a dozen lives while insisting everything he does is for the right reasons. We know right off that Good Time is an ironic title; the question is how badly things will go for all concerned.
As a genre film, Good Time is ambitious, offering layers of social and cultural commentary as Connie flails through the various strata of New York nightlife. It’s never explicitly stated, but his whiteness is clearly a factor in his interactions with people in positions of status and authority; a lot of Black characters aren’t nearly as lucky.
And as things dissolve, Pattinson gets more and more riveting, letting us see how Connie convinces himself that every new lie and impulsive betrayal is for the greater good. It’s all malarkey – and he knows it – but there’s no way he’s stopping, either.
Sunday April 22nd 2:20 PM
Director: Robert Guédiguian
Cast: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gérard Meylan, Jacques Boudet
Runtime: 107 minutes
Language: French with English subtitles Rating: N/A
Venice Film Festival: Winner, Signis Award & Unimed Award, Robert Guédiguian; Cesar Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actress, Anais Demoustier
“The House by the Sea is ultimately a deeply satisfying and moving experience.”—John Bleasdale, Cinevue
Three grown children gathered at the picturesque villa of their dying father reflect on where they are, who they have become, and what they have inherited, in Robert Guédiguian’s elegiac tribute to a family and a fading lifestyle.
Robert Guédiguian has trod a singular path over the past three decades. His films are almost all set in his beloved hometown of Marseille. As a committed leftist and former Communist, he deals with working-class social issues.
His new film is unquestionably one of the peaks in his illustrious career. It tells, with no sentimentality, a tragic tale of family discord. When the patriarch of the family suffers a stroke, his three adult offspring assemble in the small fishing port of their childhood to attend to their father. It is clear, almost from the outset, that while each one of them has lived very different lives, the ghosts and skeletons in the family closet have still not been laid to rest.
Using this as his framework, Guédiguian finds a deep well of subject matter: how this little seaport has changed with the world around it, how its people have changed, and what it means to live life based on values. The devil is in the details of this rich tapestry of culture that Guédeguian examines as he connects how the local relates to the global. His intelligence as a filmmaker shimmers throughout this elegiac tribute to a family and a fading lifestyle.
Sunday April 22nd 9:55 AM
United Kingdom 2017
Director: Francis Lee
Cast: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones, Ian Hart
Runtime: 104 minutes
Rating: 18A Note: some sexually explicit scenes
British Independent Film Awards: Best Independent Film; Best Actor (Josh O’Connor), Best Debut Screenwriter (Francis Lee) Best Sound; Edinburgh International Film Festival: Best British Feature Film; Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival: Best Film. 20 other wins, 30 nominations.
“Actor-turned-director Francis Lee’s indie hit conjures rough beauty from a rural Yorkshire setting, careful cinematography, and splendid naturalistic acting.”—Liam Lacey, Original Cin
Life on the family farm in Yorkshire is mostly about “getting on with it” for young Johnny Saxby, (Josh O’Connor) who’s plainly miserable.
His father has had a stroke so it’s up to Johnny to pick up an even larger share of the load of tending sheep and other chores. Johnny drowns his sorrows in beer at the local pub, with a bit of weed and casual gay sex.
But when a handsome Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny suddenly finds himself having to deal with emotions he has never felt before. As they begin working closely together during lambing season, an intense relationship starts to form, which could change Johnny’s life forever.
Director Francis Lee, who also wrote the screenplay, lets the story unspool at a leisurely pace and he’s chosen a fine lead in Josh O’Connor as the tormented Johnny, who soon meets his match in Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), who doesn’t let racial slurs like “gyppo” go unanswered.
Lee also has a fine eye for the majestic Yorkshire. It’s only with Gheorge’s help that Johnny begins to perceive the stark beauty all around him.
Combining gritty realism with poignancy, the result is a film that is exceptionally moving.
Sunday April 22nd 9:50 AM
Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Cast: Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura
Runtime: 103 minutes
Language: Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles
San Sebastian International Film Festival: Best Film; Toronto International Film Festival: NETPAC Award, Maysaloun Hamoud; Zagreb Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Feature Film; Award of the Israeli Film Academy: Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Actress (Shaden Kanboura), Supporting Actress ( Mouna Hawa); four other wins, 15 nominations.
“In Between is well crafted for a first film, and heralds a strong new voice in world cinema.”– Chris Knight, National Post
There’s a double meaning to the title of this intriguing and defiantly feminist film out of the Middle East.Laila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) live large and party hardy in their Tel Aviv apartment where they’re joined by a third, Nour, a hijab-wearing woman who’s finishing her education and engaged to be married.
All three are living “in between” in Israel, a society where their status as Arab women among the majority Jewish population is rather problematic. They’re also “in between” a world where they can do as they please and a conservative Arab culture that expects women to behave modestly and to defer to men.
Laila may have meant the man of her dreams in Ziad (Mahmud Shalaby) while Salma, whose parents are desperate to marry her off, begins a lesbian romance. Dowdy Nour has a seriously controlling fiancé.
As the struggles of love and life swirl around them, all three women form deep bonds of friendship and solidarity. The performances are superb and the final scene of all three women sticking together in the face of adversity is sublime. In her remarkable feature film debut, director Hamoud tells the story of the three women with ferocity, grace, and inordinate depth of feeling.
Sunday April 15th 9:50 AM
Director: Emile Gaudreault
Cast: Michel Côté, Louis-José Houde, Karine Vanasse
Runtime: 107 minutes
Language: French with English Subtitles
“The exchanges between father and son are particularly juicy…Emile Gaudreault’s police comedy has nothing to envy from those produced in Hollywood. It would be little wonder that southern neighbours would produce a remake.”—Julie Vallaincourt, Sequences La Revue de Cinema.
Several years ago, the French-Canadian action-comedy movie Father and Guns was a massive blockbuster, deriving laughs from the comically dysfunctional relationship between father, Commander Jacques Laroche (Michel Côté) and son, Marc (Louis-José Houde) both cops who had to work closely together undercover. The psychotherapy camp they were assigned to served to further accentuate the pair’s own hilarious squabbling.
The sequel retains the winning formula. This time, to save the life of a brother officer who’s been kidnapped by a biker gang, father and son must track a Mafioso and his spouse to a couples’ group therapy session in the woods. For his cover, Marc takes his own bristly girlfriend Alice in tow (Karine Vanasse, TV’s Cardinal) with dad serving as chauffeur and psychologist’s assistant. Perhaps they can salvage their relationship while completing their mission. But things will be more complicated than expected.
Aside from nattering at each other, the duo must navigate around the Mafia boss (Patrice Robitaille) and his moll (Julie Le Breton), a nutty bohemian couple, a lesbian couple, the exhausted parents of a toddler, and another couple with generational differences.
The sequel works surprisingly well. The pace is faster and the humour is more on point with hilarious sight gags. The two leads Côté and Houde work off each other in sure-handed fashion, aided immeasurably by Vanasse’s snappy girlfriend and the oddball participants.
En Pere Du Flic 2 combines the strengths of a great, classic comedy cop thriller with a hilarious study of a dysfunctional, father-son relationship.
Sunday April 15th 10:15 AM
Director: Alexandra Dean
With: Mel Brooks, Peter Bogdanovich, Diane Kruger
Runtime: 86 minutes
New York Film Critics Online, Best Documentary; Scottsdale International Film Festival, Best Film; Women Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Documentary about Women. 5 other wins, 5 nominations.
“The movie reveals and demonstrates over and over that Lamarr was a fascinating and brilliant person, a true eccentric with considerable will and personal courage.”—Mick Lasalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Known for her iconic look and scandalous private life, Hedy Lamarr was revered as “the most beautiful woman in the world” in 1940s tabloids. Yet, few know her true story; an undiscovered genius, she pioneered a secret communication system intended to guide US torpedoes during WWII, which became the basis for contemporary technologies like GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story looks deeper into the life of the screen legend, whose military and communication contributions went unrecognized for decades. As a child, the Austrian-born Lamarr would disassemble and reassemble music boxes just to understand how they worked. After her breakout role in the Czech film Ecstasy, the young Hedy escaped her ammunition-manufacturing husband and fled the country, later signing a contract with MGM studios and starring in hits such as Algiers, Boom Town and Comrade X with Clark Gable.
Her most impressive achievement, however, was the one she was never acknowledged for: a revolutionary radio guidance system called “frequency hopping” that she co-invented with composer George Antheil in her spare time to defeat the Nazis in naval battle.
Sadly, the name Hedy Lamarr would later only be known for the inventor’s infamous six marriages, affairs, drug use, and obsession with plastic surgery.
Lamarr was also one of the first women to produce her own films during a time when women were restricted to positions in front of the camera. Dispelling Lamarr’s public image as a flighty celebrity, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a trailblazing tribute to women whose contributions have gone unrecognized and an inspiration for future generations of female inventors to come.
Sunday April 15th 12:20 PM
Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle Netherlands, 2017
Director: Mike van Diem Cast: Ksenia Solo, Giancarlo Giannini, Gijs Naber, Lidia Vitale, Donatella Finocchiaro
Runtime: 90 minutes Language: English, Italian, Dutch w/ English subtitles Rating: N/A
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Audience Award; Terra di Siena Film Festival: Best International Film; Victoria Film Festival (Canada): Festival Prize—Audience Award.
“Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is a Dutch romance film that perfectly balances its whimsical outlook on life with heartfelt drama.”—Derek Jacobs, Cinema Axis
A wonderfully woolly tale of rediscovering one’s roots — and rectifying a decades-old wrongdoing in the process — Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle has more fantastic twists than its title has nouns.
It’s 1980, and young Montrealer Anna (Ksenia Solo) is embarking on what will prove to be a life-altering adventure. It was her mother’s dying wish to have her ashes returned to her hometown in Italy, and Anna finds the people of Puglia waiting with open arms and flapping gums. Her mother’s old friend Immacolata (Lidia Vitale) is a particularly gifted storyteller with a penchant for exaggeration, sometimes fudging the details but somehow getting everyone closer to the heart of things.
She tells stories of how Anna’s father, Gauke (Gijs Naber), biked from the Netherlands to Italy, introduced Dutch irrigation practices to Puglia, forged a successful enterprise growing and selling tulips, and bravely faced off armed extortionists with blistering kung-fu moves. Immacolata also makes other, more sombre claims, ones that will shake up Anna’s entire sense of identity and prompt her to settle some old scores on her parents’ behalf.
Bursting with colour and romance and teeming with charming performances — including one from Oscar nominee Giancarlo Giannini as an exceedingly patient detective — Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle is a story about travelling far and wide to ascertain who you are, and about the joys and consolations of storytelling itself.
Sunday April 15th 12:15 PM
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim
Runtime: 104 minutes
Language: Spanish w/ English subtitles
Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; Independent Spirit Awards: Best International Film; National Board of Review: Top Five Foreign Language Films; 15 other wins, 27 nominations
“This indelibly moving film — Chile’s entry in the Oscar race for Best Foreign Film — features a performance of surpassing beauty and tenderness from Daniela Vega, an openly transgender actress seizing her moment with stirring authenticity.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
With the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, Chilean director Sebastián Lelio delivers an inclusive character study of a different nature. Marina (Daniela Vega), the film’s transgender heroine, is beautiful, mysterious, and plunged into a precarious situation after her older boyfriend dies unexpectedly in her company.
Fifty-seven-year-old divorcee Orlando (Francisco Reyes; Neruda, The Club) wakes in the middle of the night, suffers an aneurism, and falls down some stairs, sustaining injuries that will come to haunt Marina after she takes him to the hospital and attempts to slip away before authorities and family members begin to pry.
Marina knows she’s regarded with suspicion for her youth, class, and above all, gender status. She expects to gain little from Orlando’s demise, but the viciousness of Orlando’s son, the cold-heartedness of Orlando’s ex-wife, and the intrusiveness of a detective from the Sexual Offences Investigation Unit force Marina to not only clear her name, but also to demand the very thing no one seems willing to give her: respect.
Winner for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, A Fantastic Woman is an alluring exercise in style and a smart spin on the genre — one that moves trans characters from the margins of film to the spotlight.
Sunday April 22nd 4:35 PM
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Cast: Maryana Spivak, Yanina Hope, Aleksey Rozin
Runtime: 127 minutes
Language: Russian with English subtitles
Academy Award, Golden Globe Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film; Cannes Film Festival: Jury Prize; César Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Film; National Board of Review: Top Five Foreign Language Films; four other wins, 27 nominations.
“Zvyagintsev and his sterling cast expertly paint the portrait of a family too blinded by selfish desires to see the pain they are causing others.”—Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Russia’s nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, Loveless is a dark, cold, spellbinding portrait of a country, and a society, in crisis.
Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Alexey Rozin) are in the final days of a painful, agonizing marriage. When she’s not taking selfies, Zhenya openly berates her husband, who is so beaten down he can barely pick up his head. He’s already moved on to another relationship, same with her. But his company has a strict anti-divorce policy, a function of a top-down ordinance meant to promote the importance of a family unit.
Lost in their bitter, abusive relationship is their 12-year-old son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), whom Zhenya treats even worse than she does her husband. But when Alyosha goes missing — he’s been emotionally missing for years, his physical disappearance is the next logical step — search parties are employed to comb the town and its surrounding areas to find him, after the broken police system offers no help.
Loveless is devastating and draining, and it takes a special kind of filmmaker to make despondency look this good. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) is brave and bold behind the camera, giving Loveless a churning engine beyond its cold, dead heart. The whole story can be seen as a metaphor for Putin’s Russia and the way the country has lost its humanity. Loveless is as bleak and harsh as the tundra.
Winner of the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes, the new film from Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) is an intense study of a family torn apart by divorce, in which the former husband and wife are each more interested in starting their lives over with their respective new partners than in tending to their 12-year-old son — until the boy suddenly goes missing without a trace.
Sunday April 22nd 2:25 PM
Director: Petra Volpe
Cast: Marie Leuenberger, Maximilian Simonischek, Rachel Braunschweig
Runtime: 96 min
Language: Swiss and German with English subtitles
San Diego International Film Festival: Best Global Cinema; Tribeca Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Actress, Nora Ephron Prize: Screenplay; Swiss Film Prize: Best Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay. Four other wins, 10 nominations.
“Petra Volpe’s direction is crisp, her screenplay is smart and well-paced, and the acting is superb, particularly Sibylle Brunner, as the elder stateswoman of the village.” – Paul Weissman, Film-Forward
Two years ago, director Sarah Gavron gave us Suffragette, the story of women in Edwardian London fighting for the right to vote. The Divine Order tells a similar tale, but it’s set in Switzerland, 1971, not 1912. Men landed on the moon – several times – before they let women vote in Swiss elections.
The title of Petra Biondina Volpe’s movie refers to the argument that the Supreme Being never intended women to vote. But for Nora (Marie Leuenberger), things come to a head when her husband won’t let her get a job outside the home. She falls in with two fellow feminists – an Italian/Swiss divorcée who suggests a “women’s strike,” and an older woman who lost her livelihood because of outdated property laws.
Together, they set up an information night for local ladies in their rural town, and attend a protest in Zurich, followed by an educational talk about “yoni power.” Nora realizes she doesn’t just want to vote; she wants an orgasm!
They face opposition from a little old lady who runs the local “anti-politicization of women” league, and wouldn’t have anything to do if she weren’t helping keep women in their place.
Overall, The Divine Order exudes an easygoing, lighthearted style, making it a lovely diversion, and a reminder of how recent some changes to women’s rights have been.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia became the last country to allow women to vote, although Vatican City remains a male-only conclave when it comes to voting for the Pope, since only cardinals can vote, and only men can be cardinals. Divine Order indeed.
Sunday April 22nd 10:00 AM
Director: Dave McCary
Cast: Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear, Mark Hamill, Claire Danes
Runtime: 100 minutes
National Board of Review: Top 10 Independent Films; Provincetown International Film Festival: John Schlesinger Award, Narrative; Film Club’s Lost Weekend: Best Film; Audience Favourite; nine other nominations.
“The rare comedy–one of a very special sense of humour and a big heart-that has the ability to connect with anyone wondering what else is out there.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
On the surface Brigsby Bear is a fish out of water tale, where an abducted child James (SNL’s Kyle Mooney) has been raised as a 25-year-old innocent by well meaning-yet-lunatic pseudo-parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams). His one virtual companion is “Brigsby Bear,” a lo-fi kids’ show produced by his ‘dad’ that has served as James’ sole means of education. Obsessing over his carefully curated Brigsby VHS tapes, James is content in the bunker of a home where his ‘parents’ tell him that air in the post-apocalyptic desert outside is unbreathable.
When suddenly rescued from a captivity, James is thrust into an unknown world. Reunited with his real parents and sister, his biggest shock is the realization that the world isn’t aware of the life-sized bear which has formed the basis for most of his life.
Heady stuff for what’s really just a gentle, silly comedy. One buys into James’ innocence and his nascent intelligence as he tries to comically relate to a new world through his fanciful Brigsby philosophy.
The script provides James with compactly-shaped characters who credibly accept him for what he is. There’s the investigative cop (Greg Kinnear) who harbours long-suppressed acting ambitions and good-hearted Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg Jr) one of James’ sister friends and a fantasy-fan in his own right who assists James with producing one last Brigsby episode. It’s suggested that this exercise may provide James with some closure and enable him to move on.
Brigsby exudes an infectious sweetness and innocent charm. The world accepts our protagonist for the person he actually is as opposed to forcing him to be what he should have been. An impressive debut for director Dave McCary.
Director Dave McCary makes an impressive debut with this offbeat whimsical comedy, which explores the experiences of a young man rescued after years in captivity. Reality takes a back seat to a fanciful and often gently hilarious point of view of how a sheltered fan-boy is suddenly uprooted from a cocoon-like existence face to a whole new world.
Brigsby is a fish-out-water tale about James (co-writer Kyle Mooney) a 25-year-old man-child, who was kidnapped as an infant and raised in a bunker by Ted and April (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) who claimed to be his parents and told him the air outside was unbreathable. Over the years, James’ education and world view has come from weekly videotape episodes of the children’s show Brigsby Bear, made by Ted specifically for him. But when James is rescued and reunited with his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michael Watkins), and spikey sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins), they’re strangers to him.
To make sense of this big new world, he gets help from a cop (Greg Kinnear) and a therapist (Claire Danes). But James longs to revisit Brigsby’s world. So when Aubrey’s friend Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg), a sci-fantasy fan himself, shows interest in the furry character, James launches an epic plan to make a movie to bring the TV series to a conclusion, perhaps providing James with some closure and thus enabling him to move on to real life.
It’s hilarious to see the man-child James try to adapt to a contemporary world only through cultural references as they relate to Brigsby. Mooney underscores James’ obsession with a bright sense of curiosity that’s infectious for the other characters and the audience.
This sounds dubious, but the characters are compactly well-defined, with the standout being Kinnear, a cocky detective with acting ambitions. The rest of piece exudes an infectious, comical charm that sets aside suspension of disbelief. And one accepts the film’s gentle message, where the world accepts James for the person he actually is instead for forcing him to be what he should have been.
Sunday April 22nd 12:00 PM
Director: Paolo Virzì Cast: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren, Christian McKay
Runtime: 112 minutes
Capri, Hollywood Award: Ensemble Cast Award; 4 other nominations
“[The Leisure Seeker] … is a consoling, teary-funny road trip comedy about an aging couple who realise their days – of living independently, at least – are numbered.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
Canadian acting legend Donald Sutherland and Academy Award winner Helen Mirren star in this wise and witty road movie set in today’s divided United States. The English-language debut of Italian director Paolo Virzì (Like Crazy), The Leisure Seeker makes an entire country its canvas and a couple of aging adventurers its lovable heroes.
Living their twilight years under the close supervision of their adult children and an array of doctors and specialists, John (Donald Sutherland, Milton’s Secret; Pride and Prejudice) and Ella (Helen Mirren, Trumbo; Woman in Gold) yearn for one last adventure. Escaping in a 1978 “Leisure Seeker” RV, the couple hits the road in an effort to reclaim some independence and spontaneity in their lives.
However, the trip may not be as carefree as John and Ella anticipate; both are suffering from serious health issues, prompting their children and doctors to keep close tabs on them at all times. Yet Ella, the driving force behind the road trip down the famous Route 66, refuses to let these hindrances keep her and John from truly experiencing the world and living life on their own terms for as long as possible
With great respect and genuine affection for its characters, and an impressively nuanced take on the aging process as a journey of its own, The Leisure Seeker is a road trip unlike any other.
Director: JR, Agnès Varda
With: JR, Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard
Runtime: 89 minutes
Language: French with English subtitles
Academy Award Nomination: Best Documentary Feature; Independent Spirit Awards/Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards/National Society of Film Critics Awards: Best Documentary Feature; Toronto International Film Festival: People’s Choice Award; 28 other awards, 31 other nominations.
“Faces Places” is a film of sheer joy, its exuberance surpassed only by its tenderness and purity of purpose.”—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
One can exhaust a thesaurus trying to find new words to describe Faces Places. Suffice it to say that this collaboration between photographer and installation artist JR (age 33) and beloved French filmmaker Agnès Varda (age 88) is inspired and irresistible.
Their movie is simplicity itself: two highly creative people, celebrating their newfound friendship, set off on a series of adventures. Their goal is to visit out-of-the-way villages in France, meet interesting and colorful people, and ask them to participate in JR’s photographic exhibits: gigantic black and white photos pasted on the walls of barns, old buildings, shipping containers, a factory water tank, and the like.
Take it as a means of celebrating everyday life of everyday people. And for the most part, the everyday people—farmers, cheese makers, truck drivers, even a cinema operator— are tickled with the end result.
In recent years Varda has made a specialty of impromptu films in which she brings her artist’s sensibility and photographer’s eye to seemingly ordinary people, especially women. This makes her a perfect partner for JR, a free spirit who expresses himself on a much larger scale but shares Varda’s interest in exposing the beauty of the commonplace.
Following this unlikely pair makes for a fairly jolly outing. There are also references to Varda’s earlier work and her association with the French New Wave, one of which culminates in a climactic sequence that is spurred by a possible reunion.
One doesn’t need a thesaurus to describe a reaction to Faces Places. It can be summed up in two words: pure pleasure.
Director: Amanda Kernell
Cast: Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Erika Sparrok, Maj-Doris Rimpi
Runtime: 110 minutes
Language: Swedish and Saami with English subtitles
Newport Beach Film Festival: Audience Award, Foreign Feature; Riviera International Film Festival: Best Director; Seattle International Film Festival: Best Actress (Lene Cecilia Sparrok), Best Feature Film; Venice Film Festival: Best Director (Debut). 17 other wins, 15 nominations.
“Swedish director Amanda Kernell makes a stirring debut with a coming-of-age tale that pointedly addresses a bygone era of Scandi colonialism.”—Guy Lodge, Variety
Breaking away from family is more than mere teen rebellion in Sami Blood, an eloquent coming-of-age drama set in 1930s Sweden that revolves around a spellbinding performance by young Lene Cecilia Sparrok.
For Elle-Marja, the tough and quick-witted 14-year-old at the charged center of the film, eye-opening exposure to systematic racism convinces her that the only way to be true to herself is to adopt a new identity. Rejecting her cultural heritage as one of the indigenous Sami, she reinvents herself as Swedish, embarking on a course that’s both exhilarating and bruising.
Writer-director Amanda Kernell’s assured first feature has a classic sheen, imbued with a powerful sense of place and sensitive performances. Compellingly rooted in the experiences of her young protagonist, newcomer Sparrok’s near mute portrayal as luminous as it is discerning.
At a boarding school for Sami children, star pupil Elle-Marja is pawed at, measured like a specimen and subjected to a milder version of the eugenics that would soon convulse Europe. Further studies are a pipe dream; the curriculum is designed to lift students just enough from their assumed backwardness before sending them home to their reindeer-herding families
Galvanized, Elle-Marja abandons her language and traditions and ventures out into the world. Scenes of her elderly self suggest the emotional toll of her actions. Sparrok’s burning gaze makes clear the cost of not taking them.
Sunday April 22nd 12:15 PM
Director: Pat Mills
Cast: Michelle McLeod, Geena Davis, Anastasia Phillips, Scott Thompson
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: English Rating: 14A
Austin Film Festival: Audience Award, Jury Award.
“(Michelle McLeod) is a natural star and an extremely funny one at that, showcasing a knack for physical comedy and an even better hand a keeping the beat of the comedic timing that pulses with vitality in Mills’ script.”—Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer
Irene Willis (Michelle McLeod) lives in a town deemed the most insignificant geographical location in North America. The cycle of life is predictable and bland, something 15-year-old Irene, “the fattest girl in high school,” might just be able to shake up.
Fuelled by the dream of becoming a cheerleader, but constantly told by both her overprotective mother and society that she isn’t exactly a fit for the role, Irene turns to her confidante and all-around god: Geena Davis. Speaking to Irene via the A League of Their Own poster on her bedroom wall, Geena provides the inspiration and tough no-nonsense motivation she needs to face her bullies and follow her passions.
When Irene gets suspended and is forced to do community service at a retirement home — run by discipline freak Barrett (Scott Thompson) — alongside her bullies and her new friend, Tesh (a gender non-conforming, glitzy dreamer), an opportunity arises. If she can’t be a high-school cheerleader, maybe she can turn her new-found circle of elderly friends into an unlikely dance troupe.
Pat Mills established himself with his dark comedy Guidance and brings to Don’t Talk to Irene his smart, sly, and sharp humour. This is an empowering comedy about acceptance on your own terms. Disarmingly honest, Irene goes through the world with no filter, quick repartee, and an underlying sense of potential achievement. She just needs a bit of a lift to soar. You go, girl!
Director: Nora Twomey
Cast: Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif
Run time: 94 minutes
Academy Award & Golden Globe Nominations: Best Animated Feature; ACTRA Awards: Outstanding Performance, Voice (Saara Chaudry); Canadian Screen Awards: Best Original Score. 5 other wins, 42 other nominations.
“….families deserve to see this excellent film. The Breadwinner is a visually striking feature with a relatable young heroine; it is as fresh and relevant as any movie of 2017.”—Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com
Based on the award-winning, best-selling young adult novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis, the Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner tells the remarkable story of Parvana, a young girl who is forced to become the breadwinner for her family while living under the Taliban regime. Executive produced by Angelina Jolie and helmed by Irish filmmaker Nora Twomey in her solo directorial debut (co-director on The Secret of Kells), The Breadwinner is a rare gem that will captivate both young and mature audiences.
Living in a single room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, 11-year-old Parvana is not allowed to attend school or leave the house without a male chaperone. Her father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — sits on a blanket in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. However, when the Taliban arrests Parvana’s father for having a foreign education, the young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to shop for food and earn money for her family.
Sumptuously rendered with swirling hand-drawn animation, the film captures the colours, sights, and lights of the Afghan city. Featuring a voice cast of largely Afghani, Pakistani and Indian actors, The Breadwinner disrupts the typical Hollywood version of princesses. Instead, it is a timely reminder of the millions of strong young girls and women worldwide who persevere in the face of oppression or conflict.
Sunday April 15th 12:10 PM
Director: Fatih Akin
Cast: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar
Runtime: 106 minutes
Language: German, Greek, and English with English subtitles
Golden Globe Award: Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language; Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, New York Film Critics Online : Best Foreign Language Film; Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, Diane Kruger; six other wins, 14 nominations.
“On this emotional roller coaster, Katja’s capable of just about anything.”—Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine
German-born Diane Kruger, who usually appears in French or American productions such Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, gets a rare workout in her native language as Katja, a Hamburg woman whose life is torn apart when her Turkish husband and their small son are killed in a random-looking terror attack. The film’s original title can be translated as Out of Nowhere or Over Nothing, and both convey the pure shock of the event and the paucity of reasoning behind it that’s eventually revealed.
The terror turns out to be homegrown, leading to a court case in which we learn about the German legal system. There are some taut standoffs between the widow’s sympathetic lawyer (Denis Moschitto) and the defendants’ shark-like attorney (Revanche’s excellent Johannes Krisch).
Writer-director Fatih Akin (Soul Kitchen, NOSFA fest 2011) has the leather-clad Katja go through the wringer. She grieves, she pouts, she takes drugs, she tries to commit suicide. Kruger fills the screen with an intense presence.
When the trial ends on a technical note, the film shifts into revenge mode, with hints of social context. The action shifts to Greece, with the far-right Golden Dawn movement an ominous presence. As a commentary on the futility of terror, Akin seems to ask, is Katja an avenging angel or a self-destructive fool?
April 15th 2:35 PM
Director: Ziad Doueiri
Cast: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Rita Hayek
Runtime: 113 minutes
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
Best Foreign Language Film nomination, Academy Awards; AFI Fest: Audience Award; Boulder International Film Festival: Audience Award Palm Springs International Film Fest Award: director Ziad Douein. Four other wins, 13 nominations
“A powerful and impeccably crafted tale arguing for the crucial importance of addressing history and facing down trauma… Doueiri weaves a starkly intimate fable of violence that’s at once deeply personal and universally, globally relevant.”– Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
The Oscar-nominated feature from Ziad Doueiri (The Attack) centres on a dispute between two men on the streets of Beirut that suddenly becomes a national sensation when it opens up old wounds and traumatic memories.
One afternoon in the dog days of a Beirut summer, Tony (Adel Karam, Where Do We Go Now?) gets into an altercation with Yasser over a broken drainpipe. Tony is a mechanic and a Christian; Yasser is a construction foreman and a Palestinian. When Tony, hard-nosed and hot-headed, refuses to accept Yasser’s half-hearted apology, two bruised male egos begin to swell.
Tony utters an unforgiveable insult to Yasser. With a speed neither man could foresee, their personal argument escalates through the neighbourhood and the city to the national stage. The dispute comes to encapsulate the lasting legacy of the Lebanese Civil War — and becomes a lightning rod for people with more power than either man to pursue their own agendas.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, The Insult is an impeccably made political drama, layered with clever observations on the complex history of the region as seen through the intimate mechanisms of an interpersonal misunderstanding.
Thursday April 19th 6:30 PM
followed by a Gala party at Bight
Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Timothée Chalamet, Lucas Hedges
Runtime: 94 minutes
Language: English Rating: 14A
Five Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay; Golden Globes: Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Saoirse Ronan, Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy; National Board of Review: Best Director & Supporting Actress; 94 other wins, 186 other nominations.
“Greta Gerwig makes a winning directorial debut with a funny and very human comedy that happens to have Oscar-caliber performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.”—Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily
Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, follows Saoirse Ronan’s title character as she attempts to navigate the final year of her high school experience in Sacramento in 2002, with the film detailing Lady Bird’s squabbles with her parents (Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts) and her relationships with two very different boys (Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet).
Writer/director Gerwig delivers a familiar yet charming narrative that contains virtually all of the touchstones one associates with the coming-of-age genre, and yet, for the most part, Lady Bird comes off as a pervasively affable dramedy that benefits from Gerwig’s authentic approach and a smattering of superb performances. What is distinctive here is the pacing and emotional energy of the characters. The various plot strands come and go in rapid-fire but often hilarious fashion.
Gerwig extracts inspired performances from her cast. Ronan’s excellent turn as the movie’s conflicted protagonist is matched by an exceedingly strong supporting players – with, in particular, Metcalf and Letts delivering seriously impressive work as Lady Bird’s world-weary, exasperated mother and somewhat more sympathetic father as well as Beanie Feldstein as Lady Bird’s sometimes under-appreciated girlfriend.
Gerwig’s screenplay is rife with familiar elements – ie Lady Bird tussles with her parents, has boy problems, drops her unpopular friend for a popular one, etc, etc – but director orchestrates all of these in sure-handed fashion, resulting in a credible arc for her titular character. Geriwg’s Oscar-nominated Lady Bird comes off as a solid debut from a promising new filmmaker.
Sunday April 15th 2:25 PM
Director: Cédric Klapisch Cast: Pio Marmaï, Ana Girardot, François Civil
Runtime: 113 minutes
Language: French, English, Spanish with English subtitles
“The performances are engaging and the film is very likeable, especially as we witness the landscapes through the changing seasons of sun-dappled summer and snow-clad winter.”—Alan Hunter, Daily Express (UK)
Veteran director Cédric Klapisch’s Back to Burgundy is an engaging familial drama set in the heart of French wine country. Taking place over the course of roughly four seasons and two harvests, it is the story of a prodigal son who returns to the family winery after a 10-year absence.
In that time, Jean (Pio Marmai) has travelled the world, married, become a father and even set up his own vineyard in Australia. But when his own father falls ill, and soon dies, he is reluctantly brought back home.
Friction is immediately apparent between Jean and his siblings Juliette (Ana Girardot) and Jeremie (Francois Civil), who has married into one of the area’s more renowned winemaking families, and tensions are exacerbated by the family’s winery facing pressing economic issues.
Thanks to some help for the script from real-life winemaker Jean-Marc Roulot (who plays loyal family friend Marcel), Klapisch gets the minutia of viti-culture – and just how tough and trying such an existence can be.
This is still a well-observed study of the rhythms of rural family life, digging over the emotional soil for the little dramas that make up life.
Beautifully photographed and capturing the famous region in all its glory, this is a gentle breeze of a film. There’s something charmingly old-fashioned about Back to Burgundy. You will probably want to uncork a good bottle of vino after the screening.
Sunday April 15th 2:30 PM
United Kingdom, 2018
Director: Richard Loncraine
Cast: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley
Runtime: 111 Min
Awards: Best Narrative Feature, Richard Loncraine, Palm Spring International Film Festival
“Finding Your Feet” hits its romantic-comedy beats with an old-timer’s clockwork efficiency.”—Guy Lodge, Variety
Recent retiree Sandra (Imelda Staunton; Pride, Another Year) is on top of the world and looking forward to enjoying the rest of her life with her husband of 40 years, Mike (John Sessions; Denial, Florence Foster Jenkins). However, when Sandra discovers Mike embracing her best friend and uncovers their years-long affair, her plans for their idyllic retirement dissolve before her eyes.
With her picture-perfect but stuffy life crumbling around her, Sandra moves in with her eccentric sister, Bif (Celia Imrie; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and embarks on a journey to find herself and reconnect with her decidedly less posh roots.
As her patience for her sister’s self-pity wears thin, Bif hopes to snap Sandra out of her funk by inviting her to join her dance class and meet her friends Charlie (Timothy Spall; Mr. Turner, Denial), Jackie (Joanna Lumley; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie), and Ted (David Hayman; Macbeth, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). Surrounded by new friends and reviving her longstanding love for dance, Sandra comes to enjoy her new life with her sister, but she can’t avoid her past for long.
Featuring an all-star cast, Finding Your Feet proves it’s never too late to start again and reconnect with the people you love.
Thursday April 12th 8:40 PM
Director: James Franco
Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor
Runtime: 103 minutes
Academy Award Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay; Golden Globes: Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical: James Franco; National Board of Review: Best Adapted Screenplay; Detroit Film Critics Society: Best Actor; 20 other wins, 65 other nominations
“There’s something joyful about the Franco brothers playing a fun-house mirror version of their own Hollywood arrival, and the film’s best scenes are with Seth Rogen’s production manager, aghast at Tommy’s incompetence.”—Jake Coyle, Associate Press
Perhaps the biggest surprise about The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s dramatization of the creation of the camp classic The Room, is how utterly sweet it is.
Franco, who directs and stars as the world’s worst filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, takes someone who’s been an object of mockery and makes him utterly human and likable.
Moreover, he takes the often-strained relationship at the center of The Room’s backstory – between Wiseau and Greg Sestero (James’ brother Dave Franco) whose memoir the film is based on and forges a wonky screen friendship.
Franco plays Tommy as a loopy enigma, a sun-walking vampire who talks like a Transylvanian valley girl, capable of the most peculiar acts—he scandalizes an acting class by giving an inappropriate primal scream, his Brando-esque monologues look like a full-body seizure, and he shouts Shakespeare in 24-hour diners.
But Tommy has two things going for himself, his unerring self-belief and a seemingly bottomless bank account to make his film. Yet despite his oddball ways, he also engenders some genuine pathos.
The film features a variety of cameos including Zac Efron, Sharon Stone, Bryan Cranston, Melanie Griffith, and Seth Rogen as an acerbic script supervisor, but it’s Ari Graynor who stands out as a long-suffering girlfriend. .
Adding some veracity to the film is the closing credits, where scenes from The Disaster Artist and The Room play side by side. Seeing is believing. But it’s James Franco’s inspired rendition of Tommy that truly sparks The Disaster Artist.
Sunday April 15th 4:55 PM
Director: Martin Provost
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: French with English Subtitles
Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve; Globe de Cristal Awards Nominee: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve
“While there’s plenty of wisdom about living in the moment and enjoying life, Provost and the Catherines dole it out subtly and without any mawkish aftertaste.”—Vikram Murthi, rogerebert.com
Catherine Deneuve gives a towering performance as Béatrice, a dying woman who looks back on her life and attempts to fix a couple of her very few regrets.
Her principal sorrow, aside from the brain tumor she can no longer ignore, is having abandoned Claire, the young daughter of her former lover, some 30 years before she returns to Paris to look for them both—presumably because she needs help in what’s coming.
Since Béatrice has lost touch with all the people from her past and doesn’t know Google from Gogol, she hasn’t heard that the dad died soon after she left. Or that Claire—played by the equally formidable Catherine Frot—is now a 50-something single mom with a son in medical school and a stern passion for her own work, as a midwife.
In France, Claire’s referred to as a sage femme, or wise woman—which also sums up her orderly, almost monastic life. She works in a standard hospital but her profession is under threat from more streamlined medical practices. And now her domestic world is upended by the long-lost stepmother, who manages to push in all fronts. None of this tug of war keeps Béatrice from smoking, drinking, eating like a queen, and gambling large bags of cash in dubious surroundings.
Given its naturalistic stylings, it takes time to notice how elegantly framed, shot, and edited The Midwife is. And with two Catherines this great, the labour is bound to go well.
Sunday April 15th 9:45 AM
Director: Margaret Betts
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Dianna Agron, Julianne Nicholson
Runtime: 123 minutes
Capri, Hollywood: Best Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo; Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, Margaret Betts; Black Reel Awards: Outstanding First Screenplay, Margaret Betts. one other win, 13 nominations.
“Novitiate, is as heated with ideas as it is with fire in the flesh. I particularly enjoyed Leo’s performance as fire-breathing tragic dragon, guarding a treasure that’s already been taken.”—Liam Lacey, original.cin
Unable to find her place at home or amongst her peers at school, Cathleen (Margaret Qualley, The Nice Guys;) finds solstice with the nuns at her school and decides to turn to the Catholic Church to find meaning in her life. However, her place in the Church is complicated as larger changes are on the horizon from the Vatican.
Cathleen is immediately struck by the peace and calm that she experiences attending her first Catholic mass. Despite the misgivings of her decidedly irreligious mother (an anomaly in their small 1960s Tennessee town), Cathleen wholeheartedly pursues her newfound interest in God, which provides her with the intellectual stimulation and calm sense of security she’s missing in her tense home.
Sure of her devotion, Cathleen dedicates herself to becoming a nun and joins a local convent, isolated from her family and the life she once knew. Encouraged by the camaraderie with her fellow postulants and the peaceful silence of her initial training under Sister Mary Grace (Dianna Agron), Cathleen moves forward with her training as a novitiate. However, as the Catholic Church finds itself on the verge of momentous change and her preparations increase in severity — bringing her in closer contact with the austere and demanding Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo, The Fighter) — Cathleen is forced to decide if the convent and her relationship with God can give her everything she needs.
Supported by outstanding performances, director Margaret Betts presents an assured and beautifully captured feature debut. Her skillful and nuanced exploration of the pressures facing young Cathleen brings a palpable kindness and universality to her story.
Sunday April 15th 5:05 PM
Director: Samuel Maoz
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonatan Shiray
Runtime: 108 minutes
Language: Hebrew, Arabic, German with English subtitles
National Board of Review: Best Foreign Language Film; Venice Film Festival: Best Film; Palm Springs International Film Festival: Directors to Watch Award; 13 other wins, 13 nominations.
“Brilliantly constructed with a visual audacity that serves the subject rather than the other way around, this is award-winning filmmaking on a fearless level.”
– Jay Weissberg, Variety
Samuel Maoz’s debut feature, Lebanon,winner of the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival), was set during the 1982 Lebanon War, and shot almost entirely inside of a tank. Foxtrot, his second feature, steps away from that fevered claustrophobia to tell another maddening story of war and conflict, but this one on a much broader canvas.
Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Dafna (Sarah Adler) experience gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son, Jonathan (Yonatan Shiray). Unable to find any solace in the well-meaning — if hollowly effusive — condolences of their extended family, or in the empty patriotic platitudes of bureaucrats, Michael spirals into anger only to subsequently experience one of life’s unfathomable twists — a twist that can only be rivaled by the surreal military experiences of his son.
Foxtrot examines both the strength and the absurdity of military service from several points of view. Moving from the grieving parents’ apartment to the remote military post where Jonathan was stationed, Maoz shows us precisely how much damage can ensue when young soldiers, barely able to tell their toe from a trigger, experience boredom, privation, and loneliness.
Although there is a terrible tragedy at the heart of the film, Foxtrot contains many moments laced with mordant humour, irony, and sincere emotional connection. Maoz once again brings us a powerful story, beautifully photographed and composed, about the lunacy of war, and its most immediate, as well as its most far-reaching impacts.
Hey Everyone! Our website is under construction, but full details will be published April 4th!
In the mean time, you can see what we have in store for our April 12th screenings by clicking on Home Page above. Thank you for your patience!
Mark these dates on your calendar:
April 12th – Festival Prelude Screenings
April 15th – a full day of wonderful films
April 19th – a screening of Lady Bird, followed by a Gala Party event at Bight beginning at 8:00 PM. We’ll have delicious hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, entertainment by the Damon Dowbak Trio, cash bar and a lot of fun! We hope you will join us in celebrating our 25th festival!
April 22nd – another great day of films!
Check back soon for reviews of all our great films.
Thursday April 12th 6:30
United Kingdom, 2016
Director: Lone Scherfig
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsan, Richard E. Grant
Runtime: 110 minutes
Goteborg Film Festival: Best Feature Film; 5 other nominations.
“A World War II comedy that, despite its light hand, never compromises the grief and loss that lie at its core.”—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Director Lone Scherfig (An Education) returns with this rousing romantic comedy set in Britain’s wartime film industry. Featuring a cast teeming with some of the UK’s most charismatic comedic actors, including Bill Nighy (Pride) and Richard E. Grant (The Iron Lady), Their Finest is about boosting morale during a period of national — and personal — crisis.
Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton, Tamara Drewe) is a “slop” scriptwriter, charged with bringing a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Catrin’s artist husband looks down on her job despite the fact that it’s paying their rent, but her effort and talent are valued by lead scenarist Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin, United).
While on location in Devon, Catrin begins to come into her own and earns the respect of her peers, especially when she becomes the only crewperson that Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy) — a past-his-prime, yet nonetheless pompous actor — will talk to and take direction from.
Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, the film pops with witty banter and flows with lovely period detail. The characters are uniformly textured and the performances nuanced. Nighy is perfectly cast in his endearingly withering role, and Jeremy Irons turns up for a welcome cameo. However, Arterton ultimately steals the show, bringing subtlety, intelligence, and a range of beautifully gauged emotions to Catrin, whose path to self-renewal is an inspiring example of a talented woman forging her place in the world. Visit our sponsor Helium Highs!
Sunday April 15th 5:00 PM
United Kingdom/Poland 2017
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Jerome Flynn, Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson
Runtime: 95 minutes
Academy Award & Golden Globe Nominations: Best Animated Feature; Vancouver International Film Festival: Most Popular International Feature; Shanghai International Film Festival: Best Animated Film. 11 other wins, 47 nominations.
“A visually arresting and worthy tribute to a genius.”—Bruce Demara, Toronto Star
Lovingly is the way Loving Vincent was created. It took seven years to complete this look at Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s final days in a rural Paris suburb. Making their feature-directing debut together, Poland’s Dorota Kobiela and the U.K.’s Hugh Welchman started by filming live actors against green screens, and then had hundreds of animators and technicians add layers of oil-paint colour and texture to the footage, creating the impression of the artist’s famously thick brush strokes.
They use many of his best-known paintings as starting points, and as backgrounds or transitions, for their own story. They focus on the nebulous circumstances of van Gogh’s suicide at age 37, in 1890. Douglas Booth plays Armand Roulin, a hard-drinking dandy in a yellow jacket who is tasked with delivering a posthumous letter by his dad, the muttonchop-whiskered postmaster (Chris O’Dowd) of Arles, in southern France, where the painter found his swirly, post-impressionist style.
Among latter-day friends and antagonists, there’s Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan and The Hobbit’s Aidan Turner, Helen McCrory (Penny Dreadful), and Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) as Dr. Gachet, a father figure with an ambiguous role in the manic ups and downs of the painter and his sickly younger brother, Theo.
Both van Goghs are played by Polish actors in black-and-white flashbacks. The visual approach is consistently compelling on-screen. Be sure to stay for the credits, to catch photos and sketches of the real-life characters, and to hear Lianne La Havas’s take on “Starry, Starry Night”. It’s a lovely book-end to a visually stunning movie.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothée Chalamet
Runtime: 130 minutes
Language: English, Italian, French, German
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 (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
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.
Director: Mina Shum
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Tzi Ma, Sandra Oh, Zak Santiago, Liane Balaban
Runtime: 94 minutes
“[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 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
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.
Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
Runtime: 111 minutes
Language: English | Spanish | Portuguese
“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.
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
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.
Director: François Ozon Cast: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner Runtime: 113 minutes Language: French, German
César Awards, France: Best Cinematography; Sedona International Film Festival: Best Foreign Feature; Venice Film Festival: Best Young Actress: Paula Beer.
“A fine bilingual cast, haunting period detail and a provocative approach to a twisting story carry the day.”—Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
Several times in Frantz, director François Ozon’s requiem for post-World War I Europe, Philippe Rombi’s score returns to a refrain that echoes “Ode to Joy,” the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It’s a small gesture, but one that speaks to the deep-rooted unrest that keeps Frantz’s characters from finding any kind of solace.
The thing holding everyone back is the death of the titular character—a young German with a passion for music and art who, pushed to enlist in the army by his father, was killed in action. Months later, his parents and fiancée Anna (Paula Beer) are still mourning his passing, but are eased out of their despair by the arrival of Adrien (Pierre Niney), a Frenchman who seems to have known Frantz before the war and shares in the family’s grief.
Initially confused and icy to this stranger—he is French after all–the family eventually adopts him as a reminder of, and a surrogate for, their lost loved one. But Aiden seems to be withholding something. What is his secret? Anna is both confused and curious. While there are familiar suspicions, Ozon has his own tricks up his sleeve.
Ozon uses Frantz to investigate the nature of forgiveness following a war—though they shared a border, Germany and France were on opposite sides of the conflict—and the weight of grief. And he finds a simple but hugely effective way to symbolically reflect the moments when his characters find calm and comfort.
While most of the film is in black and white, certain scenes are rendered in lavish colour. That those florid moments are few, and even include a painful flashback to the war, only emphasizes how conflict and suffering can drain the wonder out of everyday life.
Director: Ceyda Torun Cast: Bülent Üstün Runtime: 80 minutes
Language: Turkish with English subtitles Rating: G
Sidewalk Film Festival: Best Family Film
“Kedi is steeped in charm and simple wisdom. I should state flat-out that I am not a cat person, but this film won me over all the same.”—Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com
Impossible to resist (and 100 percent allergy-free for us afflicted souls), Kedi is almost shamelessly satisfying: a documentary about the thousands of scrappy wild cats that prowl Istanbul with insouciance. Whose streets? Their streets. This isn’t a documentary for disbelievers.
Historically the ancient city has, for centuries, dealt with what might be termed a cat problem. Still, Ceyda Torun’s warm-hearted exposé definitely sees the army of felines as an asset. Sometimes captured in high-angle drone shots and elsewhere via a slinky roving camera, Kedi is The Shining, but with cats. Torun’s co-producer and cameraman Charlie Wupperman filmed in Istanbul for two months, painstakingly getting down to cat level and following the animals around, even using a bit of infra-red technology to follow one cat on the hunt for a mouse,
We’re down on the ground intimately with these animals, whose day-to-day impulsiveness finds a sinuous expression in some of the most elegant camerawork to ever grace a nature doc.
We follow seven especially brazen subjects, and it’s easy to get swept up in their individual dramas. There’s the little guy who paws every afternoon at the window of a café like he’s auditioning for a new production of Oliver! We also meet amorous alley strutters, psychotic yowlers and regally pampered pusses that know they have it made.
Kedi finds depth via its many interviews with humans, some of whom see the cats as wise spirits, others who need them as objects for their compassion. These beasts awaken something within the souls of these people, making them kinder and more playful. If Kedi did the same for audiences, that wouldn’t be so bad.
International Online Cinema Award Nominations: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay. Imagen Foundation Award Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress.
Disarming in its simplicity, Beatriz at Dinner establishes a believable premise for a dinner party where things go terribly wrong. It’s a tribute to writer Mike White, director Miguel Arteta and their superior cast that this allegorical story never jumps the rails, as it easily could.
Winning ingredient number one is Salma Hayek. She is exceptionally good as a Mexican-American healer who is devoted to her patients at a recovery center in Santa Monica, California. One day she drives to an exquisite home in Newport Beach to give a massage to a long-time client (Connie Britton). When Hayek’s car breaks down Britton insists that she stay for dinner, over the objections of her husband. He doesn’t share his wife’s compassion, and besides, this is a business-related meal where the guest of honour is a high-powered developer (John Lithgow). Beatriz is casually dressed and out of place in the company she’s about to keep.
Like Hayek, Lithgow disappears into the role of the real-estate mogul and the crass remarks he makes seem frighteningly genuine. He doesn’t know how awful he sounds as he issues his pronouncements. What’s worse, he doesn’t care. He gets under Hayek’s skin, especially after she’s had several glasses of wine.
That’s the straightforward setup of Beatriz at Dinner:. The skill of its execution make it compelling, even suspenseful at times. The conviction of the ensemble cast makes Mike White’s script come alive. White and director Arteta have collaborated before, on Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl; this thoughtful and provocative film earns another place of honour on their résumé.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Trine Dyrholm, Fares Fares Runtime: 111 minutes Language: Danish with English Subtitles
Berlin International Film Festival: Best Actress, Trine Dyrholm; Bodil Awards: Best Actress, Trine Dyrholm; Montclair Film Festival: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Trine Dyrholm.
“An intimate, bittersweet study of communal living drenched in the unfiltered weed smoke and wide-wale corduroy of 1970s Copenhagen.”—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Week
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, (The Hunt, The Celebration) who is 48, lived in a commune from age seven until he was 19. It’s no great surprise, then, that his latest film, The Commune, is set in just such a shared community in 1975.
Married couple Erik and Anna (Ulrich Thomsen, Trine Dyrholm) have just inherited a house in Copenhagen that is far too big and expensive to maintain for just them and their 14-year-old daughter, Freja.
Anna hits on the idea of starting a commune. A quick montage later they are nine strong, including a foreign guy who cries a lot, and a couple whose precocious six-year-old is not expected to live past the age of nine, and who readily tells people this prognosis at every opportunity.
Infidelity seems inevitable and unexpectedly it’s Erik who winds up wandering, falling into bed with Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann), a student at the university where he teaches a course in modern architecture. When caught out, Erik comes clean with his wife telling her he’s in love. Anna, putting on a remarkably brave face, suggests that Emma join the commune.
What follows is an incredible performance by Dyrholm as a woman doing her best to keep things together when her entire world seems to be falling apart, and with everyone right there to witness the unraveling.
Atlantic Film Festival awards: Gordon Pinsent Award (Best Feature), Michael Weir Award (Best Screenwriting); Cinefest Sudbury: Audience Choice Award; Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards: Best Cinematography Theatrical Feature.
“Hawkins disappears into the performance, capturing Maud’s physical limitations but also the light in her eyes, the sly humor in her observations about life — and her gift for seeing the greatest beauty in the simplest things.”—Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
Maudie dramatizes the life of self-taught painter Maud Lewis (nee Dowley), who became somewhat of a cause célèbre in rural Nova Scotia thanks to her vivid renderings of folk art, despite being afflicted by debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s the 1930s. Maud’s parents have passed away. Desperate for some independence, Lewis (Sally Hawkins) breaks away from her unfeeling and repressive brother and sister by going to work as a domestic for the uneducated, irascible fishmonger Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), whom she eventually marries. The oddball outcasts find a life together in their tiny cottage with no heat or electricity. It is their compelling relationship that comes to define the movie.
Despite being dominated by Everett, Maud asserts her capacity for uncovering beauty and meaning even in the most challenging circumstances, and decorates the little home through painting images on any available surface. Everett is indifferent to her creativity, despite the fact that roadside sales of her small paintings and Christmas cards complements their meagre income.
However, once Maud receives unexpected patronage by a rich New York art connoisseur that boosts her hobby into a career, Everett’s appreciation of his wife gradually deepens. He is touched by his wife’s contributions to his world, in ways that he can’t articulate or even understand. For her part, Maud realizes that, for all the harshness and deprivation of her life, she is genuinely loved.
Hawkins not only grasps Maud’s physical infirmities but also illuminates her resilient spirit. Physically and emotionally closed off, Hawke manages the unlikely feat of garnering a small measure of empathy for Everett. The film is further enhanced by the stark beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador (standing in for Nova Scotia) and an effective, moody soundtrack.
One savors Maudie’s modest message, that even the poorest and most painful circumstances can shelter and nurture love, life’s greatest treasure.
September 21, 2017
Showtimes: 6:40 & 8:45 pm at SilverCity
Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk With: Al Gore, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump Runtime: 100 min Language: English, USA
Biografilm Festival: Audience Award; Cannes Film Festival Nomination: Golden Eye Award.
“[An] involving and unexpectedly passionate film.”—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Part of the power of An Inconvenient Truth was the simplicity of the film, with Al Gore simply presenting the facts via his famous slide-show. He had the stats, scared the daylights out of everyone, and urged the audience to get involved. Ten years later, the battle against climate change goes on, but as this follow-up shows, each victory is met with another defeat, making this as vital a topic as ever.
The sequel may be preaching to the choir, but preaching cannot relent in the face of stubborn non-believers. The film shows Gore fighting the good fight, globe-trotting, visiting the site of natural disasters and facing his critics. Sadly, people remain unconvinced despite all the evidence.
The most gripping parts of An Inconvenient Sequel happen when Gore is shown facing his critics, most of whom hail from the big money tied up in fossil fuels. Gore is shown at a senate meeting where his treatment is almost reminiscent of the McCarthy-era “Red Scare” meetings.
Through it all, Gore stays upbeat, noting modest victories, climaxing with the Paris Agreement, although in the interim that victory ultimately had an unhappy climax last November.
If you happen to think this is all a hoax and you weren’t convinced by An Inconvenient Truth, there may not be much here to change your mind. But, if the fight to save the planet from the horrible damage we’ve done to it is something you’re invested in, this is the pat on the back/word of encouragement maybe you need in light of current events. It preaches to the choir, but that choir, hopefully, is getting bigger and bigger.
Greetings film fans! Once again with the onset of autumn, the North of Superior Film Association returns for its 26th season of operation. Remarkable longevity!
This fact was re-emphasized at recent Film Circuit Summit gatherings during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). One former Circuit staffer recalled that Thunder Bay was among a small handful of locations that comprised what was then known as the Northern Film Circuit, including Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, and North Bay. At the Circuit Summit, TIFF Programmer Magali Simard singled out NOSFA as one of the superstars of the Circuit thanks to its continued longevity and viability among 170 groups across Canada. In both public and exclusive Circuit screenings, TIFF CEO Piers Handling and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey respectively praised the Circuit groups for their collective passion in highlighting films that would not otherwise be screened in their respective communities.
NOSFA acknowledges that passion is buttressed by its loyal patrons, without whom there wouldn’t be a North of Superior Film Association.
And so, NOSFA welcomes its patrons to Season #26, which features two exciting films, two theatres: Maudie, the real-life story of Canadian artist Maud Lewis featuring fabulous performances by Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, and An Inconvenient Sequel, featuring Al Gore, a more-than-appropriate selection given global devastation from Mother Nature.
Membership remains the same as last season (still a bargain at $15) as well as admission fees ($6 for members, $9 for non-members.) The September 21st screening offers two-for-one admission upon purchase of your membership. This admission is non-transferable for each purchaser (ie upon membership purchase, you pay for one film and get into the second screening for free). This is offered for opening night only.
We have an exciting autumn ahead of us. We look forward to seeing you at SilverCity!
NOSFA offers a sincere, humble “Thank you!” for Season #25 and our 24th Annual Northwest Film Fest.
Thanks to our sponsors, the management and staff at SilverCity for their support and cooperation, Cineplex, the Film Circuit, Festival Coordinator Catherine Powell, our stalwart volunteers, the folks at Rainbow Printers, the UPS Store, FedEx, and Greyhound, and most of all to our loyal patrons for their great support!
Thanks to those passionate movie-goers who disregarded the horrible weather to support the double-bill of Julieta and It’s Only the End of the World April 27th. We were not immune to the dreadful ice storm that provided its share of challenges. NOSFA had to inveigle the support of Logan MacDonald of the Film Circuit and Olivier Gauthier-Mercier, head of Elevation Pictures, to secure a digital download for The Salesman Saturday night when the digital drive failed to arrive in time for its screening. There was also the fun of frantically securing an access code from Deluxe literally minutes before the screening of Swiss Army Man.
A cakewalk, these film festivals!
Ultimately, our best attended and well-received titles included: Queen of Katwe, Moonlight, Last Cab to Darwin, A Man Called Ove, 20th Century Women, The Eagle Huntress, Burn Your Maps and The Salesman.
It’s been real adventure over the past 25 years. Patrons are invited to check out the NOSFA website to review the roughly 700 titles that have been screened over the decades and the attendant dramatic highlights.
It is a privilege and pleasure to occupy our modest niche in the cultural community of Thunder Bay.
Thanks to members of the NOSFA board whose skills, experience and determination have resulted in a successful 25th season.
To our loyal patrons, have a safe and happy summer.
See you in September!
The Thunder Bay Public Library http://www.tbpl.ca/
And last but not least, our many small businesses whose support we are extremely grateful for:
In Common – Food, Drink and Social Affairs
Mallon’s Corporate Impressions
International House of Tea
Bay Credit Union
Lincoln St. Eatery
The Mystic Garden
Matt Carr Repair
Both Hands Pizzeria & Bakery
Queen of Katwe
Showtime: April 20, 2017 6:30 pm
Director: Mira Nair
Cast: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o
Runtime: 12o minutes
Admission: Members $6 Non-members $9
African-American Film Critics Association (Top Ten Films); Women’s Film Critics Awards (Best Family Film)
17 other nominations
“Directed by the great Mira Nair, the film hits you like a shot in the heart. Nyong’o and Oyelowo are both extraordinary, giving newcomer Nalwanga a chance to shine as Phiona grows into her own woman.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Queen of Katwe offers an inspirational take on the unlikely real-life glory of Ugandan chess champ Phiona Mutesi. This triumph-of-the-human spirit tale surpasses the pitfalls of this genre with outstanding acting, deft filmmaking choices and the casting of new talent, Madina Nalwanga.
The story begins in 2007, with the film’s quiet heroine Phiona (Nalwanga) selling corn on the streets of capital city Kampala, trying to help her single mother (Lupita Nyong’o) make ends meet for the family. Theirs is a ramshackle existence in the Katwe slums.
As part of a sports outreach program run by a local teacher (David Oyelowo), Phiona takes an interest in chess and soon demonstrates unusual skill, soundly defeating her mocking boyish peers. She proves to be a natural albeit unlikely chess prodigy.
Quickly winning smaller competitions, Phiona and her teacher head to national events and then to global tournaments. Her rise is not smooth, however, as the young prodigy must learn to adapt to major challenges in her path.
Nalwanga exudes charisma and captures the emotions of a reserved teenage girl. Oyelowo exudes kindness but also a disciplining demeanor, teaching his young charge not only about chess strategies but life in general.
Director Nair invigorates the chess-playing scenes with exciting montages, quick edits and close-ups conveying intense concentration. Solid casting and sure-handed direction proves to be a winning formula for Queen of Katwe.
Thank you our sponsors Lovely Body and the Sleeping Giant Folk Music Society
Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Cast: Giannis Drakopoulos, Kostas Filippoglou, Yiorgos Kendros
Runtime: 99 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 2:30 PM
Language: Greek with English Subtitles
Hellenic Film Academy Awards: Best Film, Director, Screenplay; London Film
Festival: Best Film; Sarajevo Film Festival: Best Actor (cast), Special Jury Mention
Two other wins, 16 nominations.
“The film is made watchable by a strong cast that renders the men’s vulnerability particularly sympathetic.”—Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
Men! We’re awful, aren’t we? That’s the general theme of Chevalier, a spiky, witty, occasionally unsettling black comedy set on a not-quite-luxury yacht somewhere off the Greek coast. That’s where six fairly wealthy guys – not so much friends as loosely connected business associates and family members – have gathered to dive, jet-ski, play parlour games and bicker about who’s best at spear-fishing.
But as boredom sets in, the most confident of the bunch, Yorgos (Panos Koronis), suggests a new game: to find out who’s best. Not at any one thing, but in general: who’s the best man here. And so begins the weirdest pissing contest ever, as everything from sleeping position to stone-skimming to (inevitably) penis size becomes a competitive sport. The prize is a chevalier, a golden ring (but note that the title hints at a 1950 film called Le Chevalier de Bacchus, which translates as The Big Hangover.)
Director Athina Rachel Tsangari keeps things brisk, maintaining an almost nature-doc distance from her subjects. Her affection for them is plain, but that doesn’t mean she lets them off the hook, mining big laughs from the awkward everyday interactions between unhappy people forced to share the same space. One could find underlying ideas about the Greek ruling class and their isolation from reality. Or you could just go for the macho posturing, ego-puncturing and art-house dick jokes. Men will be boys, whether in Vegas or on the high seas.
The Salesman Iran
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Babak Karimi
Runtime: 125 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 7:15 PM
Language: Persian with English Subtitles
Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; Cannes Film Festival:
Best Actor, Best Screenplay; National Board of Review: Best Foreign Language
Film. Four other international awards, 18 nominations.
“It’s another of the director’s analytical but deeply empathetic films about modern Iranian society and what separates men from women and the government from its people.”—David Edelstein, New York Magazine
In his movies, Asghar Farhadi has the rare ability to take seemingly ordinary situations and build a web of intrigue and suspense around them. Such is the case with The Salesman.
Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are a married couple who work with a local theatre group in Tehran, appearing in Death of a Salesman. One day, they are forced to re-locate after their apartment building collapses. A colleague suggests a place, but neglects to tell them about the woman who formerly occupied the apartment. Bad karma seems to permeate their new living quarters. One night Rana is attacked while taking a shower, which leads to a domino-like sequence of unpredictable events.
Even-tempered Ernad turns detective, then vigilante, while Rama fears repercussions in light of Iran’s strict theocratic rules of behaviour for women.
Farhadi explores the dark side of his culture, especially involving male pride and the consequences of taking revenge. Discomfort is acute at every turn. This is Farhadi’s specialty, and The Salesman holds us in its grip from start to finish. It leaves us with the lingering question, “What would I do in a situation like this?”
Shooting in almost documentary-style fashion, Farhadi turns the mundane into the momentous. The message of the movie is how quickly civility can slip, along with the ground that suddenly becomes unstable, before your very eyes.
The Other Half Canada
Director: Joey Klein
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Suzanne Clément, Tom Cullen
Showtime: April 30th 7:00 PM
Runtime: 103 minutes
Canadian Screen Awards, Best Actress: Tatiana Maslany. Three other nominations.
“Maslany and Cullen have been praised extensively (and justly) for their work here in festival reviews and across the trades; no less excellent…are the performances of the film’s supporting players.”—Calum Marsh, National Post
Set unapologetically in Toronto – Queen West, to be specific – Joey Klein’s The Other Half is an intense romance starring real-life couple Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany as a haunted man and a bipolar woman who find refuge in each other.
It’s an impressionistic, experiential drama, situating us with its characters in bars and clubs and rooms and beds and letting us see how they are together as they find comfort and strength in each other’s broken places.
Writer/director Klein and his stars aren’t aiming for twinkly manic-pixie redemption clichés; they can’t be anything other than real. Klein gives Cullen and Maslany the space to burrow deeply into their tormented characters and connect without much dialogue. And the trust they have in each other as performers is remarkable.
Cullen is quietly terrific as a man who’s spent so much time locking away his feelings that he’s overwhelmed by their resurgence, and Maslany is ferocious in her award-winning performance as the mercurial, unstable lover with whom he can find balance.
Maslany is always impressive, and Orphan Black regularly showcases her versatility, but The Other Half lets you see the full breadth of her talent in a single performance. And that is something to behold.
Thank you to our sponsor the Canadian Mental Health Association
Director: Xavier Giannoli
Cast: Catherine Frot, André Marcon, Michel Fau
Runtime: 129 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 4:30 PM
Language: English, Italian, French with English Subtitles
Rating: 18A, brief nudity
César Awards, France: Best Actress (Catherine Frot), Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound; Lumiere Awards, France; Best Actress; Venice Film
Festival, Special Mention Award, Xavier Giannoli; thirteen other international nominations.
“Frot’s performance, as a woman so caught up in the joy of music that she doesn’t quite understand how bad she is, is particularly delightful, and often quite moving.”—Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
Marguerite provides a point of comparison to Meryl Streep’s Florence Foster Jenkins, the infamous society woman of the 1930s and 40s who loved to sing classical music and did it badly. The American film is biographical while Marguerite is an imagining inspired by Jenkins and set in 1920s France.
The success of Marguerite hinges on the viewers’ ability to empathize with rather than laugh at the title character as played by Catherine Frot, a wealthy baroness whose sweet, sad-eyed face reflects innocence and a kind of purity that is completely at odds with her wildly off-key performance. Strangers might laugh at the sounds that emanate from her larynx, but she is surrounded by friends, servants, recipients of her generosity, and a husband who no longer loves her but will do everything in his power to keep her from being ridiculed.
Co-writer/director Xavier Giannoli captures the audience with this touching portrait and populates the film with colourful and interesting characters: a mysterious butler/valet reminiscent of Eric von Stroheim in Sunset Boulevard, a talented young singer whose glorious voice is everything Marguerite’s is not, and a former opera star who is reduced to tutoring a talent-free woman whose heart is in the right place.
Marguerite is a poignant, affecting and comedic film that lingers on the mind, along with Frot’s glowing performance. There is more reason than ever to seek out high-quality imports such as this.
Thank you to our sponsor Don Skochinski of RBC Dominion Securites
The Eagle Huntress Mongolia/UK/USA
Director: Otto Bell
With: Daisy Ridley, Aisholpan, Rys Nurgaiv
Runtime: 87 minutes
Showtime: April 30th, 2:20 PM
Language: Kazakh (with English Subtitles)
Denver International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival,
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Best Documentary Feature
“The Eagle Huntress…offers inspiration in equal measure, taking the audience on a beautiful, thrilling journey to a part of the world that is till largely inaccessible.”—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Girl power soars on the wings of eagles in the stunning The Eagle Huntress. Set in mountainous western Mongolia the documentary tells the story of 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv, who is determined to push past generations of male-dominated tradition to become an eagle hunter.
Family encouragement — especially from her father, from a long line of eagle hunters — combines with Aisholpan’s strength and confidence as this remarkable girl masters the centuries-old, sacred skill of capturing and training a massive golden eagle as a hunting partner.
She’s fearless in scaling a cliff to steal an eaglet to train (she also dotes on her), or riding across the frigid steppe on horseback, calling her 10-kilogram hunting partner to return to her arm with a crow-like caw.
Her goal is to be the first woman to take part in the annual Golden Eagle Festival in the Mongolian provincial capital of Olgii, an event that her father has won twice and in which she and her bird, named Akkatnat (or White Wings), will compete against some 70 older, more experienced men. The sequences showing eagles soaring from mountaintops responding their masters’ calls are breath-taking.
The most impressive thing about The Eagle Huntress is who Aisholpan is. Hardworking, intrepid, cheerful, uncomplaining and excited by new challenges, she is not only a role model for young girls, but an exemplar for all of us, whether we plan on hunting with eagles or not.
Burn Your Maps USA
Director: Jordan Roberts
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Vera Farmiga, Virginia Madsen, Marton Csokas
Runtime: 102 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 12:00 PM
“Burn Your Maps is bound to move even the most cynical of viewers.”—Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer
Burn Your Maps is a charming adventure story filled with drama, humour, universal truths, and—Mongolian goats.
After suffering a terrible tragedy, married couple Alise (Vera Farmiga) and Connor (Marton Csokas) struggle to maintain family stability. When their eight-year-old son, Wes (Jacob Tremblay), takes his school research project on Mongolia very seriously, they are naturally supportive. But soon, Wes becomes convinced that he actually is a Mongolian goat herder, and can even name the village where he belongs.
Wes befriends Ismail (Suraj Sharma), a genial Indian immigrant and videographer who accepts the child’s assertion without question. The two of them decide that Wes must go to Mongolia, and that Ismail will make a documentary about it.
Alise and Connor are divided over how to respond to their son. In a bid to heal herself by indulging her son, Alise agrees to travel with Wes and Ismal to Mongolia. They come across a ‘retired’ nun (Virginia Masden) and a Puerto-Rican driver/guide from New York (Ramon Rodriguez) who plays Salsa music as they ride through some photogenic locations. Eventually, dad reluctantly joins them. An encounter with some Mongolian elders finally leads the family to confront their troubles.
Farmiga is in good form as the supportive albeit wounded mom. Young Tremblay shows that Room was no fluke, affecting and endearing. Burn Your Maps is a story with many twists and turns, and it ventures into some uncharted territories of the heart.
Thank you to our sponsor Thunder Bay Care IDA Pharmacy
Maliglutit aka Searchers Canada
Director: Zacharias Kunuk, Natar Ungalaaq
Cast: Benjamin Kunuk, Karen Ivalu, Jonah Qunaq
Runtime: 94 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 12:05 PM
Language: Inuktitut with English Subtitles
Toronto International Film Festival Nomination: Platform Prize
“The combination of icy landscapes, practical details about dog teams, igloo building and raw meat, and a simple tale built around love of family, is compelling.”—Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
A striking reinterpretation of John Ford’s classic 1956 western, Zacharias Kunuk’s Searchers (Maliglutit) has been relocated from the American West to the frozen North. And, of course, it’s told from a radically different perspective.
Set in 1913, Searchers follows an Inuk man named Kuanana (Benjamin Kunuk) who returns from a hunt to discover his village has been raided and his wife and daughter abducted. Assembling a small posse of fellow hunters, Kuanana sets out to rescue his family or avenge them, depending on what he finds.
The material is culturally relevant and the mirror-image storytelling ingenious. But this would be little more than a thought experiment if the filmmaking weren’t so immediate and compelling.
As in his breakthrough epic Atanarjuat aka Fast Runner, Kunuk – working once again with co-director Natar Ungalaaq and co-editor Norman Cohn – uses the tundra to powerful effect in expansive widescreen frames that dwarf his characters amidst their merciless environment.
An opening track from Tanya Tagaq sets an eerie tone of lurking malice. Dialogue is minimal, and faces are shrouded within fur hoods or hidden behind beards caked with ice. ¬Motivation is simple: survive or die.
Indeed, in its last third Searchers is almost a silent film, its images packed with almost mythic intensity. It’s taking place 100 years ago, but it could just as easily be 1,000.
Swiss Army Man USA
Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Runtime: 95 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 10:15 AM
Sundance Film Festival: Best Directors, Kwan & Scheinert; Catalonian International Film
Festival: Best Feature-Length Film. Four other wins, 20 other international nominations.
“Swiss Army Man is crazy, magical, absurd, funny, sad, creepy – all that and probably more.”—Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
Swiss Army Man tells the rather inexplicable story of a shipwrecked man (Paul Dano’s Hank) who stumbles upon a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe’s Manny) and discovers that it’s somehow responsive. Thus begins the oddball friendship that ensues between the extremely mismatched pair.
Swiss Army Man is one of the most overtly oddball films to emerge in quite some time. Filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert demonstrate a knack for engaging cinematic weirdness.
The narrative is infused with unexpectedly potent bursts of emotion with the increasingly compelling bond between the two protagonists heightened by an emphasis on impressively cinematic set-pieces and sequences.
Like an innocent newborn, Manny has no memory of his previous life, and Hank provides him with life lessons, running the gamut from love and sex to loneliness and death. Their interaction is punctuated—literally—for Manny’s penchant for flatulence which proves at times to have some practical applications that, among other talents, somehow enhances their very basic living conditions.
The movie’s high point is a dazzling interlude in which Hank attempts to jog Manny’s memory by replicating a pivotal bus ride.
From there, Swiss Army Man, anchored by its incredible lead performances, entertainingly makes its way through a second half that’s often captivating with the hilariously off-the-wall conclusion cementing the movie’s place as a singularly conceived and executed piece of work.
Thank you to our sponsors Fox on The Run Lunch & Coffee Bar & new Burger Bar
Things to Come (L’Avenir) France
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Runtime: 100 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 10:00 AM
Language: French & German, with English subtitles
Berlin International Film Festival, Bucharest International Film Festival: Best Director. Boston Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Awards, London Critics Circle Film Awards, Best Actress, Isabelle Huppert. Three other wins, 21 nominations.
“A film whose subtle satisfactions very much sneak up on you.”—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Time
Things to Come avoids the familiar trappings that undermine so many contemporary films. There is little melodrama and very few incidents as such. It is simply about one woman’s life and it’s a spellbinding experience.
The great Isabelle Huppert offers another magnetic performance about a woman facing a barrage of changes and losses.
Huppert plays Nathalie, a philosophy professor who has a comfortable life and a successful career. However, she suddenly undergoes setbacks that could shatter anyone’s life. Her mother needs assisted living. Nathalie’s children grow up and move out. Her husband leaves her for his younger mistress. Her publishers ditch her philosophy textbook in favor of something flashier.
Yet Nathalie allows herself almost no self-pity. She visits the countryside where her protégé Fabien lives in an anarchist cheese-making collective. She tends to her mother’s fat, housebound cat. She visits the family’s beach house one last time to collect her things. She carries on.
This is not the typical Hollywood female-midlife-crisis movies where women have to undergo physical and geographical extremes to get their groove back. Nathalie has her books, her work and her own mind to see her through.
Hansen-Løve isn’t out to push our buttons; while other filmmakers feel the need to italicize, here’s a director who trusts audiences to pay attention, to understand, and most importantly, to savor.
It’s Only the End of the World Canada
Showtime: Thursday, April 27 8:30 pm
Director: Xavier Dolan
Cast: Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard
Runtime: 95 minutes
Language: French with English subtitles
Cannes Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Jury; Grand Prize of the Ecumenical Jury; Hamburg Film Festival: Best Feature; César Awards: Best Director, Editing, Actor (Gaspard Ulliel). One other win, 14 nominations.
“…it’s unnerving to see Dolan corral some of France’s finest actors… in a maze of tightening close-ups, as they navigate a dense, claustrophobic script that doesn’t try to escape its theatrical origins.” Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s Magazine
Based on Jean-Luc Legarce’s play, It’s Only the End of the World is about Louis, (Gaspard Ulliel) a writer suffering from a terminal illness, who returns to the hometown he quit 12 years earlier to break the bad news to his neglected family: mother Martine (Nathalie Baye), sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux), older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) and Antoine’s wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard).
But are they willing to listen? The family’s tendency to shout over each other, and to render judgments, is the reason Louis left in the first place. Louis is gay, and his family has not been a source of support.
At first, Louis is greeted back with familial warmth. However, it’s soon apparent that brusque Antoine is a cauldron of resentment, and Suzanne resents lost time with her brother. Timid Catherine tends to put her foot in her mouth, inferring that Louis and his partner couldn’t become parents because they’re gay.
It’s a movie of huge emotions. Suspense hinges on when the reticent Louis will break the news to his family, and what the reaction will be. Dolan keeps up a dizzying pace, cutting between close-ups of family members tearing into each other. There are also beautiful moments of surreal remembrances and sudden silence. There’s also a cuckoo clock that might register opinion aside for marking time.
If one is looking for intensity in acting, the search ends here.
Thank you to our sponsors Club Canadien Français de Thunder Bay
Showtime: Thursday April 27th 6:30 pm
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Adriana Ugarte, Emma Suárez, Rossy de Palma, Daniel Grao
Runtime: 99 minutes
Language: Spanish (with English Subtitles)
San Diego International Film Festival: Best International Film; National Board of Review:
Top Five Foreign Films; International Cinephile Society Awards: Best Director.
“Julieta is a deeply satisfying, down-to-earth tale of grief and quiet rediscovery.”—Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight
Pedro Almodóvar first gained prominence as the bad boy of Spanish cinema, then matured with deeply-felt films like All About My Mother and Volver. At the very least,
his films are all visually engaging and provocative. Julieta is no exception.
Here, Almodóvar has woven together three short stories by Alice Munro and reset them in Madrid. Julieta is a sophisticated woman (Emma Suárez) who suddenly puts her life on hold. A chance meeting prompts her to write a long letter to her estranged daughter to explain things she never had a chance to tell her before.
This leads into a lengthy flashback where we meet the same woman, much younger (played by Adriana Ugarte) and her experiences when she encounters a man on a fateful train ride who later becomes her husband.
The film deals, in part, with secrets and how they can reverberate over the years, causing pain to the person keeping them as well as the one from whom they have been hidden.
Almodóvar injects small moments of humour along the way, partly thanks to Rossy de Palma as a gruff housekeeper. He casts his film with a keen eye: both women who play Julieta are beautiful and compelling.
Julieta doesn’t build to a crescendo, but it manages to grab you from the first scene and never loosens its grip. it’s the work of a master storyteller. Julieta is a haunting story that’s well worth seeing.
20th Century Women USA
Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig
Runtime: 118 minutes
Showtime: April 23rd 7:15 PM
National Society of Film Critics, Best Actress 2nd Place, Annette Bening; National Board
of Review: Top 10 Independent Films; Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Screenplay. Seven other wins, 64 nominations
“Ultimately, the value of 20th Century Women is that it provides Annette Bening with a prime showcase. It’s worth seeing just to watch her grapple with this challenging character.”—Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com
Set in 1979 in Santa Barbara, 20th Century Women is a coming-of-age tale about Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), teen son of Dorothea (Annette Bening) a divorced single mother.
Like Beginners (with Christopher Plummer), director Mills draws on his childhood to create 20th Century Women.
Dorothea owns a huge old boarding house. Her lodgers include a hippie-ish handyman (Billy Crudup) who is helping her renovate and a feminist artist named Abbie (Greta Gerwig). Also present is Julie (Elle Fanning), a close friend of Jamie’s. She sneaks into his bedroom via scaffolding every night, but just to hang out, cuddle and talk, to Jamie’s everlasting chagrin.
A product of the Depression (seen in flashbacks), Dorothea feels a bit out of touch so she decides to enlist the help of Abbie and Julie in raising Jamie. She wants him to be a good man, well-rounded, thoughtful, and thinks these women can help. And they do, even though conflicted Dorothea sometimes comically resents their efforts.
20th Century Women is a loving study of a time and place, and Mills captures the late ‘70s perfectly. He has a good eye for period details including fashion, music and attitude. .
The movie’s big draw is Bening. Her character stays just out of reach in terms of Jamie’s emotional understanding, in the way a parent does, and her performance alone is worth the price of admission.
Thank you to our sponsor the Thunder Bay Art Gallery
Little Men USA
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina García, Alfred Molina
Runtime: 85 minutes
Showtime: April 23rd 7:20 PM
Language: English, Spanish
Deauville Film Festival: Grand Special Prize, Ira Sachs. Thirteen other
international cinema nominations.
“By the end, Sachs has raised urgent questions about immigration, classism, gentrification, loyalty, family and nascent sexuality – but he’s done so utterly organically, via 10 square feet of city. Lovely.”—Johanna Schneller, Globe and Mail
The disruptive nature of change illuminates this latest gem from New York’s Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange), an artisan of the small gesture and quiet epiphany.
Set in a funky Brooklyn neighbourhood, the film’s generational feud — adults versus teens — is also an evolution of sorts. Brian and Kathy Jardine (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle), the married new owners of a dress shop, want to triple the rent of their seamstress tenant, a Chilean immigrant named Leonor (Gloria’s Paulina Garcia). The Jardines feel they can no longer afford the sweetheart deal allowed Leonor by their recently deceased grandfather, who deeded them the shop.
Leonor, a single mom, insists she can’t afford to pay more. The Jardines have their own pressures: Brian’s a struggling professional actor supported by Kathy, a psychotherapist. Their move from Manhattan to Brooklyn was dictated by thrift, not lifestyle.
The battling adults have 13-year-old sons, aspiring artist Jake and aspiring actor Tony, fast new friends played by newcomers Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri. Refusing to take sides, the teens begin a silent protest, refusing to speak until the rent dispute is settled and apologies are made.
The antagonists all make persuasive arguments. Sachs is careful not to demonize the families or trivialize their sentiments. Sachs and his fantastic cast bring wisdom and humour to the situation.
Cinematographer Oscar Duran and composer Dickon Hinchliffe make strong contributions, adding visual and sonic grace notes to a simply lovely picture.
Thank you to our sponsors Portobello Home and Sail Superior
A Man Called Ove Sweden
Director: Hannes Holm
Cast: Rolf Lassgård, Zozan Akgün, Tobias Almborg
Runtime: 116 minutes (program is incorrect)
Showtime: April 23rd 4:40 PM
Language: Swedish, Persian with English Subtitles
Seattle International Film Festival: Best Actor, Best Film (3rd place); European Film Awards: Best European Comedy; Academy Award Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Make-up. Ten other awards, 19 nominations.
“A Man Called Ove” starts out gruff and unlikable….Then it opens up and becomes something of an epic about ordinary life, touching, funny and engrossing.”—Tom Long, Detroit News
A Man Called Ove quite movingly hits all the required notes with its story of a grouchy guy who turns out to have a heart of gold and a past worth sighing over.
Writer/director Hannes Holm is working from a popular novel by Fredrik Backman.
The expressive Rolf Lassgård (After the Wedding) plays title grumpster, Ove. Old beyond his 59 years, Ove wants people off his lawn. He’s also become an annoying neighbourhood watchdog.
He is clearly an unhappy man. Newly laid off and recently widowed, he’s making typically best-laid plans to take his own life. He wants to be reunited with his late wife Sonja (Ida Engvoll), who is seen in numerous happier-day flashbacks where Filip Berg plays the younger and sweeter Ove.
Suicide attempts become comic through constant interruptions from the neighbours, especially Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), an immigrant from Iran expecting her third child with her clueless hubby Patrick. Parvaneh needs help with her restless kids and she’s also eager to learn how to drive, while clueless at it.
Maybe Ove could assist? And could he also look after a stray cat, the one with beseeching eyes? A Hollywood re-make beckons but in this version of A Man Called Ove, all the tears and smiles are earned.
Director: Bruce McDonald
Cast: Dylan Authors, Allan Hawco, Molly Parker, Julia Sarah Stone
Runtime: 84 minutes
Showtime: April 23rd 5:00 PM
Vancouver Film Critics Circle, Canadian Screen Awards Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Molly Parker); Berlin International Film Festival Nomination: Best Film
“Veteran director Bruce McDonald brings a light touch to theatre great Daniel MacIvor’s presumably autobiographical tale of young teens getting ready to leave rural Cape Breton in 1976.”—Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight
Bruce McDonald (NOSFA presentations, Hard Core Logo, Dance Me Outside) describes his lovely new film Weirdos as a running-away-from-home movie, as a “to be 15 years old” movie, as a blossoming sexuality movie, as a “remember the 70s” movie, as a road movie, as a love-story movie. It is all of those things, and a bit more.
The film is written by playwright Daniel MacIvor, and is shot handsomely in black and white by cinematographer Becky Parsons who captures melancholic beauty in her low contrast black-and-white images of the Maritimes.
The story is set in the breezy summer of 1976, Weirdos follows teenagers Kit (Dylan Authors) and Alice (Julia Sara Stone) from Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Sydney (a mere 200 miles, but it is a small road movie), where notions of glamorous freedom, a high-school beach party and Kit’s elegantly manic mother (a sublime Molly Parker) await. Kit’s “spirit animal” Andy Warhol makes an appearance, musing that Canadians are “weirdos” – but in a good way.
The soundtrack is early Cancon, featuring Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan and other artists who stayed home. And when a television murmurs with American bicentennial hoopla, a Cambodian refugee tells New York-dreaming Kit that it’s “not your parade.” Weirdos is a coming-of-age story, for a country. McDonald waves a freak flag. It has a leaf.
Thank you to our sponsor of Weirdos – Red Lion Smokehouse
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Runtime: 118 minutes
Showtime: April 23rd, 2:15 PM
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actor; Cannes Film Festival: Palme Dog; three other wins, 26 nominations.
“Jarmusch, who made supernatural vampires seem human in Only Lovers Left Alive, now finds inspiration in the mundane.”—Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Paterson presents an alternate style of moviemaking, in which director Jim Jarmusch salutes a life with a refreshing lack of drama.
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in Paterson, NJ, a coincidence about which he good-naturedly endures comments he’s clearly heard before. He drives, he lives with his wife and their dog, and every so often he writes poetry — simple but profound lines of verse based on his everyday life. He straightens his leaning mailbox when he arrives home from work. He goes to the bar on his nightly walk with the dog and has a single beer with a roomful of close acquaintances. .
There is an honesty and realism to Adam Driver’s performances that work well in the part of a blue-collar poet who feels no need to court the spotlight — even when his wife Laura (the captivating Golshifteh Farahani) insists he should try to publish. The artsy, slightly flighty Laura is an opposite force to Paterson’s rock-solidness, always in motion, constantly chasing her life dream of the moment.
But again, Jarmusch doesn’t present this as a problem to be solved; it’s just an intertwining of lives, the way lives often really are: imperfect, occasionally maddening, ultimately poetic, in an utterly individual way.
Thank you to sour sponsor Lakehead University Department of English
The River of My Dreams:
A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent
Director: Brigitte Berman
Cast: Norman Jewison, Gordon Pinsent, Christopher Plummer
Runtime: 104 minutes
Showtime: April 23rd 11:45 AM
“The result is a fluidly told yarn about an artist of the national-treasure kind.”—Brad
Wheeler, Globe and Mail
Bio-pics sometime carry a deadening stigma but such is not the case with River of My Dreams, a lively and engaging look at Newfoundlander Gordon Pinsent, the multi-talented actor, painter, writer and born raconteur.
Director Brigitte Berman (Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got) uses animated flashbacks and recollections of family members and colleagues to chronologically unspool the life and career of a man whose artful doings have become part of the Canadian cultural landscape.
Still sharp of mind, Pinsent provides mellifluous narration and resonant ‘non-showoffy’ quoting of Keats, Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll. Offering amusing and insightful anecdotes are Mary Walsh, critic Richard Ouzounian, director Norman Jewison (who directed Pinsent in The Thomas Crown Affair). Best is Christopher Plummer, who, upon being pestered by the ‘whippersnapper’ at the Stratford Festival, promptly told him to “f— off.” They later became friends.
Pinsent’s recollections (particularly on actress Charmion King, his second wife) are amusing and poignant as are the remembrances of reconciliation among his adult children from his two marriages. Pinsent doesn’t shy away from blemishes in his personal life.
Aside from clips of his work on TV and film work, we see what a Renaissance man he is. Pinsent paints and writes very moving poetry. “I never really believed I was that great at anything,” he says at one point, and in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we believe him.
Thank you to our sponsor Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centres