Check out some of the films we have screened at Reel Movie Mondays.
Screened - November 4, 2019.
The Biggest Little Farm
Directed by John Chester, Rated PG
USA | 89 minutes | English, Elevation Pictures
Emmy Award–winning filmmaker John Chester and his wife, Molly, a culinary writer, trade city life to start their own farm on a stretch of depleted soil outside Los Angeles. Part of their inspiration is to offer a better life outdoors for their rescue dog, Todd. But they also want to live in better harmony with nature. Many of us hold similar dreams — but John and Molly put theirs into action.
Principal Cast: John and Molly Chester
Screened - October 21, 2019.
The Great Buster: A Celebration
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
USA | 102 minutes | English, MK2 - Rated PG
In 1965, the year before his death, the Venice Film Festival gave a tribute to Buster Keaton where he received a five-minute standing ovation. In Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary The Great Buster: A Celebration, the director and film historian pays his own tribute to Keaton’s life and legacy, with a focus on the films he made independently before he signed on to a major studio, and how the introduction of sound changed cinema forever.
Bogdanovich sets out to remind us of the star’s influence and ingenuity through a combination of Bogdanovich’s narration, a series of interviews with filmmakers, collaborators, performers, and friends, and, of course, a cavalcade of spectacularly restored footage from Keaton’s films. From his birth, to his time on the vaudeville circuit, to his directing years, to what he called “the biggest mistake of his life,” The Great Buster tracks the highs and lows of Keaton’s professional and personal lives. The final third of the film is a study of the actor-director’s finest and most visionary creative period, citing his dark comedy, The General, as not only his finest work but also one of the best films in cinema history.
Director Werner Herzog may say it best in the film: “He is the essence of movies, one of the inventors of cinema.” Bogdanovich demonstrates this idea quite literally with a sequence featuring one of Keaton’s more daring stunts — his falling house bit, which has been repeated in film and television countless times. The Great Buster is an ode to this cinema legend and evidence that comedy can be timeless.
“Keaton and the era he symbolized is long gone, but this documentary reminds us that he lives forever.” —Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
Principal Cast: Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Dick Van Dyke, Johnny Knoxville
Screened - October 7, 2019.
Peanut Butter Falcon
Directed by Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz
USA | 93 minutes | English, LevelFilm - Rated PG
A modern Mark Twain style adventure story, The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck. A strange turn of events pairs him on the
road with Tyler (LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak’s return, to join them on their journey.
Screened - May 27, 2019.
Directed by Tom Harper
UK | 101 min | English, eOne - Rated 14A
Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, and Julie Walters star in this inspiring comedy drama about a would-be country singer who dreams of leaving her dreary, workaday Glasgow life for the bright lights of Nashville.
Rose-Lynn Harlan (TIFF 2017 Rising Star Jessie Buckley) has dreamt of becoming a country music star for as long as anyone can remember. 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.
Screened - May 13, 2019.
Directed by Nadine Labaki, Lebanon | 120 minutes | Arabic w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media - Rated 14A
Nadine Labaki (Where Do We Go Now?, Caramel) has crafted some of the most indelible depictions of Lebanese life in contemporary cinema. At once gritty and perceptive, Labaki’s latest film is her finest yet, a dive into Beirut’s lower depths as viewed through the eyes of an imperilled child.
Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is only 12, but he’s seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. With numerous children to care for, his parents resort to some inventive scams, such as saturating garments with tramadol, which they then pass along to Zain’s incarcerated brother who reconstitutes the drug and sells it to fellow prisoners. More alarmingly, Zain’s parents have sold his11-year-old sister’s hand in marriage, which prompts Zain to run away. He befriends an Ethiopian cleaning woman, whose baby he eventually becomes guardian to. But life on the streets offers Zain fewer and fewer places to hide. Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, Zain files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. The trial provides the frame through which Zain’s story unfolds.
Principal Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Nadine Labaki
Screened - April 29, 2019.
Woman at War
Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson - Not Yet Rated
Iceland/France/Ukraine | 101 min. | Icelandic w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
Halla is a committed undercover eco-terrorist trying to save Iceland’s natural landscapes from industrialist destruction, but when a long-desired child becomes available for adoption, she must choose between the greater good and her own dreams.
As a follow-up to his 2013 film Of Horses and Men, director Benedikt Erlingsson delivers Iceland’s nominee submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards: Woman at War, a timely film that speaks to social issues with wit and warmth.
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir in a bravura performance) is a choirmaster who loves her job. And, she’s just learned she’s been approved to adopt a child from a war-torn area in Ukraine, a longtime dream of hers.
The only hitch is that Halla is also a terrorist — an eco-terrorist to be exact. The proliferation of heavy industry, urged on by unscrupulous politicians, has been ruining Iceland’s rugged landscape and she’s taken action. Dubbed the Mountain Woman, Halla soon becomes the scourge of the aluminum industry. She is determined to see things through… but she can’t help wondering, would it be more fulfilling to save hypothetical future lives or one actual life: the daughter she has yet to meet and may never if she’s apprehended. Erlingsson’s second feature drills deep into the inevitable dilemmas plaguing almost everyone committed to the greater good. And the political satire here is precise and rich.
It’s evident in the sleazy Fox News–style way the government demonizes Halla. At the same time, there’s a puckish, postmodernist sense of humour percolating though the film that suggests vintage Makavejev and Godard, or even Alain Tanner’s classic Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000.
A tiny jazz band follows Halla everywhere she goes — on rooftops, in remote fields, in the middle of a flood — sometimes joined by a cadre of singers in traditional Ukrainian dress. It’s a reminder that the revolution should be hopeful, not just gloom and doom. And it should come with cool music.
Principal Cast: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camilo Roman Estrada
Screened - April 15, 2019.
Directed by Kent Jones, USA | 95 min | English, MK2 - 14A
In his narrative film debut, Kent Jones brings us the story of Diane, a widowed, altruistic septuagenarian whose life is dictated by the needs of others. She fills her days serving food to the homeless, visiting ailing friends in the last years of their lives, and, most centrally, desperately attempting to reach her drug-addicted son, despite his repeated efforts to push her away. But as these pieces of her existence begin to wither and fade, she finds herself forced to look at her own identity—and memories she’d sooner forget than face.
Principal Cast: MARY KAY PLACE, JAKE LACY, DEIRDRE O'CONNELL, GLYNNIS O'CONNOR, JOYCE VAN PATTEN, PHYLLIS SOMERVILLE
Screened - April 1, 2019.
Le GRand Bain (Sink or Swim)
Directed by Gilles Lellouche
France/Belgium | 122 min. | French w/English subtitles, MK2 - Rated PG
A group of 40-something guys, all on the verge of a mid-life crisis, decide to form their local pool’s first ever synchronized swimming team – for men. Braving the skepticism and ridicule of those around them, and trained by a fallen champion trying to pull herself together, the group sets out on an unlikely adventure, and on the way will rediscover a little self-esteem and a lot about themselves and each other.
Screened - March 11, 2019.
The Happy Prince
Directed by Rupert Everett
UK/Belgium/Italy/Germany| 105 minutes | English,
The directorial debut from celebrated actor Rupert Everett (Shakespeare in Love), The Happy Prince is at once a spirited tribute to legendary author and playwright Oscar Wilde, and an exacting commentary on 19th-century British mores. It’s 1895, and Wilde has been imprisoned for two years for gross indecency after his affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. After his release Wilde reunites with Bosie, motivating his wife to cut off Wilde’s allowance. He spends his final days poor and living in exile. Still, it’s through his incomparable talent for storytelling Wilde finds the strength to continue bringing levity and humour to those around him.
Screened - February 25, 2019.
Directed by Marc Turtletaub
USA | 103 minutes | English, Mongrel Media - Rated PG
Producer Marc Turtletaub (Loving, Little Miss Sunshine) makes his directorial debut with Puzzle, a gently humanist story of an unassuming housewife who comes to recognize her unspoken hopes and dreams through the unlikely avenue of competitive jigsaw-puzzling.
Agnes (Kelly Macdonald, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Anna Karenina) lives a quiet, monotonous life waiting hand-and-foot on her husband, Louie (David Denman, Logan Lucky; Men, Women and Children), and her two adult sons. After an evening of birthday celebrations — she cleans, cooks, and prepares the house for what turns out to be her own party — she notices a gift that strikes her interest: a jigsaw puzzle of a world map. After finishing the puzzle in remarkable time, Agnes soon answers a “partner wanted” advertisement from puzzle champion Robert (Lunchbox star Irrfan Khan). As Agnes learns more about her gift at assembling the increasingly difficult puzzles Robert challenges her with, she also begins to give voice to her long-dormant desires.
With: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, Austin Abrams
Screened - February 11, 2019.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins
USA | 117 min. | English, Entertainment One, Rated 14A
Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.
From the director of the Oscar-winning Moonlight comes a plunge into a world of Black love, with all the pain and the joy that can go along with it. In his third feature, Barry Jenkins draws deep from the well of James Baldwin, whose profound insight into African Americans' unique place in American society serves as inspiration for this gorgeous tone poem on love and justice.
Tish (KiKi Layne) is only 19 but she's been forced to grow up fast. She's pregnant by Fonny, the man she loves. But Fonny is going to prison for a crime he didn't commit. As the film begins, Tish must break the news to her family, and his. Tish's mother, played with heartbreaking depth by Regina King, soon must decide how far she will go to secure her daughter's future. As Fonny, Toronto's own Stephan James gives a career-best performance of both grit and grace as a young man deeply in love but furious at what has befallen him.
Jenkins reveals the layers of conflicting motivations in a filmmaking style that approaches music — dipping into Baldwin's elevated language and following his characters with unabashed devotion, fully capturing the texture of '70s New York.
If Beale Street Could Talkis without doubt a romance but it's stronger than that because it refuses to indulge fantasy. Infused with Moonlight's deep lyricism and Medicine for Melancholy's flirtatious spark, Barry Jenkins's latest shows him to be our most clear-eyed chronicler of love.
Principal Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Screened - January 28, 2019.
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Japan | 121 minutes | Japanese w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media - Rated 14A
The latest from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) begins with the mischief and intrigue of a heist movie, but Shopliftersis much more. Osamu (Lily Franky), a middle-aged man, and Shota (Kairi Jyo), a young boy, walk into a grocery store. They play it cool, not speaking but, rather, signalling to each other with their hands and eyes. One provides cover while the other snatches goods. They stroll out the door with a hidden bounty before anyone notices. Osamu and Shota then find four-year-old Juri (Miyu Sasaki) freezing on a balcony and take her back to their poor but happy home. And though Osamu's wife doesn't want another mouth to feed, any plans to return Juri to her parents are given the kibosh after signs of abuse are discovered on the little girl's body. If they're not demanding a ransom, how could this be a kidnapping?
Principal Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki, Miyu Sasaki, Jyo Kairi
Screened - January 14, 2019.
The Old Man & The Gun
Directed by David Lowery
USA | 93 minutes | English, Fox Searchlight Pictures - Rated PG
Academy Award winners Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek lead an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, and Casey Affleck, in director David Lowery’s true-life dramedy about an unrepentant bank robber and jail-breaker determined to live life by his own rules.
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 Gunis 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.
Principal Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Sissy Spacek
Screened - November 12, 2018.
Directed by Jennifer Baichwal
Canada| 87 minutes | Rated PG, English, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, German w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
In the highly anticipated third instalment of an arresting art exhibition, Anthropocene finds the award-winning Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky teaming up again with acclaimed director Jennifer Baichwal (Long Time Running; Watermark) and producer Nick de Pencier (Watermark; Manufactured Landscapes) to explore humanity’s impact on the natural world. Four years in the making, Anthropocene is not only a film, but also an event that is sure to effectively capture everyone’s attention with its stunning visuals and timely activism.
“Anthropocene” is a term signifying the exact time of human influence on Earth’s geographic landscape. The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), an international team of scientists, has spent the last 10 years researching this period and its effects on the planet — namely, the dangerous interference with Earth’s natural resources. Burtynsky explores these geographic detonations with the AWG by visiting lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama Desert, potash mines in Russia, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and other places strongly affected by human domination. Using his photography skills, Burtynsky highlights these devastating impacts in stunning, artistic shots. The documentary takes on a surreal feeling, yet it calls attention to the very real threat of Earth’s slow dissolution. The film combines art and science, using the two different fields of expression to shed light on a global problem that is not going away any time soon.
With: Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, Nick de Pencier
Screened - OCT 29, 2018. This film was brought to our audience by blackrock Automation Ltd. Thank you to our sponsor!
THE THIRD MURDER
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Japan | 124 min. | Rated PG, Japanese w/ English subtitles, Unobstructed View Inc.
Following its North American premiere at TIFF 2017, The Third Murder captures critics and audiences alike with its intricate details and complicated courtroom drama. From acclaimed Japanese writer and director Hirokazu Kore-eda (After the Storm; Shoplifters), the film focuses less on legal jargon and more on the engrossing stories that unfold during the case.
We witness a murder and hear the guilty confession from Misumi (Kôji Yakusho, Oh Lucy!; Babel). Can it be that simple? The Third Murder evolves into a complex narrative when different stories emerge as defense attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama, Like Father, Like Son) and his team investigate. Each story reveals a layer of Misumi’s hidden life — both in his work at an industrial factory and in his relationships with estranged family members and his boss’ wife and daughter. The plan to prove Misumi’s innocence turns into a blame game that involves warping the truth to present a more palatable story in court.
Throughout The Third Murder, the question of whether Misumi murdered his boss becomes all but irrelevant. The film demonstrates a strong consideration for the evaluation of truth and the importance of understanding subjective experiences. Like a modern-day Rashomon, The Third Murder is more than a murder trial. It is a case study on the ethical decisions and moral judgments we face in our daily lives and the weight of controlling whether a person lives or dies.
"Sleek and suspenseful, deceptive and profound, The Third Murder is an artful addition to the canon of modern-day crime drama, one whose core mysteries encompass more than just the case at hand." - Michael Leader, Sight & Sound Magazine
Principal Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama, Kôji Yakusho, Shinnosuke Mitsushima
Screened - OCT 15, 2018. This film was brought to our audience by blackrock Automation Ltd. Thank you to our sponsor!
DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT
Directed by Gus Van Sant
USA | 113 minutes | Rated 14A, English, Elevation Pictures
Joaquin Phoenix adds another larger-than-life character to his filmography with the starring role in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, from American auteur Gus Van Sant (Milk; Good Will Hunting). The film tells the engaging, true story of John Callahan, a carefree man who is caught in an unfortunate accident and recovers through the power of an unlikely gift. This captivating film premiered at Sundance and was nominated for the best film award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Callahan (Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here; Her) is a man ready to take on the world, even though he is plagued by a hefty drinking problem and has a knack for telling controversial jokes. After a night of intoxication, he gets in a horrifying car accident and is paralyzed from the waist down. He is stubbornly resistant to the idea of treatment and refuses to give up drinking, but despite his protestations, he receives encouragement and support from his devoted girlfriend (Rooney Mara, A Ghost Story; Carol), his charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill, Hail, Caesar!; Moneyball), and a new-found talent for drawing. His unconventional newspaper cartoons gain a national following and give Callahan the final push he needs to thrive in a new life.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot showcases a distinctive and talented cast who bring their warmth and humanity to a true story full of drama, insight, and, most importantly, laughter.
"Van Sant has rebounded with one of his best, a life-affirming sweet-and-sour concoction that recalls such crowd-pleasers as Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester, and which will very likely launch Phoenix (back at work with his To Die For director) and co-star Jonah Hill (as audiences have never seen him before, playing the unlikeliest of life coaches) into the awards conversation." - Peter Debruge, Variety
Principal Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill
Screened - OCT 1, 2018
THE CHILDREN ACT
Directed by Richard Eyre
UK | 105 minutes | Rated PG, English, Entertainment One
Adapted by Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan from his own novel, this riveting drama stars two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson (The Legend of Barney Thomson; Alone in Berlin) as a British High Court judge tasked with making a decision that will speak to our most fraught questions regarding religious tolerance — and could mean life or death for an innocent young man.
Judge Fiona Maye (Thompson) is married to her work, which has become a problem for her husband, Jack (Stanley Tucci, Spotlight; Margin Call), who announces that he wants to have an affair. Treating the matter more as an annoyance than a life-altering crisis, Fiona kicks Jack out and focuses on her current case. The question: should a couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses be permitted to deny a life-saving blood transfusion to their leukemia-stricken 17-year-old son (Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk)? Fiona finds herself taking unusual measures to determine her verdict — measures that will have far-reaching consequences.
Directed by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal), The Children Act brims with intelligence, sophistication, and intrigue. The elevated tension places unusual focus on its protagonist’s every word and gesture — a challenge Thompson meets with virtuosity. Her Fiona is a cauldron of conflicted feelings bubbling beneath a veneer of composure. As she finds herself sliding deeper into a mire of professional compromise and personal desperation, we come to empathize with her singular burden… and wait for the outcome with keen anticipation.
"The Children Act is that rarest of things: an adult drama, written and interpreted with a sensitivity to mature human concerns." - Peter Debruge, Variety
Principal Cast: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead
Screened - MAY 7, 2018
Directed by Ziad Doueiri, Rated 14A
France / Lebanon | 113 minutes | Arabic w/English subtitles, The Archive
HISTORY | DRAMA | GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES | SOCIAL JUSTICE | NORTH AFRICAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN
One afternoon in the dog days of a Beirut summer, Tony 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. Co-written with Joelle Touma, The Insult is an impeccably made political drama, layered with clever observations on the complex history of the region.
“The Insult, Lebanon's Oscar candidate, delivers an honest assessment of the conflict between decency and cruelty that rages in every nation, neighborhood and heart.” - A.O. Scott, The NYTimes
Principal Cast: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Camille Salameh, Diamand Bou Abboud, Rita Hayek, Talal Jurdi, Christine Choueiri
Screened - APRIL 23, 2018
Directed by Samuel Maoz, Rated 14A
Israel, Germany, France, Switzerland | 114 min. | Hebrew, Arabic, German w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
DRAMA | LIFE EXPERIENCES | CONFLICT | NORTH AFRICAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN
The reported death of an upper-class Israeli couple's soldier son sparks a series of tragicomically absurd events, in the new film from award-winning filmmaker Samuel Maoz.
Maoz's follow-up to his debut feature Lebanon (which won the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival) focuses on upper-class Israeli couple Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Dafna (Sarah Adler), who experience gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son Jonathan while on duty. Unable to find solace in the well-meaning condolences of their extended family or 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. Moving from the grieving parents' apartment to the remote military post where Jonathan was stationed, Foxtrot 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.
“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
Principal Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray
Screened - APRIL 9, 2018
THE DEATH OF STALIN
Directed by Armando Iannucci, Rated 14A
France, United Kingdom, Belgium | 107 minutes | English, Elevation Pictures
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES | SOCIAL JUSTICE | HISTORY
A specialist in black humour whose television and film work includes the scathing political satires The Thick of It, Veep, and the Oscar-nominated In the Loop, Armando Iannucci is in his element with this acerbic send-up of the Soviet Supremo and his band of scheming bootlicks. Deploying a wide range of English-speaking actors with an assortment of accents — Cockney, Brooklyn, Liverpool — Iannucci sends a not-so-subtle message that Stalin and his inner circle were a bunch of arrivistes who wound up at the helm of a Cold War superpower.
The year is 1953. Joseph Stalin seems in hale (albeit paranoid) condition, terrorizing everyone, summarily killing off any suspected dissenters, and keeping even his cronies on edge. That comes to an abrupt halt one morning when the dictator is found belly-up on the floor of his office following a stroke. What follows is Iannucci's version of hijinks: the plotting and jostling for power by a group of connivers who cowered under their boss. All of the top lackeys are in contention — milquetoast Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), wiseguy Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), bewildered Molotov (Michael Palin), thuggish Zhukov (Jason Isaacs), and depraved Beria (Simon Russell Beale), with Stalin's drunken son Vasily (Rupert Friend) and jaded daughter Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough) off to the side. They move with the clumsiness of aspirants not up to the job but desperate for it anyway. Within the burlesque of The Death of Stalin is a timely allegory about venal, unfit leaders and corrupt governance — the kind of comedy that is Iannucci's specialty. It's not hard to imagine similar, if less bloody, events unfolding in a different capital today.
"A riotous farce of doublespeak and plotting laced with moments of bitumen-black horror." - Philip De Semlyen, Time Out
Principal Cast: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian McLoughlin, Paul Whitehouse, Jeffrey Tambor
Screened - MARCH 26, 2018
A FANTASTIC WOMAN
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, Rated 14A
Chile | 103 minutes | Spanish w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
LGBTQ | SOCIAL JUSTICE | LIFE EXPERIENCES | IDENTITY LATIN AMERICAN
When her significantly older boyfriend dies under what is made out to be suspicious circumstances, transgender woman Marina (Daniela Vega) comes into conflict with both the man's family and the authorities, forcing her to fight not only to clear her name, but for the one thing she demands above all: respect. Making nods to Almodóvar and Fassbinder, the new film from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio (Gloria) is both an incisive character study and an alluring exercise in style.
"Chilean director Sebastián Lelio and star Daniela Vega give the growing bracket of transgender drama a new, luminous touchstone work." - Guy Lodge, Variety
Principle Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco
Screened - MARCH 12, 2018
Directed by Nora Twomey - Rated PG | Canada/ Ireland/Luxembourg | 93 minutes | English, Elevation Pictures
Female director; award attention; literary adaptation.
From executive producer Angelina Jolie and Cartoon Saloon, creators of the Academy Award (R)-nominated The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, comes the highly-anticipated new feature based on Deborah Ellis' bestseller. The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, a 12-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is arrested, Parvana dresses as a boy in order to work and provide for her family. Together with her best friend Shauzia, she risks discovery to try to find out if her father is still alive.
"The Breadwinner is a well-crafted and inspiring story with an important message about female empowerment, embodied in heroic Parvana, something people of all ages should embrace." - Bruce Demara, Toronto Star
Principal Cast: Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif
Screened FEBRUARY 26, 2018
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Directed by Luca Guadagnino - Rated 14A, |Italy/France/Brazil | 130 minutes | English, Italian, French, German w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
Award attention; literary adaptation; coming of age (underage love); LGBTQ+.
It's the summer of 1983, in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman, (Timothée Chalamet) a 17-year-old American-Italian boy spends his days in his family's 17th century villa lazily transcribing music and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). One day Oliver, (Armie Hammer) a charming, 24-year-old American scholar working on his doctorate arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture. Amidst the sun-drenched splendor of this sensual setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
Principal Cast: Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothée Chalamet
Screened FEBRUARY 12, 2018
THE DIVINE ORDER
Directed by Petra Volpe - Rated PG, Switzerland | 96 min. | German w/English subtitles, FilmsWeLike
1971: Nora is a young housewife and mother, living in a quaint little village with her husband and their two sons. The Swiss countryside is untouched by the major social upheavals the movement of 1968 has brought about. Nora’s life is not affected either; she is a quiet person who is liked by everybody – until she starts to publicly fight for women’s suffrage, which the men are due to vote on in a ballot on February 7, 1971.
Principal Cast: Marie Leuenberger, Maximilian Simonischek, Rachel Braunschweig
Screened - JANUARY 28, 2018
Directed by John Carroll Lynch - Rated 14A, USA | 88 minutes | English, FilmsWeLike
Critically acclaimed; boundary-pushing; pre-release.
"Lucky" follows the spiritual journey of a 90 year old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self-exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment.
Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch's directorial debut, "Lucky", is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.
Principal Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston
Screened - JANUARY 15, 2018
Directed by Agnès Varda, JR - Rated PG. France | 89 minutes | French w/English subtitles, MK2
Crowd-pleasing; critically acclaimed; female director.
In Faces Places, 88-year-old nouvelle vague legend Agnès Varda teams up with 33-year-old French photographer and muralist JR to create an enchanting travelogue/road movie. Sharing a lifelong passion for images and the means by which they are created, displayed and shared, the duo hits the road to travel through France’s small villages, meeting locals, learning their stories, and producing epic-size portraits of them on houses, barns, storefronts and trains. Faces Placesdocuments these heartwarming encounters, as well as the unlikely, tender friendship Varda and JR formed along the way.
Principle Cast: Agnès Varda, JR
Screened - NOVEMBER 27, 2017
Directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein, Drama, Rated PG, USA | 82 minutes | Yiddish w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media
Deep in the heart of New York's ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community, Menashe-a kind, hapless grocery store clerk-struggles to make ends meet and responsibly parent his young son, Rieven, following his wife Leah's death. Tradition prohibits Menashe from raising his son alone, so Rieven's strict uncle adopts him, leaving Menashe heartbroken. Meanwhile, though Menashe seems to bungle every challenge in his path, his rabbi grants him one special week with Rieven before Leah's memorial. It's his chance to prove himself a suitable man of faith and fatherhood, and restore respect among his doubters.
Principal Cast: Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz
Screened - NOVEMBER 13, 2017
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki, Drama, Not Yet Rated, Finland/Germany | 100 minutes | Finnish, English, Arabic, Swedish w/ English subtitles, FilmsWeLike
Returning with his first feature in six years since his Film Circuit arthouse favourite Le Havre, Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) delivers what can be considered the second chapter of his PortCities Trilogy. In his distinctive anachronistic, yet tonally rich style, Kaurismäki paints the unlikely bond between a Syrian refugee and a middle-aged menswear salesman.
Khaled (newcomer Sherwan Haji) worked as a mechanic in Aleppo before fleeing in a coal ship container and accidently landing on the shores of Helsinki. He emerges from his hiding place covered head to toe in black dust, an alien in an unfamiliar town. Wikstrom (Sakari Kuosmanen), deeply unsatisfied with his life, leaves his prickly, alcoholic wife and offloads his remaining stock of men’s shirts to fund a career change. After taking a risk at a highstakes poker game, Wikstrom is presented with a new breath of life that eventually connects and collides both men in an unpredictable friendship.
Deftly mixing tragedy and wry humour, Kaurismäki builds a story of an unlikely community coming together under difficult circumstances. This idiosyncratic fable on the refugee crisis could not be more humane and timely.
Screened - OCTOBER 30, 2017
Directed by Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, Animated/Biography/Drama, Not Yet Rated
UK/Poland | 95 minutes | English, Mongrel Media
Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film. Written & Directed by Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, produced by Poland’s BreakThru Films & UK’s Trademark Films.
The film brings the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting handpainted by 125 professional oil-painters who travelled from all across Europe to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production. As remarkable as Vincent’s brilliant paintings, is his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death.
No other artist has attracted more legends than Vincent van Gogh. Variously labelled a martyr, a lustful satyr, a madman, a genius and a layabout, the real Vincent is at once revealed in his letters, and obscured by myth and time. Vincent himself said in his last letter: ‘We cannot speak other than by our paintings’. We take him at his word and let the paintings tell the real story of Vincent van Gogh.
Loving Vincent was first shot as a live action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils. The final effect is an interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent’s famous portraits, and the performance of the painting animators, bringing these characters into the medium of paint. Loving Vincent stars famous faces to match the famous paintings they portray.
Principal Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd, Douglas Booth, Helen McCrory, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Screened - OCTOBER 16, 2017
Directed by Justin Chadwick, period drama - 14A
UK/USA | 107 minutes | English, eOne
When wealthy merchant Cornelis (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds) commissions a portrait of his beautiful wife Sophia (Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl), an irrepressible passion begins to bloom
between Sophia and the talented young artist (Dane DeHaan) hired to commit her beauty to canvas. As the young star-crossed lovers hinge their future together on an investment in the risky tulip market, tensions build and deceptions abound as the stakes grow higher.
Beautifully shot in muted palettes reminiscent of Vermeer, Tulip Fever features quietly powerful performances from its two leads, as well as another wonderfully ominous turn from the Academy Award-winning Waltz. Dame Judi Dench also brings her infamously dry wit to the role of a cheeky abbess.
Tulip Fever interweaves the narrative of one of the most astonishing economic events in European history with a deeply intimate tale of desire, betrayal, and perilous ambition.
Principal Cast: Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Judi Dench
Screened - OCTOBER 2, 2017
THE BIG SICK
Directed by Michael Showalter, comedy/romance, rated 14A
USA | 119 minutes | English, Urdu, Elevation Pictures
Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he's never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
Principle Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
Screened SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 - This was an Encore screening
Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, Australia 2015 - Black Comedy| 118 minutes | English, Rated 14A, eOne
This wickedly comic drama stars Kate Winslet as a worldly dressmaker returning to the Australian backwater that exiled her. The Dressmaker is a sumptuous, saucy, and scandalous tale of love and vengeance in the mid-1950s. It also has the most fabulous gowns this side of the red carpet.
Tilly Dunnage (Winslet) arrives in the small town of Dungatar like a gunslinger: broad-brimmed hat on her head, sleek pumps on her feet, trusty Singer sewing machine at her side. When Tilly is hired to design and custom-make haute couture for the more rebellious local ladies, a battle line is drawn: on one side, those who love Tilly’s progressive style, and on the other side, Dungatar’s conservative busybody contingent.
Principle Cast: Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving