A woman finding her inner strength is inspiring. But a woman finding her inner giant monster who kicks butt — that’s just so cool.
~~ David Edelstein, Vulture
Colossal (2016), Opens April 21st
Initially, everything about Colossal seems inexplicably, gratuitously absurd. Dancing kaiju, for example. Or drunks controlling city-crushing monsters via psychic link. Or inexplicable portals between Seoul and a small American town. Or Anne Hathaway being involved with any of the above. Yet, after nearly two hours, the movie manages to sweep you up in its world, and it starts to make a weird kind of sense. And eventually, all the things that seemed unfathomable at first become exactly what makes its message so clear…
The plea is this: Go see this movie… Yes, it’s pretty weird, but you’ll get used to it. Do it because the world needs the weird genius of Nacho Vigalondo (also, he’s probably got a few lawyer fees to pay off after settling that lawsuit with Toho brought on by calling his movie “the cheapest Godzilla movie ever”). Do it because Hathaway is finally letting her freak flag fly, and it’s high time more women carried genre movies. But mostly, do it because it’s the good kind of oddball movie—and those kind of things deserve to crush a city near you.
~~ Angela Watercutter, Colossal
“Danny Boyle continues to be our most dazzling shallow director, and his brilliance is undimmed in the sequel to his 1996 breakthrough, Trainspotting.”
~~ David Edelstein, Vulture
T2: Trainspotting (2016), Opens April 14th
The new film is called T2: Trainspotting — not to be confused with the Schwarzenegger T2 — and it’s more fun than a barrel of junkies. It doesn’t have the youthful kick of its predecessor, but given the pervasiveness of addiction and suicidal ideation and despair it’s amazingly buoyant. Boyle makes movies about downer subjects — the downers in this case are literal — but his style and temperament seem more like the product of too many uppers. The man never sits still. He’s the only director who could make a film about a guy stuck in a crevice and forced to saw off his own arm and put in more whooshy tracking shots than in any five race car movies.
~~ David Edelstein, Vulture
First there was an opportunity… then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
Alive and Kicking (2016), Opens April 7the
You know there’s been another resurgence, to put it mildly, in swing dancing, right? You know that the Lindy Hop – and all the regional and stylistic variations that manner of social hoofing generated – lives on, in spectacular kinesis all over the globe? If you didn’t know that, Susan Glatzer’s directorial debut will fill you in on the thriving scene. Like, we daresay, gangbusters.
Get a load of Alive and Kicking and you’ll be schooled in the whys and wherefores, the history and the hullaballoo, of what kind of glorious frenzy started in the Roaring Twenties, flourished during WWII, and – until the dance’s resurgence(s) – bit the dust when Johnny came marching home again.
You’ll be schooled, but you’ll also be 1) vastly entertained, and 2) impressed by the way this documentary focuses on several current stars of the swing circuit and features inspirational bits on the style’s originators – some of whom are still, indeed, alive and kicking – and provides both a sweet gloss of the subject and a few deeper explorations of the diverse people involved.
The music, the interviews, the interleaving of stock footage, the way the various modern narratives and backgrounding histories are fitted together: All of this works toward a successful expression of what means a thing because it does have that swing. Read the project’s press releases and you’ll see that Glatzer’s previous experience is pretty substantial, but exclusively in the role of “film executive;” and you’ll be damned if you know what that means, precisely, but that, if all such executives could create a movie as engaging and informative as this one, then they need to get the hell out from behind a desk and get into some hands-on production, because wowza.
~~ Wanye Allen Brenner, Austin Chronicle
Quick: what was the only bank that was actually prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis? The astonishing answer is Abacus Federal Savings, a community bank in New York’s Chinatown. Steve James’ (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) new movie brings the under-told story to light.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016), Opens June 23rd
Akron-raised producer of the film and longtime Steve James collaborator, Mark Mitten, will visit The Nightlight for an opening weekend screening, with details to be announced as we approach the date!
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a vivid chronicle of the legal battle mounted by Abacus’ CEO, Thomas Sung, and his formidable daughters when the Manhattan DA’s office charged the bank with systemic fraud, larceny, and conspiracy. Abacus is a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life. It is also a cautionary tale.
~~ Lincoln Center
Kristen Stewart is the medium, in more ways than one, for this sophisticated genre exploration from director Olivier Assayas.
Personal Shopper (2016), Opens March 31st
As a fashion assistant whose twin brother has died, leaving her bereft and longing for messages from the other side, Stewart is fragile and enigmatic—and nearly always on-screen. From an opening sequence in a haunted house with an intricately constructed soundtrack to a high-tension, cat-and-mouse game on a trip from Paris to London and back set entirely to text messaging, Personal Shopper brings the psychological and supernatural thriller into the digital age.
~~ New York Film Festival
SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, the Mick Rock documentary, is an odyssey into the colorful and crazy recesses of rock ‘n’ roll’s history. Join Film Critic Shawn Levy for an advanced, pre-release screening on 4/10.
SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock (2016), Opens April 10th
A reckless joyride that delves deep into the mind of rock’s greatest living photographer: Mick Rock. Told through the distorted lens of rock ‘n’ roll mythology, icon-maker, psychedelic explorer, shambolic poet and custodian of dreams, Mick Rock navigates his story from the glam rock shimmer of London to the snarl of NYC punk, and deep into the new millennium.
Awaiting heart surgery after after a series of heart attacks, Mick turns inward to face himself – his past, the present and the future that will be born from the ashes of his resurrection. He stretched his nervous system to the limit to bring us the iconic images of the likes of David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Blondie, Queen, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. He shot them all and imprinted them on our collective psyche forever. “I’m still in awe of the power of the camera and its magical reflections. In many ways I love it more than ever.” This is The Mick Rock story.
About the NY Film Critics Film Series:
A regular series of ongoing preview screenings is established in approximately 50 selected major markets. Audiences experience all of the excitement of live Q&A sessions held in New York City, hosted by Peter Travers. The big screen events deliver 9-13 curated pre-release films per year to discerning audiences on a monthly basis. Each movie in the Screening Series is introduced live by Peter Travers. Audiences then see award contenders prior to their release followed by live, HD Q&A between Travers, audiences and talent from the films. Each piece brings the energy and VIP nature of prestigious, NYC screenings for nationwide audiences to interact with stars and directors via two way simulcast.
Up for best animated feature, this French-Swiss stop-motion tale of a young boy’s life in a group home offers a small, meticulously detailed story that leavens melancholy with humor.
My Life as a Zucchini (2016), Opens March 24th
Animated films can do more than babysit kids; instead of simply quieting children for an hour or two, they can act to open conversations with them. Most American animation does not share this goal, however, and aims instead to feed kids a steady diet of hyperactive screen candy. That’s why the Oscar-nominated French-Swiss cartoon My Life as a Zucchini might feel like a vegetable instead of the delightful treat that it is.
Told in stop-motion, Zucchini packs a lot of detail into its brief, 67-minute story of an orphan who moves into a group foster home. That detail comes both through its intricate storybook sets, with claylike figurines, and in its thoroughly depressing screenplay. Even though the movie stars lots of cute kids who bumble around and make friendships, it’s dark enough by U.S. standards to warrant a PG-13 rating –- a stamp which should not dissuade parents from bringing their smart kids, but merely signal the need to talk about some things with them afterwards.
~~ Andrew Lapin, NPR
“I want you to watch the movie screen. There’s something I want to show you.” ~~ Frank, Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko (2001), Opens April 8th
Fifteen years before Stranger Things combined science-fiction, Spielberg-ian touches and 80s nostalgia to much acclaim, Richard Kelly set the template and the high-water mark with his debut feature, Donnie Darko.
Initially beset with distribution problems, it would slowly find its audience and emerge as arguably the first cult classic of the new millennium. Donnie is a troubled high school student: in therapy, prone to sleepwalking and in possession of an imaginary friend, a six-foot rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds. During that time he will navigate teenage life, narrowly avoid death in the form of a falling jet engine, follow Frank s maladjusted instructions and try to maintain the space-time continuum.
Described by its director as The Catcher in the Rye as told by Philip K. Dick, Donnie Darko combines an eye-catching, eclectic cast pre-stardom Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, heartthrob Patrick Swayze, former child star Drew Barrymore, Oscar nominees Mary McDonnell and Katherine Ross, and television favorite Noah Wyle and an evocative soundtrack of 80s classics by Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran.
This brand-new 4K restoration, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films, allows a modern classic to finally receive the treatment it deserves.
Essential viewing, A United Kingdom is a slice of neglected post-war history, a true story of love triumphing over prejudice and a reminder of how much further we still have to go in the fight for equality.
A United Kingdom (2016), Opens March 17th
Part sumptuous costume drama; part expose on the evils of colonialism, Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom tells the real story of Seretse Khama, an African Prince and future President of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). A law student in London in 1947, Seretse meets and falls in love with Ruth, a young bank clerk. The couple’s eventual marriage is greeted first, predictably, with familial disapproval, and later, more unexpectedly, governmental objection. Seretse’s kingdom borders South Africa, where the newly established apartheid laws would be undermined should neighboring Bechanaland be ruled by a high profile mixed-race couple. South Africa tries to coerce Britain to put an end to the union and Seretse and Ruth’s love is put under unbelievable duress.
Hold on tight for Werner Herzog’s blistering new film focusing on ecological disaster in South America. Join Film Critic Shawn Levy for an advanced, pre-release screening of Salt and Fire. He’ll speak with star Michael Shannon as bonus on-screen talk-back following the film.
Salt and Fire (2017), Opens March 27th
From acclaimed director Werner Herzog comes this tense psychological thriller! Two ecologists (played by Veronica Ferres and Gael Garcia Bernal) are sent to South America as part of a U.N. investigation into an ecological disaster. They are quickly kidnapped by the villainous CEO (played by Michael Shannon) of a large company held responsible for the ecological disaster. But when a supervolcano nearby begins to show signs of erupting, they must unite to avoid a disaster.
About the NY Film Critics Film Series: A regular series of ongoing preview screenings is established in approximately 50 selected major markets. Audiences experience all of the excitement of live Q&A sessions held in New York City, hosted by Peter Travers. The big screen events deliver 9-13 curated pre-release films per year to discerning audiences on a monthly basis. Each movie in the Screening Series is introduced live by Peter Travers. Audiences then see award contenders prior to their release followed by live, HD Q&A between Travers, audiences and talent from the films. Each piece brings the energy and VIP nature of prestigious, NYC screenings for nationwide audiences to interact with stars and directors via two way simulcast.