A riotous medieval-era sex romp played with lunatic conviction by a great cast, welcome to The Little Hours.
The Little Hours (2017), Opens July 21st
The opening sequence is like Mean Girls: the Dark Ages years, with three bitchy nuns ,Alessandra (Alison Brie), Genevra (Kate Micucci), and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza, who also produced the film), eye-rolling over laundry duties, snarking at one another, screaming obscenities at a leering handyman. Sister Marea (Molly Shannon) and Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) run the convent, just barely. Then, into this hothouse cloister comes Massetto (Dave Franco), a young guy on the run. Before he can even settle in, he is besieged by voracious nuns.
What could have been in less confident hands, a one-joke sketch becomes, instead, a consistently wacko screwball comedy. Everyone in The Little Hours is dealing with enormous and urgent needs. No one is having enough sex. And even when a character has some sex, it’s still not nearly enough. Who on earth would ever say, “Okay, I’ve had enough sex for one lifetime, thanks, I’m done”? The fact that all of this takes place in a convent just drives the point home further. It’s riotous to the point of lunacy.
~~ Sheila O’Malley rogerebert.com
An uplifting road trip that embraces France, food and matters of the heart, Paris Can Wait is a delight!
Paris Can Wait (2017), Opens July 21st
A scrumptious degustation crammed with tantalizing textures and flavours and lightly glazed with romance. Based on real events, in her directing debut, Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford Coppola) has crafted a film that brushes away life’s cobwebs as it let us look at life from a fresh perspective. If you need a dose of joie de vivre, this may be just the ticket.
The film is disarmingly simple and Diane Lane elevates the proceedings with her beautifully nuanced performance and luminous presence. She plays Anne, the elegant, ever-patient Hollywood wife, who blossoms under the gaze and attention of her husband’s business associate Jacques, a charming Frenchman, played excellently by Arnaud Viard. While Alec Baldwin’s pre-occupied film producer husband ratchets up another movie deal in Budapest, Jacques takes Anne on the scenic route to Paris in a sexy, sky blue vintage Peugeot convertible.
While the film’s essence is as light as a soufflé, Coppola never lets it become trite and predictable. The story is clearly based in reality, after all who could come up with the idea of pretending to dance in a Renoir painting?
Like a splendid meal, Paris Can Wait allows us to enjoy it all, from the anticipation to the recollection of the priceless moments along the way. The ending is delicious. So what are you waiting for?
~~ Louise Keller urbancinefile.com.au
The Nightlight Cinema is proud to partner with Rubber City Jazz Fest for a free screening of this captivating documentary for one night only! What was it about the music Bill Evans made—or, more appropriately, what is it about the music—that makes it so compelling?
Bill Evans: Time Remembered (2015), Opens August 26th
Actually, just about everything: harmonic approach; technique and touch; authentic emotional content; strength and sensitivity. The music of Bill Evans still sounds fresh and contemporary and his influence on later generations of jazz pianists is immense and ongoing. Which raises another question: did we need a film to tell us what we already knew?
The answer, based on a recent viewing, is a resounding yes. There’s much about Bill Evans that was, and is, a mystery, and the film goes into great detail to explore the facts of Evans’s life while maintaining clear focus on the music. Spiegel lays the facts out chronologically, using old photos and stories from family, friends and associates both in and outside the business, as well as extant audio recordings of Evans himself that carries much poignancy throughout the film.
Eight years in the making, Bruce Spiegel’s touching documentary on the life and music of the late, great, and mysterious pianist is a must-see for jazz history buffs, as well as for anyone who enjoys cool, impressionistic piano—the style Bill Evans pioneered beginning in the early 1950’s and owned and expanded up to his death in 1980 at the age of 51. The categories are broad enough to include scores of listeners. Because isn’t it true that, once one hears him, everyone digs Bill Evans?
~~ Peter Jurew allaboutjazz.com
Pritt Entertainment Group and the Nightlight are partnering up for PEG Picks at the Nightlight, a 4-part series focusing on movies throughout the last few decades. First up is the timeless classic Back to the Future which is a perfect example of 80’s film making. It’s a massive technological achievement.
Back to the Future (1985), Opens July 27th
Using the idea of showing beloved cult classics on the big screen, the series hopes to bring a new audience into the Nightlight.
“We wanted to focus on films that represent the essence of each decade and that demonstrates the best of what was going on in film at that specific time,” explained Andrew Nalette from PEG. PEG Picks provides an opportunity for “movie lovers to get together,” Nalette continued. “It’s fun to watch things like this as a group.”
Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
~~ Andrew Nalette prittentertainmentgroup.com
My Neighbor Totoro…a children’s film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign. A world where if you meet a strange towering creature in the forest, you curl up on its tummy and have a nap.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Opens July 14th
My Neighbor Totoro has become one of the most beloved of all family films without ever having been much promoted or advertised. It’s a perennial best seller on video. On the Internet Movie Database, it’s voted the fifth best family film of all time, right behind Toy Story 2 and ahead of Shrek. The new Anime Encyclopedia calls it the best Japanese animated film ever made. Whenever I watch it, I smile, and smile, and smile.
This is one of the lovingly hand-crafted works of Hayao Miyazaki whose films are above all visually enchanting, using a watercolor look for the backgrounds and working within the distinctive Japanese anime tradition of characters with big round eyes and mouths that can be as small as a dot or as big as a cavern. They also have an unforced realism in the way they notice details; early in the movie for example, the children look at a little waterfall near their home, and there on the bottom, unremarked, is a bottle someone threw into the stream.
It is rich with human comedy in the way it observes the two remarkably convincing, lifelike little girls (I speak of their personalities, not their appearance). It is awe-inspiring in the scenes involving the totoro, and enchanting in the scenes with the Cat Bus. It is a little sad, a little scary, a little surprising and a little informative, just like life itself.
~~ Roger Ebert rogerebert.com
A handsomely mounted historical espionage thriller, The Exception is a high stakes WWII masterclass starring Christopher Plumber, Jai Courtney and the lovely Lily James.
The Exception (2016), Opens June 30th
It’s 1940, German Kaiser Wilhelm (Christopher Plummer) lives in Holland under the watchful eye of the Führer. Publicly, NAZI soldiers spread the word that the Kaiser may be assassinated, but secretly, they are manipulating everything.
Capt. Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is assigned to protect the Kaiser. Brandt has been badly injured in an earlier conflict, but his physical wounds may not be as deep as his emotional ones. When he becomes romantically involved with a young Dutch-Jewish servant named Mieke de Jong (Lily James), her distraction directly affects his duties. But can duty to country and duty to one’s love co-exist?
Plummer is terrific as the Kaiser, a role perfectly suited for his age and formal acting style. He’s able to project as only an actor of Plummer’s experience and training can. Paired with the always fantastic Janet McTeer, who plays his wife Princess Hermine, the two are an excellent match. But Lily James gives her all here revealing a mature side that may have been teased in Downton Abbey but shows that she’s a brave actress.
This old-fashioned and handsomely mounted historical espionage thriller marks the directorial debut of English director David Leveaux.
~~ Jonathan W. Hickman dailyfilmfix.com
An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A GHOST STORY emerges ecstatic and surreal – a wholly unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.
A Ghost Story (2016), Opens July 28th
The main special effect in A Ghost Story is older than the movies: After a young Dallas musician (Casey Affleck) dies in a car crash, he returns as a ghost to the home he shared with his wife (Rooney Mara), and he’s draped in a sheet with hastily made cutout eyeholes, like some misbegotten Halloween costume.
Yet writer-director David Lowery channels the absurdity of this setup into an extraordinary mood piece that amounts to his best movie yet. Lowery has quickly developed a filmography that mines for awe in solitude, and here delivers a cosmic variation on that theme, exploring the ineffable relationship between people and the meaning they give to the places that have value in their lives. Both formally ambitious and emotionally accessible, A Ghost Story transforms its main stunt into a savvy dose of minimalism with existential possibilities that cut deep.
The appeal of A Ghost Story is all the more impressive in the wake of Pete’s Dragon, a movie Lowery made on an unfathomably larger scale and designed for mainstream appeal. But even as A Ghost Story exists in a niche, it’s not preaching to the converted; Lowery manages to find entertainment value and genuine intrigue from his outlandish scenario, synthesizing the magical realism of his earlier films with a tighter grasp of tone. The result is a soul-searching drama in which powerful revelations emerge less from a satisfying destination than from the beautiful struggle involved in getting there.
~~ Erik Kohn, indiewire.com
Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin sizzle in this new romantic drama one night only at The Nightlight!
Join Film Critic Shawn Levy for an advanced, pre-release screening of Blind with a Q&A following the screening with Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin and director Michael Mailer.
Blind (2016), Opens July 9th
Bestselling novelist, Bill Oakland loses his wife and his sight in a vicious car crash. Five years later Socialite Suzanne Dutchman is forced to read to Bill in an intimate room three times a week as a plea bargain for being associated with her husband’s insider trading. A passionate affair ensues, forcing them both to question whether or not it’s ever too late to find true love. But when Suzanne’s husband is let out on a technicality, she is forced to choose between the man she loves and the man she built a life with.
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.
The first great satire of the Trump-era! In Beatriz at Dinner, John Lithgow plays a Trump-like mogul opposite Hayek’s soulful health professional in this topical chamber drama.
Beatriz at Dinner (2016), Opens June 23rd
This savage, timely conversation piece—a showdown between a Mexican masseuse and a boorish real estate tycoon—will occupy your mind long after the lights go up.
In our moment of big, beautiful border walls, “bad hombres” and extreme vetting, this bleeding-edge satire’s premise seems as timely as the nightly news. A savage Buñuelian comedy, Beatriz at Dinner pits an oily variation on Donald Trump (John Lithgow in one of the juiciest performances of his career, which is saying something) against soulful Mexican masseuse and healer Beatriz (Salma Hayek) who, for all her gentleness, might end up murdering this douche bag over dessert. Beatriz isn’t exactly on the guest list; her car has broken down, and her white-guilt–stricken employer invites her to eat. But as soon as Lithgow’s real estate developer starts talking about his safari trips and the animals he’s bagged, pure vengeance shoots out of Beatriz’s eyes.
Screenwriter Mike White channels his inner rage and gets a surprising amount of it on the page. Together, White and his “Enlightened” director Miguel Arteta have an almost magical way with light-touch verbal sparring, an art that’s become lost in today’s broad, banter-filled comedies. The film gets so many exquisite details just right—the vacuous party guests, Hayek’s slightly self-righteous pose, the happy clink of the wine glasses… You take [the movie] home with you and argue about it.
~~ Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
Night School exposes the individualism of poverty and the power that education can bring to the powerless.
Night School (2016), Opens June 16th
We’ve heard a lot about the crisis of education in America – about poverty, about the dropout rate, about prohibitive testing measures, about charter schools and teacher salaries and the slow decline of American education having any sort of claim to intellectual ascendancy. And while politicians can shout that no child should be left behind, they still are, they have been, and they will be. But there are some children who have now become adults and who, for a multitude of reasons, long to finish their education. Night School, a documentary from Andrew Cohn, seeks to tell at least a few of their stories.
Night School exposes, clearly and with deep understanding, the individualism of poverty. It reveals in each of these students the desire for an education, the extreme unfairness of our current system, and the steps that some schools are taking to try to alleviate poverty and give people not just a way out of bad economic circumstances, but out of the self-doubt that comes with being constantly told you’re not good enough.
The interaction of education and the growing sense of self-worth is as much a goal in education as the actual rote learning of formulas, rules, and quadratic equations. Night School largely avoids overt political statements and so, like all the best documentaries, allows the subjects to speak for themselves. There is no better argument for education than in seeing what power and confidence it can bring to the powerless.
~~ Lauren Humpghries, wegotthiscovered.com