Blog Archives

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Black Christmas // Opens 12/23/17

The Nightlight Cinema Film Society is proud to present Bob Clark’s holiday horror masterpiece, Black Christmas this December 23rd for one night only in our brand new Lounge 237 area screening on our new 135″ screen! Only 25 tickets available for this event.

“Little baby bunting, daddy’s went a-hunting, gonna fetch a rabbit skin to wrap his baby Agnes in.”

Black Christmas (1974), Opens December 23rd

It can be argued convincingly that Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (1974) forever changed and influenced the pacing and camerawork of future horror films. The movie’s opening contains an extended optical POV shot in which a prowler sidles around the Canadian sorority house, Pi Kappa Sig, and makes his way up lattice, stepping into an old attic.

This scene and others in Clark’s film are an example of what film historian David Bordwell calls directly subjective narration. The cinema audience only catches glimpses of the stalker (Billy) and never fully sees his face. Although Black Christmas may not have been the first, there were a bevy of horror movies that predominantly took the perspective of the killer after the release of this film.

Clark and his cinematographer Reginald Morris create a master floor plan inside the house for the psychopath to surreptitiously lurk and stalk his waiting prey. The film attains a remarkably sustained feeling of dread throughout and up till the last shot. Carl Zittrer’s ominous score and Clark’s sound design, while non-diegetic, seem so immaculately woven that it could have been played on the set in perfect harmony and felt just right. Black Christmas is unmissable and deserves to be part of the canon as one of the essentials.

~~ Stephen Larson,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows // Opens 12/15/17

The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows comes to the Nightlight Cinema this December!

The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows (2017), Opens December 15th

Presenting 16 exceptional and inspiring animated shorts from around the world. At a time of increasing social instability and global anxiety about a range of issues, the works in this year’s show have a special resonance, presenting compelling ideas about our place in society and how we fit into the world.

“Because animation is such a natural medium for dealing with abstract ideas and existential concerns, the Animated Show of Shows has always included a number of thoughtful and engaging films,” says founder and curator Ron Diamond. “However, more than in previous years, I believe that this year’s program really offers contemporary animation that expresses deeply felt issues in our own country and around the world.”

These films include Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s Annecy Grand Prix-winning “The Burden,” a melancholy, funny and moving film that explores the tribulations, hopes and dreams of a group of night-shift employees, uniquely capturing the zeitgeist of our time. At the other end of the spectrum, David OReilly’s playful and profound “Everything,” based on the work of the late philosopher Alan Watts, explores the interconnectedness of the universe and the multiplicity of perspectives that underlie reality.

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Night of the Hunter // Opens 11/25/17

The first Nightlight Cinema Film Society Presentation premiers on November 25th in our brand new Lounge 237 area screening on our new 135″ screen! Only 25 tickets available for this event.

“Not that you mind the killings! There’s plenty of killings in your book, Lord…”

The Night of the Hunter (1955), Opens November 25th

Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955) is one of the greatest of all American films, but has never received the attention it deserves because of its lack of the proper trappings. Many “great movies” are by great directors, but Laughton directed only this one film, which was a critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career. Many great movies use actors who come draped in respectability and prestige, but Robert Mitchum has always been a raffish outsider. And many great movies are realistic, but “Night of the Hunter” is an expressionistic oddity, telling its chilling story through visual fantasy. People don’t know how to categorize it, so they leave it off their lists.

Yet what a compelling, frightening and beautiful film it is! And how well it has survived its period. Many films from the mid-1950s, even the good ones, seem somewhat dated now, but by setting his story in an invented movie world outside conventional realism, Laughton gave it a timelessness. Yes, the movie takes place in a small town on the banks of a river. But the town looks as artificial as a Christmas card scene, the family’s house with its strange angles inside and out looks too small to live in, and the river becomes a set so obviously artificial it could have been built for a completely stylized studio film like Kwaiden (1964).

Charles Laughton showed here that he had an original eye, and a taste for material that stretched the conventions of the movies. It is risky to combine horror and humor, and foolhardy to approach them through expressionism. For his first film, Laughton made a film like no other before or since, and with such confidence it seemed to draw on a lifetime of work. Critics were baffled by it and the public rejected it. But nobody who has seen The Night of the Hunter has forgotten it, or Mitchum’s voice coiling down those basement stairs: “Chillll . . . dren?”

~~ Roger Ebert,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Lady Bird // Opens 12/8/17

A coming-of-age story that somehow isn’t riddled with cliches, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is seriously worth watching!

Lady Bird (2017), Opens December 8th

Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a high school senior who could play rival Hailee Steinfeld’s Nadine in last year’s coming-of-age dramedy, The Edge of Seventeen. She’s a strong, independent woman and her personality is way too strong for her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalfe), but she gets along fine with her laid-off father, Larry (Tracy Letts). Lady Bird, who insists on being referred to as such, is dead set on going to college in New York, much to her mom’s dismay. She doesn’t want to be in California any longer, least of all close to her parents.

Senior year comes and goes and Graduation Day arrives rather quickly. Best friend, Julie Steffans (Beanie Feldstein) drifts apart as Lady Bird finds the favor of Jenna Walton (Odeya Rush). A blooming romance with Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) gets replaced by Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet). Rather than focus on boys, it’s the relationship with her mother that really matters.

The film is unique and offers a lot of fun, even surprising, moments of any film or television series that takes on the adolescent years and that’s after last year’s aforementioned dramedy. The smartly-written screenplay has a lot of humor and floors audiences by offering the edgiest, jaw-dropping abortion joke in recent cinema history. Lady Bird will stay with you long after the credits roll, helping it to become one of the definitive coming-of-age movies of our time.

~~ Danielle Solzman,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Jane // Opens 11/3/17

Jane is that rare documentary that works in equal measure for those who know a great deal about Jane Goodall and those people who don’t know a thing.

Jane (2017), Opens November 3rd

Most people probably think they know all they need to know about Jane Goodall. She watched chimps, right? Her research was essential to understanding not only the way we interact with the natural world but our place in it. Jane fully elevates the scientific pedestal on which Jane Goodall should be placed but it does so in part by humanizing her, revealing the challenges she faced and discoveries she made as more than mere National Geographic footage you might see in a Science class.

Morgen structures his film relatively chronologically, allowing Goodall to tell her own story as we see footage of her in the wild. There’s a fascinating structural element of Jane in that the footage doesn’t contain interviews or dialogue, and so we’re watching Jane, the chimps, and the other humans who would come to Gambe, in a way that’s not dissimilar from the way Goodall observed her subjects.

And there’s the added sense of disconnected observation that comes with time, and in the manner that Goodall herself is analyzing her own story in the way that someone might analyze the actions of a family of chimps. The parallel is clearly intentional, especially as Jane becomes more and more about how the lessons that Goodall learned in the wild informed her entire life, including even teaching her lessons about motherhood.

In a sense, we’re watching the impact of Goodall’s evolution from a young adventurer to a groundbreaking scientist to a wife and mother. And it’s through her self-analysis of that evolution that Morgen draws a line through fifty years of research and an entirely different species. As he has in his other films, he’s saying to us that it is through these pioneers that we can see the best in ourselves and the potential of the human intellect and desire to learn.

~~ Brian Tallerico,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Breadwinner // Opens 12/1/17

Set in war-torn Afghanistan under Taliban rule, Nora Twomey’s film is a beautiful but troubling look at a people’s fight to survive.

The Breadwinner (2017), Opens December 1st

The Breadwinner which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, may well turn out to be the movie to test whether the Oscars’ new rules for voting in the Best Animated Feature category are truly biased in favor of major studios over indies. A beautifully rendered work of animation that tells a powerful story, it is a standout in the field and would certainly have been a favorite to land a nomination at any point over the last decade.

And it’s safe to say that The Breadwinner will be hard to ignore regardless of the rules. Set in Kabul under Taliban rule, the film paints a powerful picture of a vibrant culture and people under stifling repression; it has monsters and plucky kids and colorful adventures like other animated films, but at heart it is a beautiful but troubling look at a people’s fight to survive.

The lead character is Parvana (Saara Chaudry), a preteen girl who accompanies her father to the market in an attempt to make enough money to feed the family. She draws the attention of a Taliban soldier because she’s approaching the age when women should be completely covered (or should preferably stay indoors), while her father (Ali Badshah) is suspect because he’s a former teacher who still respects literature. Crucially for the story and the film, Parvana is also a storyteller, weaving a tale to keep her little brother happy and to help herself and her friend through a series of dangerous encounters.

These sequences bring a deliberately subdued film to life, and pay tribute to the force of storytelling and of tradition that can be outlawed but can’t be quashed. And in the film’s spectacular final sequences, when the story Parvana is telling meshes with the one she is living, The Breadwinner is a glorious demonstration of the power of myth to deal with brutal reality, and the power of truth to animate myth.

~~ Steve Pond,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Unknown Girl // Opens 10/13/17

The Dardennes brothers’ latest tale from the grim streets of the industrial suburb of Liège in Belgium is another quietly powerful masterpiece; it’s perhaps their best film since The Child.

The Unknown Girl (2016), Opens October 13th

A young African woman with no ID, has been found dead on the bank of the river nearby. Adèle Haenel as a doctor turns detective. The Unknown Girl fuses elements from social realist cinema, morality play and a whodunit murder mystery. The result is a wholly gripping narrative told with understated eloquence.

The Dardennes brothers are minimalists using naturalistic lighting and no score – the only soundtrack is industrial noises or the swish of heavy traffic on the ring road outside the surgery. Philosophical questions about our responsibility towards others, particularly those living in poverty, run through the film and are left open-ended. The social realism will be familiar to Dardennes’ fans, but the addition of the detective element brings a new narrative energy to their work. The Unknown Girl confronts moral dilemmas worthy of Hitchcock, in particular difficult questions around the code of doctor-patient confidentiality. There’s a rare excursion to the countryside for a re-encounter with Julien, but otherwise this is a relentless and impressive slice of urban noir.

~~ Saskia Baron,

Presented in original French language with English subtitles.

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Loving Vincent // Opens 10/27/17

Eye-boggling Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted film and it’s coming to the Nightlight Cinema!

Loving Vincent (2017), Opens October 27th

In 1956’s Lust For Life, artist Paul Gauguin (Anthony Quinn) screams at his friend Vincent van Gogh (Kirk Douglas), “All I see when I look at your paintings is that you paint too fast!” Van Gogh shouts back, “You look too fast!” That confrontational ethos and van Gogh’s 800 oil paintings were the bedrock of the modern art movement, and the Dutch master’s sense of impossible daring is alive in a massively ambitious new animated film.

Loving Vincent begins a year after van Gogh died by suicide in 1890 at the age of 37. In an effort to understand his death, an amateur sleuth (Douglas Booth) seeks out several of van Gogh’s painting subjects, including ­Marguerite Gachet (Saoirse Ronan). Wistful grace notes about life and loss are touched upon and composer Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream) provides another alternately spooky and beautiful musical score.

But the real reason to see the film is this: Every single one of its 65,000 frames were hand-painted in van Gogh’s style, making Loving Vincent the world’s first fully painted feature film. Those sensual, hallucinogenic yellow and blue brush smears from “The Starry Night” and “Starry Night Over the Rhône” literally come alive before your eyes, and that’s just one of 130 van Gogh masterpieces woven into the plot. Loving Vincent is one of the most lunatic labors of love to appear on movie screens this year. And in that sense, a fitting, miraculous tribute to its subject.

~~ Joe McGovern ,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Mother! // Opens 10/13/17

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a husband and wife whose isolated house is invaded by another married couple in Darren Aronofsky’s black-comic nightmare.

Mother! (2017), Opens October 13th!

It’s a powerful enough word at the best of times, but the exclamation mark gives it that edge of delirium and melodrama and despair – just the way Norman Bates yells it at the end of Psycho. Or maybe we’re supposed to hear a second, brutal two-syllable word immediately afterwards. Darren Aronofsky’s toweringly outrageous film leaves no gob unsmacked. It is an event-movie detonation, a phantasmagorical horror and black-comic nightmare that jams the narcosis needle right into your abdomen. Mother! escalates the anxiety and ups the ante of dismay with every scene, every act, every trimester, taking us in short order from WTF to WTAF to SWTAF and beyond.

It’s a very bad dream of very bad things: influenced perhaps by Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby or Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel and I suspect that Aronofsky has fallen under the spell of the dark master of offensive mischief himself, Lars Von Trier and his horror film Antichrist. But it is as deadpan comedy that this film can be understood: a macabre spectacle of revulsion, a veritable agape of chaos. The opening act gives us a view of a human heart being flushed down the lavatory – as good an image as any for the film’s mysterious, hallucinatory callousness. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are tremendously operatic as the leads and it is great to welcome Michelle Pfeiffer back to the big screen in a pleasingly cruel supporting role.

Mother! in its way reminded me of the musical The Book of Mormon: it could be about the birth of a new religion with all the irrational absurdity, vanity and celebrity worship that this entails. Or it could be a satirical portrait of a marriage and the humiliation involved in catering for a sleekly pompous man old enough to be your father. But maybe it is just about the gleeful anarchy involved in destruction, in simply taking the audience on a series of stomach-turning quantum leaps into madness. As horror it is ridiculous, as comedy it is startling and hilarious, and as a machine for freaking you out it is a thing of wonder.

~~ Peter Bradshaw,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // My Friend Dahmer // Opens 11/17/17

My Friend Dahmer is a humanizing dissection of teen psychosis.

My Friend Dahmer (2017), Opens November 17th

A year in the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer back when he was a misunderstood high school kid. To be sure, the dementia the movie shows us is totally in its embryonic form. Jeffrey, at 17, likes to take roadkill and dissolve it in jars of acid he gets from his chemist father, and his surly blank stare gives new meaning to the term “teenage outcast.” Yet My Friend Dahmer, adapted from a true-life graphic novel by John Backderf (who based it on his own high-school experiences with Dahmer), is more than a twisted Afterschool Special. It’s a serious and audacious attempt to dramatize the inner life of a sick puppy when he wasn’t quite so sick.

As you watch the movie, its central idea, that Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t just born, he was made; that he started off as an actual human being, has a shocking validity that never undercuts the extremity of his crimes. My Friend Dahmer is disturbingly compelling and original, and with the right handling it could prove a specialty-market sensation. After Bates Motel and Hannibal, mainstream audiences are edgier now, and they’re more than ready for a movie that looks into the dark heart of the adolescent abyss.

The casting of Disney star Ross Lynch as Dahmer sounds like a stunt, but it works for several reasons. Lynch, in aviator frames, with a shaggy coif, actually looks remarkably the way Dahmer did in 1978, and he acts with a spooked gravity — his face frozen, as if he were literally afraid to smile — that’s highly suggestive of unformed inner demons. Lynch, as surely as Jeremy Renner 15 years ago in Dahmer (the movie that put him on the map), has fearlessly thought and felt his way into this role.

~~ Owen Gleiberman,