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Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Paris, Texas // Opens 10/21/17

A place for dreams, a place for heartbreak, a place to pick up the pieces.

Paris, Texas (1984), Opens October 21st

The man comes walking out of the desert like a Biblical figure, a penitent who has renounced the world. He wears jeans and a baseball cap, the universal costume of America, but the scraggly beard, the deep eye sockets and the tireless lope of his walk tell a story of wandering in the wilderness. What is he looking for? Does he remember?

Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984) is the story of loss upon loss. This man, whose name is Travis, was once married and had a little boy. Then that all went wrong, and he lost his wife and child, and for years he wandered. Now he will find his family and lose it again, this time not through madness but through sacrifice. He will give them up out of his love for them.

Harry Dean Stanton has long inhabited the darker corners of American noir, with his lean face and hungry eyes, and here he creates a sad poetry.

Wenders uses the materials of realism but this is a fable, as much as his great Wings of Desire. It’s about archetypal longings, set in American myth. The name Travis reminds us of Travis McGee, the private investigator who rescued lost souls and sometimes fell in love with them but always ended up alone on his boat. The Texas setting evokes thoughts of the Western, but this movie is not for the desert and against the city; it is about a journey which leads from one to the other and ends in a form of happiness.

~~ Roger Ebert,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Killing of a Sacred Deer // Opens 9/10/17

A man who plays God for a living meets a boy who chooses to play Devil in Yorgos Lanthimos’ chilling and breathtaking The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Opens November 10th

Once again, as he did with The Lobster, Lanthimos is working in a deeply metaphorical register, using an impossible situation to illuminate relatable human fears. The result is a mesmerizing thriller, a movie that asks questions with no good answers and traps us within its terrifying and bizarre situation with little hope for a happy ending. With uniformly great performances throughout the cast and Lanthimos’ stunning eye for detail and composition, this is one of the most unforgettable films of the year.

Colin Farrell, reuniting with Lanthimos and a bit bushier and grayer than before, plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a noted and respected surgeon. Externally, he would seem to have it all. He’s powerful and successful with a gorgeous wife named Anna (Nicole Kidman), who happens to be an ophthalmologist. They have two children—15-year-old Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and younger Bob (Sunny Suljic). Steven has befriended a 16-year-old named Martin (Barry Keoghan of “Dunkirk”), the son of a man who died on his operating table a few years ago. Exactly what happened in that room, and how and why Steven has tried to stay close with Martin is unclear at the beginning of the film. Lanthimos often keeps histories and motivations vague, allowing us to fill in the blanks as the film progresses.

Colin Ferrell is phenomenal here, finding the shades of a man whose greatest sin may be his refusal to admit he’s only human. In the end, that may be the message of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, when you play God, you must deal with the consequences. The Lanthimos-Farrell dynamic is one of those relationships in which the creator and actor are so clearly on the same page that it’s invigorating.

That’s a good word for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. It’s a film that challenges viewers in such fascinating ways and feels so refined in its filmmaking that it’s invigorating to watch. It’s a rare movie indeed that can be this alternately terrifying, hysterical, strange, and heartbreaking, often in the same scene. Like the Greek myth that inspired the film, it feels powerful enough to be timeless.

~~ Brian Tallerico,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Florida Project // Opens 11/24/17

Poverty and joy in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom. This is The Florida Project.

The Florida Project (2017), Opens November 24th

Following his much lauded iPhone-shot Tangerine, director Sean Baker, has lost none of his fire and exuberance working with a larger budget and some well-known cast members. Indeed, Willem Dafoe, as the reluctant father-figure manager at the Orlando motel where this movie is set, gives one of the best film performances of his entire career. Baker, who has a number of microbudget features under his belt, has catapulted himself into a whole new league now.

The first third of The Florida Project blazes forward at high-speed, in a stylised blur, with some of the best kid acting this side of Truffaut’s Pocket Money. In very small increments things slow down and take a more documentary-style approach. A storm is coming (as it often does in Florida), and all of it is depressingly predictable. Just what exactly is a woman like Halley supposed to do to make money when there are no jobs?

While minimal on plot, the film digs in its nails on the day-to-day struggles of poor people in America. Even those with jobs are a little skittish, like the cab driver eyeing every minute not making a fare, or the commanding and level-headed Bobby, who changes his demeanour when the motel owner is on premises. That this all takes place in the Magic Kingdom’s shadow is a metaphor upon which lesser film-makers would lean more heavily.

But look out for Bria Vinaite, who Baker discovered on social media, and especially young Brooklynn Prince. This movie could never work without a performers of their calibre. Things look grim for Halley and Moonee, but we can expect a lot from the people who brought their marvellous story to light.

~~ Jordan Hoffman,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Lucky // Opens 10/20/17

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.

Lucky (2017), Opens October 20th

Lucky is something a good deal more substantial than the cinematic equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. It’s also a stealthily affecting and unpretentiously thoughtful meditation on community and mortality, and existential dread and transcendence, in the form of a richly amusing shaggy-dog story that features Stanton’s finest performance since Paris, Texas.

By turns taciturn and loquacious, Lucky is an insistently self-sufficient loner who nonetheless seems to enjoy, or at least not resent, his interactions with other residents in an off-the-grid desert town. As he goes about his daily regimen both at home (yoga in the morning, TV game shows in the afternoon) and outside of it (breakfast at the local diner, evening drinks at his customary watering hole), his stride is brisk and purposeful in the manner of a man who believes unwavering adherence to routine is the secret to a long life.

The best way to appreciate Lucky is to take a deep breath, free your mind, and go with the unhurried flow for 88 minutes. Take time to savor all of its disparate elements — including, on the pitch-perfect soundtrack, a harmonica rendition of “Red River Valley” performed by Stanton — and ponder its teasing ambiguities. More important, relish every detail of Stanton’s matter-of-factly fearless portrayal of a man who ran out of damns to give a long time ago, but still wants to make a graceful exit. It is, quite simply, the performance of a lifetime.

~~ Joe Leydon,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Woodshock // Opens 10/6/17

Haunting and hallucinatory, Woodshock comes to the Nightlight Cinema as the chilly fall season descends upon us…

Woodshock (2017), Opens October 6th

The exquisite feature film debut of visionary fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavey, Woodshock is a hypnotic exploration of isolation, paranoia, and grief that exists in a dream-world all its own. Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa, a haunted young woman spiraling in the wake of profound loss, torn between her fractured emotional state and the reality-altering effects of a potent cannabinoid drug. Immersive, spellbinding, and sublime, Woodshock transcends genre to become a singularly thrilling cinematic experience that marks the arrival of the Mulleavy siblings as a major new voice in film.

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // A Nightmare on Elm Street // Opens 10/31/17

One, two Freddy’s coming for you…

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Opens October 31st

This movie marked me when I was a kid and left me with many sleepless nights. It marked a lot of people cause this badboy sprang 6 sequels. It made Robert Englund (Freddy) a star, introduced Johnny Depp and set a new trend in horror: dreams versus reality. Now everybody knows that Freddy became the “Big Mac” of horror. We got Freddy underwear, Freddy dolls, Freddy lunch boxes, damn Freddy even got his own TV show (Freddy’s Nightmares). But before all the hoopla Freddy was far from funny, he was a true nightmare: A filthy child molester who comes back in dreams to murder the children of the parents who killed him. Does that sound funny? Not at all. The whole: are we in a dream? are we in reality? thing is fascinating and very “avant garde” for its time. The line between the two is always blurred and that kept me on my toes the whole way.

A Nightmare On Elm Street wears its title well, watching it is like watching a nightmare captured on film. It’s dark, weird, unpredictable and very out there. We get many disturbing images (the long armed Freddy scene or the running lamb did it for me), creepy settings, a few gore shows, some nice surprises (Freddy phone tongue) and a messed up ending. I’m still not sure what the ending means, so many ways you can interpret it, I think the whole movie is a dream. Apart from messing with our heads Craven gets to fully explore his booby trap fetish (he dabbled with it in The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left) and it works like a charm. Lets stroll down Elm Street.

~~ The Arrow,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Crown Heights // Opens 9/22/17

Crown Heights tells a timely, fact-based tale of wrongful incarceration.

Crown Heights (2017), Opens September 22nd

An uncaring system putting blameless men behind bars has been a cinematic staple as far back as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man and likely further. But few examples have been as effective as the fact-based Crown Heights.

Winner of Sundance’s coveted audience award in dramatic competition, Crown Heights is adapted from an episode of public radio’s “This American Life” and named after the Brooklyn neighborhood where its main characters live and work.

As written and directed by Matt Ruskin, the film is finely balanced between two parallel sets of astonishments. One that an innocent man, Colin Warner, could spend 20 years in prison after being handed a potential life sentence on the flimsiest of evidence.

The other, equally amazing, is that people who loved and believed in Warner fought for years against inertia and crushing difficulty to get him out. What the good people do is as powerful as the bad here, and that makes all the difference.

Crown Heights has also been fortunate that the power of its narrative attracted committed actors who effectively convey its essence. Asomugha, a former NFL star, is excellent as the best friend who simply would not give up. Paul is just as strong as an old flame who reenters Warner’s life. But the best work, as it would have to be, is Stanfield’s on-fire performance as the man inside.

~~ Kenneth Turan,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Viceroy’s House // Opens 9/29/17

A richly developed historical drama about the partitioning of India, Viceroy’s House is set in India during the harrowing and tumultuous weeks leading up to the Partition in 1947.

Viceroy’s House (2017), Opens September 29th’s-house

Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame) arrives in Delhi to take over the complex job of handing power over to India’s new leaders and overseeing the peaceful exit of England after its 300-year rule. Both he and his politically active wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson) have their hearts in the right place as they seek to do what is best for an independent India. The challenge is whether to set up a single pluralistic nation with a Hindu majority or to partition it in two countries, establishing a separate Muslim-majority state of Pakistan.

Jeet (Manish Dayal), an ardent young Hindu arrives in Delhi the same day as Lord Mountbatten and lands a job training as a valet. He is in love with Aalia (Huma Qureshi), a Muslim, and wants her to marry him rather than wed the man chosen by her father (the late Om Puri); their difficulties in being together mirror what is going on in the whole country.

Chadha has marshalled all her cinematic gifts in the creation of this ambitious historical drama which she hopes will stand by such screen epics as Ghandi and A Passage to India. The musical score by A. R. Rahman is suitably enchanting, and cinematography by Ben Smithard is exceptional. Both Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson win our allegiance by demonstrating what the novelist Ernest Hemingway called “grace under pressure.”

~~ Mary Ann Brussat,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Trip to Spain // Opens 9/8/17

The Trip to Spain Is Another Treat In The Delightful Food, Travel & Improv Franchise and it’s heading to the Nightlight Cinema!

The Trip to Spain (2017), Opens September 8th

As a sort of litmus test, noted film critic Gene Siskel would ask of a film, “Is it more interesting than a documentary of the actors having lunch?” Michael Winterbottom’s trilogy of The Trip films effectively turn the question inside out, rendering the act of watching a pair of actors having lunch as something riotous, a touch melancholic, and yes, infinitely interesting. Limey comic virtuosos Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have hit the road yet again, bringing their egos, insecurities, and fully loaded arsenals of celebrity impressions with them. And enough has changed since they ate their way through Italy, Philomena landed Coogan a pair of Oscar nominations, and he won’t let anyone forget it, that this dish remains just as sumptuous in the third tuck-in, The Trip to Spain

There’s a certain skill in recognizing when something that ain’t broke don’t need fixing. Winterbottom’s hit upon a winning formula with seemingly limitless potential for regular renewal; he keeps the cameras rolling while Coogan and Brydon volley witticisms like a schticky McEnroe and Borg, their barrage of bits interspersed with ravishing footage of the Spanish countryside and obscene tapas porn. Winterbottom’s film offers a neurotic and often bitterly sarcastic spin on the same material pleasures of a Nancy Meyers production, shamelessly luxuriating in its own luxury. The paella is exquisite, each Roger Moore-voice contest equally so.

There are enough parody-ready male British thespians and countries with lavish cuisine to fuel 20 more trips. Brydon and Coogan’s effortless chemistry, paired with the simple joys of good food and world-class sightseeing, make these films a supremely pleasant vacation unto themselves. Someone get these men on the next ferry to Japan.

~~ Charles Bramesco,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // High Arts Film Festival // Opens 9/16/17

Coming to the Nightlight Cinema this September! Experience the best of local independent short film from talented individuals in and around the local community!

High Arts Film Festival (2017), Opens September 16th

The High Arts Festival is a 23-day festival celebrating local artists of multidisciplinary art forms. The event invites visual artists, musicians and filmmakers to showcase their craft among their peers and public in downtown Akron venues.

View all 22 film entries at The Nightlight for free during one of the show times listed below. Films will also be viewable on the free, High Arts Festival App, available on the Google Play Store/iTunes Store in September. Through the app, you can register, explore all of the entries and vote on your favorites.

Film prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Grand Prize ($5,000), Fiction Runner Up ($1,000), Non-Fiction Runner Up ($1,000) and Juried ($1,000). The Film Grand Prize winner will also receive the honor of showing their film during a showcase party at The Nightlight in October or November.