Blog Archives

Just Booked at The Nightlight: OCEAN WAVES, Opens 12/30

Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation from Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away).

Ocean Waves (2016) Opens December 30th

Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.

Ocean Waves was the first Studio Ghibli film directed by someone other than studio founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as director Tomomi Mochizuki led a talented staff of younger employees in an adaptation of Saeko Himuro’s best-selling novel. Full of shots bathed in a palette of pleasingly soft pastel colors and rich in the unexpected visual details typical of Studio Ghibli’s most revered works, Ocean Waves is an accomplished teenage drama and a true discovery.

About Ghiblies: Episode 2

Ghiblies: Episode 2 is a unique 25-minute short film from Studio Ghibli, featuring several comedic vignettes and caricatures of Studio Ghibli staff as they go about their day. Utilizing new animation techniques and software that would then be deployed on the production of My Neighbors the Yamadas, Ghiblies: Episode 2 has never been released in North America and will be making its North American premiere in December 2016.

Just Booked at The Nightlight: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Opens 12/16

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler star in this emotionally overwhelming and critically acclaimed drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret), about a reclusive handyman who must face his painful past when he returns to his Massachusetts hometown after the sudden death of his beloved older brother.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) Opens December 16th

With only his third feature in 16 years, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret) takes us through a familiar milieu in Manchester by the Sea, but does so in wholly unfamiliar ways.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck, in a career-defining performance), is the resident handyman for a small apartment complex in a Boston suburb. He spends his days shovelling snow, fixing leaks, and doing his best to ignore the tenants’ small talk. He spends his evenings either alone in his basement apartment or nursing a beer at his local, where he’ll pick a fight with anyone who throws a glance his way. Yet somehow we know that buried beneath this sadness is another life.

When he receives the news that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died of a congenital heart condition and that, to his unpleasant surprise, he’s been appointed legal guardian of Joe’s teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Lee returns to his nearby seaside hometown, a place of both cherished and painful memories. Despite the sudden loss of his father, and in stark contrast to his uncle, Patrick is full of life. A popular student, he juggles hockey, band practice, and two girlfriends. As this mismatched pair stumbles through the mundane details of estate planning and the awkward strain of adolescence, Lee is forced to confront his past, revealed seamlessly through flashbacks, and the realities of his present.

Lonergan’s genius is rooted not in the extraordinary, but the ordinary. A master of detail, he uses his character’s daily surroundings and routines to create a beautifully textured reality. He turns the loose narrative structure into one of his film’s greatest strengths: rather than depend on an obvious narrative arc or dramatic set pieces, he draws out the emotion of his text subtly and steadily. In Manchester by the Sea, Lonergan has created a world so messy that it can only be described as wonderfully human.

~~ Kerri Craddock, TIFF

Just Booked at The Nightlight: LOVING, Opens 12/9

Loving breathes life into a superlative historical drama with its understated approach to a relevant, real-life tale.

Loving (2016) Opens December 9th

Jeff Nichols’ Loving is that rare mainstream film that provokes frustration and rage without resorting to monologues or melodrama. The two people at the center of this period drama aren’t prone to long speeches. They’re quiet, conservative, almost shy folk who ended up at the center of one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the ‘60s by virtue of falling in love, getting married and having children. Nichols’ approach is careful, reserved and deeply considerate of the human story he’s trying to tell. There’s no sense of exploitation here—if anything, he’s almost too reverential in his unwillingness to show any flaws. One can sense a director’s understandable trepidation in telling the story of two private people whose life was made very public. What’s most important to Nichols’ vision is how much trust he has in his two leads, and what they give back to him in exchange for that trust.

Loving has few twists and turns. It is a rather straightforward drama, and therefore probably won’t be flashy enough for some viewers. And yet it feels urgent and current to today’s drama. Why do some films set a half-century ago feel like history lessons while others feel essential to not just the ‘60s but the ‘10s? Because there’s truth in the story of Richard and Mildred Loving. There’s something about people who just want to be allowed to start a family that is timeless and always will be. And it takes an incredibly talented trio of people in Nichols, Negga and Edgerton to convey that timelessness in a way that feels genuine. When “Loving” ends, one doesn’t feel like they spent time being manipulated by awards bait or melodrama. One appreciates a story well-told and having been allowed a brief, believable window into the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving, two people who changed the country just by falling in love.

Just Booked at The Nightlight: EarthQuaker Devices / Goodnight Brooklyn, Two Showtimes on 12/27

EarthQuaker Devices invites you to join them for one of two exclusive double features featuring the new short doc, EarthQuaker Devices: A Mini Movie, and Goodnight Brooklyn. Read below for more! EQD will have their headphone demo and merch on hand.

Goodnight Brooklyn (2016) w/ EarthQuaker Devices: A Mini Movie (2016), Two Showtimes on December 27th

About EarthQuaker Devices: A Mini Movie

Shot entirely on location in Akron, Ohio, EarthQuaker Devices: A Mini Movie chronicles the meteoric rise of the popular guitar effects pedal manufacturer from the ashes of the Rubber City. The film traces the homegrown company’s roots from a one-man basement operation, to an international success, providing musical equipment which helps artists like Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, and the Black Keys craft unique guitar sounds – creating jobs for 50+ local artists and musicians along the way. The film’s soundtrack features music by Akron bands Relaxer, Mount Ratz, and original compositions by the EarthQuaker Devices crew. Viewers will gain unparalleled access to the day-to-day inner workings of the enigmatic effects pedal company, as well as a glimpse into the creative process of owner, designer, and guitarist Jamie Stillman.

About Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death By Audio

“Every great city has a space like Death By Audio. If yours doesn’t, you should start one.”

Those words are the last thing to appear on the screen at the end of a new film called Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio, which documents the rise and fall of the Williamsburg, New York, venue from a Domino Sugar Factory reception area to one of the neighborhood’s last great DIY performance spaces.

Goodnight Brooklyn manages to tell two stories at once. First, there’s the triumphant tale of Conboy and his friends creating something out of nothing and finding both national attention and a local community. “We didn’t belong in New York City,” the Future Islands frontman, Samuel T Herring, says in the film, “but we immediately felt like: ‘These people are like us!’” Patrick agrees: “Death by Audio really became a spiritual home to the community.”

Because Death by Audio was a ‘spiritual home’ for so many, the film’s second story plays like a melodrama, complete with a villain – Vice. But in what is perhaps the ultimate signal of the death of Williamsburg cool, in the film, artist Nick Kuszyk notes that in a different era, the “F*** you, Vice” scrawled on the wall of the doomed space would have ended up on the cover of the magazine.

Just Booked at The Nightlight: Neruda, Opens 2/10

Chile’s 2016 Oscar submission! Pablo Larraín (The Club, No, Tony Manero) weaves an engrossing metafictional fable around the 1948 manhunt for celebrated poet and politician Pablo Neruda, who goes underground when Chile outlaws communism and is pursued by an ambitious police inspector (Gael García Bernal) hoping to make a name for himself by capturing the famous fugitive.

Neruda (2016), Opens February 10th

The eventful and unorthodox life of the Nobel Prize–winning poet, politician, committed communist, unapologetic hedonist, and Chilean cultural icon Pablo Neruda provides plentiful territory for cinematic exploration. The poet’s early-1950s exile in Procida previously inspired Michael Radford’s Il Postino, a fictionalized story about Neruda’s relationship with a local postman that left few cinemagoers dry-eyed. Now, Pablo Larraín, Chile’s most inventive and provocative contemporary filmmaker, takes a wholly unique approach to his famous countryman’s life and work with Neruda, which is set during the poet’s sojourn underground in the late 1940s…

Elegant and beguiling, Neruda offers a (fittingly) Nerudian vision of its eponymous protagonist. It’s a metafictional fable that blends historical recreation with literary and cinematic fabrication. Pushing the limits of filmic biography, Larraín offers a stimulating and sometimes startling rumination on the split that can exist between the person and the persona, the man and the artist.

~~ Toronto International Film Festival

Just Booked at The Nightlight: Burn Country – Exclusive NYFCS Preview, Opens 12/5

“Join Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers for an advanced, pre-release screening of Burn Country. He’ll join in conversation with guests Melissa Leo & James Franco.”

Burn Country (2016), Opens December 5th

After being exiled from Afghanistan, a former war journalist settles in a small town in Northern California and takes a job with a local newspaper. But when he attempts to cover local crime, he stumbles into local corruption that puts himself and others in danger.

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.

Just Booked at The Nightlight: A Man Called Ove, Opens 10/28

A Man Called Ove is “a morbidly funny and moving success…”

A Man Called Ove (2016), Opens October 28th

A Man Called Ove tells the familiar story of the curmudgeonly old man whose grumpy life is brightened by forces beyond his control. These forces take the guise of a much younger person who provides a sense of purpose for the old hero. A film like this rises or falls not only with its central performance, but also with its ability to engage the viewer’s emotions in a credible, honest fashion. Movies like this tend to get dismissed as “manipulative” because audience sympathy for the protagonist is at least partially elicited by flashbacks to a litany of tragic or unfair past events. But all movies are manipulative by default; the effectiveness of that manipulation is the more valid measurement to inspect. On that scale, A Man Called Ove is a morbidly funny and moving success…

As Ove, [lead actor, Rolf] Lassgård gives one of the year’s best performances. He’s well supported by the other actors (and the aforementioned cat), but this is a rich, complex performance that is both funny and moving. It would have been easy to just let Ove coast by on his amusing grouchiness, but Lassgård lets us see so deeply under that protective exterior. We feel as if we’ve walked a mile in Ove’s shoes and absorbed his catharsis as our own.

~~ Odie Henderson,

Just Booked at The Nightlight: Creepy, Opens 10/28

This Halloween: “a vision of absolute evil that somehow becomes more disquieting and suggestive as it becomes more obvious and literal.”

Creepy (2016), Opens October 28th

When it comes to the films of Japanese writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the most apt comparisons have long been Fritz Lang and David Lynch, even though neither speaks to how his movies actually look. Like the former, he draws on a fascination with evil (one can imagine Lang’s masterpieces M and The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse remade as Kurosawa movies), and like the latter, he merges the macabre and the everyday in a way that unsettles feelings about both. In his films—which include Cure and Pulse, both classics of modern horror that rank among this publication’s favorites—an eerie and unclassifiable atmosphere of mystery grows around familiar genres: the detective procedural, the domestic drama, the ghost story. These movies find a way into the cosmic and unknowable through pulp clichés (overworked cops, supercriminals, subterranean lairs, etc.) and apparent predictability. Their repetitions become more mysterious with every occurrence, and their characters, drawn irrationally through dreamlike narratives, are just as easily viewer doubles…

Kurosawa’s spatial, ambient style creates ambiguities out of sharp-edged frames. He is a complete classicist in the importance he puts on staging, and the influence of the tough-guy genre movies of Don Siegel, Richard Fleischer, and Robert Aldrich—often cited by Kurosawa as personal favorites—is plainly obvious in the way he frames [Creepy‘s protagonist, Koichi] Takakura and his former colleagues. But his sense of emphasis is inverted: What other filmmakers do with close-ups or shadows, he does with wide shots, ellipses, and empty space. And the more successfully Creepy rationalizes itself, the more irrational it becomes, until it descends into one of those decrepit subterranean spaces that have stood in for the recesses of the psyche in Kurosawa’s movies. Under the (literal) surface of a drab suburban development, it finds a soundproofed mad scientist’s bunker, complete with a trap door straight out of a silent movie: a vision of absolute evil that somehow becomes more disquieting and suggestive as it becomes more obvious and literal.

~~ Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V. Club

Just Booked at The Nightlight: Christine, Opens 11/4

The story of Christine Chubbuck, a Hudson, OH native, is one of the journalism industry’s most infamous cautionary tales. Christine is a “thrumming, heartsore, sometimes viciously funny character study, sensitive both to the singularities of Chubbuck’s psychological collapse and the indignities weathered by any woman in a 1970s newsroom.” (Variety)

Christine (2016), Opens November 4th

Directed by… Antonio Campos’ (Afterschool, Simon Killer), Christine is a highly unsettling portrait of a woman unraveling. For Rebecca Hall, it’s a showcase performance which is good enough that she utterly disappears into the character. Chubbuck is presented as a highly-driven woman, struggling to achieve her lofty career goals while simultaneously mourning the fact that she’s never had a significant relationship and is utterly alone as she prepares for her thirtieth birthday, save for her flaky mom (J. Smith-Cameron).

To Campos’ credit, Chubbuck’s story is not turned into a victim narrative or sensationalized. She’s shown to be an often difficult, unpredictable person, although she always maintains the audience’s sympathy even if it’s clear she’s terribly unhinged. While deliberately paced, Campos’s film is an artful exploration of loneliness. It’s highly cinematic and Campos’s direction is top-shelf. It’s a hard, challenging film but it’s often quite good.

~~ Chris Bumbray,

Just Booked at The Nightlight: Edward Scissorhands, Opens 10/21

The Nightlight Cinema is proud to bring this wonderful Tim Burton masterpiece to the big screen for a limited engagement this Halloween!

Edward Scissorhands (1990), Opens October 21st

Director Tim Burton’s richly entertaining update of the Frankenstein story is a wonderfully comic, romantic and haunting film fantasy. The title character, played with touching gravity by Johnny Depp, is the handiwork of an aging inventor — Vincent Price, in a lovely cameo — who lives in a dark, musty mansion overlooking a small town of pastel-colored tract houses. Engaged in fanciful cooking experiments, the lonely inventor turns one of his cookie-cutting machines into a boy, a companion to chat with and instruct in the wonders of art, poetry and etiquette. But just before he can provide Edward with hands instead of shears, the inventor dies, leaving his synthetic son alone in a world he knows only from the old magazine clippings he keeps near his bed of straw.

As in Burton’s other films (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman), the outsider soon becomes the outcast, and the laughs are soon tinged with melancholy. Burton, a misfit kid from California who took solace in drawing cartoons and watching Vincent Price horror movies, clearly relates personally to Edward’s situation. Burton shows how the townspeople’s curiosity about Edward turns to suspicion and hostility (not unlike Hollywood’s reaction to an innovative mind). Edward is denounced as a freak, a fake, a demon. An oversexed housewife (a ripely funny Kathy Baker) tries to seduce him. A hissable teen bully (Anthony Michael Hall) forces him into crime and violence. And when Edward tries to comfort those he loves, his touch draws blood.

~~ Peter Travers,