Blog Archives

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // The Disaster Artist // Opens 12/22/17

Cult films aren’t made, they’re born.

The Disaster Artist (2017), Opens December 22nd

They’re born, often from the strangest of people, with the best worst movies never made cynically or intentionally, finding oddity just pouring out of the creation naturally. The journey for The Room began in 2003, where writer/director/producer/star Tommy Wiseau elected to take his thespian dreams into his own hands, creating an awkward psychodrama to best display his acting gifts to the world.

The end result was inept from top to bottom, but its passion for tuneless filmmaking launched the picture as a midnight movie oddity, snowballing in popularity as hip audiences latched on to Tommy’s wacky vision. The Disaster Artist tracks the construction of The Room from the perspective of its co-star, Greg Sestero, who also wanted to acquire Hollywood glory, only to be mortified by Tommy’s creation. For director/star James Franco, the opportunity to dramatize this prolonged agony of production is irresistible, and his wildly entertaining The Disaster Artist is a loving ode to the power of delusion.

The Disaster Artist is a terrific picture, brightly made and exceptionally performed, with James Franco completely inhabiting Tommy Wiseau, becoming the man instead of creating a cartoon (the physical and vocal transformation is outstanding). Perhaps fans of The Room will get the most out of the feature, but Franco generates a welcome atmosphere of strangeness to survey, finding the heart of a truly bad movie, sharing the lunacy with everyone, even triggering a newfound appreciation for Tommy’s singular obsession: the creation of his own world.

~~ Brian Orndorf,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // I, Tonya // Opens 1/12/18

Based on the unbelievable, but true events, I, Tonya is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history.

I, Tonya (2017), Opens January 12th

The story is created by using interviews and flashback storytelling which creates a fun and exciting back and forth between the audience and the characters. Because of the use of the interview footage, there is a lot of breaking the 4th wall and getting the audience involved. The interviews from Tonya, her mother, LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and other characters gives a behind the scenes look at the insanity that was the life of Tonya Harding.

What makes I, Tonya so memorable and engaging are the characters and the performances. These people are in a lot of ways, unbelievable. Allison Janney knocks it out of the park as LaVona, the distant, violent, chainsmoking, curmudgeon mother who says impossibly horribly things to and about Tonya. She is easily the most entertaining part of the film with her hilarious commentary and apathetic attitude.

The story of Tonya Harding is one of poverty, triumph, and heartbreak. Craig Gillespie does superb work with the material giving the audience a look at the many aspects of Tonya’s life that have led her to the pivotal point in her career and the time after that. The behind the scenes look at the rise and fall of her career is one that is genuinely fascinating, entertaining, and honestly, a little sad. I, Tonya is a must-see film that will make you laugh, cry and cringe. It is a spectacularly memorable film that will stay with you long after it has finished.

~~ Ashley Menzel,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Brimstone & Glory // Opens 12/22/17

Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire!

Brimstone & Glory (2017), Opens December 22nd

In his feature debut, Viktor Jakovleski has achieved that rare feat for a documentary and created a film culled from reality that makes you question whether you’re still in your theater seat. And I want to emphasize that, your theater seat; not your couch, or a subway car or wherever else you might watch things. Brimstone & Glory is an adrenaline inducing documentary, with a pulsing soundtrack that needs to be experienced on a big screen with big sound.

Brimstone & Glory immerses you in the world of Tultepec, Mexico during the town’s annual Fiesta de San Juan De Dios. The festival is a week-long pyrotechnic extravaganza, bookended by flaming towers of metal the height of radio towers and enormous painted bulls top loaded with fireworks. As you might imagine, it’s total bedlam.

Brimstone & Glory prioritizes sentiment over information, imparting upon the viewer the sensation of stupefied wonder that a child might feel seeing fireworks for the first time; because it is like redefining your whole concept of what fireworks are and can be.

But that’s not to say that it’s purely sensational; the concept of a town gripped by a tradition that it both resents and celebrates and the unmaskable emotion brought out by displays of colored sparks lend the film a depth that goes beyond merely an experiential surrogate. This is just a really unique documentary and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not catch it in theaters. Why would you do that, don’t you love yourself? If you love yourself, see Brimstone & Glory.

~~ Arlin Golden,

Just Booked @ The Nightlight // Life of Brian // Opens 12/29/17

A beautiful film, a perfect comedy, and a gentle triumph of silliness over pomposity, self-importance, and intolerance – Life of Brian could be the best British comedy ever.

Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” (1979), Opens December 29th

In Judea, a mother tends her newborn child. Lo, from the east three wise men appear to pay tribute to the infant – but they want the stable next door: this is Brian Cohen not Jesus Christ! Rolling forward 33 years, Brian joins the People’s Front of Judea, a wannabe terrorist cell out to undermine the occupying Romans. Brian gets roped into their plot to kidnap Pontius Pilate’s wife but they run into another terrorist gang on the same mission and everyone is captured while squabbling among themselves.

From the opening scene and the belting Shirley Bassey-esque score, this is Python par excellence. This is the “Catch 22” of cinema, and in its politics, like Joseph Heller, the Python crew refuse to spare anyone. Always threading in and around biblical stories, the plot never contradicts or denies the Bible, it just pokes fun at the hangers-on, charlatans, and pompous officials that organized religion often attracts. This playful subversion is hilariously shown in the scene where Brian escapes from the Romans by posing as a preacher. At first he is mocked by a crowd of jaded messiah seekers, then they seize on a bizarre interpretation of his words and proclaim him their Messiah. Brian denies it, only to be told “I say you are Lord, and I should know. I’ve followed a few.”

~~ Matt Ford,

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,