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Archive: Movies / Spokane and North Idaho

‘House of Cards’ stands tall - for the moment

While “The Lego Movie,” the reboot “RoboCop” release, “The Monuments Men,” “About Last Night” and “Endless Love” lead the week's box office totals, most conversation I hear involves the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Based on the 1990 BBC series, which itself was based on  1989 novel by Michael Dobbs, the Netflix production exists in two seasons of 13 episodes each. The second season was released, all 13 episodes at once, four days ago — ironically, on Valentine's Day.

Why ironically? Because I can't think of a less romanticized vision of politics than what this miniseries — adapted to the U.S., as it is, by writer (and show runner) Beau Willimon — applies to the contemporary political scene. But that very dark vision, blended with the show-stopping performances of Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and others — among them Kate Mara, Corey Stoll and Doug Stamper — may be a large reason why the show has attracted such a wide following, not just in the U.S. but also in China.

 The miniseries focuses on Francis Underwood, a Southern Congressman (and House Majority Whip), whose efforts on behalf of a just-elected president get ignored when it comes to dishing out post-election favors. Francis, who had hoped to be named Secretary of State, begins a campaign of revenge that ultimately pits him against the president who, for far too long, remains unaware of the snake in his midst. Filled with a legion of characters, all of whom seem to fit in a maze of subplots, the miniseries never strays too far from Francis — with Spacey often turning to address us directly (in much the same way Ian Richardson did in the BBC version).

Being a Netflix original production, “House of Cards” doesn't have to abide by mainstream attitudes toward nudity, sex or profanity. In fact, the nudity and sex scenes are, for the most, less sexy than pointedly discomfiting, representing more a sense of power than anything remotely erotic. And while prominent characters do end up dying, the violence occurs quickly and can't be called graphic.

Given the polarized political scene in the U.S., it's hardly surprising that a miniseries that characterizes Congress and the White House as ruthless, self-serving and corrupt should attract attention. Add to that the riveting presence of Spacey, the sense of a deeper mystery (maybe even conspiracy), and the ability that a multiple-episode release provides to indulge in a weekend-long session of binge-watching, “House of Cards” proves capable of overcoming its weaknesses — lack of plausibility, nobody good to relate to, plot twists that seem to come out of nowhere — at least through its first two seasons.

Season three is forthcoming. We'll have to wait to see if “House of Cards” continues to intrigue us — or ends up being devoured by the very shark it finds itself jumping.

Spokane’s theaters offer a pretty good experience

I've been watching movies in Spokane since the winter of 1980. I can remember the sticky floors at the old North Division and East Sprague Cinemas. I can remember when Spokane boasted at least seven drive-ins (and those are only the sites I can remember). I can remember when the Bing Crosby Theater was The State Theater, and when The Fox was a single-screen venue with balconies (and at least one winter when the place had no heat).

I wasn't here when the Magic Lantern opened at its original spot. But I saw many movies, under several different managements, when the theater sat on the third floor of the Atrium Bluilding on Wall Street — next to the train tracks.

So I've experienced pretty much the full range of what Spokane (not to mention Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene) moviegoing has had to offer over the past three and a half decades. And I'm here to tell you that what we now have is pretty good. I'm talking about the stadium seating, the digital sound and projection that is offered at AMC Theatres in River Park Square, at the Regal Cinemas at Northtown, the Valley Mall and Coeur d'Alene and at the the Village Center Cinemas  in Airway Heights and Wandermere. Even The Garland has new seats and an adjacent bar, while Spokane is lucky even to have a continuing dedicated art cinema in the Magic Lantern.

And, yes, I know we humans love to complain. I want my moviegoing experience to be perfect, too, and I hate to compromise. But listen: I spent the weekend in York, Pa., where my wife's family lives. And I had the misfortune of watching the new “RoboCop” movie at the Queensgate Stadium 13, a theater run by Florida-based Frank Theatres. It's convenient to where my in-laws live, so in the recent past it's where I've also seen “Ender's Game” and “American Hustle.”

So why do I use the word “misfortune”? Well, it's not because of the seating, which is state of the art (we did once purchase what are called “D-Box Motion-Enhanced Theatre Seats” but could never find them in the dark). It's not because of the sound, which like most modern theater sound is set loud enough to make your ears bleed. It's not even because of the concessions, which are as good (or bad) as any other theater. No, it's because of the third-rate digital projection, which makes watching movies there akin to seeing them projected through a mosquito net.

My wife and I have complained about this problem, only to receive shrugs for our efforts. In fact, few York residents even seem to notice. After “RoboCop,” my wife finally got what sounds ike a serviceable explanation from one of the managers: Frank Theatres doesn't dedicate any theaters for special 3-D or CGI-enhanced showings, which means that, say, “Avatar” would get the same attention as, say, “Ride Along.” Which is to say, not much. I'm not sure I buy it, but that's the official line.

I swear every time I return to York that I will never see another movie at any movie house run by Frank Theatres. But I keep finding myself in situations where it happens. Go figure.

The whole unfortunate experience does do one good thing for me, though. It makes me appreciate what we have right here in this section of the Inland Northwest.

‘Monuments Men’: more melodrama than history

One of the films that we will review tonight on the Spokane Public Radio show “Movies 101” (on KPBX 91.1; the show will run Saturday on 91.9 KSFC) is George Clooney's “The Monuments Men.” A transcript of my own review of the film, which is broadcast over SPR, is as follows:

Many things can be said about the truth. It hurts. It’ll set you free. It’s stranger than fiction. It has moments. Sometimes it’s unvarnished; other times it’s relative. It is out there, and it is often naked.

When it comes to the movies, though, the truth – to put it bluntly – is unnecessary. More to the point, it’s irrelevant. Whole books, in fact, have been written about Hollywood’s tendency not just to ignore history but to willingly, in the name of art, to bend it until the facts fit – even if uncomfortably – into a desired scenario. In his text “History Goes to the Movies: A Viewer's Guide to the Best (and Some of the Worst) Historical Films Ever Made,” author Joseph H. Roquemore charges that Olive Stone filled his movie “JFK” with so many inaccuracies that it “makes Cinderella look like a BBC documentary.”

Given such low standards, it should come as no surprise that the director and co-screenwriters of “The Monuments Men,” George Clooney and Grant Heslov, opt – in pretty much every way – for fiction over fact. Not only do they invent characters – using composites to represent real-life people such as George Stout,  Ronald Balfour and Lincoln Kirstein – but they reimagine the overall mission: According to the online magazine Slate, the original task – which was commissioned in both England and the U.S. – “was to protect historic buildings, not recover art.” In addition, the filmmakers compress the timeline – the movie’s climactic scenes involve an incident that occurred over weeks, not hours – and they invent a romantic relationship that diminishes the role played by the only woman in the film (Cate Blanchett’s Claire Simone): According to Slate, not only did the real-life Rose Valland risk her life, she later became a captain in the French army and was a prime figure in the post-war art-restitution process.

But … really. How much do we as movie fans care about all this, the actual versus a dramatic truth? No, if this Clooney-directed, Clooney-and-Heslov-written movie had been better conceived, little else would matter. Like last year’s Oscar winner, “Argo,” the factual missteps would have been excused as forgivable dramatic license.

Those missteps become an issue mainly because Clooney doesn’t give us much choice, everything else about the film being so poorly done. He and Heslov have concocted an old-fashioned melodrama, bearing overt-if-mild comic undertones, that seems more appropriate for the 1950s or ’60s than the 21st century. Come to think of it, the musical score composed by Alexandre Desplat might have worked for portions of the 1970 war-themed caper flick “Kelly’s Heroes.”

In that same vein, many of the scenes in “The Monuments Men” are ham-handed in how they try to manipulate our emotions (warning: gird your loins when Bill Murray steps into the shower). And while it’s OK to narrow the focus of the film to just a few principal characters, it’s less forgivable to make some of those characters over into something akin to a comedy act: But Abbot and Costello is what you’re going to get when you cast actors such as Murray and John Goodman.

As the book on which Clooney’s movie is based proves, the real story of “The Monuments Men” is moving and worth remembering (check out the documentary “The Rape of Europa”). Hollywood’s melodramatic rendering? Mmmm, not so much.

I miss the days when I watched movies for fun

I don't see as many movies as I used to. For one thing, it's harder to work up enough enthusiasm to see, 1, anything starring Kevin Hart, 2, anything that bears the tagline “They suck at school,” 3, melodrama starring a love-lorn Kate Winslet or, 4, Aaron Eckhart starring as … Frankenstein's monster? Seriously?

Still, to produce the radio show that I do with Mary Pat Treuthart and Nathan Weinbender, most weeks I'm forced to see at least three movies whatever my personal preferences. This past weekend, then, I sat through “Monuments Men,” “The Lego Movie” and four of the five Oscar-nominated documentary short films (the fourth wasn't available for preview).

Following are my brief reactions.

“Monuments Men”: The documentary “The Rape of Europa” is far more comprehensive and factual and far less self-serving to the U.S.

“The Lego Movie”: In the spirit of “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” and “The Simpsons Movie,” this bit of movie merchandising is funny, clever and far more subversive than you would think.

The Oscar-nominated documentary shorts: We were able to preview four of the five (one, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall,” won't be released on HBO until March 31), and I can tell you they are all different, interesting and at least three of them are emotionally powerful. The program opens Friday at the Magic Lantern.

They may be short, but they’re Oscar contenders

If you're interested at all in the Academy Awards Broadcast, which will occur March 2, you might want to catch the Oscar-nominated shorts programs that the Magic Lantern is showing. This week for Spokane Public Radio, I reviewed the animated shorts nominees. A transcript of my review follows:

Of all the benefits offered by the Internet, those available to movie fans may be the most varied. Not only can we see TV shows and movies whenever we want, we can see work that used to be limited to those living in New York and Los Angeles.

It’s been a half-century or so, for example, since movie programs included anything other than trailers or ads. In recent years, though, Oscar-nominated shorts programs – live-action, animated and documentary – have been screened theatrically.

In the weeks leading up to the March 2 Academy Awards broadcast, Spokane’s Magic Lantern has been indulging itself in Oscar-nominated shorts. Last week saw the live-action nominees. This weekend sees the five animated nominees, a group that represents a wide range of cinematic styles and themes.

Take “Feral,” written and directed by U.S. filmmaker Daniel Sousa. More a meditation than a straightforward story, and spurning dialogue, “Feral” tells the story of a small boy who mysteriously appears out of a wintry landscape to confront a pack of wolves. Before the pack can either befriend or eat him, the boy is “saved” by a passing hunter. But human clothing and manners can’t quell the beast within, and soon the boy is reverting to his wild ways – suggesting that our inner connection with unfettered nature will never leave us completely.

Then there’s “Room on the Broom,” a more traditional cartoon by UK filmmakers Max Lang and Jan Lachauer. Featuring the voices of such noted actors as Simon Pegg and Gillian Anderson, this charming children’s fable celebrates the virtues of friendship and loyalty. It involves a friendly witch and her cat who, through a series of accidents, pick up a trio of hitchhikers – dog, bird, and frog. All goes relatively smoothly until a hungry dragon happens by intent on eating “witches and chips.”

Featured at the recent Spokane International Film Festival, the steampunk short “Mr. Hublot,” by Luxembourg filmmakers Laurentz Witz and Alexandre Espigares, follows an obsessively orderly man whose daily activities run like clockwork. One day he spies a dog-like robotic character living on the street. Taking it in, he finds his routine disrupted, especially so when the pet outgrows the man’s apartment. What to do? The answer is as satisfying as it is unsurprising.

“Possessions,” by anime filmmaker Shuhei Morita, taps into Japanese legend regarding the Tsukumogami, tools and instruments that after a century are said to attain souls and trick people. Thus when a handyman takes shelter from a storm in a broken-down forest temple, he is confronted by a series of such spirits. The man responds by fixing torn umbrellas, weaving together fabric remnants and, in general, showing respect. His efforts in, and appreciation of, recycling end up being rewarded.

Finally, we have an update of traditional Disney. “Get a Horse!” by Lauren MacMullen, is a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon that melds both the jerky black-and-white frames of the 1930s with contemporary full-color CGI. The result is both familiar and brand new, fitting with something that was released to run before screenings of the newest Disney animated feature, “Frozen.”

Which one will take home the gold statuette is anyone’s guess. The real winners are those of us who now get the chance simply to watch all five contenders on the big screen.

From Oscar shorts to Lego jokes, Friday has it all

A film critic's Olympics, the Academy Awards, will be broadcast on March 2. And in anticipation of that event, the Magic Lantern is offering a preview even as I type this. Tonight will be the last night of the Live Action Shorts. The Animated Shorts open on Friday, followed by a week each of the Documentary Shorts.

For the whole Magic Lantern film schedule, click here. (By the way, that photo above is from the Oscar-nominated animated short “Room on the Broom,” which is a charming adaptation of the children's book by Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler.)

In mainstream theaters, Friday's AMC openings include “The Lego Movie,” “Monuments Men,” “Nurse 3D” and “Vampire Academy” (actually, “Lego” and “Monuments Men” open tonight).

For Regal Cinemas, Village Centre and Garland openings, click on Fandango. 

Cheer on the intrepid ‘Transolar Galactica’ crew

So I lied in the post below. I said that would likely be the last reference to the Spokane International Film Festival until 2015. Not true.

That's because late last night, SpIFF director Pete Porter sent me an update to the Audience Awards. These were the results of all those little white ballots that festgoers were handed at the end of each screening. During and after the festival, the ballots had been compiled by SpIFF board member and programmer Vaughn Overlie.

So other than the math involved (Porter reports that one of the categories was almost too close to count), one of the categories was missing, that of Special Audience Award. It's not a category that's always included, but this year was special, what with the inclusion of a Saturday-night special appearance of the Web series “Transolar Galactica.”

If you don't know the story of “Transolar Galactica, then click here. All you really need to know is that it involves five guys — Clancy Bundy, Adam Harum, Isaac Joslin, Jade Warpenburg and Adam Boyd — all of whom have ties to Eastern Washington University. They pooled their shared interests in media and film production into “Transolar Galactica,” which now — thanks to Kickstarter — is heading toward a second season.

Anyway, the audience that showed up at the SpIFF-sponsored Garland show, much of which included friends and people who had worked with the five show founders, were so appreciative that they give the hour-long screening of “Origin” episodes a huge ovation. And that resulted in the Special Audience Award.

By the way, if you want to become part of the “Transolar Galactica Legion,” just click here. Episode 1 of the first season is embedded below.

SpIFF 2014: The audience has the final word

Note: A late addition was made to this post. The Web series “Transolar Galactica” was given a Special Audience Award.

This should be the last Spokane International Film Festival notice for a while. Until 2015, at least. The 2014 edition of the festival ended Saturday, but the ballots that indicated which films won the audience awards have only now been added up.

The Audience Award winners for SpIFF 2014 are as follows:

Best Documentary: “K2: Siren of the Himalayas,” directed by Dave Ohlson

Best Feature: “Matterhorn,” directed by Diederik Ebbinge

Best Short: “For the Birds,” directed by Tara Atashga

Best of the Northwest: “Hero Pose,” directed by Mischa Jakupcak

Best Animated Short: “Mr. Hublot,” directed by Laurent Witz

SpIFF 2014 ends with a golden glow

After 10 days, 50-odd feature films, documentaries and shorts, the 2014 Spokane International Film Festival is over. And while I didn't get to every single screening — I gave up my seat a couple of times to paying festgoers — I did manage to see every single one of the entries. And so I agree with the juried award, which were handed out Saturday night at the closing party that followed the screening of “Matterhorn” at the Bing Crosby Theater.

(I should agree. I was one of the jury members, along with festival director Pete Porter and several other members of the board.)

Anyway, the Jury Awards for SpIFF 2014, which we call SpIFFies, are as follows:

Best of the Northwest Feature: Golden SpIFFy, “K2: Siren of the Himalayas”; Silver SpIFFy, “Evergreen: The Road to Legalization.”

Best of the Northwest Short: Golden SpIFFy, “The Hero Pose”; Silver SpIFFy, (tie) “The Petersons,” “The Breakdown.”

Best Documentary: Golden SpIFFy, “Minor Differences”; Silver SpIFFy, “Bible Qiiz.”

Best Short: Golden SpIFFy, “For the Birds; Silver SpIFFy, “Insomniacs”

Best Animation: Golden SpIFFy, “Mr. Hublot”; Silver SpIFFy, (tie)”Subconscious Password,” “Boog”

Most Promising Filmmaker: Nicole Teeny (“Bible Quiz”)

The audience awards will be announced just as soon as the ballots are tallied. Thanks to everyone who attended and to all the volunteers who work so hard to make SpIFF work. Until next year, which will be our 17th.

Searching for laughs on SpIFF 2014’s final day

I'm in search of a good comedy, and the final film of this year's Spokane International Film Festival might be just what I want. “Matterhorn,” the Dutch film that screens at 7 tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater, won the audience award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. And it was described by one critic as “a dryly absurd comedy that ends with one hell of a pay-off.” So my search might come to fruition.

This being SpIFF's 2014 final day, so much else is going on, too. You can get the full schedule here. But following is a brief run-down:

11:30 p.m., “K2: Siren of the Himalayas,” Magic Lantern 100-seat house: A documentary about the challenges faced by those who want to climb, and have climbed, the world's second-tallest mountain.

Noon, “On the Job,” Magic Lantern 30-seat house: A Filipino crime movie about corrupt cops and a troubled fight for justice.

2 p.m., “Uprising,” Magic Lantern 100-seat house: A documentary about the Egyptian revolution that has led, so far, to the downfall of two of the country's governmental regimes.

2 p.m., Filmmakers Forum, Magic Lantern 30-seat house: Adam Boyd will moderate conversations with various SpIFF 2014 filmmakers.

4:20 p.m., “Evergreen: The Road to Legalization,” Bing Crosby Theater: Director Riley Morton presents his documentary exploring Washington's adoption of legal marijuana.

7 p.m., “Matterhorn,” Bing Crosby Theater: Director Diederick Ebbinge explores a story about two needy men and their bizarre relationship.

Following “Matterhorn,” SpIFF's closing-night party will take place in the Bing's lobby. That, if nothing else, should lighten things up.

Penultimate SpIFF showings move to the Bing

Eight days down, two days to go for the 2014 Spokane International Film Festival. And what a festival it has been. Dark, at times. Even bleak. But realistic. Always intriguing in how the filmmakers contributing to this year's lineup inspect this mystery we call the human experience. And, on occasion, uplifting. And we have tonight and Saturday to go.

Thursday night at the Magic Lantern was a good example of the bleak — though, yes, the Polish film “Aftermath” grudgingly does betray a bit of redemption at the very end. And the re-screening of the Finnish documentary “Aatsinki” gave the movie fans who sat through it a look at life as one small village lives it up around the Arctic Circle (which is to say, they go on picnics but, overall, life is nothing like one).

Tonight, as we move to the Bing Crosby Theater, we head back into documentary land. First up, at 5:30, is “Minor Differences,” which has filmmaker Heather Drew Oaksen, who is scheduled to attend the screening, exploring the lives of five juvenile offenders and what becomes of them two decades later. (Irv Broughton will introduce.) It will be preceded by the documentary short “Rintocchi” (“Trollings”), which is about Italian bell ringers and the men who make them. At 8 p.m., Mary Pat Treuthart will introduce the Oscar-nominated Cambodian film “The Missing Picture,” in which director Rithy Panh uses carved figures and artistic tableaux to re-create the events he experienced during the Cambodian genocide on 1975-79.

Click here for ticket information. The Bing has 750-some seats, so neither show is likely to sell out. But downtown parking can be hard to find in the late afternoon, so it's always good to show up early.

Trips to Poland, Finland on tap for SpIFF 2014 tonight

We're down to the last three days of the 2014 Spokane International Film Festival, which continues tonight at the Magic Lantern Theater and climaxes Saturday at the Bing Crosby Theater. Wednesday night continued as most nights have, with those coming at the last minute struggling to find seats — in the dark — once the screening had commenced. And few, if any, seats were available. So be warned.

I was in the Lantern's larger house to watch the French-Moroccan film “Le sac de farina” (“A Bag of Flour”), a moving — if slightly too open-ended — study of a young woman's struggle to make her way in a remote Moroccan village after being taken (kidnapped?) by her birth father from a Catholic-run Brussels orphanage and unceremoniously dumped with his Islamic family. Meanwhile, a repeat program of U.S. short films played in the smaller house.

Tonight's lineup at the Lantern presents just as clear a choice:

6:30, “Aftermath”: When a Polish immigrant to the U.S. returns to his home village after a long absence, he discover that his brother is resented by his fellow residents. What is the dark secret that affects, even ends up threatening, both brothers? According to some reviews, this film is causing a huge controversy in Poland. In the 100-seat larger house. 

6:46, “Aatsinki”: If you've ever been curious about how Finnish reindeer wranglers exist in a land of ice and snow (at least for much of the year), then this is your documentary. With nary a word of dialogue between the real-life figures whom the camera follows, we see everything from fire-making to snowmobiling to preparing animals for roundup and their inevitable trip to the dinner table.

On Friday, SpIFF moves back to the Bing before spending much of Saturday again at the Lantern. Saturday night's closing film, “Matterhorn,” plays at the the Bing, which will be site of the festival's closing party. For more information, click here.

Choose between two more films tonight at SpIFF 2014

Tuesday was another near-full night at the Magic Lantern, what with a double SpIFF screening of the Romanian film “Child's Pose” and the U.S./British documentary “Kiss the Water.” I was in the large house to see “Child's Pose,” and the discussion moderated afterward by Leonard Oakland showed that many of the viewers were intrigued by what is an intense and arresting film about a class-conscious woman who excuses her obsessive need to control her son's life by passing her actions off as mere motherly concern.

But, then, such post-film discussions have been — as in past years — a big part of this 2014 Spokane International Film Festival experience. And that experience continues tonight with another double Lantern screening:

6:30 p.m., “The Bag of Flour” (Le sac de farine): This joint Belgian/Moroccan film (rendered in French and Arabic with English subtitles) tells the inspired-by-true-story story of a 7-year-old girl, living in a Brussels orphanage. Kidnapped by her birth father and returned to live in Morocco, she struggles for the next decade to survive with dreams of her Belgian childhood to spur her on. To play in the Lantern's larger, 100-seat house.

6:45 p.m., The International Shorts Program: This repeat program features seven short films from countries as diverse as Austria, Spain and Ireland. Of particular note is “Insomniacs,” a 15-minute short written and directed by Charles Chintzer Lai about a pair of big-city dwellers who have trouble sleeping; the two are played by Vanessa Kirby (“About Time”) and Henry Lloyd-Hughes (“Anna Kerenina”). And then prepare yourself for the surreal 13-minute German offering “We Are Outside Playing in the Garden.” To play in the Lantern's smaller, 30-plus-seat house.

As always, this year more than ever, arrive early. Seats tend to go fast. For ticket information, click here.

What’s next for independent film? Your home TV

Including the two films playing tonight, “Child's Pose” and “Kiss the Water,” the 2014 Spokane International Film Festival has five days to run. The question to consider now is … what's next for fans of anything other than mainstream cinema?
AMC continues to feature its “independent” series, which most lately led to Ralph Fiennes' “The Invisible Woman” opening in Spokane. But after just a single week, that film will move on. And since most movies that open at the AMC do little or no business when they move to the Magic Lantern, it's not likely to play there. Meanwhile, what is opening Friday at AMC? Jason Reitman's “Labor Day,” the 20-something romantic comedy “That Awkward Moment,” a “sing-along” version of “Frozen” and a 3-D IMAX return of “Gravity.” 
One thing we can depend on — for the moment, at least — is the Magic Lantern. Beginning Friday, for example, Spokane's only art movie house will screen the 2014 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films. And it will continue “Philomena,” “Nebraska,” Knights of Badassdom” and “Blue Jasmine.” On Friday, Feb. 7, the Lantern will open “Maidentrip” and the 2014 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films.
In the future, though, anyone looking for anything other than the latest Kevin Hart comedy or latest CGI blockbuster likely will have to go online — to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime. (Through Netflix streaming, last night I watched the Oscar-nominated Documentary Feature “The Square.”)
So it's time to get a better TV. That's likely going to be the future of any fan of truly independent cinema. For many of us, it already is.

Lantern shines with two more SpIFF 2014 films

If Monday night at SpIff offered a tough choice — Georgian coming-of-age tale versus Filipino cop flick — then tonight's Magic Lantern lineup is no easier. Tuesday's features for the 2014 Spokane International Film Festival comprise both a winner from the Berlin Film Festival and a meditative study of a master maker of flyfishing flies.

“Child's Pose” (6:30 p.m., 100-seat house): Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin, this Romanian film by Calin Peter Netzer stars Luminita Gheorghiu as a woman hell-bent on saving her son from having to serve a three-to-15-year sentence for criminal negligence (speeding in his car and killing a young boy). Variety critic Jay Weissberg called the film “a razor-sharp jibe at Romania's nouveau riche (the type is hardly confined to one country), a class adept at massaging truths and ensuring that the world steps aside when conflict arises.” 

“Kiss the Water” (6:45 p.m., 30-seat house): This film by director Eric Steel blends both animation and straight documentary methods (interviews, loving scenes of pastoral settings, studies of experts creating their art) to tell the story of Megan Boyd, a Scottish woman whom many considered the world's master fly-maker. Steel also comments on the art of flyfishing, on the state of the salmon industry, and he gives an impression of what life might have been like for the reclusive Boyd, living in her remote sea-side cabin, with no electricity, teaching others her art.

SpIFF is in its final five days. Still a lot of good film to enjoy. Be sure to get your seats early. They tend to go fast, especially in the Lantern's small theater.

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