Roy Andersson is one of the great unsung masters of modern cinema. He is not prolific, this is fifth feature film since 1970, but his style is unique and unmistakeable: a series of interlocking, deadpan tragi-comic vignettes that suggest he may be the missing link between Jacques Tati and Monty Python. Here the lugubrious efforts of two novelty item salesmen somehow conjures the ghosts of King Charles XII of Sweden, a WWII beerhall, and a diabolical colonial contraption. Once seen, never forgotten.
"Blackly comic absurdist banality interspersed with surrealist shards – alternately hilarious, heartbreaking and horrifying. The spirits of Samuel Beckett and Spike Milligan waltz through this beige-green purgatory, a series of arresting static-camera vignettes, pasty of face, deadpan of composition." Mark Kermode, The Observer
"Shot in long takes, the camera fixed like a picture frame, there are images here that lodge in the part of the brain where dreams are forged… For a film posing the metaphysical biggies, there is tenderness and laughs. Its bonkers approach to storytelling and life may drive some nuts. The rest of us will soar with the birds." Cath Clarke, Time Out
Hot off the heels of his popular Dancing in the Dark musical clip shows at the Vancity Theatre, Vancouver film scholar Michael van den Bos curates a syncopated selection of jazz performances featured in live-action movies and animated cartoons, from the beginning of the sound era through the 20th century, covering New Orleans jazz, swing, jump blues, bebop and the West Coast cool style. Most importantly you’ll see and hear and groove to the musical masters who jazzed up the movies, with clips from Hallelujah (1929), The Old Man of the Mountain (1932), Hollywood Hotel (1937), Stage Door Canteen (1943), New Orleans (1947), The Glenn Miller Story (1953), Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955) and more recent examples.
When Colorado legalized marijuana, the Denver Post hired the world’s first marijuana editor. Sit back as he and his pot reviewers, "high" mommy bloggers and grass-preneurs roll establishment and counter-culture into a strange new canni-business.
"Thorougly engaging." Consequences of Sound
When her parents pass away, Shine searches for her missing uncle Feng, an ex-billiard champion who disappeared to escape his gambling debts, only to find a drunken shell of the man he once was. By uniting an immature adult and a mature teenager, Second Chance uncovers once-buried dreams and reaffirms the age-old saying of “hard work pays off” with simple snapshots of an ordinary life.
A young girl Bai-bai pursues her dreams at a musical college and falls in love with kindred spirit, Mu Hong, only to be forced by her professor, Dr. Lee, into an immoral relationship. His wife protects him to preserve their family, but as for Bai-bai, she becomes a victim of the “chilling effect”, a legal term referring to the inhibition from exercising one’s legitimate rights due to threats.
Colombia, Cambodia, Uganda, Yemen. Breakdancing unites people worldwide in the common languages of movement, expression, and hip-hop. Rap superstar and producer Nas presents a broad look at a movement inspiring hope in global urban communities.
"The film is fascinating to watch whether you are into hip-hop or not. To say it’s inspiring is an understatement." Trevor Dueck, Vancity Buzz
Not slow by any stretch, John Maclean’s ravishing frontier drama is the tale of a young gentleman, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), an immigrant from Ireland in search of his sweetheart, out of his element and altogether too trusting to survive for long in the wilderness territories of the 1870s. He’s rescued from bandits by Silas (Michael Fassbender), whose motives may not be entirely pure, but who volunteers to shepherd Jay on his quest - after all, they are heading in the same direction.
"It’s the rare western that invites you to imagine what life then and there might actually have felt like, sight gags and all. Maclean is a supremely promising talent." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"An absurdist, melancholy coming-of-age tale that jumps from odd comedy to striking violence to stirring reflection." Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
"An angular Western that sublimates the fading promise of the New World into a fairy tale of unrequited love, Slow West starts with "once upon a time" and ends with a crackle of incredible savagery." David Ehrlich, Time Out
What does it mean to be a sibling? Yolanda Sonnabend, 77, is an established painter who also found fame as the designer for London’s Royal Ballet. Dr Joseph Sonnabend, 79, is a scientist (Dr Joseph Sonnabend, 79, is the esteemed New York AIDS doctor famous for discovering one of the building blocks of the virus. They live together, at odds but inseparable. This very personal but also universal film is candid, fascinating, and deeply moving, a study of family, aging, art and reason; resentment and reconciliation.
In 1948 Sonny Rollins left high school and went on to make his first album as a saxophonist. In 1959, he had the jazz world at his feet and he quit the scene. In 2010, the greatest living saxophone player put on an exhilarating production to mark his 80th birthday at the Beacon Theater with some of the world’s most extraordinary musicians, including Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes and Jim Hall. Sonny Rollins Beyond the Notes uses his 80th birthday concert to look into the man and his music.
Bold and fearless, the first all-female car-racing team in the Middle East is burning rubber and tearing up track all over Palestine as they defy the odds and shatter stereotypes of Arab women.
You’ll believe a man can fly… For sky-diving pioneer Carl Boenish, jumping out of airplanes just wasn’t exciting enough. He wanted to jump off tall buildings, bridges and cliffs too - including Yosemite’s mighty El Capitan. Boenish invented BASE jumping, and he filmed it all too. This may be Extreme documentary making, but Carl’s larger than life personality and his oddball marriage touch on emotions as well as adrenaline.
"Exhilarating." Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Immersive enough to induce panic." Ben Kenigsberg, AV Club
Powerful music, a gripping story and a tragic end: Puccini’s ever-popular Tosca performed with a fabulous cast. Among the star singers in this revival are Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel. Jonathan Kent’s detailed production draws to the full on the historical backdrop of Rome in 1800, an atmospheric backdrop to the love of the beautiful diva Tosca, the idealism of her lover Cavaradossi and the deadly, destructive obsession of the malevolent Chief of Police, Scarpia.
Richard Eyre’s produciton of Verdi’s masterpiece has been one of the most successful opera stagings in the long and celebrated history of the Royal Opera House. We present the original, definitive incarnation of that production, starring the incomparable Renee Fleming as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta, oppose Joseph Calleja as Alfredo and Thomas Hapson as his unyielding father.
Andrei Serban’s staging of Puccini’s final opera is a glorious pageant of rich colour, dance and drama. Turandot is a tale of disguised identities, riddles, ritual executions and powerful, triumphant love.
Four young men embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Traversing from desert to mountain, they ride over 3000 miles from Mexico to Canada on adopted wild mustangs - a journey once a reality for western frontiersmen.
Paris in 1855, when the opera was first performed, provides the starting point for the interpretation by celebrated Norwegian born director Stefan Herheim. The opera ballet plays a significant role too, with Johann Kobborg choreographing for dancers from the Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet. The story is set to impassioned and dramatic music, rich in showpiece arias and ensembles with striking choruses. Antonio Pappano conducts a world-class cast including Erwin Schrott, Bryan Hymel and Lianna Haroutounian in The Royal Opera’s first ever staging of Verdi’s grand opera.
With Orson Welles, there is always the nagging feeling of "what might have been?". Schubert left us just the one Unfinished Symphony. But Schubert only need pen and ink to compose, a filmmaker needs so much more - and Welles left us with myriad incomplete films and projects, including several more stabs at Shakespeare, his long quest to make a movie of Don Quixote, and his film about the "new Hollywood", The Other Side of the Wind. What we are left with are tantalizing fragments, shards of brilliance…
1942 was the year everything went wrong for Orson Welles. He couldn’t fight for The Magnificent Ambersons because he was in Brazil at the behest of Nelson Rockefeller, working on a pan-American propaganda piece, an anthology film mixing documentary and fiction to be called "It’s All True". That film was never finished, and Welles’ Hollywood career never recovered - but Bill Krohn’s reconstruction explains why it was such an important project, and recovers more footage than anyone could have imagined.
Welles and Joseph Cotten penned the screenplay (adapted from an Eric Ambler spy story), and while the Great Man didn’t take a directing credit - bowing to his friend and collaborator Norman Foster - the expressionist noir stylings are very much in line with what you would expect from the man who made The Lady from Shanghai, Mr Arkadin, and Touch of Evil. Almost inevitably, the film was butchered in post production, first by RKO (who cut out 20 minutes) and then by the censors. All the same it’s enormous fun, a B movie thriller with sly wit, invention and panache to spare.
Boyhood director Richard Linklater’s congenial tribute to Welles’ influence recreates the 22-year-old wunderkind’s first Broadway production, a modern dress production of Julius Caesar styled to comment on European fascism (this was 1937). Schoolboy Robert (Zac Efron) falls under the great man’s spell, as do we, thanks to Christian McKay’s rich, flamboyant performance.
"Too good to be true." AO Scott, New York Times
"One of the sweetest and most heartfelt movies ever made about a life in the theater." Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"Deft, affectionate, and unexpectedly enjoyable." J Hoberman, Village Voice