June Coming Attractions: Summer series begin (from Buffalo Spree)

Well, I was negligent in posting my June Buffalo Spree “Coming Attractions” column until today … the last day of June. But hey, you’ve still got tonight!

June is when the WNY screening world gets very busy—both indoors and outdoors. So enjoy this roundup of films, and remember to watch for outdoor film series calendars in Spree’s July and August issues.

Niagara and Spaceballs at the Screening Room: One of the films featured in Spree’s April 2015 “film issue” was 1953’s Niagara, the Marilyn Monroe vehicle that was shot entirely in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It’s a strange, fascinating melodrama, especially for Western New Yorkers. This combination of the Falls and Marilyn still intrigues, and this makes the film a perennial pick at Amherst’s Screening Room. Niagara, co-starring Joseph Cotten, screens at 7:30 p.m. on June 1 and 2. Note that June 1 would’ve been Monroe’s ninety-first birthday. Also on tap in June is Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs. The comic master’s Star Wars parody is not as revered as his Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, but it’s still hugely enjoyable, and has a special place in the hearts of 1980s kids. It screens on June 23, 24, and 29; the latter screening will also feature trivia. (Niagara: 7:30 p.m. on June 1 and 2; Spaceballs: 7:30 p.m. on June 23 and 24, 7 p.m. on June 29; at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst;screeningroom.net)

Fredonia Opera House—Michelangelo: Love and Death and America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded AgeOn June 15, the Opera House presents Michelangelo: Love and Death, a high-definition production exploring the life and work of the Renaissance master. Then, on June 29, filmmaker Michael Maglaras will discuss and present America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age. His film takes a close look at the American art, music, and literature created between Lincoln’s death in 1865 and Mark Twain’s death in 1910.  (Michelangelo: 7:30 p.m. on June 15; America Rising: 7:30 p.m. on June 29; both at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

Cultivate Cinema Circle—American Promise: Since its start in 2015, CCC has provided Buffalonians with the opportunity to see insightful, groundbreaking documentaries like The Look of Science and Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. This month, Cultivate offers Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson’s acclaimed 2013 documentary American Promise. Originally airing as part of the award-winning PBS series POV and shot over the course of twelve years, the film sharing the experiences of two African-Americans attending a historically white Manhattan private school. (7 p.m. on June 28 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics—The Godfather and Some Like It HotThere’s never a bad time to see The Godfatheron the big screen, but 2017 is especially noteworthy. It’s been forty-five years since Francis Ford Coppola’s epic story of the Corleone crime family was released, and the film’s hold on pop culture remains strong. Meanwhile, the second TCM film for the month is Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot. Yes, the comedy starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe is still uproarious. (The Godfather: 2 and 7 p.m. on June 4 and 7; Some Like It Hot: 2 and 7 p.m. on June 11 and 14; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Roycroft Film Society—Wild Tales: The list of nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the eighty-seventh Academy Awards (held on February 22, 2015) is pretty staggering: Poland’s Ida (the deserving winner), Russia’s Leviathan, Estonia’s Tangerines, Mauritania’s Timbuktu, and Argentina’s Wild Tales. The most purely enjoyable film on the list is Wild Tales, and it’s June’s Roycroft Film Society selection. The pitch-black but very funny anthology film from writer-director Damián Szifron was produced by the great Pedro Almodovar. (4 p.m. on June 11 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Fathom Events—RiffTrax Live and Resident EvilIn addition to The Godfather and Some Like It Hot, the Fathom Events June lineup features RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party:, in which comedians goof on some old-school educational shorts, and video game adaptation Resident EvilVendetta. The latter is the latest in a series of animated efforts based on the hit horror games, all unrelated to the long-running live action series. (RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party: times TBA on June 15 and 20; Resident Evil: Vendetta: 7 and 10 p.m. on June 19; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville;fathomevents.com)

Family-Friendly Film Series: As usual, the second Saturday of each month features a free family film at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Crane Branch; call 883-6651 with questions or for more information about the movie selections. (11 a.m. on June 10 at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Crane Branch, 633 Elmwood Ave.; buffalolib.org)

Toronto LGBT Film Festival: The twenty-seventh annual festival started on May 25 and runs through June 4. (Check insideout.ca/initiatives/Toronto lineup, schedules, and locations)

Lawrence of Arabia at the Dryden Theatre: The George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theatre screens David Lean’s widescreen epic twice, on June 1 and 3. It’s one of several noteworthy screenings at the Dryden in June; check eastman.org for the full list. (7:30 p.m. on June 1 and 3 at the Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave., Rochester;eastman.org)

“Books on Film” at TIFF Bell Lightbox: In June, this insightful series features director Mira Nair, who will discuss her sadly underseen chess drama Queen of Katwe, and Brooklyn author Colm Toibin, who talks about the film based on his story of a young Irish immigrant in the 1950s. (Katwe: 7 p.m. on June 5; Brooklyn: 7 p.m. on June 19; both at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., Toronto; tiff.net)

La Cenerentola Live at the Dipson Amherst: This month’s simulcast is the first opera staged by Guillaume Gallienne. (2 p.m. on June 26 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

Flicks On Old Falls Free Outdoor Movie Series: The Secret Life of PetsThe annual free summer movie series on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls kicks off with one of last summer’s animated hits. The series runs on Thursdays through August 31. Bring blankets; Adirondack chairs are also available. (Movie at 9 p.m.; pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m.; Old Falls St., Niagara Falls; fallsstreet.com)

Cultivate Cinema Circle: JerichowCCC’s Christian Petzold series concludes with the Phoenix director’s 2008 entry, a film loosely inspired by The Postman Always Rings Twice. (7 p.m. on June 7 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Fathom Events: My Neighbor TotoroAnimator Hayao Miyazaki’s Totoro is one of his sweetest, finest films. It screens as part of Fathom’s Studio Ghibli Fest. (dubbed version: 12:55 p.m. on June 25; subtitled version: 7 p.m. on June 26; at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville;fathomevents.com)

5-25-77 and Raising Arizona at the Screening Room: In addition to the Screening Room showings mentioned above, the theater has a few other treats planned for June. 5-25-77 is a 1970s-set coming-of-age entry about a teenager excitedly waiting for the premiere of a little sci-fi flick called Star Wars. Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona remains one of the duo’s funniest creations. It begins its Screening Room run on June 30; watch screeningroom.net for additional showings. (5-25-77: 9:30 p.m. on June 2; Raising Arizona: 7:30 p.m. on June 30; at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net)

Concert and Silent Film at the Riviera Theatre: Donna Parker plays the Mighty WurliTzer as Laurel and Hardy’s silent film Brats unspools onscreen. (7:30 p.m. on June 7 at the Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)

Scanners and Olivier Assayas at TIFF Bell Lightbox: The “Books on Film” series mentioned above is a TIFF summer highlight, but it’s one of many unique screenings at the Toronto jewel. David Cronenberg’s Scanners screens on June 17. Most thrilling? Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper director Olivier Assayas is the focus of a series titled Something in the Air: The Cinema of Olivier Assayas. It features his own works, as well as hand-picked favorites from other filmmakers. It all starts on June 22 with Robert Bresson’s 1977 drama The Devil Probably. For the full series schedule, visit tiff.net(Scanners: 9 p.m. on June 17; The Devil Probably: 9 p.m. on June 22; both at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., Toronto; tiff.net

Transit Drive-In Retro Movie Tuesday: A retro double feature is held every Tuesday (except July 4) all summer long at the Transit Drive-In. The lineup includes The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire on June 6; Rocky IV and The Hunt for Red October on June 13; The Monster Squad and The Lost Boys on June 20; and The NeverEnding Story and Labyrinth on June 27. (First movie starts at 9:15 p.m. at Transit Drive In, 6655 S. Transit Rd, Lockport.;transitdrivein.com)

Recommended New Books on Filmmaking: ‘Twin Peaks,’ Steve McQueen, and More (for The Film Stage)

My latest post on new books on filmmaking for The Film Stage ran in early May, just a few weeks before Showtime’s Twin Peaks debuted.

We’re knocking on the door of summer, and that means lots of big properties are ready to be unleashed. But it’s not too late to read books exploring some recent films, as well as some new works about Sherry Lansing, film noir, and Steve McQueen. Let’s start with a unique look at David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

The Essential Wrapped In Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks by John Thorne

When Twin Peaks debuted on ABC in 1990, there were no message boards in which fans could argue and dissect the latest episodes. Starting in 1992, however, there was Wrapped In Plastic, the immortal Peaks’ fanzine. Just in time for the series return on Showtime is The Essential Wrapped In Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks. Here, WIP co-editor John Thorne brings together some of the publication’s most vital, important essays. Every episode is included, but what makes the book a must-read is the analysis of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Featuring everything from a probing look at the film’s strange critical response upon release to a convincing argument that the Chet Desmond section is actually “the dream of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper,” The Essential Wrapped In Plastic mesmerizes the reader with vivid, startling discoveries.

Marvel Year by Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded (DK)

The updated and expanded edition of Marvel Year by Year is heavy — literally — and absolutely packed with details. Starting in the 1940s and running through 2016, this stunning text is big, bold, and deliriously dense. For a casual comic book fan like me, it’s full of new info. (The wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was “recreated with actors at New York’s Shea Stadium on June 5, 1987”?) Even die-hards are likely to stumble upon new details. 1950s Marvel character Marvin Mouse himself would be impressed.

Film Noir Light and Shadow edited by Alain Silver and James Ursini (Applause)

The visual style of film noir is instantly recognizable, but that does not make it simple. Film Noir Light and Shadow explores just how complex and meaningful this style was. Films like Kiss Me Deadly and Double Indemnity are explored in detail, while a series of noteworthy authors also break down less-known films like Violent Saturday and Crossfire. It’s the kind of book that sends one racing to Turner Classic Movies.

The Great Wall: The Art of the Film by Abbie Bernstein (Titan Books)

There is no other way to put it: Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall was a flop, at least stateside But it was a fascinating flop, a strange spectacle that swung for the fences (or walls) and came up short. Still, the size and scope of the project makes The Great Wall: The Art of the Film a beautiful publication. It’s a sturdy account of how the Matt Damon-starrer came to be, and it’s a reminder that whatever the film’s failings, the cinematography and production design is never less than breathtaking. It’s a film made for the glossy coffee table treatment.

World Film Locations: Cleveland edited by Alberto Zambenedetti (Intellect)

The city of Cleveland has quietly made a major dent in cinema, a fact confirmed by World Film Locations: Cleveland. With maps, stills, and photos, the book explores locations from films like American Splendor, The Deer Hunter, and Stranger Than Paradise. It also spotlights some times when the city doubled as someplace else, including Spider-Man 3 and The Avengers. (I’m volunteering myself to write the Buffalo, New York, version of World Locations.)

Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker by Stephen Galloway (Crown Archetype)

There is no overestimating Sherry Lansing’s impact on Hollywood history. As the first woman to be name president of a major studio (Paramount), she helped pave the way for countless female execs to come. As Stephen Galloway’s new biography Leading Lady demonstrates, she did so with poise, charm, and humility. The book includes colorful backstories of troubled films that eventually worked (Fatal Attraction, Titanic) and some that didn’t (Sliver). It’s compulsively readable, and full of juicy tidbits on her dealings with the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin.

A bushel of LEGO Batman books (DK)

The LEGO Batman Movie was one of 2017’s undeniable pleasures, a fast, fun film that simultaneously worked for LEGO-crazy kids and Bat-moms and dads. DK released a plethora of books to accompany the film’s release, and they run the gamut from a neat-o sticker book and texts for wee readers (Rise of the Rogues and Team Batman) to The Essential Guide (by Julia Marsh) and The Making of the Movie (by Tracey Miller-Zarneke). The latter shows how the character design progressed, and also lets us admire some of the elements that flew by so quickly on the big screen.

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia by Tricia Barr, Adam Bray, and Cole Horton (DK)

The Star Wars encyclopedia and dictionary bookshelf is ever-growing. When the texts are as painstakingly designed and wonderfully structured as Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia, why shouldn’t it? This latest effort is broken into five sections — geography, nature, history, culture, and science and technology — and is almost absurdly detailed. Looking for an up-close look at Mace Windu’s Jedi Council chair? It’s here, on the furniture spread.

Steve McQueen: Le Mans in the Rearview Mirror by Don Nunley with Marshall Terrill (Dalton Watson Fine Books)

While the Steve McQueen auto racing film Le Mans was a box office disappointment in 1971, it’s now considered one of the most important and greatest racing flicks of all time. Steve McQueen: Le Mans in the Rearview Mirror is a fascinatingly deep dive into the making of the film, and also serves as a fine bio of the complex McQueen. Packed with gorgeous on-set photos, it’s an essential account of how a film the authors call “a crashing bore” can eventually be seen as “the most historically realistic representation in the history of race.”

Recommended early summer reads

Chuck Wendig’s gripping Aftermath trilogy of post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars novels comes to a fine end with Empire’s End (Del Rey). There are numerous treats here, including cameos from Lando Calrissian and … well, you’ll see. Another recently released Star Wars novel, Join the Resistance (Disney Lucasfilm Press) is for younger readers. However, older fans may find this story of a trio of young Resistance recruits to be of interest. (It’s written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker.) Irvine Welsh’s 2002 Trainspotting sequel, Porno, has been re-released as T2: Trainspotting to tie in with the film. While the story underwent drastic changes, a number of elements (including Renton living in Amsterdam and Sick Boy’s pub) stayed intact. It’s a worthy followup, if a bit time-intensive due to Welsh’s frequent use of Scottish dialect. Lastly, Leonardo DiCaprio recently bought the rights to Stephen Talty’s nonfiction work The Black Hand (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and this story of an early-20th century detective attempting to stop a crime wave is riveting.


Review: ‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ explores the creation of ‘Eraserhead’

This Buffalo News review of the documentary “David Lynch: The Art Life” ran just a few days before the return of “Twin Peaks.”

For the first time in roughly a decade, David Lynch fans have reason to be breathless with anticipation. On May 21, Showtime debuts the 25-years-in-the-making return of Lynch’s television masterpiece, “Twin Peaks.” All 18 new episodes are directed by the man himself.

Therefore, the release of “David Lynch: The Art Life,” a feature-length documentary exploring the filmmaker’s work, is a case of very good timing. Director Jon Nguyen’s 90-minute interview with Lynch (and only Lynch) is a rather extraordinary opportunity to hear one of culture’s most unique artists discuss his life, his work, and where it came from.

The documentary is the highlight of the North Park Theatre’s “Lynchfest,” a week celebrating one of cinema’s most unique, unyielding artists.

One of the reasons the film is so successful is its narrow focus: “The Art Life” looks only at Lynch’s childhood, his wild-at-heart teenage years, his time in college as a young artist, and, finally, the creation of “Eraserhead.”

That means no “Elephant Man,” no “Blue Velvet,” no “Twin Peaks,” no “Mulholland Drive,” no Transcendental Meditation. (And no “Dune”!) Still, the DNA of Lynch’s later works can be traced directly to the events and individuals he references in “The Art Life.”

This should come as no surprise. For Lynch, there is no divide between life and art. This makes his work distinctly personal — and utterly inimitable.

“I was always drawing,” Lynch says while pondering his childhood. His mother refused to allow him to have coloring books. “Those would be restrictive, and kill some kind of creativity,” she believed. He calls this decision “a beautiful thing.”

Drawing (and, later, painting) allowed his imagination to flourish. But so, too, did strange occurrences like the sudden appearance in his neighborhood of a completely nude woman, her mouth bloodied. (Shades of Dorothy Vallens from “Blue Velvet.”)

The latter memory is particularly shocking, especially since Lynch’s childhood “was no larger than two blocks.” There were “huge worlds in those two blocks,” he says. (This seems an allusion to the small-town horrors that lurk in “Velvet” and “Twin Peaks.”)

Discovering that a friend’s father made a living as an artist led Lynch to learn of “the art life,” which he defines as “You drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, and that’s it. Maybe girls come into a little bit. But basically it’s the incredible happiness of working and living that life.”

This was an appealing concept, and it led Lynch and his friend and future production designer, Jack Fisk, to Boston, Europe (“We were going to go for three years, but we came back in 15 days”), and, eventually Philadelphia. It was this “weird town” and its “art spirit” that put Lynch on the path to “Eraserhead.”

It has always been a joy to hear the voice of Lynch, whether as part of interviews or in his shout-y role as “Twin Peaks”’ Gordon Cole. The Lynch onscreen in “The Art Life” is older (he’s now 71), a bit weathered, and perhaps a tad slower. But his voice, his hair and his mind are as glorious as ever. It’s a joy to watch Lynch at work in his stunning home studio, especially when his infant daughter wanders into the room.

“The Art Life” is a must-see for Lynch obsessives, but it’s also worth watching for anyone with an interest in the creation process. It’s hard to watch the film and not feel inspired to create … and to immerse yourself in the filmography of cinema’s darkest poet.

INTERVIEW: Billy Dee Williams discusses his life, career and Lando


I was truly honored to have the chance recently to interview one of my childhood favorites, actor Billy Dee Williams, for the Buffalo News.

We’re only five months into 2017, but it’s already been a memorable year for Billy Dee Williams. He recently turned 80, provided a voice in the hit “Lego Batman Movie,” and joined the likes of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford at the “Star Wars” Celebration fan festival in Orlando.

The actor best known for his role as ultra-suave “Star Wars” hero Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” is set to appear at Nickel City Con  from May 19 to 21 in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The actor, who recently took time for a telephone interview, said he’s not in the next film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and has no knowledge of plans for Lando in “Episode IX” (“Nobody has talked to me about it,” he said). But he still often often voices the beloved character in TV series like “Star Wars Rebels” and video games like “Star Wars: Battlefront.”

Beyond being a part of iconic franchises like “Star Wars” and “Batman,” he has starred in such well-remembered favorites as “Brian’s Song,” the 1971 movie-of-of-the-week with Williams as Gayle Sayers and James Caan as the late Brian Piccolo, and cult classics like “Nighthawks” with Sylvester Stallone. When asked what he’s most proud of, he points to a few favorites. “I’ve done a lot of films over a lot of years, but certainly ‘Brian’s Song’ – I was nominated for an Emmy for that. ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ [the 1972 Billie Holliday biopic starring Diana Ross] started a whole new kind of career for me. There’s ‘Mahogany.’ One of my favorite experiences was the Negro League baseball movie, ‘The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.’ I’ve had a pretty good career.”

Here’s more from our interview. 

Question: You’ve had a very busy 2017. What’s been the high point of the year so far?

Answer: Turning 80 years old is certainly a highlight (laughs). That’s a big one. And it’s ironic that I ended up doing Two-Face in “The Lego Batman Movie” after having played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989). I thought that was interesting. I was a little surprised, but I got a big chuckle out of it. They called me up and I was very happy to do it.

Q: “Star Wars” Celebration was just a few weeks ago. What was it like to see everyone? And did it feel strange to be there without Carrie Fisher?

A: We certainly all missed Carrie. It’s a tragedy — such an early point in her life — but we celebrated her. It was very nice to see everyone. I hadn’t seen any of them in quite some time. Every now and then I run into them, but it was nice to see everyone together.

Q: Does the ongoing growth of “Star Wars” surprise you?

A: It’s amazing. The “Star Wars” experience is a phenomenal experience, and it just picks up more fans with every generation. I think it’ll probably go on for another 40 years.

Q: You were the first African-American actor with a major role in the “Star Wars” saga, and you blazed a trail for actors like John Boyega in “The Force Awakens,” not to mention the diverse roster of stars in “Rogue One.” Is it accurate to consider you a pioneer?

A: I don’t really look at it that way. I just think of myself as an actor who is always looking for interesting things to do. That’s pretty much how I’ve conducted my life and my career.

Q: You’re also known for your painting. How did that passion develop?

A: It’s something I’ve been doing all my life. I spent three years at the National Academy of Design on a scholarship painting, and was nominated for a Guggenheim when I was 18 years old. I won a Hallgarten Prize, which is comparable to a Guggenheim. The Smithsonian National Gallery in Washington, D.C., owns one of my paintings, as does the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York and the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. I’ve exhibited for a number of years, so it’s very much a part of my life.

Q: I hear you met recently with Donald Glover, who is playing young Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo spin-off film. What are your thoughts on him?

A: I hope he does well with it. For me, Lando is me. I can’t see anybody else as Lando. But he’s a very good actor, a very talented musician and writer, and a very nice young man. So I wish him the best.

May Coming Attractions: ‘Carol’ is worth a drive to Toronto (from Buffalo Spree)



It’s a busy May in Buffalo. Check out my latest Buffalo Spree Coming Attractions column.

It’s nearly outdoor screening season, but until then, let’s stay indoors for some May treats. A number of our favorite series come to an end this month, but don’t fret—they’ll all be back soon. 

Cultivate Cinema Circle—Welcome to F.L. and Contemporary Color: CCC continually brings under-the-radar films to the area that deserve to be seen and pondered. One of these is Contemporary Color, a document of an extraordinarily unique event from 2015 curated and conceived by David Byrne. The former Talking Heads frontman and iconic solo artist brought together high school color guards and established musical performers like St. Vincent and Nelly Furtado. The documentary screens at the North Park on May 3. Also on the CCC lineup is Welcome to F.L., an acclaimed documentary about students at a Quebec high school. It’s screening at Burning Books on May 24. (Welcome to F.L.: 7 p.m. on May 24 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; Contemporary Color: 7 p.m. on May 2 at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Buffalo Film Seminars: One of the most diverse Buffalo Film Seminars’ sessions in series history comes to an end this month with a rather random final two. David Ayer’s Brad Pitt-in-a-tank drama Fury screens on May 2, and it’s an odd if interesting entry from the director of Suicide Squad. (Eek!) A far stronger film closes things out on May 9: Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy. This biography of Gilbert and Sullivan features delightful performances from Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, and Timothy Spall. It ranks as one of the Secrets and Lies and Vera Drakedirector’s most ambitious efforts, and will leave you humming the songs of The Mikado(7 p.m. on May 2 and 7 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Old Chestnut Film Society—Titanic: The classic film series closes its Barbara Stanwyck/Clifton Webb season with 1953’s Titanic, starring both actors. No Celine Dion songs in this version of the tale, thankfully. (7:30 p.m. on May 12 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)

Thursday Night Terrors—Re-Animator: Perhaps the only surprise regarding Terrors’ screening of Re-Animator is that the film wasn’t part of the series’ first lineup last fall. That tells you how strong the series is, doesn’t it? In any event, it’s a fitting conclusion for the second installment of Thursday Night Terrors. Stuart Gordon’s 1985 film is a gruesome horror classic, and one with real laughs. (7:30 p.m. on May 25 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)

Hot Docs: North America’s largest documentary festival runs through May 7, and the full lineup should now be ready to peruse at hotdocs.ca. Subjects include the late Whitney Houston, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, and the Grateful Dead. (April 27-May 7; for schedule and locations, visit hotdocs.ca)

TCM Big Screen Classics—Smokey and the BanditOne could argue with the classification of Smokey and the Bandit as a “classic,” but there’s no debating the film’s fun factor. It’s the fortieth anniversary of the Burt Reynolds-Sally Field blockbuster, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to see Reynolds’ epic ’stache on the big screen. (2 and 7 p.m. on May 21 and 24 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Roycroft Film Society—Cache: If you’ve pondered taking in a Roycroft Film Society screening but haven’t made it yet, a can’t-miss arrives on May 7. Michael Haneke’s Cache is perhaps the most conversation-ready (and ambiguous) picture to date from the director of Amour and The White Ribbon, and it has earned placement on the list of the finest films of the 2000s. Starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, Cache (which means “hidden”) is the story of a French couple who are confronted with a series of anonymous videotapes on their doorstep. What’s depicted on those tapes, and how they connect with the childhood of Auteuil’s character, make the 2005 release one of the most haunting films ever made. (4 p.m. on May 7 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Der RosenkavalierThe latest hi-res satellite broadcast from the Met sees opera icon Renée Fleming in one of her signature roles. During intermission—run time is four hours-plus—audiences can enjoy interviews with the cast, crew, and production teams. (12:30 p.m. on May 13 at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia;fredopera.org; 12:30 p.m. on May 13 and 6:30 p.m. on May 17 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Two Toronto festivals: There are two festivals worth the drive to Toronto this month: the Toronto Jewish Film Festival runs from May 4 to 14 (tjff.com) while the Toronto LGBT Film Festival is May 25 to June 4 (insideout.ca/initiatives/Toronto). (Check websites for schedules and locations)

Family-Friendly Film Series: The second Saturday of each month features a free family film at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Crane Branch; call 883-6651 with questions or for more information about the movie selections. (11 a.m. on May 13 at Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Crane Branch, 633 Elmwood Ave.; buffalolib.org)

The Nitrate Picture Show: The George Eastman Museum’s festival of film conservation is back for year three, and the fest once again features vintage nitrate prints from the Eastman’s world-renowned collection. The three days also feature lectures and workshops. (May 1 to 7 at the at the George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave., Rochester; eastman.org/nps)

Phyllis Nagy on CarolTIFF’s Books on Film series features Nagy, the renowned playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, and a screening of Carol, the film she adapted for director Todd Haynes. She will discuss the process of bringing Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt to the screen. (7 p.m. on May 8 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., Toronto; tiff.net)

Twin Peaks and more at the North Park: David Lynch returns to the world of Twin Peaks this month with the debut of a series continuation on Showtime. But before it airs, revisit the savagely reviewed (at the time) masterpiece that is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Time has been very kind to Lynch’s prequel about the last days of Laura Palmer, and Fire is now rightfully considered one of his finest, boldest films. It screens at the North Park on May 1. In other NP news, acclaimed horror film The Void is set for screenings on May 1, 2, and 3. And a series of Deconstructing the Beatles documentaries screen at various times  on May 1 through 4. Check northparktheatre.org for times and details. (Twin Peaks: 7 p.m. on May 1; The Void: May 1, 2, and 3;Deconstructing the Beatles: May 1, 2, 3, and 4; all at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

Thursday Night Terrors—House of Wax: The horror screening series goes back to 1953 for this Vincent Price chiller, which is being presented in 3D. How cool is that? (7:30 and 9:30 p.m. on May 11 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)

The Screening Room: The John Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane is the most noteworthy film on May’s Screening Room schedule, but the month also includes a “night at the grindhouse” on May 12 and a special movie trivia night on May 18. Plus, the Marilyn Monroe-starring, Niagara Falls-highlighting Niagara is set for May 26 and 27. (Dates follow in June, as well.) Chasing Trane: May 5-7, 9, and 11; Niagara: May 26-27; see screeningroom.net for times and additional info; all events at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst)

In the Steps of Trisha Brown at Hallwalls: Marie-Hélène Rebois’s documentary focuses on the life revolutionary choreographer Brown, using archival production footage as well as rehearsal footage of Brown herself. (7 p.m. on May 9 and 10 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org)

May at Squeaky Wheel: Villa Maria College will hold a film and animation screening on May 13, while Kathleen Collins’s landmark 1982 independent film Losing Ground is May 17. (Villa Maria: 1 p.m. on May 13; Losing Ground: 7 p.m. on May 17; at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; squeaky.org)

90th Anniversary Celebration and silent movie at the Riviera Theatre: Norma Shearer’s silent classic Upstage was the opening night film at the Riviera ninety years ago. It returns to the Riv on May 5, with Clark Wilson accompanying on the Mighty WurliTzer. Another silent film (TBA) and Mighty WurliTzer concert takes place on May 5, while Pixar’s Inside Out screens on May 7. (Silent film and concert: 7:30 p.m. on May 5; Celebration and Upstage: reception at 6:30 p.m., film at 8 p.m., on May 5; Inside Out: 3 p.m. on May 7; all at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)

From the latest Buffalo Spree: My April ‘Coming Attractions’ column


My April “Coming Attractions” column features some real treats, including Tampopo and In the Mood for Love.

Summer’s here! Well, not quite, but the summer movie season now kicks off in April. This year, that means a new Fast and the Furious movie. Let’s all skip that, and head to some of the screenings on this list, OK?

Weekend Matinees at the North Park: The popular matinee series at the North Park Theatre starts the month with three wildly diverse selections. Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer lead the cast of Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke, a strangely fascinating fantasy epic from 1985, on April 1 and 2. The Japanese foodie favorite Tampopo is a must-see on April 8; this is a newly restored version of the 1985 film universally considered a classic. And Hayao Miyazaki’s wondrous 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro screens on April 9. Miyazaki’s work always draws a crowd to the North Park, and Totoro, especially, serves as a fine introduction to the master’s work. (North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

Sword Art Online—Ordinal ScaleAnime favorite Sword Art Online moves to the big screen and hits the North Park for five showings. (2 and 4 p.m. on April 29, 2, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. on April 30 at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

Buffalo Film Seminars: The April Buffalo Film Seminars might be the most thrilling in series history. David Bowie’s finest big-screen role came courtesy of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the stunning story of a gaunt extraterrestrial in New Mexico screens on April 4. On April 11 comes Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, and I expect this will be the long version of the notoriously butchered gangster epic starring Robert De Niro. Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Double Life of Veronique, a mesmerizing drama from the director of the Three Colours trilogy, screens on April 18. The month ends with Wong Kar-wai’s heartbreaking and sensual In the Mood for Love on April 25. (7 p.m. on March 7, 21, and 28 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Old Chestnut Film Society—Clash by Night: This 1952 drama from Fritz Lang stars Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Ryan. (7:30 p.m. on April 7 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)

Thursday Night Terrors—Pieces: Part of what makes the Thursday Night Terrors screening series so fun is that selections are not at all obvious. Take, for example, Pieces, which screens on April 27. Juan Piquer Simón’s horror film about a college-campus murderer using body parts to create a human jigsaw puzzle is a cult classic that most film freaks (including me) are unaware of. If it’s good enough for Thursday Night Terrors, you know it’s going to be bloody awesome. (7:30 p.m. on April 27 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.;facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)

Hot Docs: North America’s largest documentary festival returns to Toronto at the end of April and into early May. It’s well worth the drive for anyone interested in nonfiction film, or those seeking the type of insight only a documentary can provide. The lineup of over 200 films was not set at press time, so visit hotdocs.ca for a rundown and schedules. (April 27-May 7; for schedule and locations, visit hotdocs.ca)

TCM Big Screen Classics—North by Northwest and The GraduateThe ongoing Turner Classic Movies screening series offers up two heavyweights this month. First is Hitchcock’s endlessly witty, truly thrilling North by Northwest on April 2 and 5. The Cary Grant-starrer is made for a large screen. The same could be said of The Graduate, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with screenings on April 23 and 26. While Mike Nichols’ tale of Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson is just as funny at home, a cinema screen allows audiences to really appreciate the extraordinary visuals. (Think of Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin floating in the family pool, or the iconic shot of Anne Bancroft’s leg.) (North by Northwest: 2 and 7 p.m. on April 2 and 5; The Graduate: 2 and 7 p.m. on April 23 and 26; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Cultivate Cinema Circle—Ghosts and Class Divide: The spring CCC season might be its boldest yet: a four-film retrospective of the early films from Barbara and Phoenix director Christian Petzold. Titled “Lonely Ghosts: The Early Cinematic Work of Christian Petzold,” the screenings are presented in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Boston and Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center. Set for April 5 is Petzold’s Ghosts, from 2005, is an enigmatic story memory and identity. Like the other films in the retrospective, it has rarely been seeing in the U.S. Also screening this month is Class Divide, director Marc Levin’s documentary, which looks at the widening gap between the haves and have nots. Levin is best-known for the acclaimed documentary Slam.  (Ghosts: 7 p.m. on April 5 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; Class Divide: 7 p.m. on April 26 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Roycroft Film Society—Cave of Forgotten Dreams: One of Werner Herzog’s most widely seen films was Dreams, a documentary exploring extraordinary caves in the south of France. (4 p.m. on April 9 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Rigoletto Live at the Dipson Amherst: This month’s simulcast is Verdi’s opera based on a Victor Hugo play. (2 p.m. on April 10 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

Spotlight Visions of an Island—Sky Hopinka in Person: The Milwaukee artist presents three of his award-winning films(7 p.m. on April 15 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; squeaky.org)

Mary Shelley—A Living History and Frankenstein at the Fredonia Opera House: Susan Marie Frontczak stars as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in the unique performance A Living History on April 20 at the Fredonia Opera House, followed by an audience Q-and-A. The next night, the Opera House screens the National Theatre’s acclaimed adaptation of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller and directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire). This is one of several interesting high definition screenings at the Fredonia Opera House this month. Also scheduled is A Contemporary Evening (of Dance) featuring Bolshoi Ballet on April 1; a Donmar Warehouse production of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, starring Gemma Arterton, on April 8; and a Metropolitan Opera production of Eugene Onegin on April 22. (Mary Shelley—A Living History: 7:30 p.m. on April 20; Frankenstein: 7:30 p.m. on April 21; at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

The Screening Room: April at the Screening Room opens with an oddity, the mermaid horror flick The Lure. It screens from April 6 to April 12. Opening April 7 and running through April 14 is Office Space, Mike Judge’s modern classic about the nightmares of cubicle life. The April 13 screening is a trivia night edition hosted by Dave Schwartz. Lastly, starting April 21 and running through April 29 is Hitchcock’s still-startling Vertigo. Best movie ever? Hard to say, but the Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak starrer about sexual obsession and identity is certainly one of the most fascinating. (Check screeningroom.net for times; all events at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst)

Mighty Wurlitzer Concert and Silent Film at the Riviera: Organist Clark Wilson will accompany a screening of Harold Lloyd’s silent classic The Freshman at this unique event. (7:30 p.m. on April 5 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)

Images Festival: For eight days, Toronto’s Images Festival features screenings, events, performances, and exhibitions from international artists. The 2017 festival includes forty-eight films, twelve exhibitions, and four live image projects. (April 20 to 27 at Innis Town Hall, Theatre University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto; opening night feature premieres at the Royal Theatre, 608 College St., Toronto; imagesfestival.com

New to Blu-ray: Leos Carax’s ‘The Lovers on the Bridge’


Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge is, quite simply, one of my favorite films. So I was thrilled to write about Kino’s new Blu-ray release for The Film Stage.

The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax)

Nine years before the fin de siècle came the brutal romance of Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge — well, nine years if you lived in France. American audiences could not experience Carax’s wounded, fragile love story until 1999, just one more bit of controversy for an already controversial film. Thankfully, Lovers now has a rightful place amongst the classics of the twentieth century. Starring Carax’s frequent leading man Denis Lavant as a street performer and a twentysomething Juliette Binoche as a one-eyed artist, it’s a film as noteworthy for its locale — Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge — as it is for its acting. Nevertheless, Lavant and Binoche are breathtaking, just like the glorious fireworks that explode during the film. Kino Lorber’s stunning Blu-ray release features a wonderfully insightful essay by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky as well as a fine video essay by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin. But the real treat is the film itself, a crucial effort from the filmmaker who would find his greatest success with 2012’s Holy Motors. While the latter is one of the most memorable efforts of the last decade, there’s no question that The Lovers on the Bridge is Carax’s mightiest achievement. – Christopher S.

INTERVIEW: Hirokazu Kore-eda on Fatherhood, Typhoons, and ‘After the Storm’


It was truly an honor to interview (by email) director Hirokazu Kore-eda for The Film Stage.

There is no filmmaker in the world more attuned to the complexities of family life than Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda. Consider the emotional upheaval that faces the parents and children of 2013’s Like Father, Like Son, or the relationship between the sisters of 2015’s Our Little Sister. Koreeda’s latest film following those two gems, After the Storm, continues his warm but ever-truthful gaze at what bonds people together. (Film Movement opens Storm on March 17 in New York and Los Angeles.)

Set against the backdrop of an approaching typhoon, Storm is the story of a failing author (Hiroshi Abe) struggling to pay his child support, and his attempts at rebuilding relationships with his son (Taiyo Yoshizawa) and ex-wife (Yoko Maki). As sweet and funny as the last two great Kore-eda films, Storm also has the sharp insight of earlier masterpieces like Nobody Knows and Still Walking.

Currently working on his next film, Kore-eda answered some brief questions about Storm, working with his “alter-ego” Hiroshi Abe, and his experience directing child actors.

The Film Stage: After the Storm continues your focus on the shifting dynamics of family. What drew you to this story of a father and son, and this stage of their lives?

Hirokazu Kore-eda: I wanted to depict the concept of fatherhood with this film. [In addition], I wanted to make a film that cuts out a part of one’s long life. I think a part of life is better.

Did the idea of the typhoon come before or after the rest of the story?

I had the idea of a typhoon from the very beginning. I actually started to write the script on the night of a typhoon. After my father passed away, my mother started living by herself in the housing complex where I grew up. When I went back home for the New Year, I noticed the changes. The kids had left, and only the trees had remained and grown up. Seeing this gave me the idea to make a film about the housing complex. The first scene that came to mind was a walk through the complex with grass that had become very beautiful in the morning after a typhoon. Since I was a child I’ve always wondered why the complex was so beautiful after a typhoon. Though nothing changes, it seems like a complete transformation happened overnight. I wanted to describe that moment… Although a typhoon can destroy ordinary life, in most cases it purifies everyday living.

You work so well with children, in this case actor Taiyo Yoshizawa. Do you direct your young actors differently than your adult actors?  Are there any other filmmakers whose work with children has influenced your approach?

Usually I don’t provide a script to kid actors. I only explain to them the setting of a scene and give them the dialogue verbally without telling them the whole story of the film. I don’t know if I am influenced by others, but if so, it’d be Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s films, Ken Loach’s Kes, and Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer.

You’ve worked with Hiroshi Abe before. What made him right for this role?

In my 40s and 50s, I identified with the roles that Abe played in Still Walking and the TV series Going Home, so he is special for me. He is like my alter-ego. After Still Walking, both of us became fathers, and I think this is reflected in our characters. I think it’s wonderful that a director, an actor, and the roles we create grow up together.

Your films are known for their emotional impact, but also their warmth. When dealing with a drama such as After the Storm, how do you juggle the heavier, dramatic elements with the humor that’s also a trademark of your work?

I want to add the serious sequences into scenes of ordinary living. I think people tend to laugh when they want to cry. It applies to the feelings of characters and audiences as well.

What can you tell us about your upcoming film, The Third Murder?

I’m still in the process of editing the film, but the story is about an attorney, a murderer, and the family of a victim.

A venerable festival, more Thursday Night terror, and Vertov’s masterpiece, deconstructed (from the March Buffalo Spree)

The Women’s Balcony, ranked as Israel’s highest-grossing film in 2016, will be shown at the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival. COURTESY OF THE BUFFALO INTERNATIONAL JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

The Women’s Balcony, ranked as Israel’s highest-grossing film in 2016, will be shown at the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival.

My March Buffalo Spree column opens with an always fascinating film fest.

Film screenings are back in full swing this month following a bit of a post-holiday lull in January and February. Hollywood unleashes some biggies, as well, including a new King Kong entry (Kong: Skull Island) and a live-action Beauty and the Beast from Disney. But if you are looking for truly unique offerings, you’ll find them on this list.

Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival: It is year thirty-two for BIJFF, making it one of the area’s longest-lasting film festivals. It’s a yearly treat, really, one featuring scores of unique films, many which are making their local debuts. As with past festivals, the 2017 installment opens with a kick-off party. Scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Screening Room (the Boulevard Mall, 880 Alberta Drive in Amherst), the evening will include a movie snack buffet station, beverages (cash bar), a film, and one free ticket to any other film during BIJFF. The festival itself starts on March 17 and runs through March 23, with all screenings at the Dipson Amherst Theatre. The lineup features a number of gems, including A Borrowed Identity, the story of a Palestinian Israeli teenager who attends a Jewish boarding school; The Women’s Balcony, a dramedy about a close-knit congregation that ranked as Israel’s highest-grossing film in 2016; and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, a documentary about the creator of All in the Family and Good Times. Check bijff.com for plot summaries and times. (Kick-off party at 7 p.m. on March 6; festival March 17-23 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; bijff.com)

Roycroft Film Society—Mustang: One of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the eighty-eighth Academy Awards, director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s film tells the moving story of five sisters living in a Turkish village. It’s an emotional powerhouse with a memorable conclusion, and a fine Roycroft Film Society selection. (4 p.m. on March 12 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Buffalo Film Seminars: Three unique foreign classics are featured in this month’s Buffalo Film Seminars lineup. (There is no film on March 21.) First is Robert Bresson’s heartbreaking Au Hasard Balthazar on March 7, the unforgettable story of a donkey’s sad life and death. The 1972 Iranian film Downpour, directed by Bahram Beizai, screens on March 14. Lastly is Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala on March 28. The Russian language film was the great director’s comeback success after a difficult period that even included a suicide attempt. (7 p.m. on March 7, 21, and 28 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Old Chestnut Film Society—Dreamboat: This 1952 comedy stars Clifton Webb and Ginger Rogers. (7:30 p.m. on March 10 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)

Thursday Night Terrors—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Now this is unmissable. The best known film in the second series of Thursday Night Terrors is Tobe Hooper’s still-disturbing horror classic about grave-robbing cannibals. It still frightens, and it still looks quite unlike any other film. (7:30 p.m. on March 30 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)

Renee Lear—Every Shot from Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera as an Animated GIF: Here is a fascinating project featured in March and April at Hallwalls, in which the video artist and filmmaker reorganizes the 1929 silent film Man with a Movie Camera as a series of animated GIFs. For more on the Torontonian’s work, visit reneelear.com. (March 10-April 28 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org)

TCM Big Screen Classics—All About Eve: There few films sharper than All About Eve, the gloriously “bumpy” tale of veteran Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and upstart Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). The latest installment in the ongoing TCM Big Screen Classics series film will be shown in its original aspect ratio. (2 and 7 p.m. on March 5 and 8 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at the Riviera Theatre: North Tonawanda’s Riviera started a Harry Potter film series in January, and the eighth film brings it all to a close on March 12. Deathly Hollows Part 2 is the rare final installment that truly satisfies, and does so with vivid action and real emotional depth. It culminates in a final scene that wonderfully calls back the original film, while looking ahead to the future. (Doors open at 2:30 p.m., film begin at 3 p.m. on March 12 at the Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)

Family-Friendly Film Series: The library’s Crane Branch hosts a family-friendly film on the second Saturday of every month. Call 883-6651 for info on this month’s selection. (11 a.m. on March 11 at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Crane Branch, 633 Elmwood Ave.; buffalolib.org)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Live from the Opéra National de Paris at the Dipson Amherst: This month’s simulcast is George Balanchine’s ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer. (2 p.m. on March 27 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

Sword Art Online—The Movie: The hit anime series Sword Art Online comes to the big screen for a one-night-only movie event. Visit fathomevents.com for the rest of the Fathom Events lineup. (8 p.m. on March 9 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Fredonia Opera House— The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism: The Opera House presents a high-definition production exploring the exhibition “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement” at the Florence Griswold Museum in Connecticut. Also scheduled this month are simulcasts of La Traviata and Idomeneo, on March 11 and 25, respectively. (7:30 p.m. on March 30 at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

Focus 45—Tim Wagner, Film Projection 101: Film technician Tim Wagner will discuss motion picture projection skills in the digital age in this special talk. (Noon on March 11 at the Curtis Theatre at the George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave., Rochester; eastman.org)

The Seasons in Quincy—Four Portraits of John Berger at Hallwalls: If there is one absolute must-see in March, it is the March 7 Hallwalls’ screening of The Seasons in Quincy—Four Portraits of John Berger. This collection of four essay films serves as a fitting study of Berger, the storyteller who just passed away in January. Actress Tilda Swinton is among the filmmakers involved in the project, which explores Berger’s time as a farmer in the remote Alpine village of Quincy. The Seasons was an extraordinarily ambitious five-year project, and this Buffalo screening is tremendously exciting. (7:30 p.m. on March 7 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.;hallwalls.org)

Weekend Matinees and Ice Guardians at the North Park: The North Park’s ongoing matinee series kicks off the month with Belle and Sebastian, but please note that this is not a concert film featuring the wonderfully twee Scottish legends behind the classic album If You’re Feeling Sinister. No, this is a 2013 French family film about a plucky orphan and his dog. It screens at 11:30 a.m. on March 4 and 5. Next up, on March 11 and 12, is 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, a film based on the long-running superhero series that nineties kids adore. Outside of the weekend matinee realm is Ice Guardians, a documentary scheduled for a special screening at 9:30 p.m. on March 15. This look at the tough road face by many National Hockey League enforcers has drawn great acclaim. (North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

Cultivate Cinema Circle—The State I Am In: CCC’s four-film retrospective of the early films from director Christian Petzold begins on March 1 with 2000’s The State I Am In. This story of two ex-terrorists in hiding in Brazil with their teenage daughter sounds like another bold work from the filmmaker behind two recent masterpieces, Barbara and Phoenix. (7 p.m. on March 1 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.;cultivatecinemacircle.com)

“Throwback Thursdays” at the Riviera: It’s hard to argue with any of the selections in the Riviera Theatre’s latest screening series. February featured the likes of Gone With the Wind and Casablanca, while this month includes greats like Singin’ in the Rain (March 2), Citizen Kane (March 9), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (March 16), and Funny Girl (March 23). (7 p.m. on March 2, 9, 16, and 23 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda;rivieratheatre.org)

The Screening Room: A typically packed Screening Room schedule begins on March 2 with a one-night only screening of the documentary Dying Laughing. This exploration of stand-up comedy features heavyweights like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart, and Sarah Silverman. Returning to the Screening Room on March 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11 is the beloved Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Rounding out March is your grandmother’s favorite film, The Sound of Music. It screens on March 25 and 26. (Check screeningroom.net for times; all events at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst)