Preview: The Oasis documentary, ‘Supersonic,’ screens on Oct. 26

supersonic

The Oasis documentary Supersonic was a late addition to my October Coming Attractions column for Buffalo Spree. My write-up is below, and watch this space for my Film Stage review of the film.

Oasis—Supersonic: A documentary about Noel and Liam Gallagher’s Oasis, the battling Britpop supernovas behind “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova,” from the producers of Oscar-winning Amy Winehouse doc Amy? Yes, please. A24 is releasing Supersonic in America, and the distributor has scheduled one-night-only screenings for October 26 nationwide. Whether you love the Gallaghers or not, watch the trailer at supersonic-movie.com and tell me you’re not intrigued. This could turn out to be one of the most entertaining documentaries of 2016. (7 p.m. on October 26 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

October Coming Attractions: Celebrate ten years of the Buffalo International Film Festival, and prepare for Halloween with The Shining

buffalo-international-film-festival-stefan-ludwig-photography-buffalo-ny-10-0c8ca90c

Check out my ‘Coming Attractions’ column from the October 2016 Buffalo Spree.

October features some cinematic kingpins—Fellini, Kubrick, the Marx Brothers—but it’s highlighted by the tenth installment of one of Western New York’s strongest film festivals. 

Buffalo International Film Festival: Last year was a thrilling one for the Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF), highlighted by a screening of Emelie, Michael Thelin’s well-reviewed thriller. The 2016 fest is set for October 7 through 10, and for the first time in the festival’s ten-year history, every entry will be screened in a venue located in the City of Buffalo. The opening night centerpiece at the North Park will be Tyler Hubby’s new feature documentary Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present. That’s huge, especially for the late artist and UB professor’s legions of local fans. The lineup includes numerous interesting films, so peruse the entire lineup and find times and locations at buffalointernationalfilmfestival.com(October 7 to 11; buffalointernationalfilmfestival.com)

Buffalo Film Seminars: Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian open October with three heavy hitters: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, October 4), Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita, October 11), and Orson Welles (Chimes at Midnight, October 18). Still, the most intriguing pick of the month might be Sarah Elder and Leonard Kamerling’s 1977 documentary Drums of Winter, which screens on October 25. The hugely acclaimed, award-winning film about the Yup’ik people of central Alaska is listed in the Film Preservation Registry by the Library of Congress. And there’s a wonderful local link here, since Elder is a media study professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. (7 p.m. at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Oasis—Supersonic: A documentary about Noel and Liam Gallagher’s Oasis, the battling Britpop supernovas behind “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova,” from the producers of Oscar-winning Amy Winehouse doc Amy? Yes, please. A24 is releasing Supersonic in America, and the distributor has scheduled one-night-only screenings for October 26 nationwide. Whether you love the Gallaghers or not, watch the trailer at supersonic-movie.com and tell me you’re not intrigued. This could turn out to be one of the most entertaining documentaries of 2016. (7 p.m. on October 26 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St. ;dipsontheatres.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics—The ShiningHave you watched the documentary Room 237? If not, get on that. (I’ll wait.) The exploration of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its many (probably incorrect) interpretations is utterly mind-melting. It also reminds us that Kubrick’s film is far more than a scary Stephen King adaptation with an unhinged Jack Nicholson screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” Instead, The Shining is one of the most complex, influential movies ever made. But it is scary, as well, so kudos to the TCM Big Screen series for making the film its October selection, just in time for Halloween. (2 and 7 p.m. on October 23 and 26 at the Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Fredonia Opera House: Arthur Miller and the Marx Brothers have genius in common, and two of their finest works grace the Fredonia Opera House screen in October. First is a simulcast of Miller’s View From the Bridgeat 1 p.m. on October 1. This 2016 Tony winner for Best Revival of a Play stars the always stellar Mark Strong. Meanwhile, on October 7, the Opera House screens the classic Marx Brothers’ comedy Duck Soup at 7:30 p.m. The screening is part of Fredonia State College’s annual “Freedonia Marxonia Festival.” And in a nice touch, admission is “Free.” (Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

Roycroft Film Society—About Elly: Anyone who’s seen Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation and The Past will likely agree that the Iranian filmmaker ranks near the top of international cinema’s best. His latest effort, The Salesman, earned him Best Screenplay honors after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May. That one will be released soon, but this month the Roycroft Film Society offers a chance to catch 2009’s About Elly. The story of the mysterious disappearance of a kindergarten teacher is considered one of Farhadi’s greatest works, and that’s saying something. (4 p.m. on October 9 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Nichols High School Movie Night at the North Park: The students at Nichols have darn good taste in cinema, as evidenced by this stellar series. The lineup features Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman and Charlie Chaplin’s The Bank on October 2; Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby on October 17; Hitchcock’s bold, experimental Rope on October 24; and King Kong on October 31. (The Cameraman/The Bank: 11:30 a.m. on October 2, all others at 7 p.m. on October 17, 24, and 31, at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

North Park Theatre: In addition to the aforementioned Nichols’ screenings the North Park’s October lineup includes the George Hamilton-starring indie Silver Skies at 7 p.m. on October 4 and a tenth anniversary presentation of Mike Judge’s prescient satire Idiocracy at 9:45 p.m. the same night. (Both will feature live satellite Q-and-As.) The silent horror classic Nosferatu is scheduled for 7 p.m. on October 12, and will feature a live score by the Invincible Czars. (North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

riverrun Global Film Series: Iran is the “Country in Focus” for this free three-day presentation of films and lectures. The series will include a short film from late Taste of Cherry director Abbas Kiarostami, as well as Bahram Beyzaie’s recently restored 1972 drama Downpour. Also scheduled is Notes on Blindness, a project with both a documentary and a virtual reality component. (Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.; globalfilmseries.wordpress.com)

Burchfield Penney Art Center: In addition to the riverrun Global Film Series mentioned above, BPAC has October screenings of the documentary All the Difference, a film exploring issues related to African-American manhood, and Korey Green’s Buffalo-set (and shot) gangster film The Romans(Difference: 7 p.m. on October 13; Romans: 7 p.m. on Oct. 20; 1300 Elmwood Ave.; burchfieldpenney.org)

Thursday Night Terrors—Fright Night: This great new horror film series continues in October with 1985’sFright Night, Tom Holland’s thrilling and funny vampire tale. Ignore the so-so Colin Farrell-starring 2011 remake, and instead head to the Dipson Amherst. (7:30 p.m. on October 27 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)

Cultivate Cinema Circle: The fall CCC season includes a focus on Robert Altman, and for October, that means a screening of his underrated ensemble piece A Wedding. Also planned is Audrie & Daisy, a documentary about sexual assault that garnered high praise at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. (A Wedding: 7 p.m. on October 6 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; Audrie & Daisy: 7 p.m. on October 12 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Rocky Horror Picture Party: It wouldn’t be Halloween month without a screening of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This event is an annual Rivera Theatre favorite. (9:30 p.m. on October 28 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)

Call Her Applebroog: Artist Ida Applebroog’s daughter, filmmaker Beth B., directed this personal portrait of the provocative painter. (7 p.m. on October 12 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org)

Old Chestnut Film Society—The Lady EveThe films of Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb are the focus for the latest installment of the long-running Old Chestnut Film Society series. December’s selection is a goodie, as The Lady Eve is one of Preston Sturgess’s finest comedies. (7:30 p.m. on December 9 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)

The Screening Room: Amherst’s Screening Room has so much happening this month that I barely know where to begin; remember to visit screeningroom.net for the full listing. Halloween-centric highlights include the John Landis horror favorite An American Werewolf in London on October 7, 8, 11, 14, and 15; Mel Brooks’sYoung Frankenstein, starring the late Gene Wilder, on October 22, 25, and 28; Mario Bava’s cult classicHatchet for the Honeymoon on October 22; John Carpenter’s original Halloween on October 27, 29, and 31; local filmmaker Greg Lamberson’s Killer Rack on October 28 and 29; a double bill of Vincent Price-starrer The House on Haunted Hill and Ed Wood’s needs-no-introduction Plan 9 From Outer Space on October 30; and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on October 31. (Check website for times; 3131 Sheridan Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net)

Also screening this month …

  • The Dipson Amherst Theatre has two opera simulcasts scheduled this month: Samson et Dalila on October 13 and Macbeth on October 20. (Samson: 8 p.m. on October 13; Macbeth: 8 p.m. on October 20; at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)
  • Sherlock Holmes joins Sherlock Holmes, in a way, when Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Elementary’s Jonny Lee Miller appear in a screening of the National Theatre adaptation of Frankenstein on October 25. Trainspotting and Steve Jobs director Danny Boyle helmed the acclaimed production. (7 p.m. on October 25 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)
  • Outside of Buffalo, there are two unique October film festivals worth a drive. ImageOut, Rochester’s LGBT film festival, is set for October 6 to 16 (imageout.org). And the Toronto After Dark Film Festival offers nine days of horror and sci-fi from October 13 to 21 (torontoafterdark.com).

Spree’s August ‘Coming Attractions’: Pixar, Sharon Stone (!), and Goodfellas

GHOSTBUSTERS_GALLERY_1-6676f71c

Check out my August Buffalo Spree column.

August is generally a strange month in moviehouses, and 2016 is no exception: a mix of some biggies (DC’s Suicide Squad), some question marks (a remake of Ben-Hur that no one asked for), and some WTFs (the adults-only animated flickSausage Party).

Perhaps Western New York’s summer film series are the safest bet. The latest are listed here, along with a few other goodies.

Squeaky Wheel’s Thirteenth Animation Fest

Squeaky’s animation festival is a perennial summer favorite, a family friendly even that features a wildly diverse range of artists and mediums. Info was still to come as Spree went to press, so make sure to check squeaky.org. However, there is one big change this year, as the fest will be held in a number of different locations on various nights. It all kicks off on August 6. (First screening scheduled for Aug. 6; squeaky.org)

Tuesday Night Flix at Canalside

The Catholic Health-sponsored free outdoor film series goes all-in on family fare this month: Marvel’s The Avengers on August 2; the Robin Williams favorite Jumanji on August 9; some Pixar fun with Monsters, Inc. on August 16; Steven Spielberg’s unfairly maligned Hook on August 23; and Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on August 30. Young Audiences Western New York (YAWNY) has crafts planned pre-movie on August 2, 16, and 30. Note that there is just one more Canalside screening post-August, with Mean Girls—a.k.a., Lindsay Lohan’s finest hour—on September 6.  (8:30 p.m. on August 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 on Pierce Lawn at Canalside;canalsidebuffalo.com)

Amherst Youth and Recreation Department 2016 Summer Movie Series

There are some recurring films in this summer’s kid-friendly outdoor film series, and that’s just fine. (As any parent knows, repeat viewing is nearly as common as tooth-brushing.) Following a screening of recent smash Zootopia at Bedford Park on August 5, the series moves back to its home base, the Clearfield Community Center, for screenings of Norm of the North (August 12), The Good Dinosaur (August 19), and The Avengers(August 26). (8:30 p.m. on Aug. 5 at Bedford Park, Amherst; 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 12, 19, and 26 at Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Rd., Williamsville; amherstyouthandrec.org)

Bacchus Summer Film Series

One of the most eagerly awaited summer series each year takes place on the back patio at downtown restaurant Bacchus. And really, you have to love a series that starts (in June) with Purple Rain and ends (in September) with Steel Magnolias. That’s range! August’s lineup includes—take a deep breath—Ghostbusters(August 3), Bridget Jones’ Diary (August 4), Goodfellas (August 10), The Wedding Singer (August 11), Frozen(August 14), Back to the Future (August 17), Beaches (August 18), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (August 24), Charlie’s Angels (August 25), Enter the Dragon (August 26), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (August 31). Just make sure not to mix up your days and bring the kiddos to Goodfellas rather than Frozen. Oops! (Dusk at 56 W. Chippewa St.; bacchusbuffalo.com.)

Movies in the Meadow

The Parkside Community Association’s annual series is held every Friday in August. This year’s lineup is Zootopia on August 5; the early Tom Hanks gem The Money Pit on August 12; the Mogwai shenanigans of Gremlins on August 19; and lastly, the Burt Reynolds-Goldie Hawn comedy Best Friends on August 26. The latter famously includes scenes shot in Buffalo. (The series ends the following week with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on September 2.)  (9 p.m. on Aug. 5, 12, 19, and 26 at Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park;parksidebuffalo.org)

Free Outdoor Family Movie Night and Kids Pajama Party at Green Acres Ice Cream

The Depew ice cream shop known as Green Acres offers some of the usual suspects this month—Inside Out on August 2, Kung-Fu Panda 3 on August 16, Norm of the North on August 23. But the highlight in my household is Hotel Transylvania 2 on August 16, since my daughter is obsessed with the Jell-O-like Blobby. Ice cream plus Blobby equals good times. (Movies start at dusk at 4357 Broadway, Depew;greenacresicecream.com)

Grand Island Movies in the Park

Perhaps you’re sick of hearing about Ghostbusters following the much-hyped July release of a new entry with a new cast. If not, then you’ll be excited to know the original film starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd screens at 11 p.m. on August 27 as part of the Grand Island Movies in the Park series. Ice Age: Meltdown starts off the night, at 9 p.m. (Town Commons, 2255 Baseline Rd., Grand Island; coreymcgowan.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics

Turner Classic Movies brings John Belushi back to the screen with a special presentation of National Lampoon’s Animal House on August 14 and 17. It starts with a specially produced intro from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, but the real draw is the film itself, an iconic classic that feels as funny today as it did upon release. Missing out on this one earns you a 0.0. Meanwhile, a very different bit of beloved cinema, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, returns on August 28 and 31 in honor of its sixtieth anniversary. (Animal House: 2 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 14 and 17; The King and I: 2 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 31; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Aurora Theatre Summer Family Film Series

The gorgeous and historic Aurora Theatre once again offers a summer of free family films. July featured the likes of Shrek and Paddington, while this month kids can watch The Lorax on August 3 and 6, and Night at the Museum on August 10 and 13.

11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays through August 13 at the Aurora Theatre, 673 Main St., East Aurora;theauroratheatre.com)

UB Undergraduate Student Association Summer Film Series

The University at Buffalo’s popular summer series started in June and has seen a nice selection of recent cinema, including Oscar winner The Revenant and the chilling sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane. The August lineup includes the acclaimed buddy comedy The Nice Guys (Aug. 1, 3 and 5); Captain America: Civil War (Aug. 8, 10, 12, and 28); X-Men: Apocalypse (Aug. 15, 17 and 19); Alice Through the Looking Glass (Aug. 22);Independence Day: Resurgence (Aug. 24 and 26); and Central Intelligence (Aug. 28). Locations for the free screenings are the Special Events Field adjacent to the Student Union and Greiner Hall on the North Campus, and the Hayes Hall lawn on the South Campus; check sa.buffalo.edu for specific locations for each date. (8:45 p.m.; check sa.buffalo.edu for locations, which vary between UB’s South and North campuses)

Buffalo Film Seminars

The latest season of Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian’s long-running film series starts with Ernst Lubitsch’s comedy Trouble in Paradise on August 30, and the rest of the fall semester features treats from the likes of Fellini, Welles, Ashby, De Palma, and Tarkovsky. (7 p.m. on August 30 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Transit Drive-In Retro Movie Tuesday

The Transit Drive-In’s retro lineup is the only one in WNY to feature Basic Instinct, so it’s earned my respect. August features Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (August 2); Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer (August 9); The Princess Bride and A Knight’s Tale (August 16); and the aforementioned Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction (August 30). The films for August 23 are TBA. Check transitdrivein.com for start times. (6655 S. Transit Rd., Lockport; transitdrivein.com)

Cultivate Cinema Circle

CCC’s summer season ends with King Hu’s newly restored wuxia favorite A Touch of Zen on August 4 andGasland director Josh Fox’s documentary In How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change on August 24. (Zen: 7 p.m. on August 4 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; Climate: 8 p.m. on August 24 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Flix Free Family Film Series

The popular free summer series at Flix is back again, and August features Rio 2 (August 6), Hotel Transylvania 2 (August 13), Curious George (August 20), and Minions (August 27). (10 a.m. Saturdays through August 27 at Flix Stadium 10, 4901 Transit Rd., Lancaster; dipsontheatres.com)

Robin Williams Films at the Riviera

The Riviera Theatre often has novel concepts for its film series, and this summer is especially interesting: a remembrance of the late Robin Williams. While his filmography is certainly checkered, there are numerous gems. July’s screenings included Hook and Dead Poets Society, while this month’s diverse list features Aladdin (11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 11); Good Morning Vietnam (7 p.m. on August 11); Jumanji (11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 18); and Good Will Hunting (7 p.m. on August 18). (67 Webster St., N.Tonawanda;rivieratheatre.org)

 

Also screening this month …

The Roycroft Film Society is in the mood for Mel, with Mel Brooks’s inspired 1976 comedy Silent Movie set to screen on August 13. It’s a unique choice from the filmmaker’s 1970s filmography, as it’s certainly less well known than the filmmaker’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein(8:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Free Family Movie Nights at Artpark features two of Pixar’s finest: Inside Out on August 15 and The Incredibles on August 22. (7:30 p.m. on August 15 and 22 at Artpark, 450 South 4th St., Lewiston; artpark.net)

Speaking of Pixar, this month’s free outdoor movie at Chestnut Ridge Park is Cars(8:15-10:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 at Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park; chestnutridgeconservancy.org)

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Thursday Film Series has a “summer camp” theme this month. The titles are TBA. (5-7:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, 11, 18, and 25 at the Central Library, 1 Lafayette Sq.; buffalolib.org)

July Coming Attractions: The dog days of summer are perfect for screenings

TCM_Apes_1600x960_R2-20087e3b

July is not over! Only half over. I neglected to post my June Buffalo Spree Coming Attractions column, but July is updated the web and ready for your enjoyment.

The summer film series lineup is now in full swing, and there’s no better place for us to start our look at what’s on tap this month than Canalside.

Tuesday Night Flix at Canalside

It’s hard to think of a lovelier spot to watch a film than at Canalside, so the return of the Catholic Health-sponsored free outdoor film series is cause for celebration. The series started on June 14 and continues into September, and July’s lineup is relatively varied, and generally family friendly: The animated mouse immigration saga (!) An American Tail on July 5, the first Pirates of the Caribbean entry on July 12, Pixar’sFinding Nemo on July 19, and last summer’s dino sequel Jurassic World on July 26. The fine folks from Young Audiences Western New York (YAWNY) will offer up a special craft for the kids on select nights. In July, these are set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. (pre-movie) on July 5, 19, and 26. Note that Adirondack chairs are available for the first hundred guests. So, yeah. It pays to arrive early. (8:30 p.m. on July 5, 12, 19, and 26 on Pierce Lawn at Canalside; canalsidebuffalo.com)

A Twist of Lemmon, starring Chris Lemmon

The Fredonia Opera House offers an intimate opportunity to learn about the late Jack Lemmon on July 15. TheSome Like It Hot star’s son Chris presents a live performance called A Twist of Lemmon that features stories about his father’s work, his relationships with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Walter Matthau, and songs from Hollywood’s golden age. It’s a unique presentation that also includes a Q-and-A. (7:30 p.m. on July 15 at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

Free Outdoor Movie at Chestnut Ridge Park

Chestnut Ridge played an important role in my young life, as a place to sled, run around, and play. I love that the Park continues to find new ways to draw in families, year-round. The latest example is a July 24 screening of Pixar’s The Incredibles. The witty superhero romp is as strong now as it was in 2004, and best of all? The screening is free. (9:15-11:30 p.m. on July 24 at Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park; chestnutridgeconservancy.org)

Films at the Library

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system offers up two unique series this summer. The first, appropriately titled “The Dog Days of Summer,” will feature only films about canines. I’m down with that, especially if this list does not include Jim Belushi’s K-9. (The lineup has not yet been announced.) Meanwhile, the Town of Collins Public Library has mounted a Shakespeare Film Fest, and has scheduled three diverse picks for July. First is Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren, on July 12. The Twelfth Night-inspired teen romp She’s the Man, starring the now-MIA Amanda Bynes, screens on July 19. And Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society remains a fine film about the impact of the Bard’s work, as well as a showcase for the dramatic talents of the late Robin Williams. It screens on July 26. (“Dog Days of Summer”: 5 p.m. on July 7, 14, 21, and 28 at the Central Library, 1 Lafayette Sq.; Shakespeare Film Fest: 6 p.m. on July 12, 19, and 26 at Town of Collins Public Library, 2341 Main St., Collins; buffalolib.org)

Free Outdoor Family Movie Night and Kids PajamaParty at Green Acres Ice Cream

Every Tuesday from July 5 to August 23, Depew’s Green Acres Ice Cream features a free family film. The schedule includes some of the biggest animated hits of the last year-plus: Minions on July 5, The Peanuts Movie on July 12, Zootopia on July 19, and The Good Dinosaur on July 26. (Movies start at dusk at 4357 Broadway, Depew; greenacresicecream.com)

Grand Island Movies in the Park

How does a free outdoor film series stand out in the busy WNY marketplace? The Grand Island Movies in the Park series pulls it off by pairing one for the kids and one for the teens. Pixar’s classic Finding Nemo screens at 9 p.m. on July 30, followed by Independence Day at 11 p.m. This is a clever double-bill, since sequels to both films were released on June 17 and June 24, respectively. (The series started on June 25 with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Marvel blockbuster Captain America: Winter Soldier.) (coreymcgowan.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics—Planet of the Apes

There have been seven—seven!—Planet of the Apes films since the iconic 1968 original, and the quality is spotty at best. But there is no denying the pleasures of that first film starring Charlton Heston. The ongoing Turner Classic Movies Big Screen Classics series presents the film this month, and twenty bucks says it’s as entertaining as any new film released in the month of July. (2 and 7 p.m. on July 24 and 27 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Silo City Blockbuster—Rocky III and Creed

queaky Wheel brings two films in the ongoing Rocky Balboa saga to Silo City for a very special (and free) double bill on the weekend preceding the Fourth of July. While the quality of Rocky III is debatable, the third chapter in the battle between Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa and Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed is certainly fun. (Mr. T!) Last year’s Creed, however, is undoubtedly great. The film about Creed’s son Adonis (the great Michael B. Jordan) and an aged Balboa is heartfelt and utterly crowd-pleasing. (Rocky III at 9 p.m., Creed at 11 p.m., at Silo City, 87 Childs St.; squeaky.org)

Roycroft Film Society—Phoenix

The Roycroft has scheduled one of the finest foreign films of recent years for its July screening. Director Christian Petzold’s post-World War II drama is the story of a concentration camp survivor’s attempt to reconnect with the (non-Jewish) husband who believes she is dead, and to learn whether he betrayed her to the Nazis. The performances from stars Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld are stunners, and the final scene will leave you breathless. (4 p.m. on July 10 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora;roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Bacchus Summer Film Series

The truly unique summer film series held on the back patio at downtown favorite Bacchus offers a typically varied July lineup—some Dude, some Amy Schumer, some Kung-Fu, some Pixar: The Jerk (July 6),Trainwreck (July 7), The Big Lebowski (July 13), Ghost (July 14), The Incredibles (July 17), Dazed and Confused (July 20), The Princess Bride (July 21), Drunken Master (July 22), The Breakfast Club (July 27), andKnocked Up (July 28). (Dusk at 56 W. Chippewa St.; bacchusbuffalo.com.)

Cultivate Cinema Circle

CCC’s summer season runs into September, and July features two fascinating documentaries. First, however, is one of the greatest and most important films of the 1960s: Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders. Featuring Godard’s then-wife Anna Karina, this French New Wave highlight is almost as influential as the filmmaker’s 1960 classic Breathless. Next is Doug Block’s The Kids Grow Up (July 21), an intimate portrait of his daughter featuring footage filmed throughout her adolescence. The month concludes with Do Not Resist, a sobering look at American police culture. (Outsiders: 7 p.m. July 7 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; Kids: 7 p.m. on July 21 at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; Resist: 8 p.m. on July 27 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Amherst Youth and Recreation Department 2016 Summer Movie Series

Little yellow things, feelings, glass slippers, and a very likable sheep make up the July Amherst Youth and Recreation list. The outdoor series features Minions on July 8, Inside Out on July 15, Cinderella on July 22, and Shaun the Sheep on July 29. (9 p.m. on July 8, 15, 22, and 29 at Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Rd., Williamsville; amherstyouthandrec.org)

The Screening Room

As usual, Amherst’s Screening Room is full of more treats than I can mention, so visit screeningroom.net for the full listing. Highlights include the Marilyn Monroe-starring, Niagara Falls-filmed (and set) thriller Niagara and the acclaimed Anthony Weiner-centered documentary Weiner on July 1 and 2. (Both films began their Screening Room runs in June.) Being AP, a documentary about horse-racing legend AP McCoy, screens on July 7. And July also features the Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy Silver Streak, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and a film noir double bill. The latter includes Edgar G. Ulmer’s deliciously nasty 1945 Tom Neal-starrer,Detour. It was notoriously shot in six days, and has more imagination than most blockbusters. (3131 Sheridan Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net)

 

Also screening this month …

Fathom Events has a number of screenings on tap at the at the Regal Elmwood Center and the Regal Transit Center. In addition to the aforementioned ApesThe Met: Live in HD presents La Bohème on July 13 and Così fan tutte on July 20, both at 7 p.m. And audiences can explore history, spirituality, architecture and art in St. Peter’s and the Papal Basilicas of Rome at 7 p.m. on July 14. Visit fathomevents.com for details.

The Dipson Amherst Theatre presents Rigoletto from the Opera de Paris at 11 a.m. on July 24 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre (3500 Main St.; dipsontheatres.com).

Artist/filmmaker Marshall Arisman presents his documentary A Postcard from Lily Dale at 7:30 p.m. on July 29 at the Fredonia Opera House (fredopera.org).

The Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls offers five free outdoor screenings on Fridays in July: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on July 1, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on July 8, The Breakfast Club on July 15,Grease on July 22, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on July 29. All films are shown in Seneca Square. (senecaniagaracasino.com)

From the May Spree: ‘One of WNY’s longest-running film fests returns, along with a twelve-hour (!) epic’

Out 1; courtesy of TIFF

Out 1; courtesy of TIFF

My Coming Attractions column in the May issue of Buffalo Spree promoted a Toronto showing of Jacques Rivette’s Out 1, but if you did not make it to TO, the 12-hour epic is now streaming on Netflix. On to the column …

If April was the prologue to the summer movie season, May is most certainly chapter one. While a number of winter and spring series are finishing up their runs, there are plenty of treats locally and north of the border. 

Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival: For more than three decades, the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival has brought unique, conversation-worthy cinema to Western New York. There are always gems to be found in the lineup of films, and 2016 is no exception. Opening film A La Vie tells the fascinating story of three women, all survivors of Auschwitz, reuniting fifteen years later, while the Montreal-set Felix and Meira earned director Maxime Giroux the award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Times vary, so check bijff.com for the full schedule. (May 6-12 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; bijff.com)

Buffalo Film Seminars/Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road at the Dipson Amherst Theatre: The final selection for the spring 2016 installment of the Buffalo Film Seminars, The Fisher King features one of Robin Williams’s finest performances, and is certainly one of director Terry Gilliam’s most audience-friendly efforts. It also stars a pre-Lebowski Jeff Bridges and, you may recall, earned actress Mercedes Ruehl an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. And as I mentioned last month, Dipson’s recent Wim Wenders retrospective concludes with the five-hour director’s cut of 1991’s Until the End of the World. That, friends, is the month’s must-see. (The Fisher King: 7 p.m. on May 3; Until the End of the World: 12:30 p.m. on May 1; at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

The History of Terrorism—No Country for Old Men: The Burchfield Penney Art Center’s “History of Terrorism” series has been a real treat, and it ends with one of the more satisfying Best Picture Oscar winners of the last decade: Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men. The brothers’ Cormac McCarthy adaptation is the brutal and uncompromising story of a drug deal gone awry in 1980s Texas. There have been few movie villains as legitimately fear-inducing as Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh, but watching No Country again will remind you that the entire cast was strong, especially Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones. (6:30 p.m. on May 5; 1300 Elmwood Ave.; burchfieldpenney.org)

Cultivate Cinema Circle: CCC offers up two unique treats this month. The Royal Road, a 2015 Sundance Film festival selection, is a documentary intriguingly described as a “cinematic essay in defense of remembering [that] offers up a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner.” Wow. Director Jenni Olson’s film sounds utterly fascinating, and ideal for the fab Cultivate Cinema Circle screening series. It’s set for May 26. Plus, Dziga Vertov’s experimental silent essential Man With a Movie Camera screens earlier in the month, on May 21. (Camera: 1 p.m. on May 21 at the Mason O. Damon Auditorium at Buffalo Central Library, 1 Lafayette Sq.; Road: 7 p.m. on May 26 at Dreamland Studio & Gallery, 387 Franklin St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics—Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Is John Hughes’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off truly a classic? Hard to say; it’s undoubtedly a cult classic, and celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. It’s certainly a fun pick for TCM’s ongoing series, and will feature specially produced commentary from Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. (2 and 7 p.m. on May 15 and 17 at Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Old Chestnut Film Society—The Rainmaker: Running strong since 1983, the Old Chestnut Film Society continues to program some of the greats of the twentieth century. Its current series featuring films starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn comes to a close on May 13 with The Rainmaker. Hepburn received an Oscar nomination for the 1956 drama costarring Burt Lancaster. (7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)

The Nitrate Picture Show: While year two of the George Eastman House’s festival of film conservation actually starts in April—April 29, to be exact—I think we can get away with including it here. What makes the fest so noteworthy is that it features vintage nitrate prints from the Eastman’s world-renowned collection. The three days also feature lectures and workshops. (April 29-May 1 at the at the George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave., Rochester; eastman.org/nps)

May at the TIFF Bell Lightbox: The month features the usual roster of classics (Fargo on May 12, Double Indemnity on May 15), unique events (the Next Wave Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase on May 9), and special appearances (author Cheryl Strayed reflects on the 2012 adaptation of her memoir, Wild, on May 9). But the highlight of May is, without question, two nights of the late Jacques Rivette’s 1971 epic Out 1. Now, this is going to take some stamina, since the full runtime is more than … twelve hours long. But spread out over May 21 and 22—episodes one through four the first night, five through eight the second—makes things seem a bit more manageable. Originally planned as a television miniseries, Out 1 was unavailable for much of the last forty years. But the unwieldy, multi-character, Balzac-inspired film underwent a digital restoration in 2015, and now ranks among cinema’s most fascinating rediscovered works. (All films at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., Toronto; tiff.net)

Fredonia Opera House: The Opera House’s ongoing cinema series takes a lighter turn this month. First up isEddie the Eagle, the uplifting (if sappy) story of British Olympic sensation Michael “Eddie” Edwards. The Taron Egerton-Hugh Jackman starrer screens on May 14 and 17. On May 21 and 24, catch the long-awaited My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. I’ve not seen it yet, but if you liked the first one … etc. Note that the latter film will also screen at Lockport’s Historic Palace Theatre on May 1 and 2. Check lockportpalacetheatre.org for showtimes.(7:30 p.m. at 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

North Park Theatre: One of the greatest films of all time screens at the North Park on May 8: Yasujiro Ozu’sLate Spring. Note that this is a restored version of the Japanese director’s 1949 stunner. Also scheduled this month is the recent anime film Harmony. It screens on May 17 and 18. As always, check northparktheatre.org for an updated schedule. (Spring: 11:30 a.m. on May 8; Harmony: 9:30 p.m. on May 17-18; 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)

The Screening Room: It’s nearly impossible to succinctly run down the May schedule at Amherst’s Screening Room, so visit screeningroom.net for the full listing. Highlights? The low-budget horror film Darling belongs at the top. This black-and-white homage to Polanski’s Repulsion first screened on April 29 and 30, and remains at the Screening Room for showings on May 3, 5, and 7. Ridley Scott’s iconic classic Alien is set for 7:30 p.m. on May 6, 7, 10, and 14. Local film The Butcher screens at 7 p.m. on May 15, while The Light Beneath Their Feet, starring Taryn Manning, makes its Buffalo premiere on May 20. It continues on May 21, 24, and 26. (Visit website for times for Darling and The Light.) (3131 Sheridan Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net)

Roycroft Film Society: One of last year’s most surprising Oscar nominations came in the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category. The Swedish hit The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared deserved the nom, but seeing the obscure film in the Oscar mix was still unexpected. The East Aurora-based Roycroft Film Society has chosen this adaptation of  Jonas Jonasson’s bestseller as its May presentation. (4 p.m. on March 13 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Also screening this month …

The Dipson Amherst Theatre presents the Paris Opera’s production of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust on the big screen. (11 a.m. on May 22; at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

Also screening at the Amherst Theatre is the National Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It(noon on May 15; at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)

Note that Toronto’s Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, continues through May 8. The popular festival started on April 28. One of the highlights is Off the Rails, a documentary directed by Adam Irving. The film introduces us to Darius McCollum, “a man with Asperger’s syndrome whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail some thirty times for impersonating New York City bus drivers and subway conductors and driving their routes.” That’s a fascinating description. Rails makes its international premiere at Hot Docs on May 4. Learn more about the film at  offtherailsmovie.com(schedule TBA; hotdocs.ca)

The twenty-sixth annual Toronto LGBT Film Festival is an eleven-day fest featuring more than 200 films and videos. That’s an impressive number. (May 26-June 5; details TBA; insideout.ca/initiatives/Toronto)

After the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival comes to an end, hit the QEW for the final days of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. (May 5-15; tjff.com)

Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea came and went without much enthusiasm last December, and while it’s nothing special, this tale of the 1820 sinking that inspired Moby Dick is worth a viewing. The Town of Collins Public Library will show the film at 1 p.m. on May 6. (2341 Main St., Collins; buffalolib.org)

From the April Spree: BNFF, Brando, Brazil, Holzman, and Hot Docs

TIFF Kids International Film Festival; PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFF

TIFF Kids International Film Festival; PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFF

I just realized my Coming Attractions column in the May Buffalo Spree will be posted on BuffaloSpree.com in a few days, and I’ve not posted my April column. There are still a few days left this month to enjoy these screenings, so take a look.

April was once considered a quiet time before the summer movie season, but it’s now the launch pad for dull fare like Fast Five and Captain America: Winter Solider. This year is no exception, with Disney’s live-action Jungle Book and a ho-hum quasi-sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman set to drop. Happily, it’s also busy with cinema series, screenings, and even film festivals, in WNY and beyond.

Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival (BNFF): 

Local festivals come and go, but Bill Cowell’s Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival—along with its eclectic approach—is a survivor. This year, there are over 100 features, documentaries, and shorts from Western New York and around the world, as well as workshops, a comic-con day, and a fallen soldier commemoration featuring portraits by Kaziah Hancock. Special premieres include Stanley Isaacs’ new documentary, It’s Always About the Story: Conversations With Alan Ladd Jr. (producer of BraveheartThe Man in the Iron Mask, and Gone Baby Gone) and a twenty-year reunion premiere of Larry Bishop’s Mad Dog Time(starring Diane Lane, Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Gabriel Byrne, Billy Idol, Rob Reiner, among others).

April 1–2 at Barton Hill Hotel & Spa, Lewiston; April 13–17 at the Tonawanda Castle (check thebnff.com or call 693-0912 for times and information)

Kid-Friendly Classic Film Series: Dipson Theatres began its family film series in February with a heavyweight (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), and starts April with two underrated gems, A Little Princess (Apr. 2) and The Iron Giant (Apr. 9). Two more high-profile affairs follow in Shrek (Apr. 16) and School of Rock (Apr. 23), and the month finishes with Wes Anderson’s delightful Roald Dahl adaptation, Fantastic Mr. Fox (Apr. 30). While some might quibble with the “classic” label on a few of these (Rango and The Lorax are classics?), it’s an affordable—just $4—Saturday morning option.

10 a.m. at the Dipson Eastern Hills Cinema, 4545 Transit Rd., Williamsville; dipsontheatres.com 

Kaleidotropes—David Holzman’s Diary: My days as a media study major at the University at Buffalo opened up to me an entire world of film (and video) art, and few of these made a greater impact on me than David Holzman’s Diary. Jim McBride’s 1967 satirical mockumentary still packs a dark comic punch. Diary is a perfect pick for Squeaky Wheel’s fab Kaleidotropes series.

7 p.m. on Apr. 27 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center, 617 Main St.; squeaky.org

Buffalo Film Seminars: Is this the best month in Buffalo Film Seminars history? It’s possible. The opportunity to see Spike Lee’s epic Malcolm X (Apr. 5), the stunning Waltz With Bashir (Apr. 19), and Michael Haneke’s devastating Amour (Apr. 26) in the company of Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian is hard to pass up. But the real treat is Beau Travail (Apr. 12), an adaptation of Melville’s Billy Budd from the great Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum, Bastards). A tale of sexual repression among soldiers in the French Foreign Legion, Beau Travail features one of the great endings in cinema history, actor Denis Lavant’s solo dance to Eurodance thumper “Rhythm of the Night.” The discussion after this one should be fascinating.

7 p.m. at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html

Burchfield Penney Art Center: BPAC’s ambitious (and free) “History of Terrorism” banner begins April with one of the best of 2002, Fernando Meirelles’s City of God (Apr. 7). It’s a brutal, unforgettable film that interweaves several stories involving organized crime among young gangs in 1970s Brazil. Netflix drama Narcos and 2010 Mexican drama El Infierno follow on Apr. 21 and 28, respectively. Plus, this month the Beyond Boundaries: Dare to be Diverse Film Series features Up Heartbreak Hill (Apr. 14), a documentary about one year in the lives of three Native American teens.

6:30 p.m.; 1300 Elmwood Ave.; burchfieldpenney.org

TCM Big Screen Classics—On the Waterfront: The Marlon Brando documentary Listen to Me Marlon was one of 2015’s most acclaimed. Watch it, and then experience his still-stunning performance as dockworker Terry Malloy as Turner Classic Movies presents Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront.

2 and 7 p.m. on Apr. 24 and 27 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com

TIFF Kids International Film Festival: The annual Toronto International Film Festival is a cinephile must each September, and the TIFF Kids International Film Festival is a fun offshoot. Last year, the fest featured greats like When Marnie Was There and Shaun the Sheep; check tiff.net for upcoming news on the nineteenth annual installment.

Apr. 8-24; details TBA; tiff.net

Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road: While April sees a number of real gems gracing WNY screens, I don’t think anything tops the Wim Wenders retrospective hitting the Dipson Amherst Theatre. The prolific German filmmaker has been creating fascinating films since the seventies, and this four-film series features several of his most important works. Starting with 1976’s Kings of the Road (7 p.m., Apr. 7), the series continues with the great Harry Dean Stanton-starrer Paris, Texas (7 p.m., Apr. 14) and the gorgeous Wings of Desire (7 p.m., Apr. 21). The final screening is downright newsworthy. The five-hour director’s cut of 1991’s Until the End of the World (12:30 p.m., May 1) has been rarely seen, and is considered a drastic improvement over the 158-version released to theaters. In any form, World is one of his most ambitious efforts, but the director’s cut of this a globe-trotting tale set in 1999 is a cinephile must-see.

Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com

Cultivate Cinema Circle: The spring season for the Cultivate Cinema Circle series features some real gems, including Jacques Demy’s perfect 1967 musical The Young Girls of Rochefort and Werner Herzog’s latest documentary. On April 16, the series features director Brandon Loper’s “love letter to, and meditation on, specialty coffee,” A Film About Coffee. The free screening is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Mason O. Damon Auditorium at the Buffalo Central Library. It’s the first film of CCC’s Public Espresso-themed trilogy about coffee and Constructivism. Next up is I Am Belfast, at 9:30 p.m. on April 28 at the North Park Theatre. Tickets for Mark Cousins’ film about Northern Ireland’s capital are $9.50. Note that the film was shot by frequent Wong Kar-wai cinematographer Christopher Doyle. That means Belfast is most certainly a visual stunner.

cultivatecinemacircle.com

North Park Theatre: Leave it to the North Park to find new ways to top itself. One of the theater’s delights is its ongoing Family Matinee Series, and the films of Hayao Miyazaki (director of animated classics My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away) have been highlights. One of the Studio Ghibli legend’s strangest and most fascinating efforts, Porco Rosso, screens at 11:30 a.m. on April 2 and 3. Yes, the film is centered on an anthropomorphic pig. But this is Miyazaki, so the results are unimaginably glorious. And at 7 p.m. on April 22 the North Park hosts the world premiere of The American Side, the Buffalo- and Niagara Falls-shot film directed by Jenna Ricker. (She co-wrote Side with Greg Stuhr.) It stars Matthew Broderick, Janeane Garofalo, and Robert Forster.

1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org

The Screening Room: It’s a month of pleasures at Amherst’s Screening Room, and it all starts with The Fly—the original, from 1958—at 7:30 p.m. on April 1, 2, 3, and 5. Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder is set for 7:30 p.m. on April 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, and 16. Back to the Future recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, and screens at 7:30 p.m. on April 13 and 17. Also this month is some horror, featuring the local film Johnny Revolting vs. the Undead, at 5 p.m. on April 3; some zaniness, with Don Knotts and Tim Conway in The Private Eyes on April 23, 26, and 29; and director from Stratford, some Shakespeare, with Hamlet screening on April 28 and 30.

3131 Sheridan Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net

Riviera Theatre: There’s something for everyone—literally—at the Riviera in April. First is the wonderful seventh film in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens at 8 p.m. on April 1. The beloved (by some) Bette Midler tearjerker Beaches is next, at 7:30 p.m. on April 14. The Riviera’s Family Film Series presents The Land Before Time on April 17 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on April 24. Both films screen at 2 p.m. Lastly, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is set for 7:30 p.m. on April 28.

67 Webster St., N.Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org

Also screening this month …

  • The Shea’s Free Family Film Series presents 2003’s handsome, unjustly forgotten Peter Pan, starring Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook. (2 p.m. at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.; sheas.org)
  • The Roycroft Film Society screens Bong Joon-ho’s dark South Korean drama Mother. (4 p.m. on Apr. 10 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)
  • The Dipson Amherst Theatre presents the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Don Quixote and the Royal Opera House’s production of Puccini’s Tosca on the big screen. (Quixote: 12:55 p.m. on Apr. 10; Tosca: 11 a.m. on Apr. 24; at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)
  • Toronto’s Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival. (Apr. 28-May 8; details TBA;hotdocs.ca)
  • The Rochester International Film Festival features short films from around the world. (Apr. 14-16 at the Dryden Theatre, George Eastman House International Museum of Film and Photography, Rochester;rochesterfilmfest.org)

New to Buffalo Spree: My monthly ‘Coming Attractions’ column

REBELS WITH A CAUSE POSTER COURTESY OF KELLY+YAMAMOTO; CULTIVATE CINEMA CIRCLE POSTER FOR A GOOD AMERICAN DESIGNED BY JARED MOBARAK

REBELS WITH A CAUSE POSTER COURTESY OF KELLY+YAMAMOTO; CULTIVATE CINEMA CIRCLE POSTER FOR A GOOD AMERICAN DESIGNED BY JARED MOBARAK

I recently started writing a column about upcoming screenings for Buffalo Spree, with the March issue serving as the official kick-off for “Coming Attractions.” Each month, the column will appear in print and as an updated version on the Spree website. Here’s the debut.

This month marks the debut of my new column in Spree, a brief roundup of upcoming local film screenings and cinema-related events. Expect to see a diverse selection of classics, recent blockbusters, experimental works, and documentaries gracing screens in Buffalo and (slightly) beyond. 

Stay tuned for more fun in the months to come. Now on to our feature presentation. (And an end to this month’s film puns.) 

Buffalo Film Seminars: It’s hard to argue against the “classic” status of every selection in this spring’s installment of the Buffalo Film Seminars. And March might be the finest month yet for the long-running screening/discussion hosted by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian. The lineup includes Sergio Leone’s epic western Once Upon a Time in the West (March 1), William Friedkin’s tough-as-nails Oscar winner The French Connection (March 8), Martin Scorsese’s Jake LaMotta biography, Raging Bull (March 22), and Akira Kurosawa’s late-life masterpiece Ran (March 29). Don’t pass up the opportunity to see the latter two on the big-screen, especially. (7 p.m. at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Cultivate Cinema Circle: In less than one year, the Cultivate Cinema Circle screening series has shared films from greats like Terrence Malick, Jean-Luc Godard, and Agnès Varda. The series has also brought newer films to town for the first time. March features two examples, both free and open to the public. Petra Costa and Lea Glob’s Olmo and the Seagull (March 1), the existential study of an actress in the late stages of pregnancy, is cosponsored by the Women & Gender Studies Program at Canisius. And Friedrich Moser’s A Good American(March 16) is the gripping true story of codebreaker Bill Binney. (Olmo: 8 p.m. on March 1 at the Canisius College Science Hall, 2001 Main St.; American: 8 p.m. on March 16 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.;cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Roycroft Film Society: The East Aurora-based Roycroft Film Society follows up two stunners—the heartbreaking Timbuktu and Jim Jarmusch’s vampire daydream Only Lovers Left Alive—with a unique documentary. Rebels With a Cause is a David-and-Goliath tale, the story of a group of citizen activists intent on preserving open spaces near urban areas. Frances McDormand narrates the film, which shows how these dedicated individuals took on big industry and government. (4 p.m. on March 13 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Avenue, East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Burchfield Penney Art Center: BPAC has embarked on an ambitious series of films under the “History of Terrorism” banner. This month starts with The Mumbai Massacre (March 3, time TBA), a documentary about the 2008 terror attack that grabbed the world’s attention. Next is Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (7 p.m. on March 10), the Jessica Chastain-starring chronicle of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Also screening is the documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez (7 p.m. on March 17), part of the Beyond Boundaries: Dare to Be Diverse Film Series. (1300 Elmwood Ave.; burchfieldpenney.org)

TCM Big Screen ClassicsThe Ten Commandments: Celebrate sixty years of Edward G. Robinson’s most absurdly miscast role as Turner Classic Movies presents The Ten Commandments. (2 and 7 p.m. on March 20 and 23 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Avenue, and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Road, Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

North Park Theatre: The North Park’s family matinee series offers some wildly diverse films this month: the still-funny Mike Myers comedy Wayne’s World on March 5 and 6; Monster Hunt, China’s second highest-grossing film of all time, on March 12 and 13; and the local premiere of a new family film called Against the Wild: Survive the Serengeti on March 19 and 20. Star Trek: Voyager’s Jeri Ryan stars in the latter. The family matinee films all start at 11:30 a.m. And one of the most controversial—since it beat Saving Private Ryan—Best Picture Oscar winners of the late-90s screens at 7 p.m. on March 7: the wildly entertaining Shakespeare in Love is presented by the UB English Department. (1428 Hertel Ave. ; northparktheatre.org)

The Screening Room: The March calendar for Amherst’s Screening Room is so vast that, quite honestly, I could not include it here. So make sure to visit screeningroom.net for the full rundown. Rob Reiner’s much-loved (although not by me) The Princess Bride screens at 7:30 p.m. on March 1, 4, and 5. The wonderfully titled locally-made film Dick Johnson & Tommygun vs. The Cannibal Cop hits the Room at 7:30 p.m. on March 3. And the anime film Kizumonogatari Part I: Tekketsu makes its Buffalo premiere at 9:30 p.m. on March 4. It also screens at 4 p.m. on March 5 and 6 p.m. on March 8 and 10. There is plenty more to come this month, including a documentary about Swept Away director Lina Wertmüller, cult favorite Donnie Darko, the late David Bowie in Labyrinth, and the Noam Chomsky doc Requiem for the American Dream(3131 Sheridan Dr., Amherst; screeningroom.net)

Fredonia Opera House: The Opera House’s ongoing cinema series offers three unique films this month. The Oscar-nominated Brooklyn, featuring a superb performance from Saoirse Ronan, screens on March 5 and 8, while Maggie Smith leads the cast of The Lady in the Van on March 12 and 15. Finally, Joel and Ethan Coen’s already underrated 2016 release Hail, Caesar! is showing on March 19 and 22. (7:30 p.m. at 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center: A new film from Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) is always news in cinema, and his latest, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, is his most high-profile effort in years. The fascinating story of Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s (Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky) experience shooting a film in Mexico is coming to Hallwalls for three screenings: 7:30 p.m. on March 1, 3, and 8. Also this month, filmmakers Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat will appear in person to present their documentary Speculation Nation, about the devastation of the global financial crisis in Spain. It screens at 7 p.m. on March 17. (341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org)

Historic Palace Theatre: This month sees the aforementioned Brooklyn at Lockport’s Palace Theatre on March 1, 2, and 3. Animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3 takes over from March 4 through 10, and Disney’sZootopia screens from March 18 to 31. (Times vary; see lockportpalacetheatre.org.) Lastly, the very odd but often cute Easter-themed film Hop shows at 10 a.m. on March 26. The day also includes a visit with the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg hunt. (2 East Ave., Lockport; lockportpalacetheatre.org)

Next month features one of the finest and most difficult to find films of the last two decades, Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. See you then.

Harvey Weinstein and the birth of Miramax Films: From the April 2015 Buffalo Spree

harvey_weinstein_hi_res-86a83785

I wrote this piece on Harvey Weinstein for the April Spree, and in a wonderfully unexpected surprise, I received an email from Harvey himself, complimenting the piece. VERY unexpected.

“Our outsider status is very important to us,” Miramax Films founder and indie heavyweight Harvey Weinstein told New York Magazine in 1998, referring to himself and brother Bob. “It keeps us human, normal.”

It is fitting, then, that Miramax, the company that revolutionized and transformed independent cinema, began life not in Los Angeles or New York, but in the human, normal city that is Buffalo. How “outside” was Miramax? Its first home was a hockey arena. (The dearly departed Memorial Auditorium, to be exact.) Harvey—one of the few behind-the-scenes figures in moviedom who is on a first-name basis with the world at large—infamously attended the University at Buffalo from 1969 through 1973. Stories from the time period that followed—first came the concert promotion business called Harvey and Corky Productions (cofounded with “Corky” Burger), followed in 1979 by the birth of Miramax—have taken on mythic status. Yes, Harvey Weinstein lived and walked the streets of Buffalo during his man-who-would-be-king days.

Writes Peter Biskind in 2004’s Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, “Across the country in Buffalo, two frizzy-haired, unprepossessing brothers from Queens named Weinstein … were preparing to move their tiny film company, Miramax, named after their parents, Miriam and Max, down to New York City where the action was. … In the late 1970s, Harvey Weinstein had acquired the Century Theater in downtown Buffalo, and to keep the seats warm when it was not being used for concerts, he and Bobby, as his brother was then known, began showing movies.” They were “bottom-feeders,” writes Biskind, of the soft-core flicks and concert films. In 1981, they even put together a slasher film of their own.The Burning, produced by Harvey and cowritten by Bob, was a modest success. (More on The Burning later.)

From these inauspicious beginnings came (take a deep breath) My Left Foot, Paris is Burning, Truth or Dare, The Double Life of Veronique, Delicatessen, Reservoir Dogs, The Crying Game, Strictly Ballroom, The Piano, The Three Colors Trilogy, The Crow, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, Heavenly Creatures, Bullets Over Broadway, Exotica, Priest, Il Postino, Kids, Chunking Express, Dead Man, Trainspotting, Swingers, Sling Blade, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, Life is Beautiful, Velvet Goldmine, Shakespeare in Love, The Lovers on the Bridge, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Amélie, In the Bedroom, Gangs of New York, Chicago, City of God, The Hours, The Station Agent, Kill Bill, The Aviator, and so many more.

These are not all classic films, and many suffered at the hands of recut-mad “Harvey Scissorhands.” (Here’s looking at you, 54.) But they are all of great importance in the history of modern cinema, and independent cinema specifically. These culture-defining works can trace their lineage, in some ways, back to Buffalo.

This is no great revelation; tales of Harvey in the Queen City are oft told, and Weinstein mentions his Buffalo era with great fondness and startling frequency. (The first paragraph of a Harvey-authored guest column for Variety after January’s Charlie Hebdo tragedy saw the mogul remembering his love of “Tom Toles’ cartoons from the Buffalo News (I went to school in Buffalo).”)

But the long-term effects of this knowledge—that the Harvey Weinstein was here, in Buffalo—cannot be overstated. When Harvey gave a lecture at UB in September 2000 on the occasion of his receiving a SUNY Doctorate of Humane Letters, the Center for the Arts was mobbed with film-crazed students like myself. I was one of the many Media Study majors whose life was changed (or seemed to be changed at the time) by Pulp Fiction. Some had scripts in hand, and the looks on their faces when Harvey referenced the legal issues that prevented him from accepting unsolicited screenplays was priceless. Even so, for those who went on to a career in the entertainment world, the thought of Harvey stomping down Main Street was both reassuring and a tad absurd. It would be like a kid in Wheatfield hearing that Wayne Gretzky got his started playing hockey at Sabreland. (I’m dating myself with that one.)

Harvey and Bob were famously ousted by then-Miramax owners Disney in 2005. The Miramax of the present is untouched by the hands of Harvey, who instead runs the successful Weinstein Company, a studio whose recent slate included The Immigrant, Begin Again, St. Vincent, The Imitation Game, and the delightful family film Paddington, among others. Harvey himself is as powerful, feared, and cunning as ever before. So it is quite interesting to return to The Burning, the Weinstein brothers’ Friday the 13th rip-off. It’s a fun, lovably gory thing, notable for featuring the pre-fame likes of Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter. But what I found most intriguing was the scenery, as the film was shot in North Tonawanda and Buffalo. After thank yous to the Statler Hotel, Mickey Rats, and Dial Cleaners, the final words of the end credits (not counting the copyright info) are as follows: “FILMED IN WESTERN NEW YORK.”

I like to think that the Harvey and Bob Weinstein of 2015, while born in Queens, were formed in Western New York. And I think Harvey, the human, normal outsider who made Hollywood bow to his wishes, would agree.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

 

The power of Marilyn—and the Falls: An excerpt from Buffalo Spree’s April issue

MM_Niagara_Poster

One of the many faces on the cover of Buffalo Spree’s film issue is Marilyn Monroe, who famously starred in 1953’s Niagara. As I write in the issue (and below), it’s an odd picture, but certainly an interesting one.

“Marilyn Monroe and Niagara—a raging torrent of emotion that even nature can’t control!” So screamed the poster for 1953’s Niagara, an enjoyably stodgy film that is, of course, particularly captivating to Western New Yorkers. This Technicolor thriller—dig that red satin dress!—was shot in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and watching it today one is touched by its aesthetic beauty, its importance in cinema history, and its sheer oddness.

This is a stodgy, rather silly little thing redeemed by Monroe’s smoldering performance. In her book The Marilyn Scandal, author Sandra Shevey refers to “the scenes with her lover (filmed in long shot) of their rendezvous in the bowels of the falls—those amazingly torrential downpourings as backdrops—are some of the most erotic scenes ever filmed. … It was in Niagara that Monroe really discovered where she was going and how to get there.”

It is downright shocking how little screentime Monroe actually has; the star of the movie is really the soon-to-be Mrs. Howard Hughes, Jean Peters. But it is Marilyn who fascinates, whether she is staring down her wet-blanket husband (Joseph Cotton) or contemplating how to cross back into the States. This era, of course, is when Niagara Falls was really Niagara Falls, “Wonder of the World.” This combination, of the Falls and Marilyn, still intrigues. Even the suite the actress stayed in, room 801 at the Crowne Plaza, draws curious visitors.

It is entirely possible that no film shot in or near Buffalo has had a greater impact. It might not be very, well, good, but there is no doubting Niagara’s significance.