MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2023
BONES OF CROWS
The screening of this film is timed as closely as possible with, and to honour, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day which both take place on September 30th to commemorate the painful history and ongoing impact of residential schools on indigenous people in Canada. (See the original film here to compare with the CBC limited series coming soon.)
Marie Clements’ historical epic about the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears spans 100 years and is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples and a stirring story of extraordinary resilience and resistance. Born in the 1920s into a large, happy family, Aline Spears (played at different ages by Summer Testawich, Grace Dove, and Carla Rae) and her siblings are forcibly removed from their home — through threats and extortion by church and local authorities — and sent to residential schools, where they are subjected to cruelties at the hands of the priests and nuns in charge.
Haunted by the crimes committed against her and her family, she endures years of anguish before she finally has the chance to confront her abusers. Fearless in its denunciation of centuries of oppression by Canadian governments and institutions, Bones of Crows is also a memorable paean to the determination of residential school survivors — especially those who, like Aline, sought to bring these genocidal crimes to light.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2023
(See the original movie before the CBC series to see which you like better!) In the late ’90s, Research In Motion was just a humble tech outfit selling modems in Waterloo, Ontario. Best friends and co-founders Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) — a soft-spoken tech whiz who’s the brains of the operation — and Douglas Fregin (Matt Johnson) — a headband-donning, nerve-grating goof — are trying to sell a product they call PocketLink, a never-before-seen combination of cellphone, email device, and pager. The telecom world isn’t impressed with Mike and Doug’s invention, but a domineering, foul-mouthed salesman named Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) is. Jim sees the device’s potential and brokers a deal to acquire part of RIM in exchange for cash and business expertise. What follows is the gut-wrenching and side-splitting story of the meteoric rise and catastrophic fall of the world’s first handheld computer. BlackBerry is a Canadian story told with tremendous national pride by Canadian talent. The three visionaries at the centre of this tale, despite their device’s ultimate descent into obsolescence, changed the way the world communicates today.
Synopsis: A romance sparks between a young actor and a Hollywood leading lady.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2023
ARE YOU THERE GOD?
IT'S ME MARGARET.
When Margaret’s family relocates from the city to the suburbs, she not only has to contend with a new life, but also new friends and the new changes to her body that come with the beginning of adolescence. Based on the bestselling novel from Judy Blume, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, this film adaptation tells the seemingly universal story of what it means to grow up and find out who you are and what you believe in. Poised as one of the best coming-of-age book adaptations to date (with a Rotten Tomato score of 99%), Margaret is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Coming from a half-Jewish and half-Christian family, yet raised atheist, Margaret starts asking her father and mother (Rachel McAdams) about these big existential questions. Questioning her faith and identity, she visits her grandma (Kathy Bates) and attends Temple, but that doesn’t quite fit. One of her friends takes her to Church, but that doesn’t feel right either. While it seems like every other kid has their identity figured out, Margaret feels stuck in the middle, unable to grow up until she answers these questions definitively. Not only will fans of the now 50-year old book find this adaptation faithful, but it will also speak to today’s adolescents who will see themselves accurately depicted on screen.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2023
Two deeply connected childhood friends, Nora and Hae Sung, fatefully reunite in New York City after being wrested apart 20 years ago, in this decades-spanning romance from writer-director Celine Song.
The story begins in South Korea, where 12-year-old Nora is preparing to emigrate with her family to Canada. But she is leaving someone dear behind: Hae Sung, her closest friend. Twelve years later, Nora (Greta Lee) has relocated from Toronto to New York to pursue her dreams of being a playwright. Eventually, with the help of the internet, Nora finds Hae Sung and rekindles their friendship over Skype. But with 6,000 miles persistently separating them, they lose their connection again, as they once did as children.
More time passes, and the two friends — now in their 30s — reunite in person in New York. By this time, Nora is married to a writer named Arthur (John Magaro) and Hae Sung is newly out of a long-term relationship. Nora shows Hae Sung the city as they elegantly dance around their past and the fated nature of their relationship. The ties between two people over the course of their lives is expressed beautifully and succinctly in a single Korean word: in-yeon. Past Lives is a delicately layered triptych that confronts destiny, love, and the choices that shape a life. Song’s graceful romance is about the acceptance of loss that becomes a defining part of adulthood. In Enlish and Korean (some subtitles).
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2023
YOU HURT MY FEELINGS
A novelist's longstanding marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book. Starring the brilliant, and often very funny, Julia Louis-Dreyfus the films deals with the depths of relationships and how seemingly strong foundations can be partly or fully fractured for the simplest of reasons.
Writer-professor Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her husband Don (Tobias Menzies), a therapist, are as copacetic as can be even after decades of marriage -- still passionate, still sharing a single ice cream cone (to the disgust of their son), and still supporting each other professionally. Beth has a reasonably well-received memoir under her belt as well as a teaching gig at the New School, but is struggling to get her first novel published. Don, despite feeling his age and mixing up his patients’ issues in sessions, has supported and praised Beth’s latest work, draft after draft.
But one day, the unimaginable happens when Beth overhears a conversation in which he confides that he just doesn’t think her new project is very good. You Hurt My Feelings is a story about moderately happy people who are pretty good at holding everything together until they come face to face with the truth. Holofcener nimbly explores the limits of honesty and whether the piety of positivity is really all it’s cracked up to be.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2023
Jules follows Milton (Ben Kingsley) who lives a quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town but finds his day upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard. Before long, Milton develops a close relationship with the extra-terrestrial he calls "Jules." Things become complicated when two neighbors (Harriet Sansom Harris and Jane Curtin) discover Jules and the government quickly closes in. What follows is a funny, wildly inventive ride as the three neighbors find meaning and connection later in life - thanks to this unlikely stranger. Ben Kingsley’s quietly powerful performance drives this slight yet affecting crowd-pleaser from director Marc Turtletaub that puts a lighthearted science-fiction twist on its exploration of aging, mortality, regret, and loneliness.
The film effectively blends quirky humor with an underlying message about appreciating our seniors into a silly yet warm-hearted package. A modern day E.T. with a feel good story, just right for the Christmas season.