#Chicagogirl: The Social Network Takes On A Dictator, December 10
This documentary feature is being screened free this evening at Bytowne Cinema. The evening is presented courtesy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in commemoration of International Human Rights day. #Chicagogirl documents how Chicagoan teenager Ala’a Basatneh used social media to co-ordinate and protect Syrian protestors as revolted against oppressive President Bashar Al-Assad. Basatneh and her compatriots used social media to circumvent the Syrian media blackout and preserve the power of communication.
Rosewater, December 10-11
Jon Stewart’s directorial debut is Rosewater, based on the true story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian journalist. With the screenplay also written by Stewart, Rosewater tells the tale of Bahari’s imprisonment and the psychological torment he endures. Bahari is well played by Gael García Bernal in a demanding role. The film tackles big themes, including imprisonment, freedom of the press, and international politics, and Stewart handles his role as rookie writer and director admirably.
Force Majeure, December 10-16
Known as Turist in its native Sweden, Force Majeure is the second Swedish film featured this week. In fact, Force Majeure is the official Swedish submission for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film recounts the terrifying fright of an oncoming avalanche during a family ski vacation; except the avalanche is nothing more than a small dusting, and the characters must grapple with confronting death that never came. The movie is humourous and tackles death, family life, and parenthood with a satirical but deep perspective.
Heartbeat, December 12-15
In this Canadian comedy-drama from director Andrea Dorfman, a 20-something Halifax woman stuck in romantic and professional ruts rekindles her passion for life through music. Stage fright had pulled her away from the art, but she conquers her fears and returns to her musical roots. Justine Starring poet and singer-songwriter Tanya Davis in her first starring role, Heartbeat is charming, funny, and beautifully presented.
Rome, Open City, December 12-16
For lovers of classic film, this 1945 Roberto Rosselini neorealist work has been restored and reissued. With a shooting period that overlapped Nazi occupation of Rome and the later Liberation, Rosselini overcame many practical challenges and emerged with a masterpiece. Rome, Open City tells the tale of the chaos in Rome that preceded the Nazi fall and the strength of the leftist resistance. Rome, Open City is argued to have “pulled movies out of the studios and into the streets,” and is a picture of “unrivaled immediacy and passion.”
St. Vincent, December 16-18
St. Vincent is being praised for remarkable performances from its ensemble cast. Bill Murray, as retired curmudgeon is the central figure, but Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris O’Dowd turn in comedic and heartfelt performances. The central relationship is between Vincent, played by Murray, and a neighbour boy he begins to babysit to pay off gambling debts. Vincent shows young Oliver the ways of the world – strip clubs, race tracks, dive bars. A friendship blossoms as Vincent helps Oliver grow into a man and the young boy sees his companion as “a misunderstood man with a good heart.”