In a slow week for blockbusters between the release of epic franchises like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, here are some smaller critically-acclaimed films playing in Ottawa for those seeking a change of pace:
M*A*S*H, December 3
If you caught Altman, the documentary of the legendary American director which played at the Bytowne Cinema, you were probably nostaglic for the classic Altman films. Fortunately, few are better than his directorial debut from 1970, M*A*S*H. Starring Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt and Elliott Gould, this classic black comedy set during the Korean War spun off an iconic television series and inspired a generation of filmmakers and writers.
The Theory of Everything, December 3-4
The Theory of Everything is a biographical film which traces the story of Stephen and Jane Hawking. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones team up in this story of intellectual genius, physical frailty, and enduring respect, affection, and love. Redmayne embodies Hawking impressively and will garner much award attention as well.
Rosewater, December 3-11
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.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, December 4-5
This Swedish film, based on the 2009 debut novel of Jonas Jonasson, tells the story of a centenarian who decides to walk out on his old folks’ home, but shortly into his wandering, he is asked by a skinhead to hold a case. The case belongs to a gangster and the black comedy unfolds thusly. The main character Allan Karlsson narrates the film and brings memories of his long and adventurous existence to life. The film features a variety of languages being spoken but is subtitled in English.
Force Majeure, December 5-16
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.
Nightcrawler, December 7-9
Jake Gyllenhaal stars a the titular “nightcrawler,” a photographer profiting from tragedy and pain as he takes up a living as an ambulance-chasing freelancer. The movie is dark and Gyllenhaal’s Louis is deeply creepy and off-putting, but it is not without laughs and well-deserved swipes at media culture, modern-day journalism, and selfish gains off the pain of others. Following a long career as a writer, Dan Gilroy delivers an accomplished turn as a novice director with Nightcrawler.