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Monday, May 7, 2018

May Film Club

Hey everybody!

I hope everyone is enjoying this (FINALLY) nice weather we're having, I know I am.  Thank you to everyone who made it out to see Dark City last month and for your patience with the date change.  And as always, thank you to everyone who brought food to share!

For the month of May, I've decided to go with something of an easy pick because summer is coming up and we'll be having a whole series of films that I'm still kind of working on so, for the sake of convenience we will be watching Rian Johnson's addition to the Star Wars universe, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.  Also, since Star Wars day was just last Friday (May the 4th), and just about all Star Wars films (except the new ones) have been released in May, that's what we're going with.

I hate to do this to you all, but we will be meeting at 6:00pm instead of 6:15.  The movie is 152 minutes so we'll need that extra time.
We will be meeting Thursday, May 17th at 6:00pm.

Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi is a 2017 American space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson.  It is the second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the eighth main installment of the Star Wars franchise, following Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens.  The ensemble cast includes Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels and Gwendoline Christie in returning roles, with Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro joining the cast.  The film features the final film performance by Fisher, who died in December 2016, and it is dedicated to her memory.  The plot follows Rey as she receives Jedi training from Luke Skywalker, in hope of turning the tide for the Resistance in the fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order, while Gerneral Leia, Finn, and Poe Dameron attempt to escape a First Order attack on the dwindling Resistance Fleet.  It received positive reviews from critics, who praised its ensemble cast, visual effects, musical score, action sequences and emotional weight; some considered it the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back.
The film currently holds a 91% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 374 critical reviews.  Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for, gave the film 4/4 stars saying this in his review, "Writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a sprawling, incident-and character-packed extravaganza that picks up at the end of The Force Awakens and guides the series into unfamiliar territory.  It's everything a fan could want from a Star Wars film and then some.  Even the sorts of viewers who spend the entire running time of movies anticipating every plot twist and crowing "called it!" when they get one right are likely to come up short here.  But the surprises usually don't violate the (admittedly loose) internal logic of the universe George Lucas invented, and when they seem to, it's because the movie has expanded the mythology in a small but significant way.  Jedi does a better job than most sequels of giving the audience both what it wants and what it didn't know it wanted.  The movie leans hard into sentiment, most of it planted in the previous installment.  But whenever it allows a character to cry (or invites us to) the catharsis feels earned.  It happens rather often-this being a film preoccupied with grieving for the past and transcending it, populated by hounded and broken people who are afraid hope will be snuffed out."

I hope you guys are able to make it out to this excellent film!

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

April Film Club

Hello everyone!

Happy Spring! (technically at least, let's hope the cold is gone for good).

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it out for Calvary, we had a very good turnout and an excellent discussion afterwards. And it goes without saying, a metric ton of food, so as always, thank you to everyone who brought stuff to share, it is always appreciated!

For the month of April, following the tradition I've established the last few years, I'm going to show one of my favorite films (since it's my birthday month! yay!), and for this coming Film Club I've decided to show Dark City.

NOTICE:  Film Club will be meeting TUESDAY, APRIL 24th at 6:15pm for the month of April.  This is temporary to accommodate the Battle of the Books which will be held on our regular Thursday.

Dark City is a 1998 American Australian neo-noir science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas.  The screenplay was written by Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer.  The film stars Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, and William Hurt.  Sewell plays John Murdoch, an amnesiac man who finds himself suspected of murder.  Murdoch attempts to discover his true identity and clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known only as the "Strangers".  Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received generally positive reviews.  It currently holds a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 80 reviews.  Roger Ebert awarded the film 4/4 stars later adding it to his list of Great Movies.  He said this in his review, "Dark City by Alex Proyas is a great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like Metropolis and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  If it is true, as the German director Werner Herzog believes, that we live in an age starved of new images, then Dark City is a film to nourish us.  There's such a wealth on the screen, such an overflowing of imagination and energy.  It's for anyone who still has a sense of wonder and a feeling for great visual style.  The film contains ideas and true poignance, a story that has been thought out and has surprise right to the end.  It's romantic and exhilarating.  Watching it, I realized the last dozen films I'd seen were about people standing around, talking to one another.  Dark City has been created an imagined as a new visual place for us to inhabit.  It adds treasure to our notions of what can be imagined."

NOTICE AGAIN:  Film Club will be meeting TUESDAY, APRIL 24th at 6:15pm for the month of April.  This is temporary to accommodate the Battle of the Books which will be held on our regular Thursday.

I hope you can all make it out to this wild and fantastic film!

Here's the trailer:

Monday, March 12, 2018

March Film Club

Hey everybody, it's March!

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend Meek's Cutoff, it was a fine film and we had a good discussion afterwards.  Also, big shout-out to everyone who brought snacks, we really appreciate it!

For the month of March, I usually try to show a film that somehow relates to the Irish in honor of St. Patrick's Day, so, our film for this month is going to be Calvary, the second film by Irish director John Michael McDonagh (we watched his previous film, The Guard, last year).

Calvary is a 2014 Irish drama film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh.  It stars Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran and Isaach de Bankole.  The films follows Father James (Gleeson) as he takes confession from an unseen penitent who describes being abused as a child and then informs the priest that he will kill him in one week's time.  The film covers the week before the apparent final day, as Father James tends to his flock of misfits and miscreants, while bonding with his somewhat estranged daughter.

McDonagh conceived the idea and wrote the screenplay while filming The Guard.  He explained the intentions he had for the film: "There are probably films in development about priests which involve abuse.  My remit is to do the opposite of what other people do, and I wanted to make a film about a good priest."  He elaborates that it is tonally "in the same darkly comic vein as The Guard, but with a much more serious and dramatic narrative."

The film holds a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 144 reviews.  Glenn Kenny, writing for, awarded the film 3.5/4 stars saying this in his review, "The second feature written and directed by the prodigiously talented Irishman John Michael McDonagh opens with a quote from Saint Augustine: 'Despair not, one of the thieves was spared; presume not, one of the thieves was not.'  A mordant sense of duality that eventually takes on near-apocalyptic dimensions runs through this very darkly comic tale, telling a week in the file of Father James.  McDonagh's structuring in unusual: almost all the scenes are what are referred to in the theater as 'two-handers', that is, exchanges between only two characters.  Each scene tackles a particular variation on the movie's theme, which is the earning of forgiveness, and whether taking what's said to be the right action is sufficient to do so.  Gleeson's performance is magnificent; sharp, compassionate, bemused, never not intellectually active.  McDonagh's dialogue is similarly never not sharp.  As the picture progresses, Father James' parishioners morph from a group of perverse individuals to one of intransigently spiteful lunatics.  This is the kind of movie that galvanizes and discomfits while it's on screen, and is terrific fodder for conversation long after its credits roll."

We will be meeting Thursday, March 15th at 6:15 pm.  Hope you're able to make it out to this remarkable and interesting film!

Here's the trailer:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February Film Club

Hello again everyone!

I hope you're surviving this wonderful weather we've been having.  I don't know about you, but I'm ready for it to be over.

I'd like to start by saying thank you to everyone who made it out last month for our showing of Super 8.  We had a good turnout and, as always, a lot of good food, because you guys are the best!

For the month of February I've decided to go off-track a bit.  Where I would normally show some kind of film that incorporates a romantic element to some degree (because of Valentine's Day), I'm instead going to show Meek's Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt.

Meek's Cutoff is a 2010 American western film directed by Kelly Reichardt.  The film was shown in competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.  It stars Bruce Greenwood, Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano.  The story is loosely based on a historical incident on the Oregon Trail in 1845, in which frontier guide Stephen Meek led a wagon train on an ill-fated journey through the Oregon desert along the route later known as the Meek Cutoff in the western United States.

The film currently holds a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 108 critical reviews and Roger Ebert awarded the film 3.5/4 stars saying this in his review, "To set aside its many other accomplishments, Meek's Cutoff is the first film I've seen that evokes what must have been the reality of wagon trains to the West.  The distinctive thing here is the subservience of the characters to the landscape.  These pioneers do not stand astride the land, they wander it in misery and exhaustion.  The wheels of their wagons are little match for the terrain.  Meek's Cutoff is more an experience than a story.  It has personality conflicts, but isn't about them.  The suspicions and angers of the group are essentially irrelevant to their overwhelming reality.  Reichardt has the courage to establish that.  She doesn't just make it easy for us with simplistic character conflict.  She's genuinely curious about the hardly educated pioneers who were brave, curious or hopeful enough to set out on such a dangerous journey."

We will be meeting Thursday, Feb. 15th at 6:15pm.  I hope you will be able to join us for this great and harrowing film!

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January Film Club

Happy New Year everybody!  I hope you all had fun, safe holidays.

With a new year comes a new lineup of films for Film Club.  Most selections will probably be just as random as they have always been, especially with the limitations placed on me by the licensing, but, we'll get by, and I'll try to find films that I think you'll all enjoy.

So, for the month of January, I have decided to show J.J. Abrams' fun, nostalgia filled film from 2011, Super 8.

Super 8 is a 2011 American science fiction horror film written, co-produced, and directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg.  The film stars Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Kyle Chandler and tells the story of a group of young teenagers who are filming their own Super 8 movie when a train derails, releasing a dangerous presence into their town.  The film was well received, with critics praising the film for its nostalgic elements, visual effects, musical score, and for the performances of the cast, in particular, both Fanning and newcomer Courtney's acting was cited, while also being compared to such thematically similar films as E.T., Stand by Me, and The GooniesSuper 8 was also a commercial success, grossing over $260 million against a budget of $50 million.  The film received several awards and nominations, primarily in technical and special effects categories, Giacchino's musical score, as well as for Courtney and Fanning's performances.

Super 8 received positive reviews from critics.  It holds an 82% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 269 critical reviews.  Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5/4 stars and said this in his review, "It is a requirement of these films that adults be largely absent.  The kids get involved up to their necks, but the grown-ups seem slow to realize strange things are happening.  Here, the mystery centers on the cargo of the cars in the train wreck, and on the sudden materialization of U.S. Air Force investigators and troops in town.  If we don't instinctively know it from this movie, we know it from a dozen earlier ones: The authorities are trying to cover up something frightening, and the kids are on the case.  Abrams treats early adolescence with tenderness and affection.  He uses his camera to accumulate emotion, and he has the rural town locations right.  Super 8, is a wonderful film, nostalgia not for a time but for a style of filmmaking, when shell-shocked young audiences were told a story and not pounded over the head with aggressive action.

With all the recent success of the 1980s-stuffed Netflix series Stranger Things, I thought this would be a great film to revisit for those who have seen it, or to experience for the first time for those who haven't.  Either way, hope to see you there!

We will be meeting Thursday, Jan. 18th at 6:15pm.

Here's the trailer:

Monday, December 4, 2017

December Film Club

Hey everybody!

I can't believe it's already December, this year has flown by!  Hopefully the snow and deathly cold will hold off for a while and we'll have another mild winter, but, we shall see.

Let me start by thanking everyone who was able to make it out for Hacksaw Ridge, we had a good turnout, great food, and some compelling conversations afterwards.  You guys continually make my job fun!

On to business.  For the month of December, I've decided on another non-traditional Christmas film, that is, a film that occurs during the Christmas season but isn't actually a "Christmas movie".  For this year, I've decided on another of my favorite films: The Thin Man.

The Thin Man is a 1934 American Pre-Code comedy mystery film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett.  The film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles; Nick is a hard drinking, retired private detective, and Nora is a wealthy heiress.  Their wire-haired fox terrier Asta is played by canine actor Skippy.  The film's screenplay was written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, a married couple.  In 1934, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film has a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars, adding it to his list of Great Movies.  He said this in his review, "William Powell is to dialogue as Fred Astaire is to dance.  His delivery is so droll and insinuating, so knowing and innocent at the same time, that it hardly matters what he's saying.  That's certainly the case in The Thin Man, a murder mystery in which the murder and the mystery are insignificant compared to the personal styles of the actors.  Powell and Myrna Loy co-star as Nick and Nora Charles, a retired detective and his rich wife, playfully in love and both always a little drunk.  Powell plays the character with a lyrical alcoholic slur that waxes and wanes but never topples either way into inebriation or sobriety.  The drinks are the lubricant for dialogue of elegant wit and wicked timing, used by a character who is decadent on the surface but fundamentally brave and brilliant.  The Thin Man was one of the most popular films of 1934, inspired five sequels, and was nominated for four Oscars (best picture, actor, direction and screenplay).  The movie is based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett, one of the fathers of noir, and it does technically provide clues, suspects and a solution to a series of murders, but in tone and intent, it's more like an all-dialogue version of an Astaire and Rogers musical, with elegant people in luxury hotel penthouses and no hint of the depression anywhere in sight."

We will be meeting Thursday, Dec. 21st at 6:15pm.  I hope you can join us for this wonderful film!

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November Film Club

Hey everybody!  First off, a big, gigantic thank you to everyone who was able to come out and enjoy Horror Fest with us, we had a lot of fun, and thank you especially to everyone who brought some food to share.  Once again, you went above and beyond, we had a regular feast!

Now, on to November.  For this month I've decided to follow suit from last year and show a war film in honor of Veteran's Day.  We will be watching Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious object combat medic whose bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.

We will be meeting Thursday, Nov. 16th at 6:00 pm (please note the slightly earlier start time as this is to accommodate the longer running time of the film).

Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film directed by Mel Gibson and written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, based on the 2004 documentary The Conscientious Objector.  The film focuses on the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapon of any kind.  Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.  Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, with Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn in supporting roles.

Hacksaw Ridge was chosen by the American Film Institute as on of its top ten Movies of the Year, and has received numerous awards and nominations.  The film received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Sound Editing, winning the awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
The film holds a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 242 reviews, and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said this in his review, “Thanks to some of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed, Gibson once again shows his staggering gifts as a filmmaker, able to juxtapose savagery with aching tenderness.  Hacksaw Ridge is being touted as Gibson’s comeback.  Is it also an atonement?  Who can say?  What’s clear is that Gibson has made a film about family, faith, love and forgiveness all put to the test in an arena of violent conflict-a movie you don’t want to miss.”

Hope to see you there!

Here's the trailer: