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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:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Crete Library 7th Annual Horror Fest

Wowee, October is already here.  The days of summer have wound down into the cool chill of fall and with it, the arrival of my favorite holiday and Film Club event: Halloween and Horror Fest.  Thank you to everyone who came out for our showing of Blade Runner.  We had a great turnout and a wonderful discussion afterwards.  Again, thank you to everyone who brought snacks, it's becoming a regular feast on Film Club nights!

Now, down to scary business.

For this year's horror fest, I've decided to show 4 more new horror films, but with the theme of "Unwanted Guests".  Each film has an element of someone being somewhere they are either not wanted, or should not be.  I think this will be a fun theme and we have some pretty creepy good films to watch.  So, without further ado, here is the lineup for Horror Fest 2017:

Come on over to the library and pick up one of the booklets.  They have a little blurb about each film and the times and dates.

Here are the trailers to pique your morbid curiosity! (Click the title to view the trailer)

The Guest
The Witch
Don't Breathe
Get Out

Monday, September 11, 2017

September Film Club

Hey folks!

Sorry for the delay, I thought I had already sent all this out but it appears I have not.  So here we go.

Thanks to everyone who was able to come out for our Summer Film Series: Space.  We had a great time, got to see a great spectrum of films from 1968 to Present day, and as always, a plethora of wonderful food!

For the month of September we will watching one of my all time favorite films: Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott. The sequel is going to be released next month so I figured we could all use a re-watch! (or if you haven't seen it, a watch!).

Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other "mega–manufacturers" around the world. Their use on Earth is banned and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial or leisure work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by police special operatives known as "Blade Runners". The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.

Blade Runner initially polarized critics, some were displeased with the pacing, while others praised its thematic complexity and visuals.  Blade Runner underperformed at the box office in North American theaters, but has since become a cult film.  In 1993 the film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  Blade Runner is now regarded by many critics as one of the all time best science fiction movies.  It currently holds a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Roger Ebert awarded it 4/4 stars when he added it to his list of Great Movies, saying this in his review, “This is a seminal film, building on older classics like Metropolis or Things to Come but establishing a pervasive view of the future that has influenced science fiction films ever since.  Its key legacies are: Giant global corporations, environmental decay, overcrowding, technological progress at the top, poverty or slavery at the bottom-and, curiously, almost always a film noir vision.  I have never quite embraced Blade Runner, admiring it at arm’s length, but now it is time to cave in and admit it to the canon.  Ridley Scott is a considerable director who makes no small plans.  He has the gift of making action on a vast scale seem comprehensible.  I have been assured that my problems in the past with Blade Runner represent a failure of my own taste and imagination, but if the film was perfect, why has Sir Ridley continued to tinker with it, and now released his fifth version?  I guess he’s only….human.”

This is wonderful film and I hope you will be able to join us!

We will be meeting Thursday, Sept. 21st at 6:15pm

Here's the trailer: