Friday, June 3, 2016

Cuban Drama 'VIVA' Depicts a Compelling Father and Son Reunion

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 4:01 PM

  • Magnolia Pictures
The CAPITOL SELECTS, a new series at the Capitol Theatre that features limited one-week only engagements on a dedicated screen, begins today with VIVA, an acclaimed Cuban drama about a young man’s attempts to reconcile with his long-lost father.

With this moving film that often feels more like a documentary than a drama, director Paddy Breathnach (Man About Dog, Blow Dry and Shrooms) provides a snapshot of what life in Cuba must be like for a young gay man.  

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Capitol Selects Program Will Finally Bring Cedar Lee-type Fare to the West Side

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Capitol! Capitol! - @CAPITOLW65TH
  • @CapitolW65th
  • Capitol! Capitol!
When the Capitol Theatre arrived in Cleveland in 2009, most people thought it was going to become a kind of "Cedar Lee West," a cinema with only three screens that would regularly show indie films, foreign stuff, and the occasional cult classic.  

And though the Melt Bar & Grilled Late Shift series now alternates with the Cedar Lee for midnight screenings, the Capitol has by and large featured the same mainstream fare that you can find every day at Tower City and Shaker Square.

Every once in a while, it'll show a weird or controversial flick — this week's Vaxxed, for example, about which Cleveland Cinemas marketing director Dave Huffman told Scene: "Cleveland Cinemas does not shy away from controversial films and believes in providing an outlet for all types of filmmaking and opinions. Ultimately it's up to an individual to decide what film he/she wants to support by buying a ticket." But for the most part, the Capitol has become just a standard-programming movie theater with better ambiance and fewer screens. 

But no longer! 

Seeing the appetite for Cedar Lee-style films, Cleveland Cinemas has announced the launch of something called the Capitol Selects series. From now on, one screen will be devoted to limited engagements, "ensuring that there will always be an interesting and exclusive film playing at the Capitol Theatre."

“Clevelanders are voracious movie fans,” said Jonathan Forman, President of Cleveland Cinemas, in a news release. “The fact that the film festival grows bigger each year and that the Cedar Lee Theatre remains a beloved institution shows that Clevelanders love a good movie. We want to make sure that the Capitol Theatre remains yet another destination that’s firmly on the radar of anyone who appreciates unique and sometimes challenging movies.”

Here's the summer schedule, from Cleveland Cinemas: 

VIVA (June 3rd – 9th) – This acclaimed drama from Cuba tells the story of a young man struggling to be true to himself as an aspiring drag performer as he rekindles his relationship with his ex-con father.

APPROACHING THE UNKNOWN (June 3rd – 9th) – Mark Strong stars as an astronaut on a solo mission to Mars in this claustrophobic sci-fi thriller.

A MONSTER WITH A THOUSAND HEADS (June 10th – 16th) – In this fast-paced thriller from Mexico, a wife is pushed over the edge by the bureaucracy of the medical and insurance industries as she fights to get her husband the treatment he needs.

THE WAILING (June 17th – 23rd) – In the latest thriller by South Korean master of suspense, Hong-jin Na, a policeman in a rural village is trying to figure out what is causing seemingly normal people to lose control and kill their families. Is it a strange illness or is the mysterious foreigner to blame?

RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE (June 24th – 30th) – In 1982, a group of pre-teen friends decided to make a shot-for-shot remake of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This new documentary tells the story about how they did it as well as shows them re-assembling as adults to get the one shot they couldn’t get as kids.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTION (June 24th & 26th at 9:50 PM) – This shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was filmed by a group of pre-teen friends over 7 years starting in 1982 for next to nothing and using a home VHS camcorder. The finished film is an amazing accomplishment and a blast to watch on the big screen. Free admission to “The Adaptation” if you come to see “Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” or the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Note: The stars of “Raiders!” and “The Adaptation,” Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos, will be at the Capitol Theatre on June 24th for Q&As following the 7:20 “Raiders!” and 9:50 “The Adaptation” screenings.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (June 24th – 30th) – Steven Spielberg’s homage to classic movie serials stars Harrison Ford as the world’s most famous archaeologist.

UNLOCKING THE CAGE (July 1st – 7th) – Steven Wise is an activist lawyer who brings a unique animal rights case to court. His goal is to get legal personhood granted for a chimpanzee in order to get it released from terrible conditions. This compelling documentary makes the viewer re-examine how humans treat clearly intelligent animals.

GURUKULAM (July 8th – 14th) - In vivid and sensuous detail, this documentary follows a group of students and their teacher as they confront fundamental questions about the nature of reality and self-identity at a remote forest ashram in southern India.

TICKLED (July 15th – 21st) – After being featured in the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival, this fascinating documentary returns to town for an encore engagement. When a journalist starts to look into what he thinks will be a simple story about online tickling competitions, he unknowingly opens up a bizarre Pandora’s Box that leads him on an international quest to uncover the truth.

LUCHA MEXICO (July 22nd – 28th) – Exploring the rich cultural history and unique personal stories from inside the ring, this fun documentary takes fans behind the mask of Mexico’s Lucha Libre wrestling.

30 YEARS OF GARBAGE: THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS STORY (July 23rd @ 9:50 PM & July 27th @ 7:10 PM) – What started out as a simple parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids of the 1980s developed into its own special world. This new documentary talks to the artists that created these hilariously grotesque collectible cards as well as to the obsessed fans who embraced them.

CAT IN THE BRAIN (July 22nd @ 9:50 PM & July 26th @ 7:00 PM) – Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci directed and starred in this gore filled classic about a filmmaker being driven insane by his own movies. Presented in a new digital restoration for its 25th Anniversary, CAT IN THE BRAIN is billed as the “most violent movie ever made.” No one under 18 admitted.

ANNIVERSARY HITCHCOCK SERIES – This July the CAPITOL SELECTS will showcase four classic films by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Each film is celebrating a milestone anniversary this year as it returns to the big screen.

SUSPICION (75th Anniversary) (July 1st – 7th) – Cary Grant and Best Actress Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine star in this classic thriller about a wife who becomes increasingly concerned that her husband may be a killer.

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (60th Anniversary) (July 8th – 14th) – James Stewart and Doris Day star as a vacationing couple who find themselves mixed up in international intrigue after their son is kidnapped in Morocco.

TORN CURTAIN (50th Anniversary) (July 15th – 21st) – Paul Newman stars as a famous scientist whose assistant (Julie Andrews) fears he may be defecting to East Germany. However, things aren’t what they seem in this Cold War era thriller.

FAMILY PLOT (40th Anniversary) (July 23rd – 28th) Hitchcock’s final film is also one of his most lighthearted. A wealthy old woman hires a con man (Bruce Dern) and a phony psychic (Barbara Harris) to find her long-lost nephew in this comedic thriller.
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'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' Satirizes Contemporary Pop Music Scene

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 10:37 AM

While the current incarnation of Saturday Night Live remains a mere shell of what the show used to be, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, the trio behind the program’s digital shorts and the threesome also known as the recording group/comedy act the Lonely Island, emerged as a bright spot when they were regularly contributing to SNL.

Their 2005 video for “Lazy Sunday,” a song that masterfully referenced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, cupcakes, Mr. Pibb, Red Vines and Matthew Perry for starters, suggested the trio’s ability to produce top-tier satire.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Love is a Battlefield in Dystopian Drama The Lobster

Colin Farrell Thermidor

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 10:55 AM

In the dystopian near future of writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, the acquisition of romantic partners occurs at an asylum-ish ‘hotel.’ There, the recently bereaved, chronically unloved and otherwise single people are corralled, processed, and given 45 days to fall in love (or at least in step) with another symmetrically bereaved or impaired sad sack. If a person fails to find love, he is turned into an animal.

It’s a dreary outlook indeed for David, a lately widowed man portrayed by a stoic, paunchy, mustachioed Colin Farrell. He arrives at the hotel with his brother, a zippy Australian Shepherd, in tow and doesn’t see much hope in the field of potential romantic prospects. One new buddy (John C. Reilly) feels the same way, and eagerly awaits his transformation. He says he’d like to be a parrot. David has advised the hotel manager (Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman) that he’d like to be a lobster — he’s always loved the sea. But another new friend (Ben Whishaw), who limps, is so intent on finding a compatible partner that he ingratiates himself with a chronic nosebleeder by bashing his face against hard surfaces when she’s not looking to simulate them.

“What’s worse?” He asks David one evening. “Getting turned into an animal and being eaten by a larger animal, or being in pain from time to time?”

David responds as most of us would. Getting turned into an animal and being eaten does sound much worse.

The mood and setting of this peculiar film are not only extremely somber, they’re also frequently disturbing and often downright macabre. David employs his limping buddy’s tactic and sidles up to a heartless woman by rolling his eyes at a horrific failed suicide attempt, hoping heartlessness might be their mutual thing. It doesn’t take.

The hotel feels like a genetically modified hybrid between a nursing home and a concentration camp. And though The Lobster enjoys the distinction of being a dystopian film not based on a YA-bestseller — it's exclusively adult in its themes and subject matter — but it lacks a certain angle. Is there an operative metaphor afoot, one wonders? Is the whole premise an analogy for online dating or something, where the quest for compatible traits is taken to an (il)logical extreme? Hard to say.

But wait: the hotel’s loveless denizens aren’t the only residents of this future. On its outskirts, “loners” drift and dance to house music in solo sessions. In fact, the hotel folks hunt the loners with tranquilizer guns on nightly field trips to accrue longer stays.

When David escapes the hotel and joins the loners partway through the film, he meets a cruel and ferociously independent captain (Lea Seydoux) and a short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz) for whom he discovers he has feelings. But the loners turn out to represent the hotel’s equal and opposite authoritarian disaster. Among these woodlings, love and even flirtatious conversations are strictly outlawed, punishable by mutilations and sadistic surgeries.

The film is quite nice to look at, make no mistake. The serene hotel setting and its uniform props and costumes are the fruits of a thoughtful and precise team of production designers. The performances are accomplished, if somewhat stylized. You get the sense that all the actors have been instructed to perform at a kind of emotional remove, and so these characters, downtrodden anyway, all feel a little stiff, a little surreal.

It’s a testament to Greek director Lanthimos’s vision to say that the film would have made a compelling piece of short fiction. But it’s a fact of the American cinematic appetite that very few people will seek out a minor-key film that’s meant to be thought about and reckoned with as opposed to simply enjoyed.  
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Friday, May 27, 2016

'Alice Through the Looking Glass' Suffers From Weak Storyline

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 9:40 AM

With its emphasis on trippy visuals and strange creatures (a grinning cat that can turn invisible, a blue caterpillar that smokes a hookah, a "Jabberwocky"), Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland lends itself to the world of cinema.

Today’s 3-D technology certainly aids in creating that bizarre alternate universe that Carroll imagined for Alice Kingsleigh.

Despite being a visual treat, Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to 2010’s equally exotic Alice in Wonderland, struggles to present a compelling storyline. The movie opens areawide today.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Capitol Theatre Will Begin Showing Films with Spanish Subtitles

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 10:36 AM

The Capitol Theatre on W. 65th and Detroit will be the first of Cleveland Cinemas’ seven theaters and the first theater in the city of Cleveland to begin showing limited screenings of English-language films with Spanish subtitles.

“The Capitol Theatre is proud to serve the community with a diverse line-up of films,” said Jonathan Forman, president of Cleveland Cinemas, in a news release. “With a large Spanish-speaking community on Cleveland’s west side, we felt it was important to offer the option of seeing films with Spanish subtitles when available."

The first such film to be shown at the Capitol will be X-Men: Apocalypse, which opens May 27 nationwide. It is currently the only film on the docket to be screened featuring this treatment. The blockbuster is predicted to make $100-135 million domestically over the course of the three-day weekend.

A report published by the Instituto Cervantes in 2015 stated that there were 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the United States. This number is up from a census estimate from 2013, which stated that there were 38.4 million Spanish speakers, but not alarmingly so, considering the 120-percent increase of Spanish speakers between 1990 and 2013.

Combined with the 11.2 million people who are bilingual, the number of Spanish speakers living in the United States has surpassed the entire population of Spain (46.77 million). The United States has moved into second place, behind Mexico, for the highest population of Spanish speakers.

Needless to say, cinemas in areas with high concentrations of Spanish speakers – in California, Texas, and Florida for example – have had this option for some time now.

Screenings of X-Men: Apocalypse with English audio and Spanish subtitles are currently limited to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 29th and 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31st. Visit Cleveland Cinemas’ website for more information and updates.
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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Republicans Are Coming... to the Cleveland Cinematheque

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 1:00 PM

This is the face of an aspirant Republican politician.
  • This is the face of an aspirant Republican politician.
The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, the region's repertory movie theater known for screening offbeat indie and foreign fare (and as a former stomping ground of the Russo brothers), will host a special series of films by Republican filmmakers to help ring in the RNC.

The screenings, starring famous Republicans from Jimmy Stewart to Chuck Norris, will begin this Friday, May 27.  

And in mind-blowing news: Former child star Shirley Temple, the dictionary definition of "adorable," was a Republican. She even ran for office in 1967! 

 “As northeast Ohio braces for July’s elephant stampede," said Cinematheque director John Ewing, in a news release about the series, "we thought we would spotlight ten classic films showcasing prominent Republicans who have made major contributions to the movies, behind or in front of the cameras. A few of the films even resonate with key issues in the 2016 campaign. This GOP series should be fun—a Grand Old Party itself!”

Ewing can't stop, won't stop. 

All ten movies will show in the magnificent new Peter B. Lewis Theater inside the new Cleveland Institute of Art building at 11610 Euclid Avenue in Uptown. To complicate matters somewhat, admission to eight of the films is $10, unless you're a Cinematheque member or 25 & under, in which case it's $8. But admission to The Little Colonel on June 4 and El Cid on June 18 is $12; (members and age 25 & under $9). 

Here's the schedule, (or feel free to access it on the Cinematheque's website). Invasion U.S.A. is the 1985 Chuck Norris action-thriller, if you're keeping score at home.

SAT 6/18 7:30 PM EL CID
FRI 6/24 9:35 PM INVASION U.S.A.
SUN 6/26 6:30 PM INVASION U.S.A.
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