Back to MUN Cinema
MUN Sunday Cinema Series
All screenings were at the Avalon Mall Cinemas--2:00 pm, Sunday.
Ticket prices were:
Full season pass: $55.00 regular, $50.00 students and seniors;
6-Pass: $30.00 regular, 25.00 students and seniors;
Single Admission: $7.00 regular, $6.00 students and seniors.
January 18 Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (Canada 1997) 94 mins.
Directed by Guy Maddin.
With Pascale Brussiéres, Shelley Duval, Frank Gorshin, Alice
Krige, R.H. Thompson, Ross McMillan.
Unquestionably the most colourful and bizarre Maddin film to date
and that's saying a lot. If you've seen Tales From the Gimli Hospital
or Archangel you either like or loathe a Maddin film. Known for his
surreal fusion of Icelandic mythology (he's from Winnipeg), romance,
and an off-centre notion of personality, Maddin here lets loose with a
manic blast of artificiality, creating lurid purple and orange skies
over the fantasy world of Madragora. Many might find this tale of love
and loss in a world of constant uncertainty a little Maddining, so we
caution you --this film is not for everyone. You will need patience and
a healthy sense of skewed humour. Gorshin is oddly cast as an ogre but
R.H. Thompson saves the day with a persuasively weird performance as
the lecherous peg-legged wizard, Dr. Solti, who leads the plainly
stunned Amelia (Duvall) down the pagan path. Don't say we didn't warn
January 25 Career Girls (UK 1997) 87 mins.
Directed by Mike Leigh.
With Katrin Cartlidge, Lynda Steadman, Mark Benton, Kate Byers,
Andy Serkis, Joe Tucker.
After the popular success of his Secrets and Lies, Leigh tried his deft
hand at a more focussed experiment in improvisational actor-centred
story-telling, but the themes of class and gender comically persist.
Career Girls is a highly entertaining fable about two young women whose
lives come together in London by fate, class, and destiny. One is a
high-strung urban authoritarian, masking her uncertainty with a barking
bravado; the other is a quivering mess of open doubts, a shy
allergy-prone bumpkin with enough self-effacement to humble a tyrant.
One of these woman is not like the other, but in the naturalistic
universe of a Leigh film, circumstances often impose commonality on
people's lives. In the present-day action, Annie and Hannah reunite
after six years apart, six years after graduation from their North
London Polytech. The film cuts back from now to then, nuance-dancing
around the differences between the women while revealing their common
humanity, as only the great London director can. A viewer who does not
like a Mike Leigh film does not like life.
February 1 Wings of the Dove (UK 1997) 108 mins.
Directed by Iain Softley.
With Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliott, Elizabeth
McGovern, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Gambon, Alex Jennings.
Critics have just rated this film one of the top ten of 97, a fresh
adaptation of a Henry James novel about class aspirations and love, or
is that redundant for James? It's worth shelling out just to gawk at
Helena Bonham Carter's extraordinary cin-gorgeousness, but Wings also
takes flight in other highly watchable ways. The setting might be
exotic and the clothes worthy of a Merchant & Ivory liquidation sale,
but the story is plainly timeless. In broad terms, this is a fable
about new America bumping up against old Europe. The figures who
perform this theme are the impoverished and darkly stunning Kate
(Carter) who falls in love with an even more impoverished journalist
(Roache). Into this scene like an unexpected butterfly flits the
ravishing American heiress, Milly (Elliott), generating enough
complexities of plot and turns of the screw to keep everyone gripped to
the revelatory end. Bound for Oscars and literary-adaptation classes,
Wings proves just how killingly Softley can make a film.
February 8 Hanging Garden (Canada 1997) 91 mins.
Directed by Thom Fitzgerald.
With Chris Leavins, Kerry Fox, Seana McKenna, Troy Veinotte,
Peter McNeil, Sarah Polley, Jean Orenstein.
You probably almost strung yourself up for not having caught Hanging
Garden when it played in town for a few hummingbird seconds, but now
you can catch Fitzgerald's almost hysterically appreciated film again
at a theatre near you. A remarkable debut by a Halifax filmmaker,
Hanging Garden's success depends on Fitzgerald's tender story about a
Nova Scotian family whose lives fall apart all over the rural topsoil.
The reasons for such dysfunction have everything to do with Catholic
superstition, class pettiness, gender conformity, and too many cookies
in the cookie jar, but the linking figure in all this chaos is Sweet
William (Leavins), the sensitive son who bent gay, ran away, and came
back to play. The film opens with his sister's
Ashley-MacIsaac-accompanied wedding dance, a ritual of raucous communal
celebration that hides many weedy years of misery and repression.
William s return to the garden of his youth opens him up to both
tortured memories of his earlier obesely self-protective self and
confrontations with the family who dared not speak his name. Everything
doesn't necessarily come up roses in the end, but, hey, this is a
Canadian garden. Dirt happens.
February 15 Box of Moonlight (US 1997) 107 mins.
Directed by Tom DiCillo.
With John Turturro, Sam Rockwell, Catherine Keener, Lisa Blount,
Annie Corley, Alexander Goodwin, Dermot Mulroney.
Remember the indie comedy Living in Oblivion, DiCillo's last
hilariously dark send-up of independent filmmaking? Right. Well, Box is
his latest comic odyssey into a world of alternative lifestyles. The
always interesting Turturro plays Al Fountain, a guy well in control of
his domestic and professional life, not to mention his outstanding
physique until one day he overhears an uncomplimentary conversation
about himself. Life suddenly starts to seem, well, upside down and
backwards--literally. Determined to regain self-control, Al sets out to
find himself in his past, specifically near a lake where he spent his
youth. Along the way he encounters the zany side of American
individualism, all dressed up in Davy Crockett gear and nowhere to go.
Panned by stuffy American critics, Box of Moonlight has been adored by
Euro-audiences who appreciate the rich texture of this indie delight
about a disturbed man's need to confront his inner playground. Modern
neuroses come in many forms, and Box contains them all with a lively
February 22 Different for Girls (UK 1996) 97 mins.
Directed by Richard Spence.
With Steven Mackintosh, Rupert Graves, Miriam Margolyes,
Saskia Reeves, Charolotte Coleman, Neil Dudgeon, Ian Drury.
Brought to us by the director who gave us the memorable award-winning
Buddy Holly, Different For Girls is a charming movie about Karl and
Paul, best mates at school in the boogie-night seventies. Since this is
a post-modern reunion story, when they meet again in the nineties, Karl
has become Kim, more interested in looking back in angora than in
slouching around in leather. Paul is now in a rut, however, bored with
his job and inevitably in trouble with the law. Time passes, and Kim
and Paul renew their friendship, albeit on decidedly different terms.
Before he can say what a loverly bunch of coconuts Paul finds himself
attracted to Kim, and, er, handles his feelings badly. You can see the
potential for a rather twisted treatment of an old story, can't you?
Different for Girls, indeed. No crying game here, we see what's going
on right up front. The challenge is where to put those damn feelings
when you're glad to see buddy as biddy.
March 1 Mrs. Brown (UK/US/Ireland 1997) 103 mins.
Directed by John Madden.
With Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Antony Sher, Geoffrey Palmer,
Richard Pasco, David Westhead, Gerard Butler, et al.
As we all already know, there was a lot more to Queen Victoria than a
veil and a sour mien. In 1861, the Woman was a widow after all, full of
grief over the still-dead consort Albert, with no one to talk to but
the odd Highland pony. Thank goodness for horse handlers, though. John
Brown, reins in hand, abruptly alienated himself from the Queen's
family and lackeys, but he managed to tear at the Widow's harsh wall of
isolation, gently prodding her towards the fresh air and a fuller sense
of well being. Mrs. Brown is the timely story of a formidable royal
figure and the lengths to which her close personal servant felt he
needed to go to protect her privacy. An historical drama of amazingly
realistic dimensions, Mrs. Brown works for several reasons, not the
least of which are the convincing performances by Dench and Connolly.
Notable, too, is the film's focus on the pomp of court, the
constraints of the establishment, the fussiness of identity, and the
starch of black taffeta. Not just another kilt movie, Mrs. Brown takes
a great swinging swipe at the monarchy, but ends up loving every
decorous moment of it. Republicans should stay home and read
March 8 Fire (Canada 1996) 104 mins.
Directed by Deepa Mehta.
With Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Kulbushan Kharbanda,
Fire, as in playing with ... because that's what director Mehta (Sam
and Me) was doing when she dared to make a movie about illicit love
among the castes. A cloud of controversy has followed this feature
which boldly confronts a changing India. Set in New Delhi, Fire is most
directly about lesbian love. Two gorgeous creatures, Radha and Sita,
discover an unconventional way of handling the impossible demands of
traditional values. The crisis that their tender passion generates
challenges almost everything in their world, especially their husbands
and brothers who have been raised to believe that men watch porn, women
make chapatis. But the whole subcontinent is being transformed through
upheaval, too, and so it is that Fire shows us how increasing demands
for personal freedom come into conflict with age-old practices. Mehta
endured a great deal of pressure from her own community upon completing
this film, so Fire also carries with it the weight of her own courage.
A lushly photographed hymn to change and desire, Fire burns with the
passion of its innovative director.
March 15 The Sweet Hereafter (Canada 1997) 110 mins.
Directed by Atom Egoyan.
With Ian Holm, Maury Chakin, Bruce Greenwood, Arsinée Khanjian,
Tom McManus, Sarah Polley.
The most masterly of masterpiece offerings this season, how sweet it
is, too. An unqualified accomplishment, toweringly great, profoundly
moving, widely appreciated, The Sweet Hereafter works in all
dimensions. Adapted from the novel by Russell Banks, this film
gracefully, slowly, unravels a tragic tale set in the white mountainous
west. One day a school bus of children slides off the road into an icy
pond. The rest is grief and chaos. Who better to restore order and
meaning than a well-intentioned but troubled lawyer, a role played so
persuasively by Ian Holm that you can scarcely believe he's acting. The
lives he tries to manage are not all so wounded by sorrow that they
can't resist him, though. Look for handsome Bruce Greenwood as the
stoic-heroic Billy. But what of the surviving and handicapped Nicole
(Polley), whose ambiguous fate is both to live to tell the tale and
deal with dear ol' incestuous dad. Multi-leveled but accessibly
personal, visually stunning and ambitiously narrated, The Sweet
Hereafter is sure to mark a turning point in Egoyan's astonishingly
brilliant career, and a future of great expectations. Beware the Ides
of March. Don't even think of missing this film.
March 22 Year of the Horse (US 1997) 107 mins.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch.
With Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
A spunky rockumentary for music lovers, Jarmusch fanatics, indie
followers, and, especially, Neil Young fans. Still a rebel with a heart
of gold, Young is not necessarily the only guy who makes the music,
though. Jarmusch's gritty document of life among the band shows us that
all of the players make the sounds we've come to love through three
decades of non-stop throbbing. Bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph
Molina, guitarist Frank (Poncho) Sampedro all share centre stage with
the whiny winning Young, a collection of rockers who are still Crazy
Horse after all these years. We hear nine driving songs, including
"Like a Hurricane" and "Tonight's the Night," all meant to be played
loud and loose. Jamming their way though a 96 European tour, the band
members are also shown backstage and in inter-cut footage of earlier
times. Hockey guy Scott (Beaming Father of ) even makes an appearance,
yakking happily about Neil's talent and demeanor. As the opening
credits attest, Year of the Horse was "proudly filmed in 8mm," lending
the feature the natural gritty look and texture of the band's earthy
style. Uncompromisingly about the music, Neil Young and Crazy Horse
survive as icons of what counts -- in rock and roll time, of course.
March 29 Critical Care (US 1997) 107 mins.
Directed by Sydney Lumet.
With James Spader, Kyra Sedgwick, Helen Mirren, Margo Martindale,
Anne Bancroft, Albert Brooks, Jeffrey Wright, Wallace Shawn.
Great cast, crew, and collection of talent, Critical Care
couldn't have happened at a better time. A smart, hard-edged movie
about how insurance policies essentially dictate modern medical care.
James Spader plays an exhausted third-year nerdy intern belatedly
enjoying an active sex life. That M.D. title seems to impress the girl
every time. The dauntingly talented Helen Mirren is the veteran in
charge of the intensive care unit, in itself a study of surreal
designer illness. Lumet, adapting Richard Dooling's novel, makes
Critical Care a dark satiric joke. That modern medicine is mercenary
medicine isn't news, but the film puts considerable punch behind its
study of moral dilemmas and the struggle to squeeze a little humanity
out of the system. The film is a stimulating mix of a medical drama and
a courtroom showdown, with broad comedy from the always funny Albert
Brooks as Dr. Butz. This is a medical comedy that exposes the sore,
stressed nerves of the contemporary hospital and the debilitating
struggle between profits and ethics. You'll laugh, you'll die, but no
one will come to assist you without your lawyer.
April 5 Deconstructing Harry (US 1997).
Directed by Woody Allen.
With 76 actors, including Judy Davis, Juliet Dreyfus, Richard Benjamin,
Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Elizabeth Shue.
Mia won't go anyway, but we feel we need to tell the rest of you up
front: Do not even think of seeing this movie if you disapprove of
excessive profanity or oral sex. Okay, now that we've issued our
tantalizing surgeon general's tag, let us tell you that this is Woody's
darkest and most offensively wonderful adult-life movie to date. Do we
contradict ourselves? Of course. Nobody explores the hypocritical turns
of middle-age middle-class, middle-brow angst, and no one can turn his
life into the stuff that tabloids are made of like Woody. A nastier,
angrier Woody positions himself here as Harry Block, a successful
American writer with a personal life so tangled and exposed he reminds
us of, well, Woody. Harry's fictional characters sure do sound a lot
like Harry's real wives and lovers, so we start to get the picture
quite early on that we're probably experiencing an interwoven narrative
of truth and myth, one that resolves itself into a hymn to art for
therapy's sake. Looking through Woody's mirror is fun, though, because
the accompanying dialogue is always so aphoristic and witty. If only
all ex wives, current hookers, betrayed lovers, abandoned children,
deceived husbands, unethical therapists, and frustrated writers really
talked like that, the world would be ... just like New York. Not
there's anything wrong with that.
April 12 THE TANGO LESSON (UK/France/Argentina/Japan/Germany 1997) 101 mins.
Directed by Sally Potter.
With Sally Potter, Pablo Vernon, Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas,
David Toole, et al.
The director and star of this movie happens to be the same woman who gave
us the fictional game of Orlando, at once an experiment in
Virginia Woolf and social history.
The Tango Lesson flirts with the same puzzling borders between
truth and fiction, but here the risk is even greater because Potter films
herself and her own life experience.
Shot mostly in elegant black and white, the film exploits our assumption
about documentary reality to show Potter's single-minded commitment to
learn the Argentinian tango.
While pursuing this quest she has an emotionally wild relationship with
her tango teacher, a real-life tango star, also playing himself, who is
(really) about as Latin and macho and handsome and intimidating as any
The charge of self-indulgence might come to mind, but amazingly
The Tango Lesson evades such dismissals because the film is witty,
charming, and uncannily interesting: are we watching Sally Potter or
someone she has invented? Its real richness lies in its
texture and layering of themes which total involvement in the dance allows Potter to explore.
Apparently to be the perfect tango partner a woman is meant to
"do nothing, just follow."
Right--and Virginia Woolf was just a frustrated housewife.
We promise: there are no sinking ships in this movie.