Our website has the show times for
Friday, June 7, through Thursday June 13
|Holding over for another week. Some titles will have limited shows.
- THIN ICE: Greeting From Kenosha, WI Where Ordinary Folks Can Make A Killing!
- LOVE FREE OR DIE: Gene Robinson is the first openly gay Christian Bishop
- DARLING COMPANION: Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline.
- BULLY: A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America
|MONSIEUR LAZHAR --PG-13 (Subtitled French)
In Montreal, an elementary school teacher dies abruptly. Having learned of the incident in the newspaper, Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, goes to the school to offer his services as a substitute teacher. Quickly hired to replace the deceased, he finds himself in an establishment in crisis, while going through his own personal tragedy. The cultural gap between Bachir and his class is made immediately apparent when he gives them a dictation exercise that is beyond their reach. Little by little, Bachir learns to better know this group of shaken but endearing kids, among whom are Alice and Simon, two charismatic pupils particularly affected by their teacher's death. While the class goes through the healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir's painful past; nor do they suspect that he is at risk of being deported at any moment.
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Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, The Bully Project is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of Americas bullying crisis. The Bully Project follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children. As teachers, administrators, kids and parents struggle to find answers, The Bully Project examines the dire consequences of bullying through the testimony of strong and courageous youth. Through the power of their stories, the film aims to be a catalyst for change in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children and society as a whole.
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|LOVE FREE OR DIE -NR |
Despite the insurgent rallying cry implied by its title, Love Free or Die is a probing, even-handed account of the experience of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, non-celibate bishop ordained in a major Christian denomination. Examining the ripple effect of his actions both in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the 78 million-strong worldwide Anglican network to which it belongs, Macky Alston's engrossing documentary sheds light on a significant chapter in the broader struggle for LGBT rights.
With the backing of progressive clergy, Robinson's committed stance led to a successful referendum at the 2009 Episcopal Convention in Anaheim, California, in favor of ordaining gay and lesbian clergy and of consecrating the unions of same-sex couples in states where gay marriage has been legalized. This momentous step was predicted to widen a growing schism within the Anglican Communion.
One perplexing weakness of Alston's film is its shortage of reactions to that milestone decision from the global community, instead confining coverage to the positive breakthrough it represented for gays and lesbians. That focus, however, fits with the documentary's mission to debunk ingrained notions that homosexuality and faith are fundamentally incompatible. The film reflects generally on divisive attitudes toward homosexuality in every religion, and the stigma faced by LGBT individuals in many faith-based organizations.
Much of the groundwork for this study is built around Robinson's exclusion by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2008 from the Lambeth Conference, the global Anglican huddle held every ten years. While British clergy were forbidden from allowing Robinson to preach in their churches, one activist priest, Giles Fraser, ignored that ban. Robinson's sermon about fear, interrupted by a heckling biker in the congregation calling him a heretic, is among the film's more emotional moments.
Ordained as a New Hampshire bishop in 2003, Robinson was chosen to deliver the invocation in 2009 at the kickoff to President Barack Obama's inauguration weekend. Alston touches only briefly on the speculation that the incoming White House administration was throwing a bone to the LGBT community after choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren, a vocal opponent of gay rights, to pray at the inaugural event.
Robinson has been out since the 1980s, following the end of his heterosexual marriage and birth of two daughters. He has been in a committed relationship since 1987 with Mark Andrew, which was sanctified in recent years in both civil and religious ceremonies. (Robinson's new book, "God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage," will be published by Knopf this spring.) The film spends time depicting their family life - the solid bond with Robinson's daughters, the love and support of his parents, the reported ongoing friendship with his former spouse. This reinforces the observation that for many Americans, first-hand acquaintance with LGBT people is helping to shift public perception.
On the flipside, Alston touches repeatedly on the fragmentation of opinion within the church, where even some of Robinson's close friends have chosen to align themselves with the more conservative Anglican base.
There are affecting insights from the Rev. Eleanor McLaughlin over the conflict instilled in her by maintaining her devotion to the church while living with another woman. And retired Utah bishop Otis Charles speaks passionately at the Episcopal Convention on his years of enforced silence about the man who is now his legal husband. These stirring voices give Love Free or Die considerable human-interest weight, irrespective of one's religious beliefs.
The film concludes with the legal marriage of McLaughlin and her partner (at nuptials celebrated by Robinson) and the election in 2009 as Los Angeles bishop of Mary Glasspool, the first openly partnered lesbian to be ordained. The fact that her ordination ended Robinson's long solo status as the only openly gay person in that position is treated less as a victory than as part of an ongoing quest for freedom and justice.
While Alston's approach is conventional, his journalistic and biographical skills are solid. One of his more effective threads is tying the movement to consecrate gay clergy to the similarly stormy battle 30 years ago to ordain women. As the first woman in the Anglican Communion to become a bishop, Barbara Harris contributes some amusingly spiky, unfiltered commentary. Her outspokenness on sexism and discrimination within the church suggests she might make a terrific subject for her own documentary treatment.
|DARLING COMPANION --PG-13 |
John Steinbeck, who crisscrossed the country with his standard poodle and lived to write the tale (Travels with Charley), noted that "I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."
That nuttiness - albeit safely couched in middle-age and upper-middle class comforts - is on display in Lawrence Kasdan's Darling Companion, a shambling and not exactly deep ensemble piece centered on a long-married couple (Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline) and the dog that comes into, and then out of, their lives.
Kline is Joseph Winter, a Denver surgeon with a thriving practice and an inability to put his work - and his ego, and his cellphone - aside. Keaton is Beth, his long-suffering, but also long-loving wife. They have a grown daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss). The nest is empty, and maybe the marriage is a little empty, too.
One day, Beth and Grace are driving, and Beth spies a huddle of fur and paws, off in the bushes by the shoulder of the road. Next thing you know, the Winters - over Joseph's protestations - have a new family member: Freeway. And that's not all - Grace, who's never had much luck with boyfriends, may have found one in the veterinarian, Sam (Jay Ali), who examines the dog.
And so Beth has someone to walk with, to lock eyes with, to amuse her while her husband is operating on slipped disks and sciatic nerves.
And then Joseph loses Freeway, on a run in the woods, by their big cabin in the Rockies. They are there to celebrate their daughter's engagement (yes, to Sam). Joseph's wacky sister, Penny (Dianne Wiest) is in attendance, with her tactless new beau (Richard Jenkins), and Penny's son, Bryan (Mark Duplass), who is Joseph's partner in the practice. And then there is the exotic Carmen (Ayelet Zurer), the Winters' caretaker. She's got a bit of the gypsy about her, and she has "visions" of where Freeway may have gone.
Family. Friends. Lovers. Dogs. It's a recipe for conflict, for liquor-catalyzed confessions, for honesty and hypocrisy - and for angst and tears, as Freeway stays missing, and missing, and missing some more.
It's fun to watch Keaton and Kline together, bickering and (of course) bonding all over again. They deem Jenkins' Russell an unworthy partner for Penny at first, but (of course) he proves himself otherwise. And how can Bryan not fall for Carmen and her strange, seductive ways?
Kasdan - who enjoys throwing large numbers of friends, family, and whole communities together (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon, Mumford) - lets his actors go about their work in a loose, improvisatory manner. No heavy lifting here, but everyone seems up for it. And up for yelling "Freeway!" loudly, and worriedly, into the trees.
|THIN ICE --R |
Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) is a small-time insurance agent looking for a way to jump-start his business, reunite with his estranged wife (Lea Thompson) and escape the frigid Wisconsin weather. This self-proclaimed master of spin believes that salesmanship is about selling a story -- all he needs is a sucker willing to buy it. He hits pay dirt with a lonely retired farmer (Alan Arkin) who is sitting on something much bigger than an insurance commission. But Mickey's attempt to con the old man spins out of control when a nosy, unstable locksmith (Billy Crudup) with a volatile temper dramatically ups the stakes, trapping him in a madcap spiral of danger, deceit and double-crossing. Blending dark comedy and delirious Midwestern noir, THIN ICE reaches a breaking point that no one -- least of all Mickey Prohaska -- could ever see coming.
Take a gander at the trailer.