Movie Review

Home Entertainment Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in ‘Casablanca.’
‘Here’s looking at you, kid’

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, “Casablanca” will return to select movie theaters nationwide on Sunday, Nov. 12 and Wednesday, Nov. 15, courtesy of Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. The screening will include an exclusive commentary from TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz who will give insight into this classic film.

Paul Henreid and Humphrey Bogart in a scene from ‘Casablanca’

Considered one of Hollywood’s greatest and most iconic films, “Casablanca” won an Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director Michael Curtiz and Best Adapted Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Set against the backdrop of World War II, the 1942 classic stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, the owner of a nightclub in Vichy-controlled Casablanca, whose life changes forever when his lost love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), walks into his club and back into his life.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 (at 2 and 7 p.m. on both days); Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas (at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 15); and Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville (at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 15). To purchase your ticket in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Rick Moranis and Audrey II in a scene from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Just in time for Halloween, “Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut” will return to select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 31, courtesy of Fathom Events and Warner Bros. Written by the Oscar-winning team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, it will also include a brand-new, exclusive interview with director Frank Oz.

Business is bad at Mushnick’s Flower shop. Shy Seymour and brave Audrey will soon be unemployed. That is until Seymour pricks his finger and a sickly little exotic plant gets its first taste of human blood. The plant spurts 10 feet tall. As horticultural interest in “Audrey II” sprouts, Mushnick’s business takes off. But fresh blood must be found — and people start disappearing. Love and business bloom at a hilarious yet bloody cost.

Starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin and Vincent Gardenia in the leading roles with Levi Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II, the 1986 American rock musical horror comedy film will feature the rarely seen original ending.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 (Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 at 2 and 7 p.m.); Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas (at 7 p.m. both days); and Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville (at 7 p.m. both days). To purchase your ticket in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

AS YOU WISH Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star in ‘The Princess Bride’

Inconceivable! Thirty years have passed since the tale of Princess Buttercup and her true love Westley became a movie classic. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Rob Reiner’s film adaptation of William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride” will return to over 700 select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, Oct. 15 and Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series from Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies.

André the Giant and Robin Wright in a scene from ‘The Princess Bride.’

When the beautiful maiden Buttercup (Robin Wright) hears that her true love Westley (Cary Elwes) is dead, she reluctantly agrees to marry the loathsome Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). After Westley returns to rescue Buttercup, the two begin an epic adventure filled with giants, fire swamps and rodents of unusual size. Featuring an all-star cast, including Mandy Patinkin, Carol Kane, André the Giant and Billy Crystal, the film proves that true love will conquer all. The screening will include a special introduction by TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz and Reiner, who will discuss “The Princess Bride” and its legacy.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook; Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale; and Island 16 Cinema de Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville. To purchase your ticket in advance, please visit www.fathomevents.com.

Frank Serpico

As part of the Fall 2017 Port Jefferson Documentary Series, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present a screening of the documentary, “Frank Serpico,” on Monday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.

Director Antonino D’Ambrosio with Frank Serpico

As an NYPD officer in the hippie era, Frank Serpico blew the whistle on the corruption and payoffs running rampant in the department. He was shot in the face during a drug arrest that was rumored to be a setup and most famously became the subject of Sidney Lumet’s classic film SERPICO.

Forty-plus years later, Serpico talks about his Southern Italian roots, his time as an undercover officer, and his post-NYPD life. Adding their own recollections are his fellow officers, childhood friends, his West Side neighbors, and his admirers such as writer Luc Sante and actor John Turturro. With unprecedented access to his subject, Antonino D’Ambrosio creates a memorable, powerful portrait of an always-committed public servant who still walks the walk in his very own unique way.

Followed by a Q&A with director Antonino D’Ambrosio. Tickets are $7 at the door. For further details, please call 473-5220 or visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

 

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Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in the latest version of ‘IT’

By Kevin Redding

Real-life clowns out there will no doubt have trouble booking gigs after this past weekend. But no matter what permanent damage Pennywise the Dancing Clown, as sinisterly portrayed by Swedish actor/chameleon Bill Skarsgard in the new “IT,” does to the facepaint-and-red nose industry, I believe it will ultimately be this generation of kids who are most struck by the modern horror masterpiece.

Just as the 1990 TV miniseries of “IT,” featuring Tim Curry as the evil child-eating clown, served as a gateway into the genre for many modern horror fans — I vividly recall being a kid transfixed just by the disturbing VHS cover in the forbidden-yet-intoxicating horror section at Blockbuster — this new, and far better, take on Stephen King’s 1,138-page source material might just be the key to that scarier side of storytelling for millennials.

Even during a sold-out showing on Sept. 8, young kids were peppered throughout the theater, many of them with sweatshirts on their laps and at the ready to be used as protective shields against the screen whenever the music turned sour and Pennywise reared its bulbous head. But as the movie went on, more and more of these kids got brave and began to face their fears, just like the film’s protagonists.

And it’s not hard to understand why. This movie, in a word, rules.

Director Andy Muschietti’s first of a two-part adaptation of King’s colossal 1986 novel about a pack of kids who battle various forms of evil floating out of the sewers in their hometown feels like the big-screen equivalent of navigating through a haunted house attraction at a carnival, where clowns with razor sharp teeth serve peanuts and popcorn.

“IT” — an intense and atmospheric barrage of pop-up frights and unsettling images balanced out with some big laughs (especially the big payoff to a running New Kids on the Block joke) and feel-good camaraderie — is a perfect mashing of coming-of-age adventure and ghastly freak show. And that’s what separates this beast from most horror movies these days.

In the hands of a lesser filmmaker and lesser cast, this “IT” would’ve been all about the eponymous monster, and the kid heroes would’ve been an afterthought — or worse, rooted against. But it’s the Losers Club (made up of young teenagers Bill, Ben, Bev, Richie, Eddie, Mike and Stanley), and what I consider the best ensemble of kid actors I’ve ever seen, that ride away with the movie and our hearts.

The book bounces back and forth between kid Losers and adult Losers, but this movie wisely focuses solely on the kids, while an already greenlit-and-ready-to-go Part II will pick up in adulthood.

Set in Derry, Maine, in the summer of 1989, a time of nostalgia for 2017 audiences as the book’s early 1958 setting was for its ’80s readers, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) is still shaken by the gruesome death of his little brother Georgie a year prior.

In a magnificent opener, little Georgie following a paper boat made by Bill is introduced to Pennywise, (the best and most quiet of Skarsgard’s chilling performances) who lurks in the darkness of a sewer. After brief niceties, Georgie becomes the first of many Pennywise victims when his arm is bitten off and he’s dragged down the storm drain.

Members of the Losers Club band together to fight ‘IT.’

From there, Bill, who believes his brother is still out there somewhere, is joined by his ragtag group of outcast friends to find out just what’s going on in their unsettling town, where the adults turn their backs while kids are bullied, go missing and frequently come face to face with terrifying creatures — such as a Leper, an embodiment of Eddie’s paralyzing fear of disease and a bone-chilling painting of a malformed, flute-wielding woman that comes to life to haunt Stanley.

The young cast give phenomenal performances, with the standouts being “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard as foul-mouthed Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as portly-and-sweet new kid Ben Hanscom and Sophia Lillis, who will surely go on to become a huge star, as Beverly Marsh.

I have no doubt that this Halloween there will be a Losers Club in every neighborhood, riding around on bikes bonded together in search of candy and the inevitable dozens of Pennywises prowling the streets.

Speaking of Pennywise, it cannot be stated enough just how menacing, powerful and stress-inducing Skarsgard is in the role, somehow making the iconic character all his own and turning Curry’s clown into something cute and harmless in comparison (similar to what Heath Ledger did with the Joker in “The Dark Knight”). The Pennywise moment that will forever be burned in my head as long as I live involves a fridge. All I’m sayin’.

Muschietti, who previously directed “Mama,” pulled no punches here, offering up a relentless fun house of fear with an unexpected layering of heart and soul that will certainly connect with nonhorror audiences. While there may have been a bit too much reliance on computer-generated imagery and the all-too-familiar jump scares that make for startling movie trailer moments but come off a bit flat in the context of the film, “IT” is scary, thoughtful, funny and everything a horror nut like me wanted.

And it just might lure this new generation into the sewers of horror appreciation.

Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language, “IT” is now playing in local theaters.

Photos courtesy of Warner Brothers

‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’ will fly into local theaters on Sept. 17 and 20. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

In celebration of its 35th anniversary, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” will return to select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, Sept. 17, and Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., courtesy of Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures. The special remastered screening will include an exclusive commentary from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

A scene from ‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’ – Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Relive the adventure and magic in Steven Spielberg’s beloved tale of the friendship between a lost alien and a 10-year-old boy when it returns to the big screen. Join Elliot (Henry Thomas), Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert MacNaughton) as they come together to help E.T. find his way back home in this 1982 classic.

The winner of four Academy Awards, including one for the iconic score by John Williams, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” is “one of the great American films” (Leonard Maltin) that forever belongs in the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook; Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale; and Island 16 Cinema de Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville. To purchase your ticket in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

The season will open with a screening of ‘An American Veteran’ on Sept. 11. Photo from PJDS

By Heidi Sutton

The ravages of war, arranged marriages, police corruption, high fashion — these topics and more will be explored in detail as the Port Jefferson Documentary Series kicks off its Fall 2017 season on Monday, Sept. 11.

The series, which is sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson North Brookhaven Arts Council, the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, will present eight award-winning documentaries through Oct. 30, with the first and last to be screened at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and the rest at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Each film will be followed by a Q&A with guest speakers.

The documentaries were hand-picked by a seven-member film board which includes co-directors Lyn Boland, Barbara Sverd and Wendy Feinberg along with Honey Katz, Phyllis Ross, Lorie Rothstein and Lynn Rein.

This season will mark the series’ 12th year which is just fine for the film ladies, as they are affectionately called. “I think after 10 years I started to become a believer that it was actually going to have some staying power,” said Boland in a recent phone interview. “I was always holding my breath hoping that we would be there the next year … now I believe that the show will go on.”

Boland said working with the group is “an absolute pleasure. I’m really dumbfounded that everyone sticks around every year,” she laughed. “It seems like the amount of work that has to get done just gets bigger each time because we add things every year — the audience award, surveys, sponsors, concerts. We want to add something ‘special’ to each season.”

This fall’s dynamic line-up was selected after the members attended the Stony Brook Film Festival, DOC NYC, the Hamptons Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.

The group as a whole is most excited about presenting “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan,” a behind the scenes look at the New York City Ballet’s long-time principal dancer Wendy Whelan as she faces injury and retirement. “It just took everyone’s breath away,” gushed Boland. “The film just wins you over, plus if you love watching ballet, the ballet sequences are just the perfect length to see how great she was.” Whelan will appear in person at the screening.

Personally, Boland is looking forward to sharing “City of Ghosts” with the audience. “I think it is the most important film this season because it’s really an inside look at what is going on in Syria,” she said. “When you see it, it’s just so horrifying. We knew we had to get this story out — that people have to see this. What’s going on there is so devastating that you can’t believe it’s not on the news every night.”

Boland is also excited to share “House of Z” which traces dress designer Zac Posen’s career. “I think that the fashionistas and ‘Project Runway’ fans in the audience are going to love every minute of ‘House of Z’ because you really get to see behind the scenes [of the fashion industry],” she said.

One film that has garnered a lot of interest from music lovers, especially blues fans, is the series’ final film, “Sidemen: Long Road To Glory.” The documentary highlights the lives and legacies of Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sulin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen and will be preceded by a special blues concert with Scott Sharrard, lead guitarist for the Gregg Allman Band, who makes an appearance in the film.

 

The film ladies are grateful for the support of the local venues that host their films. “Theatre Three is our home, that’s where we started. It’s a great size, 400 seats, and we have a wonderful relationship with Jeff Sanzel,” said Boland. With 129 seats, the Long Island Museum’s Gillespie Room in the Carriage Museum “provides for a more intimate experience and the films screened there tie in to one of the museum’s exhibits.”

Boland relishes the positive feedback she receives after each screening. “I love it when someone is really ‘woke’ by the film, but I also love it when they just love the film and the subject.” For her, the goal of the PJDS is to provide “insight into something and in a very, very small way, cause disruption of people’s previously held ideas and open up a discussion.”

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series will be held at 7 p.m. every Monday night from Sept. 11 to Oct. 30 at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson or The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Tickets, sold at the door, are $7 per person. (No credit cards please). If you would like to volunteer, please call 631-473-5200. For more information, visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

Film schedule

The season will open with a screening of ‘An American Veteran’ on Sept. 11. Photo from PJDS

▶ The fall season will kick off with a screening of “American Veteran” at The Long Island Museum on Sept. 11. Filmed over a five year period, the documentary follows Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, paralyzed from the neck down by an explosive device in Afghanistan, from the V.A. hospital bed where he spent 7 months, to the fully accessible home where he now lives with his wife Wendy. Winner of the Panavision Showcase at the Syracuse International Film Festival, the film is co-sponsored by Jim and Theresa Tsunis and The Northwind Group of Hauppauge. Guest speaker will be director Julie Cohen.

‘House of Z’

“House of Z,” which will be screened at Theatre Three on Sept. 18, chronicles the meteoric rise of fashion designer Zac Posen at the age of 21, his brand’s falling out of favor several years later and his challenge to rebuild his company and his reputation. The documentary peeks past the glamour of the runway and the red carpet to show audiences a true portrait of Posen as both an artist and businessman. Guest speaker, via Skype, will be director Sandy Chronopoulos.

‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’

▶ Theatre Three will screen “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” on Sept. 25. Produced by Susan Sarandon, this illuminating documentary explores Lamarr’s career as a 1940s Hollywood actress (Snow White was created in her image) and later as the secret inventor of secure wifi, bluetooth and GPS communications. The screening is co-sponsored by the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University. Director Alexandra Dean will be the guest speaker for the evening.

‘A Suitable Girl’

▶ The fourth film, titled “A Suitable Girl,” will be screened on Oct. 2 at Theatre Three and tackles the subject of arranged marriages, an issue which has become increasingly controversial to the Western world as women have rightfully embraced their independence. Winner of the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, “A Suitable Girl” follows several young, modern women in India looking to get married over the course of four years and intimately capturing their thoughts on arranged marriage, giving them a voice, and offering a unique perspective into the nuances of this institution. Guest speaker will be director Sarita Khurana.

‘Frank Serpico’

▶ The series continues on Oct. 9 with a screening of “Frank Serpico” at Theatre Three. As an NYPD officer in the hippie era, Frank Serpico blew the whistle on the corruption and payoffs running rampant in the department. He was shot in the face during a drug arrest that was rumored to be a setup and most famously became the subject of Sidney Lumet’s classic film, “Serpico.” Forty-plus years later, Serpico talks about his Southern Italian roots, his time as an undercover officer, and his post-NYPD life. The documentary gives a powerful portrait of an always-committed public servant who still walks the walk in his very own unique way. Guest speaker will be director Antonino D’Ambrosio.

‘Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan’

“Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan,” to be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 16, offers an intimate portrait of prima ballerina Wendy Whelan as she prepares to leave the New York City Ballet after a record-setting three decades. One of the modern era’s most acclaimed dancers, Whelan danced ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins as well as new works by modern standout choreographers with many roles made specifically for her. Co-sponsored by the Law Offices of Michael S. Ross, P.C. in Hauppauge; Backstage Studio of Dance in Port Jefferson Station; and Amy Tyler School of Dance in Port Jefferson. Guest speaker will be Prima Ballerina Wendy Whelan.

‘City of Ghosts’

“City of Ghosts,” which will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 23, follows the efforts of “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” (RBSS), a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With deeply personal access, this is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile, risking their lives to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today. Directed by Matthew Heineman, “City of Ghosts” was the winner of the Grand Jury Award at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. Guest speaker TBD.

‘Sidemen: Long Road to Glory’

▶ The final film for the Fall 2017 season, “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory,” will be screened at the Long Island Museum on Oct. 30. An intimate look at the incredible lives and legacies of piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen, the film captures some of the last interviews and their final live performances together before their deaths in 2011. Co-sponsored by the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and the Long Island Blues Society. A Q&A will be conducted by Tom Needham of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and WUSB with guest speakers director Scott Rosenbaum and lead guitarist for the Gregg Allman Band, Scott Sharrard. A pre-film blues concert will be held at 6 p.m. featuring Scott Sharrard. Tickets for both the concert and film are $14.

By Kevin Redding

Equipped with a pillow, blanket and a well-balanced diet of coffee and buttered popcorn, I sat among 140 strangers last Saturday night, Aug. 26, and watched people scream and die for 12 hours.

Some met their bloody fate at the hands of a killer doll by the name of Chucky, others at the hands of a pint-sized corpse named Gage. Satanic hippies and academics infected by otherworldly slime showed up to wreak havoc and a scientist named Seth Brundle shed some body parts before fully transforming into a big, bad, disgusting insect.

Moviegoers settle in for 12-hour horror marathon at the Cinema Arts Centre on Aug. 26

All this was applauded, cheered and laughed at by a horror-loving crowd during the 13th annual Pay-to-Get-Out Horror Movie Marathon at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, presented by Retro Picture Show, which ran from 10 p.m. Saturday until about 10 a.m. Sunday.

An endurance test for the eyes — How much terror can they behold? How long can they stay open? — this year’s fright-film fest packed a punch, a bite and a lot of blood in its seven-movie lineup, all shown in their original, crackly 35mm format.

The audience was made up of folks of all ages and from all across Long Island. To get us through the night, we had blankets, refreshments from the Sky Room Cafe and a unifying love for all things scary.

“I’ve been a horror movie fan since I was a kid and love watching these movies among fans of the same genre,” Lloyd Zare of Coram said before the marathon. “I’m excited and just hope I don’t doze off in the middle of any of them.”

“I love horror movies,” said Jenna Mannino from Amityville, who had survived the marathon once before several years ago and wanted to see if she could do it again. She was most excited to see “Pet Sematary.”

“When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch horror movies because I’d have really bad nightmares so now it’s just kind of a thrill. And I love the commentary during the marathon.”

oviegoers settle in for 12-hour horror marathon at the Cinema Arts Centre on Aug. 26

Huntington resident Phillip Griffin said of the event, “Oh, I love it. … It’s my second year here. It’s a lot of fun, it’s better than being at home trying to do a movie marathon. There’s a camaraderie, everyone’s here for the same reason, they’re all horror movie fans and it’s great seeing them on actual film rather than digital. It’s definitely a trek making it through [the night] but it’s worth it.”

Kicking things off was “Child’s Play 2,” a perfect opener for the audience, which howled at every one of Chucky’s one-liners; followed by “Pet Sematary,” a truly creepy adaptation of the Stephen King novel that made some people hide their heads in their blankets; and “Grindhouse Releasing’s Trailer Apocalypse!” — an insane assortment of trailers ranging from “Orca” to “Werewolves on Wheels” to “The Gruesome Twosome” to “The Exorcist” with some old Vick’s VapoRub and Clearasil commercials thrown in for good measure. At the end of most of the clips, those around me wondered aloud, “What did I just watch?”

oviegoers settle in for 12-hour horror marathon at the Cinema Arts Centre on Aug. 26

Admittedly, the rest of the night was a bit of a blur as I started drifting in the middle of John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” completely slept through “Blackenstein,” and then woke up to those satanic hippies foaming at the mouth in search of human flesh in “I Drink Your Blood.”

At just about 8:20 a.m., with the theater still packed with sleep-deprived vampires waiting for the final, mystery film, the room erupted at the sight of the opening title of “The Fly” filling up the screen — David Cronenberg’s classic 1986 body-horror masterpiece starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis.

With another marathon wrapped up, Retro Picture Show founder Michael Ciani, who began the night giving out vinyl soundtracks and memorabilia to lucky raffle winners, deemed the night a success. “It went well, we had a good crowd, even bigger than last year,” Ciani said. “I’m happy, tired but happy.”

Photos by Kevin Redding

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Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham in a scene from 'Wind River'

By Kyle Barr

The first time the audience sees the Native American reservation in “Wind River,” written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, they see a fire pit surrounded by natives huddling in blankets against the cold. The small thin sticks of the fire form a teepee and give off a dark grey smoke. It then cuts to an American flag hanging from a pole upside down. At this point in the film, it became clear that this wasn’t the mystery crime thriller that the marketing material and trailers made it out to be.

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner in a scene from ‘Wind River’

One can be excused for thinking that the bare plot could serve as a vehicle for much nuance. A young Native American woman named Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) is found dead in the snow by Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent. She has died miles away from the nearest building without shoes and with signs of murder and rape apparent on her body.

FBI special agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) comes to investigate, but when the coroner cannot declare the death a murder, which would give Banner the authority to call in a full FBI investigation, she teams up with surly Tribal Police Chief Ben (Graham Greene) and Lambert to find the killer, not yet aware that Lambert has his own personal reasons for becoming so involved in the murder of this young woman.

The story plays out much less like a mystery thriller and more like a police procedural, unfolding from one discovery to the next until we finally find out who has committed the rape and murder, via a flashback toward the very end of the film. That ends up being a very good thing, as a mystery could have been a distraction from the point the film tries to make. The big revelation that ties the themes of the film together is not figuring out exactly who was responsible, but who those responsible people represent.

Jeremy Renner stars in ‘Wind River’

Early in the film it is clear that it is going to be politically charged. The Wind River Reservation in Wyoming is shown to be a cold, ravaged land with little in the way of resources, both natural and governmental. Films like “Fargo” have already figured out the lonely and desperate tone a film can have with wide, sweeping shots of snow-covered plains and smothered buildings. But while in the Coen Brother’s film the empty expanse is supposed to put the audience on edge, the empty fields and silent mountaintops in “Wind River” showcase a sorrow brought by white desolation.

The only shame then is that there is still a hint of the white-man-saves-the-brown-people plot that Hollywood still continues to peddle (just think “Dances with Wolves.”) That is not to say that Renner and Olsen don’t do an excellent job showing people who honestly care, not just about the death of the young woman, but also for the plight of Native Americans on the reservation.

Jeremy Renner in a scene from ‘Wind River’

Olsen’s character works well in this context, as the native characters like Martin, played by Gil Birmingham, are not only reserved around her, but even antagonistic because she represents both the authority of the federal government they feel has abandoned them and a century-long history of repression.

While the native characters are not as reserved around Renner’s character, the film does a good job at showing that even though he has lived among them for years, he will never truly be a part of their society.

Yet it’s still hard not to say that Renner’s character, especially considering the events at the very end of the film, would have been even more poignant if played by a Native American actor. It’s hard to recommend a better film, especially one that deals with topics so rarely seen in other major motion pictures. “Wind River” is a legitimately good film that you might owe it to yourself to watch, especially as the summer blockbuster season winds to a close.

Rated R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images, and language, “Wind River” is now playing in local theaters.

Photos courtesy of The Weinstein Company

‘Rich Boy, Rich Girl’ starring C. Thomas Howell will be screened at the festival.

By Rita J. Egan

The Global Revolution Film Festival is coming to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 25 to 27, and North Shore film lovers are in for a revolution of the creative type. The event will consist of 10 two-hour blocks of film showings — each block consisting of a combination of original shorts, documentaries and full-length films.

A scene from ‘I’m Still Here’

Ken Washington, theater director, said the Smithtown Performing Arts Council was approached by the organizers of the film festival, and the theater was fortunate to have the weekend open. “We have been trying to integrate films into our program, and this seemed like a good way to make that happen,” he said.

Filmmaker Andrew Henriques, one of the organizers of the festival along with founder Jamal Blair and Greg Pursino, said the first two years the event was held in Farmingdale, and this year they searched for a new venue.

“We’ve been looking for a while for a festival location that is close to a train station, and the Smithtown theater is just two blocks away,” Henriques said. “And it has access to places that the filmmakers can go right after their screening because a lot of times you want to keep the party going. You’re there with a bunch of friends; you saw an awesome film; you’re high on the applause and getting to see your movie on a big screen, so you want to go someplace … There are so many locations for them to go [in Smithtown] and continue the celebration.”

He continued, “For us it’s important that they have a place to go and talk, network and talk to other directors and just socialize and talk shop. That’s a big part of it.”

Henriques, who grew up in Bellport, said Pursino discovered the theater, and he was impressed when his colleague showed him the location and loved that it had a balcony — something not many theaters have anymore.

“It reminded me of a theater from New York City,” he said. “It’s beautiful inside, and it has so much character. I know other filmmakers and other creative artistic people are going to be blown away by the theater.”

A scene from ‘The Last Warriors’

Henriques said he met Pursino, a fellow filmmaker, at a film festival, and Blair, another filmmaker, through Facebook. The organizers’ motto is “Story Above Stars” a slogan they thought of after attending some film festivals and noticing the poor quality of a few movies even though they featured recognizable actors. Their theory is that many events include movies with famous stars, knowing they will show up for the movie’s screening and draw in audiences.

“We’re not star chasing,” Henriques said.

The Global Revolution organizers choose films from all over the globe with stories that they believe will make audiences think while being entertained.

“We don’t care who is in your film,” Henriques said. “If you have a great film and a great story, you’re in.” He said the organizers chose to include web series in the event, something most film festivals don’t do; and there were no restrictions when it came to submissions. They looked for “a great plethora of fantastic films with unique stories.”

“That’s what we look for mostly,” Henriques said. “Something different; something outside of the typical things you might see in Hollywood that are telling the same old stories and remakes over and over again.”

When judging submissions for the festival six judges look for aspects such as a good storyline, cinematography, production, sound quality and pacing. The filmmaker said they looked for films that made you feel as if you are not watching a movie.

“The more that you are drawn away from the story the less points you get,” Henriques said. “A lot of things can draw you away from a story — bad camera angles, bad acting, bad sound. So, anything that takes away from the story, we start deducting points.”

Henriques said there is no quota for how many films of a certain genre they include. What is presented is based on the quality of the movie. “If we get in all comedies that are better than anything else we get, we’re going to show all comedies,” he said.

However, this year’s festival includes a variety of genres from a film that explores the current worldwide issue of sex trafficking and is inspired by real events, “I Am Still Here,” to Henriques’ romantic comedy “Rich Boy, Rich Girl” that he co-directed with Judy San Roman. The filmmaker said the comedy is the only one in the festival that features a known actor in the states, C. Thomas Howell, who rose to fame with the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.”

‘Cat Planet’ will be screened on Aug. 26.

Ten two-hour blocks of movies will be shown over the three days. Friday’s films will run from 1 to 9:30 p.m. with a networking session for directors, actors and fans at noon. Saturday’s films will be screened from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., while Sunday’s screenings will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a closing awards ceremony from 7 to 8 p.m. Each block is $10 or $25 for a day pass (good for all films shown on one day) or $60 for a full festival pass (good for all days and all blocks).

Washington hopes that local film lovers will enjoy the new venture at the theater. “We’re honored to be hosting the event and hope it can be enormously successful and become an annual occurrence here in Smithtown,” he said.

Henriques said the mission of Global Revolution Film Festival is to show films that will have audience members thinking after they leave the theater. “My main hope is that they walk away and they have films they can talk about where it just doesn’t disappear five minutes afterwards,” he said. “The experience just continues on.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2 East Main Street in Smithtown. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Film Festival Schedule

Aug. 25

Noon to 1 p.m. : Networking for directors, actors and fans

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 1}

“Vida Muertos”

“End Unsung”

“Two Texas”

“JFK Killer and Motives Revealed”

“I Am Still Here”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 2}

“Strange Harvest”

“Back Stabber”

“Impervia”

“Play-Time”

“Uncle Chuck”

“Pearl Rain”

“Forgive Me”

7:30 to 9:30 p.m. {Block 3}

“Rich Boy, Rich Girl”

Aug. 26

10 a.m. to noon {Block 1}

“Fuerza”

“The Last Warriors”

“Full Service”

“The Man with the Western Hat”

“Micro Bites”

“Cat Planet”

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 2}

“Fairfield Follies”

“The F-word”

“A Matter of Seconds”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 3}

“The Torments of Love”

“The Bake Job”

“Breaking the Silence”

“Slapface”

“Numbness”

“Madam Trigger”

7 to 9 p.m. {Block 4}

“Power of Prayer”

“Pet”

“The Son, The Father”

“Disco”

Aug. 27

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. {Block 1}

“The Accompanying Dancer”

“Pechorin”

2 to 4 p.m. {Block 2}

“Jihad”

5 to 7 p.m. {Block 3}

“Dual City”

“Cup of Tea”

“Christina Wood Memorial”

“Mirror Image”

7 to 8 p.m. : Closing/Awards Ceremony

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