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Movies

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The Comsewogue library. File photo

The on-demand film streaming service Kanopy is now available for free at the Comsewogue Public Library. Those who hold a Comsewogue library card can access Kanopy and sign up to start streaming films on instantly by visiting www.cplib.org/kanopy. Films can be streamed from any computer, television, mobile device or platform by downloading the Kanopy app for iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast or Roku.

Kanopy showcases more than 30,000 films, including award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and world cinema with collections from Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Samuel Goldwyn, The Orchard, The Great Courses, PBS and thousands of independent filmmakers.

Head of Adult Services, Loretta Holtz, said she is happy to be adding this free service to complement the library’s collection strategy.

The Kanopy collection includes indie hits like “Hunt For the Wilderpeople” and 2 Days in Paris, classic masterpieces like “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” and “Seven Samurai,” and award-winning documentaries like the 2017 Oscar-nominated “I Am Not Your Negro” and Sundance Film Festival winner “Mother of George.”

Daniel Dunaief

By Daniel Dunaief

The film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is far better than the critics suggest, while “Green Book” isn’t as deep or powerful as it could be. After watching four movies recently, including “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns,” I want to share my reactions to each of these films.

Featuring my favorite superhero, “Aquaman” had the opportunity to inspire and demoralize me at the same time. The movie was going to be a CGI (computer-generated imagery) extravaganza, with numerous impossible-to-imagine scenes filmed underwater. I don’t generally crave spectacular and splashy visuals, especially if they are designed to compensate for a weak script or disappointing acting.

Unfortunately for the water hero, the CGI was considerably more polished than the script, with attempts at humorous dialogue that were so underwhelming that it was tempting to urge the actors to stop talking and continue to swim through the scenery. Nonetheless, the movie did have its escapist and captivating elements. Perhaps the best way to enjoy a movie like this is not to think too much and to appreciate the ride. The spectacular visual spectacle almost merited the effort of seeing the movie on a large screen, instead of waiting for it to appear on a movie channel in a few months time.

Making a “Mary Poppins” sequel immediately asks the film to build on its successes, while introducing something new and engaging in its own right. The film succeeded on the first front, but fell a bit short, at least for me, on the second. Emily Blunt captured Mary’s supreme self-confidence, and magic magnificently. She took an iconic character owned by Julie Andrews and made it her own. The animated sequences, which were more lavish and extended than in the original, helped the movie create its own indelible images. The lyrics to the songs, however, weren’t quite as memorable as the original, at least for me.

“Green Book” maneuvers through the societal challenges that arise from a white driver who is transporting an African-American pianist, Don Shirley, through the South for performances in 1962. The movie feels important because it addresses bias and stereotypes during a period when the struggle for Civil Rights took root. Set against racial tensions, the film addresses the developing relationship between its two stars and has moments of tenderness and transformation for the duo at the heart of the story. It also addresses the remarkable contradiction between white society eager to enjoy the talents of an African-American entertainer and the inability of that same audience to respect the person as an equal.

Still, the movie felt like it could have been so much more. The film shows details of the life story of the driver Tony Lip, played with his usual energy and passion by Viggo Mortensen. Shirley, portrayed by Mahershala Ali, tells the background of his life. The movie would have benefited from a deeper and better understanding of Shirley’s life, which, some members of his family have suggested was different from the portrayal in the film.

That leads me to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I didn’t know a great deal about the musicians or their backstory. For me, the film was an enormous hit for two reasons: Rami Malek, who played lead singer Freddie Mercury, and the music itself. Malek embodied the energy, spirit, and unique character that was Mercury, parading around the stage, commanding every scene and blending bravado with an underlying vulnerability. The story doesn’t turn Mercury into a saint but, rather, shares his complicated life.

For fans of Queen’s music, the movie is a satisfying compilation of familiar hits that allow the legend of a wildly successful group to resonate.

From left, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murry and Harold Ramis in a scene from the original ‘Ghostbusters.’ Image courtesy of Fathom Events

Who you gonna call?

Thirty-two years after “Ghostbusters” took the world by storm, Fathom Events and Columbia Pictures invite you to a special screening of the 1984 “Ghostbusters.” Tickets are now available for audiences to revisit the classic in select cinemas on Wednesday, June 8 — the anniversary of the original release date — and Sunday, June 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time (both dates).

The film is being re-released in anticipation of the worldwide release of the new “Ghostbusters” starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth in theaters July 15 and will include an exclusive sneak peek of the remake.

Participating cinemas in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 (631-941-0156), Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville (631-758-9100) and Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas (1-800-315-5000). For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

Alan Ruck, Mia Sara and Matthew Broderick star in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ Image from Fathom Events

It’s time to save Ferris … again! Still as hilariously irresistible as the day it was released in 1986, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” returns to cinemas for two days only this May, just in time for its 30th anniversary.

The iconic ’80s film will return to select theaters across the country on May 15 and 18 in honor of the anniversary.

Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) present John Hughes’ venerated comedy as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series. Audiences can take the day off to join Ferris, Sloane and Cameron in more than 650 theaters nationwide for two screenings each day: at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time.

In our neck of the woods, screenings will be held at Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, AMC Stony Brook 17 and Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville. Tickets may be purchased online at www.fathomevents.com or at the box office.

Residents living with dementia and their care partners watch a clip from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at a past Making Memories at the Movies event. Photo from Raj Tawney

Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre is taking residents with dementia down memory lane with its innovative and unique program series titled Making Memories at the Movies.

The community-based event, which social worker Marcy Rhodes established last year and which returns on Monday, March 21, targets people living with dementia as well as their care partners. While the event helps these residents socialize with others, it has also helped many of them remember parts of their past.

“The idea is to invite people with dementia and their care partners into a creative environment where they have an opportunity to relate to the arts, and to engage in conversation and be inspired by the art,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes screens clips of six to eight iconic old movies or television shows that attendees may have seen during their youth. With winter winding down and spring on the way, the theme of next Monday’s program is Springtime. The event will feature clips of films like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Rhodes also mentioned “Easter Parade” as a film option before she finalized clips for the upcoming show.

She hesitated to disclose the names of all the clips as participants try to identify the film or TV show. Many of these clips include musical numbers as music helps people connect with one another, Rhodes said.

“People really get into it. They laugh, they talk, they share memories,” said the CAC’s director of publicity, Raj Tawney. “It’s just a really wonderful experience to watch.”

The Cinema Arts Centre is just one of a few places in the Town of Huntington that offers this program. While the Whaling Museum and Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor started offering a similar program in December of last year, the Heckscher Museum of Art established its program three years ago. Rhodes said word of the program spread among close-knit organizations like the CAC and museums.

Although Rhodes started the CAC’s Making Memories program, the concept of the program originated in Boston and has become an international effort that has extended from The Museum of Modern Art in New York City to the Louvre in Paris and Art Institute in Australia.

Marcy Rhodes speaks to event attendees at a past Making Memories at the Movies event at the Cinema Arts Centre. Photo from Raj Tawney
Marcy Rhodes speaks to event attendees at a past Making Memories at the Movies event at the Cinema Arts Centre. Photo from Raj Tawney

“It’s a social opportunity for people [with dementia] and their care partners to engage in an activity that is typical,” Rhodes said.

According to Tawney, many of these residents living with dementia rarely leave their homes, which further affects their mental health.

“Their minds can deteriorate if they go unsocialized,” Tawney said. “So when they come here, they get to see movies, they get to have a conversation with each other. It’s a very interactive program.”

Community members with dementia and their care partners can register for Making Memories at the Movies on March 21 at 11 a.m. at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington, by calling 631-423-7611. Admission is $5 per person. Popcorn and beverages will be served.

Residents who can’t make Monday’s program will have another chance to challenge their memories on May 23 and July 25 at 11 a.m.

A scene from ‘The Finest Hours.’ Photo from Walt Disney Pictures

By Rich Acritelli

Last week Walt Disney Pictures released “The Finest Hours,” a film based on the story of four Coast Guard members that braved a nor’easter that caused havoc off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952. From the beginning, you will notice an impressive cast that works well together to bring this story to light. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film stars Chris Pine (Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernard “Bernie” Webber), Casey Affleck (Robert Sybert), Holliday Grainger (Miriam Pentinen), Ben Foster (Seaman Richard Livesey) and Eric Bana (Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff). 

Gillespie depicts the simple life of the 1950s with the customs of enjoying a nice drink, meal and the chance to attend a town dance. This film starts by showing Coast Guard service member Webber as an easy going and hard-working man who goes on a blind date with Miriam Petinen. While they are opposites, they fall in love with each other.  The movie depicts a different kind of love with Miriam asking the cautiously mannered Bernie to marry her. After an awkward moment, he states that they will get married, but only after he receives permission from his commanding officer.  As Webber works on getting approval from Chief Cluff, a terrible storm hits the shores of Cape Cod. 

Gillespie does a good job in casting Bana who is a proven actor who could handle the rigors of military films (“Black Hawk Down,” “Munich,” and “Lone Survivor”). Before Webber can ask for approval, Cluff is faced with anxiety from two different fronts.  First, he understands that a rescue operation for the SS Pendelton is being conducted from the headquarters in Boston, but he is unsure how his men fit into the rescue endeavor. Second, he is a southern officer who has not yet gained the respect of these northern men who openly doubt his professional abilities.

As rescue efforts are mounted, Webber is ordered to take three Coast Guardsmen to search for the Pendleton.  It is believed that this is a suicide mission that will only lead to the death of these men. Webber has to maneuver through hazardous waters in a vessel that is too small to handle the fury of these poor maritime conditions. 

The film does a masterful job of showing the strains that are placed on these men to locate this ship. They display a comradeship that never losses focus of their objective to locate the Pendleton.

With Webber organizing the rescue efforts, the Pendleton and its crew is commanded  by Sybert played by Affleck who is masterful in showing a man who is conflicted by his superior knowledge of this ship, but a man who is deemed to be a loner.

It becomes apparent that the ship will sink after it is split in half by the storm.  Sybert refuses to accept his crew’s position that they should abandon ship in their small rescue boats. He firmly states that they will be killed from the rough waters. Sybert believes that they have to run the tanker ashore if they are  going to have any chance of seeing their loved ones. At the same time, Webber’s crew is risking their lives to reach the Pendleton: Their compass malfunctions from the multiple times that their ship takes on water from the tenacity of the massive waves.

Unflinchingly, Webber is faithful to his duty to find the Pendleton and save the crew of thirty-two men from drowning.

The film concludes with the residents  of Cape Cod helping Webber bring the men to safety. Members of this community along with Webber’s fiancée figure out the location of the tanker and they travel to a nearby dock where they turn on all of their car lights as beacons of hope to guide the rescuers to safety.  From start to finish, “The Finest Hours” portrays the devotion of the Coast Guard to overcome the gigantic weather strains that are caused by Mother Nature.

‘The Finest Hours,” rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of peril), is now playing in local theaters.

Cinema Arts Centre photo by Victoria Espinoza

Looking for a more exclusive way to enjoy movies in Huntington? The Cinema Arts Centre has just the fix.

The Preview Club is a new program opening in March that will allow a select amount of people to attend advance screenings of new films before their New York release dates.

David Schwartz, chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image in Manhattan, will be curating the program and will also design the program from audience feedback. After every show, a guest speaker — for example, the producer of the movie — will lead a discussion with the audience related to the film shown. The audience will also be given cards for comments, which will aide Schwartz in his development of the program going forward.

Preview-Card-Raj-wThere is a maximum of 270 members allowed in the club, and Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions at the Cinema Arts Centre, said the club already has about one hundred members after just announcing the program last week.

“The exciting part of it is you as an audience member won’t know what you’re seeing until you sit down in the theater,” Tawney said in a phone interview.

The films shows will be a range of major independent and international movies and will be shown about once or twice a month.

The first showing is Mar. 16, and the following few include April 16 and 27.

The Preview Club is not only a ticket to new movies but also a social club meant for fellow film lovers to interact.

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Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from ‘The Revenant.’ Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

By Zachary Hank

Leonardo DiCaprio has already received much critical acclaim for his performance in “The Revenant.” After  winning the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, his sights are set on the upcoming Academy Awards on Feb. 28 where he may take home his first Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film itself has experienced an outstanding response, receiving 12 nominations for the 2016 Oscars, including best picture, best director, cinematography and visual effects.

Based on actual events, “The Revenant” tells the story of fur trapper Hugh Glass. Set in 1823 in the early American territories of Montana and South Dakota, the film recounts Glass’ recovery from a bear mauling and retribution against his companions who killed his son and left him for dead.

It is undeniable the amount of preparation put into this film by each of the actors, but what also stands out is the fantastic camera work, directing and special effects in the film as well. Simply put, the film is gorgeous, absolutely beautiful in almost every shot. The film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose latest success was last year’s “Birdman.” As in that film, the camera work feels very clean and natural. There are also multiple times in both films when the shots of surroundings and setting occupy a few minutes of screen time, but in “The Revenant’s” case, these landscapes and scenery shots feel absolutely breathtaking.

The movie does a fantastic job at encasing the viewer within whatever setting is present. If it is a crowded, claustrophobic forest, then you’ll feel the same sense of paranoia and suspense as the characters do. Every shadow, every minimal sound and every minor detail is caught with remarkable precision. The bear mauling is very realistic and the special effects feel lifelike. Overall, “The Revenant” is hands down one of the most visually stunning films of the last few years. Now, with all these aesthetics praised, there comes a matter of addressing the film’s plot.

Although the film is based on actual events, it can’t be blamed for the screenwriters developing a weak plot. They did a lot with what they had, and that happens to be one of the film’s downfalls. Originally, there was a relatively simple story. However, it has been stretched to make an epic of two and a half hours; and the film really doesn’t have as much emotional depth or, truthfully, any real amount of depth to justify this amount of screen time.

While it may be more realistic to witness Glass’s recovery and journey in almost real time, it’s simply not worth watching the man struggle to learn to walk again for about half an hour.

Clearly, this is a very ambitious film of a story that did not warrant this scale of production, but that seemed to be the film Iñárritu wanted to  make. So while there’s not an overlying truth or revelation to be found within the actual story other than be careful not to be mauled by a bear, Iñárritu twists this plot to exploit the suffering and cruelty toward Native Americans by European settlers, especially the French.

Sure, Glass’ son was half Native American, but in reality the story does not have much to do with racial issues, and Iñárritu’s inclusion of multiple plot lines of the French and their interactions with local Native Americans doesn’t feel anything more than an attempt to make a statement on something that really didn’t have much relevance to the story’s plot. Yes, Glass does have these flashbacks to a Native American village being burned down and the death of his wife in the flames, but then again, the flashbacks themselves aren’t entirely necessary and sometimes just feel pointless. They’re overly sentimental and just feel forced.

Still, even needless flashbacks can have an impact if they’re brought on by dynamic performances. Everyone in this film does a pretty good job. Tom Hardy in the role of John Fitzgerald, an adversary of Glass, really delivers a fantastic performance and is probably the most deserving of being nominated for Best Supporting Actor this year.

Now for the lead. It’s impossible to critique DiCaprio’s preparation and dedication to this role. He’s clearly put the work in and it’s pretty much what you would expect. If you weren’t sold on him before, maybe you will be now, but in reality it still feels like DiCaprio up there — he has a personality that can’t be shaken and seems to follow him to each role.

Many people are rooting for DiCaprio to win an Academy Award for the first time, and chances are he’ll probably do so as “The Revenant,” which may be a bit overblown, is definitely one of the most stunning and well-acted films of the year. If you don’t mind sitting through stretches of time with nothing really happening, then chances are you’ll be rewarded by some fantastic elements.

“The Revenant” is rated R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.

Some of the craft beers now for sale at the Cinema Arts Centre Sky Room Cafe. Photo from Raj Tawney

The Sky Room Café has expanded its menu, now offering craft beer and wine.

According to Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotion at the Cinema Arts Centre, located at 423 Park Ave., Huntington, this is part of a continuing effort to make the Sky Café into its own entity.

Aside from a wide-ranging menu, the Sky Café also hosts Cult Café, Sky Room Talks, Pop Culture Café, Hard Luck Café, movie trivia night and various music acts every month.

Cult Café is a new film series aimed at a younger audience that shows popular cult classic films. The first film featured was “The Big Lebowski,” which ran last Saturday and had an audience of more than 100 people. Movies to come include “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”

Sky Room Talks is a series where local film historians give talks and play clips from different films and television shows. One talk focused on the still popular “Twilight Zone” TV series from the early 1960s and was led by historian Philip Harwood.

Photo from Fathom Events

One of the most influential and highest-grossing Westerns ever made, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” rides back into movie theaters this week for the first time in 40 years courtesy of Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies.

With its iconic performances by Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, Robert Redford as The Sundance Kid and Katharine Ross as Etta Place, director George Roy Hill’s sprawling comedy-drama has delighted audiences around the world, but hasn’t been seen on the big screen in nearly two generations.

Featuring a specially-produced commentary by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, the film will be shown at more than 650 theaters around the country on Sunday, Jan. 17, and Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In our neck of the woods, screenings will be held at Island 16, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville; AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook; and Farmingdale Multiplex 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale. Tickets are available online at www.FathomEvents.com or at theater box offices.

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