Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Electrifying" Critical Smash GOD'S OWN COUNTRY Opens Friday 12/29

It's the time of the season for Year-End lists. In which critics, filmmakers and - well, everyone - is posting their lists of what the best movies or 2017 were. If you've been reading a lot of these, one title that has shown up a lot and that you may not be familiar with is GOD'S OWN COUNTRY, the first feature by writer/director Francis Lee. The drama takes us into the lives of a pair of gay farm workers in Britain, the aimless and self-destructive Johnny, played by Josh O'Connor (of the British TV series THE DURRELLS OF CORFU), and Gheorge (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant worker who teaches Johnny to slow down and appreciate the finer aspects of life and love.

Winner of multiple British Independent Film Awards, including Best Picture, GOD'S OWN COUNTRY has also appeared on multiple critic's year end lists, including Sight & Sound's Best Films of 2017 and Empire's  Top 10 Films of 2017, as well as on numerous individual lists.

Here's what the critics are saying about GOD'S OWN COUNTRY:

NPR's Ella Taylor says, "At its heart, GOD'S OWN COUNTRY is an intensely full-throttle, grand love story and a coming-of-age parable in which an emotionally stunted boy finds his path to manhood eased through the tenderness and care of a lover.

Cary Darling of the Houston Chronicle calls the film "an electrifying feature debut" and "a haunting meditation on love blooming in rocky terrain, one that lingers long after the lights have gone up."

From David Lewis of the San Francisco Chronicle, "This is not a movie about coming out and the collateral damage that ensues. It's a universal tale about giving yourself over to love, even when you seem hopelessly broken."
Isaac Feldberg of the Boston Globe says, "O’Connor and Secareanu give such aching performances that their romance feels real."

Tickets for GOD'S OWN COUNTRY, opening 12/29 at the AFS Cinema, are now on sale.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What They're Saying About: BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, Opening 12/22

The actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Kiesler (1914) in Austria, possessed a beauty that defied belief. Her life story is equally hard to believe.

In 1933 she starred in the Czech erotic film ECSTASY, which became a controversial worldwide sensation. Later she married a wealthy munitions manufacturer and when he began to cozy up to the Nazis and Fascists, she (who was born into a Jewish family), fled to France. There she was "discovered" by Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer and brought to Hollywood, where she became a major movie star.

At the same time, she was working away as an inventor, developing various aerodynamic airplane wing innovations and other designs. But it was her plan for a frequency-hopping radio spectrum transmitter that has given her a place in technological history forever though, as it provided the basis for modern cellular telephony. Seriously.

It's a wild story, and the new film BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, directed by Alexandra Dean, tells the whole tale through interviews and archival footage. It's fascinating. But don't just believe us, believe the critics.

And come see it with us at the AFS Cinema where it opens on Friday, December 22.

Here are a few excerpts from the reviews:
"What makes "Bombshell" intriguing is not just Lamarr's gift for invention, it's also what a fiery individualist she was, someone who had no regrets about her eventful life ("You learn from everything"), not even its racy, tabloid elements." - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Recognition (and compensation) proved elusive in Lamarr's lifetime, but in this marvelous documentary, a brilliant woman - "I'm a very simple, complicated person" - finally gets her due." - Chuck Wilson, Village Voice
"Ms. Dean relates Lamarr's ventures, those onscreen and off, with savvy and narrative snap, fluidly marshaling a mix of original interviews and archival material that includes film clips, home movies and other footage." - Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"A thoroughly engaging, eye-opening showbiz doc." - John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Monday, December 18, 2017

Don't Miss! NOTHING LASTS FOREVER with Writer/Director Tom Schiller in Person

Tom Schiller is a comedy legend many times over for his work as one of the original writers of Saturday Night Live and as the filmmaker behind the SNL-featured shorts called Schiller's Reels. In 1984, he made a comedy film unlike any other. Titled NOTHING LASTS FOREVER, it tells the story of a young man (Zach Galligan) who seeks to become an artist in a dystopian alternate-universe Manhattan - a black and white Manhattan that seems to be cobbled together from late night movie memories. It's a bold, unusual and very funny film, featuring star turns from the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and legends like Imogene Coca, Sam Jaffe and Eddie Fisher (as himself.)

Then, for reasons that are still obscure, Metro Goldwyn Mayer withdrew the film from its release plans, and it has never been subsequently released except for a screening on TCM in 2015.

It would be a tough break for any film, and filmmaker, but it especially stung because, as Richard Brody of the New Yorker has noted, the film is a "Lost Comedic Masterpiece." Everyone who sees it seems to love it, and the peals of laughter from the lucky audiences who have seen it tell us that it has not dated at all.

The studio-held 35mm print of NOTHING LASTS FOREVER has been shown around several times, but for the last few years a rights issue has prevented it from being shown. Which makes the upcoming AFS screening on Saturday, December 23 all the more special. Schiller, a funny and eloquent storyteller, will appear in person with the inside scoop on the making of the film and the personalities involved. Additionally, we will screen some of Schiller's short films.

There are tickets remaining for this screening. We hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Home For The Holidays? Join Us at the AFS Cinema for Holiday Classics

Nick & Nora Charles, doing what comes naturally at Christmas-time

We all have our favorite holiday classics. During the holiday season this year at AFS we are reaching way back into Hollywood's Golden Age to present some of our favorites, some very well known, some less so, but all great.

Come celebrate the season with AFS, as we present our favorite classic holiday films from December 22nd to the 30th.

The great Barbara Stanwyck stars as a newspaper columnist whose public image is that of the perfect, affluent housewife but who meanwhile is a single workaholic who rarely leaves her typewriter and lives on takeout food. When a young soldier wins a contest to spend CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT with America's Perfect Homemaker, she has to scramble to create the real-life illusion for an entire Christmas weekend. Does she succeed? Watch the movie! As always, Barbara Stanwyck is one of the great screen stars, and you'll fall in love with her, just like... Oh I've said too much.

Image result for barbara stanwyck christmas in connecticut
The main thing is: STANWYCK

In the raucous classic comedy THE THIN MAN, we meet Nick and Nora Charles, a happily married (and generally soused) couple who spend the Christmas holidays in New York, where reformed detective Nick (William Powell) becomes reluctantly involved in a murder mystery and amateur sleuth Nora (Myrna Loy) enjoys every minute of it. Full of great dialogue, a truly ludicrous amount of alcohol consumption, and lots of pre-code filthy humor. Oh, and the world's cutest dog, Asta. Top recommendation!

Image result for the thin man dog
The inclusion of the adorable dog is almost too much.

Speaking of altered consciousness, there's something truly transporting about a classic '50s Technicolor musical. WHITE CHRISTMAS certainly fits the bill there, with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen in a romance-filled, eye-popping, let's-put-on-a-show classic featuring like a thousand great Irving Berlin songs.

If you can resist two hours of THIS, more power to you

And then there's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, such a perennial holiday classic that we can almost forget that it was a relative flop upon release, and is super dark. Remember that in 1946, mortality and the search for meaning in life weren't exactly just abstractions. For millions of Americans, filmmaker Frank Capra, and star Jimmy Stewart included, coming back home after the ordeal of war was fraught with all kinds of conflicting emotions, and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, often chided as sentimental or corny, is in fact a pretty honest dramatic reckoning with many of these forces. It's a great, great film, and we're eager to share it anew. 

As a matter of fact, I am crying. So are you. That's OK.

As always, we will be serving our full menu and seasonal cocktails to help get you in the holiday spirit. Bring friends. Hang out. Have fun. It's a time for togetherness.

Check out the entire series and showtimes HERE.

Monday, December 11, 2017

'Transcendent Masterpiece' THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC Coming to AFS Cinema in New Restoration

In 1928, just a few years after the canonization of Joan of Arc, the great Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer was approached to create a film biography of St. Joan. Dreyer, who could have gone in many directions, chose to show the spiritual struggle of the Maid of Orleans. To that end he cast the stage actress Maria Falconetti, whose performance has routinely been cited as one of the greatest in all of cinema history. Dreyer's depiction of the trial of Joan is intense, deeply spiritual, and a triumph of cinema.

As J. Hoberman says in his excellent New York Times piece about the film:
"If novels like “Madame Bovary” or “Crime and Punishment” are must-reads, then “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is a cinematic must-see."
The AFS Cinema will present the film with two soundtracks. On Saturday, December 16 at 2pm the version with composer Richard Einhorn's acclaimed Voices Of Light score will play. The version with its alternate score, by Adrian Utley and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp/Portishead) screens on Sunday, Dec. 17. See showtimes for details.

Friday, December 1, 2017

AFS January/February 2018 Calendar of Events is Live!

Agnes Varda's CLEO FROM 5 TO 7

AFS Signature and Specialty programs are now on sale through the end of February. There are many films to choose from: special series, old favorites, the best of new docs, and a visit from a filmmaking legend. You can see all the events here.


In January we present an Essential Cinema retrospective of the films of Bong Joon-Ho, all on 35mm except the brand new digital restoration of MEMORIES OF MURDER.

Agnès Varda

Then, in February, we present four of Agnès Varda's greatest films, including her newest, FACES PLACES and more.

Bette Gordon's VARIETY

Legendary filmmaker Bette Gordon will join us to present several of her films, including the groundbreaking 1983 independent classic VARIETY.

Terrence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN

Our SPIRIT OF '78 series will celebrate the 40th anniversary of pivotal classics DAYS OF HEAVEN, COMING HOME and MIDNIGHT EXPRESS.


The ongoing LATES series returns, with Sion Sono's new film ANTIPORNO, the outrageous horror farce BITCH, and classics by Carax, Almodovar and Rollin.

Our favorite film professor Caroline Frick, of the University of Texas and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, will join us for a series called CLASSIC CHEMISTRY, which features some of the greatest examples of couple-chemistry of Hollywood's golden era.

James Bidgood's PINK NARCISSUS

Also, the HOMO ARIGATO series comes to the AFS Cinema for the first time in 2018, with the new ballroom culture doc KIKI and Queer Cinema classic PINK NARCISSUS.

Seijun Suzuki thinks you're going to like his surreal TAISHO TRILOGY

All this plus DOC NIGHTS, the cutting edge DEEP END series, the family friendly SUNDAY SCHOOL program, a Special OSCILLOSCOPE PICTURES RETROSPECTIVE, New restorations of films from Jacques Becker, Seijun Suzuki, and more, and just LOTS AND LOTS OF OTHER STUFF that you can't miss.

As always, no need to be a member, but it's a lot cheaper if you are. The LOVE membership is $20 a month and you get dozens of free screenings every month. Become a member here.