Notes From The Program Director | Week of June 2nd, 2023
Notes From The Program Director
Week of June 2nd, 2023
Newsletter for June 2-June 8, 2023
Nicole Holofcener’s wonderful comedy-dramaYou Hurt My Feelingscontinues this week, and we are also thrilled to have our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging into our cinema inSpider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, an intoxicating sequel that rivals, and perhaps even soars beyond, the creative brilliance and scope of the first film.
As exciting as the idea of a sequel to a brilliant film often is, I generally find myself trying to temper my expectations so as to deflate any potential disappointment with such a sequel. How often, really, has a sequel truly matched, or exceeded, a first film? We do certainly have sequels likeThe Empire Strikes Back(still my favorite film in the entireStar Warsfranchise) or the passionately lovedThe Dark Knight, the sequel toBatman Begins, but those beloved sequels seem increasingly rare, particularly when financial pressures on a sequel so often seem to stifle creative freedom. In this case, I cannot definitely predict how every individual viewer will receiveAcross the Spider-Verse, particularly, as the first film has a deeply passionate fandom (my family among them), but when the first reviews for this sequel started to roll in, my own hopes began to soar.Across the Spider-Versecurrently sits at a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, meeting near universal acclaim, and the downright rapturous praise from reviewers from every outlet has been overwhelming. Here’s just a smattering of what folks are saying:
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the rare sequel that dazzles as much as the original did. It’s something to behold. Colors drip, invert and splatter in a shimmering pop-art swirl.” ~Jake Coyle, AP
“Across the Spider-Verse keeps up the momentum, goes further with the artistry and is perhaps even more rewarding. Like any great sequel free from the legwork of setting things up, this one is more contemplative and soulful.” Radheyan Simonpillai, Globe and Mail
“Just when you thought Everything Everywhere All at Once was the pinnacle of multiverse stories, Across the Spider-Verse swings in to take Miles Morales’s saga and the animation medium to the next level.” Rendy Jones, Ebert
“Watching it, you have to wonder why more superhero spectaculars don’t ditch their nominally live-action shooting strategies for the full expressive freedom of animation.” A. A. Dowd, Chronicle
“It’s an extravagant, very cool love letter to graphic design, executed with superb draftsmanship and giddy, infectious joy.” Anne Hornaday, WA Post
And perhaps my favorite, from Brian Tallerico atEbert:
“My esteemed colleague Christy Lemire opened her review of Into the Spider-Verse with a quote from her 9-year old asking if he could see it again, so I think there’s some synergy in quote my 9-year old to open this one, ‘That might be the best movie I’ve ever seen.’”
So that settles it, then, for me and my family: for us, it’ll be a Spider-Verse weekend!
As if a new Spider-Verse film wasn’t enough though, we’ve also got another family-friendly and deeply beloved film hitting our screens this week as we open our newStudio Ghibliseries withMy Neighbor Totoro. Arguably the most huggable and irresistibly snuggable of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, the only downside toMy Neighbor Totorois, when the film ends, the deep sadness that it’s impossible in real life to hug a Totoro or ride in the Cat-bus must be faced. Fortunately, we’ve got several opportunities to escape into the wonderful, gentle land of Totoro by way of the big screen this week: dubbed versions will play on Saturday at 1:30 pm and 9:20 pm, and on Sunday at 10:00 am (PJ’s welcome!), and the subbed version plays on Wednesday at 7:45 pm.
We had a wonderful opening to Pride Month with ourPride Monthseries, starting June 1 with the swooningly gorgeousCarol, and this Thursday, June 8, brings us the second film in ourTranscendent Love Storiesseries, Brokeback Mountain. Particularly if you’ve not revisited the film since it came out in 2005, when so much of the conversation was unfortunately dominated by the novelty of a “gay cowboy” story, it’s a film that demands to be seen again, and especially on the expanse of the big screen. Ang Lee, who excels at the sweepingly lush epic--as we’ve seen inCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon--as well as at the churning turmoil of deeply suppressed romantic desire--as inSense and Sensibility--and in forbidden passionate love--as inLust, Caution--is firing on all cylinders withBrokeback Mountain, a film that builds its tenderness and emotion slowly but oh so exquisitely and a film that gives space to some truly stunning performances, including from Heath Ledger, whose young life would be tragically cut short just a couple of years after filming.Brokeback Mountainis one of the purest delights of cinema and of the emotional catharsis it offers, so it is truly a pleasure to have it on our screens this month.
Finally, we’ve got the final film in ourCinema East2022-23 season this week Tuesday, June 6, withRouge, directed by Stanley Kwan and starring Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung (whom Wong Kar Wai fans may know best fromHappy TogetherandDays of Being Wild). Watch out for the newsletter from Cinema East curator, Jeff Purdue, this weekend to tell us more aboutRouge, but for now I’ll let Janus, our distributor for the film give us a taste of its story and unique pleasures: “Rougebridges past and present in its tragic romance between a humble courtesan and the wayward scion of a wealthy family, who embrace death by suicide pact amid the opulent teahouses of 1930s Hong Kong. Fifty years later, she returns to the city-state to find him, drawing a young contemporary couple into her quest to rekindle a passion that may be as illusory as time itself. With its lush mise-en-scene and transcendentally melancholy mood, this sensuous ghost story is an exquisite, enduringly resonant elegy for both lost love and vanishing history.”
What a week for cinema. See you at the movies, friends!