Screenshots: Opera Plaza returns with Kosovo drama, Hawaiian ghosts and Dirty Harry

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This Friday sees the reopening of Opera Plaza cinemas, which will dramatically increase the number of sci-fi arthouse screens in a form we are told “completely renovated”, with a “whole new look and significant technical improvements “. Its four auditoriums will be back with rates that include the Kosovo drama Hive (see below), literary docu-bio Kurt Vonnegut: Take off in time, the meditative story of Hawaiian ghosts I was a simple man, and a double list of classic San Francisco thriller Bullitt and Dirty Harry. For general information about the venue, as well as current and upcoming programs, go here.

Hive
Although he lost the Oscar for best international feature film to the benefit of Denmark’s most popular Another round, there has arguably been no better U.S. theatrical release in 2021 (let alone her nomination in 2020) than Jasmila Zbanic’s Bosnian war drama. Quo Vadis, Aïda? Blerta Basholli’s debut film feels like a sort of accompanying play, in that it also deals with the recent violent conflict in the Balkans from the perspective of a desperate wife and mother. Only during Aida? treated of the frantic attempt to save loved ones amid “ethnic cleansing”, Hive focuses on the aftermath of such events, as the presumed dead are still officially “missing” in large numbers, and those they have left remain in a stasis of waiting.

Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) is a woman from a village in Kosovo who, seven years earlier, in 1999, was the scene of one of the worst massacres of the war, in which her husband “disappeared”. Now the war is long over, but everyone still acts as if their missing men are returning. Fahrije has doubts about it (she has started searching for her wife’s remains in body bags carried by UN peacekeepers), but her teenage daughter and elderly stepfather remain stubbornly full of hope. During this time, they need to be fed, and Fahrije’s beekeeping can only generate limited income. She therefore offers women in the region to become entrepreneurs and form a collective to sell their indigenous specialty, ajvar (a pepper relish) in the nearest large town.

Such an undertaking is admirable, at least that is what you might think. But in spite of their considerably reduced number, the men of the surroundings have a very backward idea of ​​”the place of the woman”. And this place doesn’t include learning to drive, making trade deals with foreigners, or disrupting the traditional patriarchal order. Yes, this is the kind of culture in which a woman can be publicly called a “whore” (and stones thrown) for simply devising ways to keep her family from starving to death.

Anchored by Gashi’s quietly determined performance as a heroine – a real person whose company now employs 50 people –Hive is itself sober but powerful, delivering an implicit message of feminist empowerment without needing to spell it out. It’s a valid choice as this year’s Kosovo Oscar nominee, a choice that has already won numerous awards at Sundance and elsewhere. In addition to the Opera Plaza, the film opens on Friday 19 at the Rafael Film Center and other venues.

Celebration
Feeding a family turns out to be dangerous in a number of ways in television director Lee Haven Jones’ theatrical feature debut, which is also the rare Welsh-language film, at least rare among those never seen overseas. Parliamentarian Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) and his brilliant wife Glenda (Nia Roberts) spend most of their time in London. For now, however, they have returned “home” to an ultramodern and coldly imposing country parsonage, an anomaly in the once pristine landscape of its ancestral inherited farmland, which they let mining interests plunder. More of this lucrative but green business is on the agenda for tonight when they have a dinner party. To get ready, Glenda hired a local waitress Cadi (Annes Elwy) as a kitchen helper and waitress.

But Cadi is not what she appears to be for this decadent clan, whose ranks also include two null adult sons, the drug addict Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and the creepy Gwerydd (Sion Alun Davies). Long before guests arrive, we spot strange, distracted, sometimes almost savage behavior that his employers don’t notice. When they do, it will be too late, for this murky-explaining entity in a borrowed human guise is actually on a mission of revenge against these wealthy homeless people for their crimes against Earth.

Celebration is the latest in a long line of films from Teorema through Sleep angrily, the king, the guest etc. in which a mysterious stranger walks into a decadent and discordant house and delivers everyone from – or from – their sins. It straddles the art and genre extremes of using this concept, with a slow, artistic, and conscious presentation that ultimately turns to the gory and the grotesque. It’s a pretentious movie, but still interesting. IFC Films will be released in a limited number of theaters and rental platforms on Friday the 19th.

Dean Martin: King of Cool and other starred documentaries
It’s a celebrity weekend in non-fiction cinema, as several new features spotlight creative luminaries. In addition to the above Kurt Vonnegut: Take off in time, about the late scribe Slaughterhouse-Five (available in limited theaters as well as on streaming platforms), there is Brian Wilson: long road promised, another career appreciation of the Beach Boys’ original pop genius (on request from Friday the 19th); and Glued paper (opening at Roxie and Shattuck), a self-portrait of the French globe-trotting artist known as JR who you may remember from his “co-starring” appearance with Agnes Varda in her 2017 Faces Places.

Then there is King of freshness, a fun flashback to the must-have Rat Pack whose appeal lay largely in the fact that he seemed to regard showbiz as a blunder. Humbly born in 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio (not so affectionately nicknamed “Stupidsville” by many), Dino Paul Crocetti tried a boxing career and began a successful singing career before fate brought him closer to maniacal comedian Jerry Lewis. . Their unlikely ‘playboy and putz’ chemistry made them a sensation in nightclubs, then big movie and TV stars before Lewis’s megalomania sparked an acrimonious breakup in 1956.

Considered the Garfunkel of the duo, straight man Martin’s solo career prospects were not well rated. But he surprises everyone by defending himself as a dramatic actor (facing Brando and Clift in young lions, then John Wayne in Rio Bravo), as well as a skillful comedian and hugely popular crooner, talents also featured on a long-running variety show.

Tom Donahue’s documentary is the kind that needs to engage irrelevant recent celebrities (Alec Baldwin, RZA, Jon Hamm, Josh Homme) as commentators alongside friends, family and colleagues. who really knew Martin. Although even close friends admit they didn’t know him well, he was awesome and loved, but also kept a tangible distance from everyone.

Yet proof of his indelible composure is everywhere here, from images of him perpetually laughing at blunders on the air (although his “drunk” act was mostly just that, an act) to his boycott. of JFK’s nomination in solidarity with fellow Rat Packer Sammy Davis Jr., whose interracial marriage to actress Mai Britt had made him too “controversial” for that honor. Even though you’re too young to remember Martin King of freshness makes a compelling case for his stature in 20th century American culture. This Friday the 19th, he’ll start playing Turner Classic Movies, which will also schedule four of the star’s big-screen vintage vehicles.


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