Before I get into my suggestions, I want to say something about the recent Cinema at the Square event downtown. I had the pleasure of going to see Citizen Kane and Planet of the Apes at the Palace Theater, and I have to say my expectations were met and then some. The Palace is an undeniably gorgeous setting to see classic films. On both occasions, I opted to view the films from the balcony. I feel it gave me that classic film experience from when movie theaters weren’t just megaplexes that all look exactly the same. I couldn’t help but feel like Charles Foster Kane in the scene where he is watching his wife perform from the balcony of the theater he had built for her. Little things like that can really add to the enjoyment of a film. All things considered, I would highly recommend that everyone experience a film at the Palace. The setting and the audience were a lovely change of pace from uncomfortable awkwardness that the megaplex experience often is. For contrast, I saw The Wolverine at a Cinemark recently and had to complain to the manager about the person next to me constantly pulling out their phone, AND I had to move my seat before the film started because of some woman’s desire to make sure everyone in the theater could smell her perfume. If I had things my way, I would see every film at the Palace.
Blackfish at the Cedar Lee
Synopsis: Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black and white mammal is like a two-faced Janus-beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who-unlike any orca in the wild-has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong?
I’ve stated before in this column that I am a massive documentary fan. What I’ve never revealed is that my favorite animal as a child was the Orca. To answer the first two questions that may jump into your head, yes I saw Free Willy as a kid and loved it, and yes I had the Zoobook on Killer Whales/Orcas. On the one occasion I ever had the chance to go to a Sea World (it was the now closed Ohio location), I was of course excited about seeing the whale show. When I heard about Blackfish, it immediately added a new context to the memory of that trip. It’s not terribly often that a documentary hits close to home like this, and I think that is the driving force of the PR nightmare Sea World has found themselves in since the film festival premiere earlier this year. My hope is that this becomes one of those documentaries that leads to some sort of change in the industry that it discusses. Time will tell on that, but I can almost guarantee that Blackfish will be up for a documentary Oscar come awards season.
The Way, Way Back at the Cedar Lee
Synopsis: THE WAY, WAY BACK is the funny and poignant coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world – all during a summer he will never forget.
Summer is definitely the time for a good coming-of-age film. My own interest in The Way, Way Back stems from my love of Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell; both of whom are in this movie. It also marks the second quirky indie comedy to feature both Carell and Toni Collette since their pairing in one of my all-time favorite indie films, Little Miss Sunshine. I feel like this cast should have a ton of on-screen chemistry as they are all, in my opinion, much better in smaller character-based films like The Way, Way Back appears to be. This is the perfect film to check out as summer inches toward fall because it makes winter seem a bit further away for 90+ minutes.