New series join sporting offerings
On April 19, Fredonia Opera House screens the National Theatre’s acclaimed adaptation of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.
Frankenstein image by Catharine Ashmore
Summer’s here! Well, not quite, but the summer movie season now kicks off in April. This year, that means a new Fast and the Furious movie. Let’s all skip that, and head to some of the screenings on this list, OK?
Weekend Matinees at the North Park: The popular matinee series at the North Park Theatre starts the month with three wildly diverse selections. Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer lead the cast of Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke, a strangely fascinating fantasy epic from 1985, on April 1 and 2. The Japanese foodie favorite Tampopo is a must-see on April 8; this is a newly restored version of the 1985 film universally considered a classic. And Hayao Miyazaki’s wondrous 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro screens on April 9. Miyazaki’s work always draws a crowd to the North Park, and Totoro, especially, serves as a fine introduction to the master’s work. (North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)
Sword Art Online—Ordinal Scale: Anime favorite Sword Art Online moves to the big screen and hits the North Park for five showings. (2 and 4 p.m. on April 29, 2, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. on April 30 at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)
Buffalo Film Seminars: The April Buffalo Film Seminars might be the most thrilling in series history. David Bowie’s finest big-screen role came courtesy of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the stunning story of a gaunt extraterrestrial in New Mexico screens on April 4. On April 11 comes Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, and I expect this will be the long version of the notoriously butchered gangster epic starring Robert De Niro. Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Double Life of Veronique, a mesmerizing drama from the director of the Three Colours trilogy, screens on April 18. The month ends with Wong Kar-wai’s heartbreaking and sensual In the Mood for Love on April 25. (7 p.m. on March 7, 21, and 28 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)
Old Chestnut Film Society—Clash by Night: This 1952 drama from Fritz Lang stars Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Ryan. (7:30 p.m. on April 7 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)
Thursday Night Terrors—Pieces: Part of what makes the Thursday Night Terrors screening series so fun is that selections are not at all obvious. Take, for example, Pieces, which screens on April 27. Juan Piquer Simón’s horror film about a college-campus murderer using body parts to create a human jigsaw puzzle is a cult classic that most film freaks (including me) are unaware of. If it’s good enough for Thursday Night Terrors, you know it’s going to be bloody awesome. (7:30 p.m. on April 27 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)
200 films will be screened at Hot Docs in Toronto starting April 27.
Image by Sophia Burke
Hot Docs: North America’s largest documentary festival returns to Toronto at the end of April and into early May. It’s well worth the drive for anyone interested in nonfiction film, or those seeking the type of insight only a documentary can provide. The lineup of over 200 films was not set at press time, so visit hotdocs.ca for a rundown and schedules. (April 27-May 7; for schedule and locations, visit hotdocs.ca)
TCM Big Screen Classics—North by Northwest and The Graduate: The ongoing Turner Classic Movies screening series offers up two heavyweights this month. First is Hitchcock’s endlessly witty, truly thrilling North by Northwest on April 2 and 5. The Cary Grant-starrer is made for a large screen. The same could be said of The Graduate, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with screenings on April 23 and 26. While Mike Nichols’ tale of Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson is just as funny at home, a cinema screen allows audiences to really appreciate the extraordinary visuals. (Think of Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin floating in the family pool, or the iconic shot of Anne Bancroft’s leg.) (North by Northwest: 2 and 7 p.m. on April 2 and 5; The Graduate: 2 and 7 p.m. on April 23 and 26; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)
Cultivate Cinema Circle—Ghosts and Class Divide: The spring CCC season might be its boldest yet: a four-film retrospective of the early films from Barbara and Phoenix director Christian Petzold. Titled “Lonely Ghosts: The Early Cinematic Work of Christian Petzold,” the screenings are presented in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Boston and Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center. Set for April 5 is Petzold’s Ghosts, from 2005, is an enigmatic story memory and identity. Like the other films in the retrospective, it has rarely been seeing in the U.S. Also screening this month is Class Divide, director Marc Levin’s documentary, which looks at the widening gap between the haves and have nots. Levin is best-known for the acclaimed documentary Slam. (Ghosts: 7 p.m. on April 5 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; Class Divide: 7 p.m. on April 26 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)
Roycroft Film Society—Cave of Forgotten Dreams: One of Werner Herzog’s most widely seen films was Dreams, a documentary exploring extraordinary caves in the south of France. (4 p.m. on April 9 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)
Rigoletto Live at the Dipson Amherst: This month’s simulcast is Verdi’s opera based on a Victor Hugo play. (2 p.m. on April 10 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)
Spotlight Visions of an Island—Sky Hopinka in Person: The Milwaukee artist presents three of his award-winning films. (7 p.m. on April 15 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.; squeaky.org)
Mary Shelley—A Living History and Frankenstein at the Fredonia Opera House: Susan Marie Frontczak stars as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in the unique performance A Living History on April 20 at the Fredonia Opera House, followed by an audience Q-and-A. The next night, the Opera House screens the National Theatre’s acclaimed adaptation of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller and directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire). This is one of several interesting high definition screenings at the Fredonia Opera House this month. Also scheduled is A Contemporary Evening (of Dance) featuring Bolshoi Ballet on April 1; a Donmar Warehouse production of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, starring Gemma Arterton, on April 8; and a Metropolitan Opera production of Eugene Onegin on April 22. (Mary Shelley—A Living History: 7:30 p.m. on April 20; Frankenstein: 7:30 p.m. on April 21; at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)
TCM Big Screen Classics offer North by Northwest and The Graduate this month.
North by Northwest image courtesy of Warner Brothers
The Screening Room: April at the Screening Room opens with an oddity, the mermaid horror flick The Lure. It screens from April 6 to April 12. Opening April 7 and running through April 14 is Office Space, Mike Judge’s modern classic about the nightmares of cubicle life. The April 13 screening is a trivia night edition hosted by Dave Schwartz. Lastly, starting April 21 and running through April 29 is Hitchcock’s still-startling Vertigo. Best movie ever? Hard to say, but the Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak starrer about sexual obsession and identity is certainly one of the most fascinating. (Check screeningroom.net for times; all events at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst)
Mighty Wurlitzer Concert and Silent Film at the Riviera: Organist Clark Wilson will accompany a screening of Harold Lloyd’s silent classic The Freshman at this unique event. (7:30 p.m. on April 5 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)
Images Festival: For eight days, Toronto’s Images Festival features screenings, events, performances, and exhibitions from international artists. The 2017 festival includes forty-eight films, twelve exhibitions, and four live image projects. (April 20 to 27 at Innis Town Hall, Theatre University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto; opening night feature premieres at the Royal Theatre, 608 College St., Toronto; imagesfestival.com)
Christopher Schobert is a film critic for the Buffalo News and other outlets.