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Coming Attractions / Four screenings

(and a VOD pick) to kick-start 2020

Harold Perrineau, Kim Coates, and William Fichtner in Cold Brook

Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment


January is often a quiet month on the film screenings front, perhaps because it’s a time when films with Academy Awards buzz finally arrive at Western New York cinemas. The first month of 2020 is no exception. However, there are still gems to be enjoyed.


Here are four January screenings and one digital/video-on-demand selection to put on your calendar.


Weathering With You (Fathom Events)

As a veteran film festival attendee, I say with no hesitation that watching a film in such a setting gives you, for lack of a better term, beer goggles. In other words, sometimes a marginal entry seems like a masterpiece due to audience response, the presence of actors and filmmakers, or general movie hysteria. However, the opposite can also happen. A film that seems weak is, after further contemplation, deemed not so bad.


I’ve had this experience a number of times over the years, but the latest was Weathering With You, an entry at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. A new animated creation from Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, Weathering has the same stunning animation and bold storytelling that made his previous effort, Your Name, a global smash. Yet, at TIFF, the film left me cold. The story—a young runaway gets a job writing for a strange magazine  and meets a girl with the ability to stop the rain—seemed absurd, even by animation standards. It did not help that it was the fourth film in a five-film day for me.


Therein lies the problem. I wasn’t in the right state of mind to enjoy Weathering With You, a film with many noteworthy delights. I expect animation fans will be spellbound. And even exhausted folks like me might exit the theater with admiration for Shinkai’s wistful drama.


GKIDS and Fathom Events are bringing Weathering to local screens for two days, January 15 and 16. Fans of anime and other Japanese animated films will not want to miss it.


Times TBA on Jan. 15 & 16 at the Regal Elmwood Center (2001 Elmwood Ave.) and Regal Transit Center (6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville)




City Lights (Buffalo Film Seminars)

Yes, another season of the Buffalo Film Seminars series has arrived. And the spring 2020 campaign features the usual mix of acknowledged greats (Sunset Boulevard, Wages of Fear, The Leopard, Midnight Cowboy) and some more unique gems (Kwaidan, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Klute, McCabe and Mrs. Miller).


It starts on January 28 with one of Charlie Chaplin’s finest and most important efforts, 1931’s City Lights. It is rare to see any Chaplin film on the big screen. It is especially noteworthy to hear one of the comic genius’s efforts discussed by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian.


7 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Old Chestnut Film Series)

Let’s go way back for another classic, this one presented as part of the Old Chestnut Film Series. The long-running screening series devotes its seasons to specific actors, and this year belongs to Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.


The finest film in the series is screening on January 11: Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The tale of an idealistic Congressman is still powerful, eighty years after its release.


7:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main St.; oldchestnut.com


Bonus digital/video-on-demand pick: Cold Brook

Shooting a film in Buffalo no longer seems like a novelty; look at the upcoming Quiet Place 2 or Guillermo del Toro’s soon-to-shoot Nightmare Alley. Perhaps the most unique film shot here in recent years is Cheektowaga native William Fichtner’s directorial debut, Cold Brook. Shot in East Aurora, among other local locations, it’s an ambitious tale of friendship that heads in a very unexpected, and very poignant, direction.


Featuring some notable locals like Constance Caldwell, George Caldwell, and Cindy Abbott Letro, it’s a genuinely entertaining feature with wonderful performances from Fichtner, Kim Coates, and Harold Perrineau. It also features cans of Genesee Beer, a Big Ditch sign, and an absolutely stunning shot of the Aurora Theatre.


If you did not catch Cold Brook on the big screen back in November, it’s available on digital and on-demand. You won’t be disappointed.


Watch the trailer at youtu.be/nUxtnaFHscY.


See Agenda for complete film listings.



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