(G) • 89 minutes • On-screen here from 5/17/19 to 5/23/19
Directors: Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack
Starring: Aretha Franklin, Reverend James Cleveland, Southern California Community Choir
Synopsis: The never before seen movie featuring Aretha Franklin recording the most successful gospel album of all time, Amazing Grace.
When Franklin was planning her album, Warner Brothers agreed to film the session in 1972.
Warner Communications, the parent company of Warner Brothers Films and the Warner, Reprise, Elektra and Atlantic labels, had reaped the rewards of that new buzz-word, “corporate synergy” with the success of the 1970 Michael Wadleigh film and album of Woodstock. Warner had paid $100,000 for the rights and the film grossed $17 million and the album sold three million copies. Warner Communications hoped for Amazing Grace to have that same success.
Warner Brothers’ Director of Music Services, Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Producer), proposed hiring Jim Signorelli, a documentary filmmaker and his team of 16mm cameramen. However, before Signorelli’s deal could be signed, Warner Brothers’ CEO, Ted Ashley, mentioned the project during a meeting with Sydney Pollack. At the time, Pollack was recently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his film, They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Pollack immediately signed up for the project upon hearing Franklin’s name.
Recorded live at Rev. James Cleveland’s church in Watts, California in front of a lively audience / congregation, Amazing Grace would become the highest selling album of Franklin’s career and the most popular Gospel album of all time.
However, the film was never released publicly.
Sydney Pollack was a feature-film director. When recording, sound is usually post-synched on the back-lot. After the remarkable two days of recording, the editors threw up their hands. There were no clappers, no marks to guide the sound into synch with the picture. Pollack hired lip readers and specialist editors but received no luck.
The film languished for almost 40 years before former Atlantic staff producer / Wexler protégé Alan Elliott came to Wexler and ultimately to Pollack. Together, Elliott, Wexler, and Pollack approached Warner Brothers about using new digital technology to match sound to picture and make a film out of the raw footage.
Forty-seven years later, this film is a testimony to the greatness of Aretha Franklin and a time-machine window into a moment in American musical, and social history.
(PG-13) • 112 minutes • On-screen here from 5/10/19 to 5/23/19
Director: Dome Karukoski
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Mimi Keene, Derek Jacobi, Colm Meaney
Synopsis: Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.
(R) • 96 minutes • On-screen here from 4/26/19 to 5/9/19
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Starring: Matthias Shoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton
Synopsis: Roman Coleman, a convict in a rural Nevada prison who struggles to escape his violent past, is required to participate in an “outdoor maintenance” program as part of his state-mandated social rehabilitation. Spotted by a no-nonsense veteran trainer and helped by an outgoing fellow inmate and trick rider, Roman is accepted into the selective wild horse training section of the program. There, he rediscovers his own humanity in gentling an especially unbreakable mustang.
(R) • 102 minutes • On-screen here from 4/12/19 to 4/25/19
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alanna Ubach, Sean Astin, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson
Synopsis: Gloria is a free-spirited divorcée who spends her days at a straight-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around Los Angeles. After meeting Arnold on a night out, she finds herself thrust into an unexpected new romance, filled with both the joys of budding love and the complications of dating, identity, and family.
From Academy Award-winning director Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience) comes a sophisticated romantic comedy that shows love can strike at any time, relationships are never simple, and nothing can get you down as long as you keep dancing.
(R) • 123 minutes • On-screen here from 3/29/19 to 4/11/19
Director: Anthony Maras
Starring: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs
Synopsis: A gripping true story of humanity and heroism, Hotel Mumbai vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi and a waiter who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child.
(G) • 93 minutes • On-screen here from 3/22/19 to 3/28/19
Director: Todd Douglas Miller
Starring: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins
Synopsis: From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comes a cinematic event fifty years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the hear t of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.
(R) • 133 minutes • On-screen here from 3/15/19 to 3/21/19
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín
Synopsis: Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.
(PG-13) • 98 minutes • On-screen here from 3/8/19 to 3/14/19
Director: Joe Penna
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Synopsis: A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.
It Must Schwing – The Blue Note Story
(NR) • 115 minutes • Presented as part of the Maine Jewish Film Festival, Sunday 10th March @4:00
Director: Eric Friedler
Starring: Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter
1939 New York: Two Jewish emigres from Nazi Berlin establish the legendary Blue Note Records. Dedicated solely to American Jazz at a time when African American musicians faced discrimination in all aspects of the music industry, Blue Note discovered, produced and promoted artists including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk. Executive Film Producer Wim Wenders’ team uses brilliant animation, interviews with Blue Note stars, iconic photographs from the label archives and an unforgettable score. Two friends, victimized by racism in Germany, united by passion for jazz and belief in human dignity, changed the sound of music and the story of race in America.
The Waldheim Waltz
(NR) • 93 minutes • Presented as part of the Maine Jewish Film Festival, Sunday 10th March @ 11:00 AM
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Starring: Kurt Waldheim, Ruth Beckermann
Synopsis:In 1986 when Austrian activists were protesting against Kurt Waldheim, filmmaker Ruth Beckermann was both protester and reporter, capturing confrontations between activists and Waldheim supporters. 30 years later, Beckermann uses her footage, as well as contemporaneous news archives, to chronicle Waldheim’s run for the Presidency of Austria amidst allegations of involvement in Nazi atrocities during WWII. Amid rising anti-Semitism and nationalism, the film reexamines an uncomfortable chapter in Austria’s history and raises timely questions about collective complicity, memory, and historical responsibility. Austria’s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Last Suit
(NR) • 91 minutes • Presented as part of the Maine Jewish Film Festival, Saturday 9th March @ 11:00 AM
Director: Pablo Solarz
Starring: Miguel Ángel Solá, Ángela Molina, Martín Piroyansky
Synopsis: At 88, Abraham Bursztein is seeing his place in the world rapidly disappear. His kids have sold his Buenos Aires residence, set him up to move to a retirement home, and disagree on how to handle his fading health. But Abraham survived the Holocaust, made a successful life in a foreign land, and isn’t about to quietly fade away. Instead, he plots a secret one-way trip to Poland, where he plans to find the Christian friend who saved him from certain death at the end of World War II, and to keep his promise to return one day. Comedic and poignant in equal measure, from Argentina to Spain, across Germany and finally to Poland, Abraham is on his own but also accompanied by the characters he meets along the way, who both help him and need his help. A standout among these is the iconic Spanish actress Angela Molina, as the proprietor of the Madrid hotel where he stays. With its klezmer-driven score, evocative cinematography and fleet pacing, The Last Suit approaches its weighty themes with a light touch that illuminates a serious story. And in its mix of Spanish, Yiddish, German and Polish it is a globe-trotting surprise, a late-in-life road movie with planes, trains and heart.
*** Winner of 3 Academy Awards! Best Picture • Best Supporting Actor • Best Original Screenplay ***
(PG-13) • 130 minutes • On-screen here from 12/14/18 to 12/20/18, and again 2/15/19 to 3/7/19
Director: Peter Farrelly
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
Synopsis: In 1962, Tony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, a tough bouncer, is looking for work while his nightclub is closed for renovations. The most promising offer turns out to be the driver for the African-American classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley for a concert tour into the Deep South states. Although hardly enthused at working for a black man, Tony accepts the job and they begin their trek armed with The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide for safe travel through America’s racial segregation. Together, the snobbishly erudite pianist and the crudely practical bouncer can barely get along with their clashing attitudes to life and ideals. However, as the disparate pair witness and endure America’s appalling injustices on the road, they find a newfound respect for each other’s talents and heart to face them together. In doing so, they would nurture a friendship and understanding that would change both their lives.
**Academy Award Winner – Best Actress in a Leading Role**
(R) • 120 minutes • On-screen here from 2/8/19 to 2/28/19
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Emma Stone
Synopsis: Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.
Stan & Ollie
(PG) • 97 minutes • On-screen here from 2/1/19 to 2/7/19
Director: Jon S. Baird
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson
Synopsis: The true story of Hollywood’s greatest comedy double act, Laurel and Hardy, is brought to the big screen for the first time. Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the inimitable movie icons, Stan and Ollie is the heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour. With their golden era long behind them, the pair embark on a variety hall tour of Britain and Ireland. Despite the pressures of a hectic schedule, and with the support of their wives Lucille (Shirley Henderson) and Ida (Nina Arianda) – a formidable double act in their own right – the pair’s love of performing, as well as for each other, endures as they secure their place in the hearts of their adoring public.
On the Basis of Sex
(PG-13) • 120 minutes • On-screen here from 1/11/19 to 1/31/19
Director: Mimi Leder
Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterson, Kathy Bates
Synopsis: The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Mary Queen of Scots
*** Nominated for 2 Academy Awards ***
(R) • 124 minutes • On-screen here from 12/21/18 to 1/10/19
Director: Josie Rourk
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Gemma Chan, David Tennant, Guy Pearce
Synopsis: Mary Queen of Scots explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth 1.
Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence.
Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty.
Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within court imperil both thrones – and change the course of history.