The Niagara Blog:
Shaw Film Festival Starts Nov. 30
Tickets are available by calling the Shaw Festival at 905-468-2172
Another season of top films arrives at the Shaw Festival this November and the schedule includes 12 feature films, screened on Saturdays at 3 p.m. in the Festival Theatre as follows:
Nov. 30 -
Love is All You Need
is directed by Golden Globe and Oscar winning filmmaker Susanne Bier, written by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen and starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm. Philip (Brosnan), an Englishman living in Denmark, is a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father. Ida (Dyrholm) is a Danish hairdresser, recuperating from a long bout of illness, who's just been left by her husband for a younger woman, Thilde. The fates of these two bruised souls are about to intertwine, as they embark for a trip to Italy to attend the wedding of Patrick and Astrid, Philip's son and Ida's daughter. With warmth, affection and confidence, Susanne Bier has shaken a cocktail of love, loss, absurdity, humor, and delicately drawn characters that will leave only the hardest heart untouched. It is a film about the simple yet profound pains and joys of moving on - and forward - with your life.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74
Dec. 7 -
is the funny and uplifting story of Arthur (Terence Stamp), a curmudgeon old soul perfectly content with sticking to his dull daily routine until his beloved wife (Vanessa Redgrave) introduces him to a spirited local singing group led by the youthful and charming Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). This unexpected friendship and his discovery of music revitalizes Arthur's passion for new adventures and shows us all life should be celebrated at any age.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64
Dec. 14 -
Short Term 12
is a feature film depicting the struggles of a compassionate twenty-something contending with some unexpected life developments while working as a supervisor at a home for at-risk teens. Grace (Brie Larson) has dedicated her life to helping kids who have slipped through the cracks of the system. Committed to her job and in love with kindhearted co-worker Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), she's still struggling to make sense of her own troubled past when she learns that her life is about to change forever. Meanwhile, into the facility walks a young girl who's been constantly shifted between group homes due to dangerous behavior. Almost immediately, Grace forges a powerful connection with her new charge. Now if Grace can just open up to Mason the way she encourages her kids to open up to her, she may find a way to make peace with the future while still providing support to the kids who depend on her the most.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98
Dec. 21 -
- After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger's (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91
Dec. 28 -
follows four vivacious, young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission as they learn about love, friendship and war when their all girl group, The Sapphires, entertains the U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Cynthia (Tapsell), Gail (Mailman), Julie (Mauboy) and Kay (Sebbens) are discovered by Dave (O'Dowd), a good-humored talent scout with a kind heart, very little rhythm but a great knowledge of soul music. As their manager, Dave books the sisters their first true gig giving them their first taste of stardom, and travels them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92
Jan. 4 -
The Way Way Back
is the funny and poignant coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan's (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), 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.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86
Jan. 11 -
features Mads Mikkelsen who won the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his penetrating portrayal of Lucas, a former school teacher who has been forced to start over having overcome a tough divorce and the loss of his job. Just as things are starting to go his way, his life is shattered when an untruthful remark throws his small community into a collective state of hysteria. As the lie spreads, Lucas is forced to fight a lonely fight for his life and dignity.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95
Jan. 18 -
features Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to "pull" a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn't compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she's determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80
Jan. 25 -
is based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, and focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90
Feb. 1 -
August: Osage County
tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Letts' play made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering at Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre earlier that year. It continued with a successful international run.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72
Feb. 8 -
involves a divorced and single parent, Eva (Julia Louis Dreyfus) who spends her days enjoying work as a masseuse but dreading her daughter's impending departure for college. She meets Albert (James Gandolfini) - a sweet, funny and like-minded man also facing an empty nest. As their romance quickly blossoms, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), her new massage client. Marianne is a beautiful poet who seems "almost perfect" except for one prominent quality: she rags on her ex-husband way too much. Suddenly, Eva finds herself doubting her own relationship with Albert as she learns the truth about Marianne's Ex.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95
Feb. 15 -
Inside Llewyn Davis
follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles-some of them of his own making.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90
The accompanying documentary series kicks off in the New Year with six films, screening Friday evenings at 6 p.m. in the Festival Theatre:
Jan. 3 -
Twenty Feet from Stardom
features award-winning director Morgan Neville who shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others. These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of superstardom. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, it boasts intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99
Jan. 10 -
combines over 240 interviews, extensive archival footage, animated stills & documents with a moving original score, Director Tom Donahue who meticulously crafted the untold tale of the Hollywood casting director, a celebration of the profession, highlighting its previously unsung role in film history while also serving as an elegy to the lost era of the New Hollywood. The documentary focuses on pioneer Marion Dougherty, an iconoclast whose exquisite taste, tenacity and gut instincts brought a new kind of actor to the screen that would mark the end of the old studio system and help to usher in this revolutionary new period. The film skillfully draws a line through the last half century to show us the profession's evolution from studio system type-casting to the rise of large ensemble films populated with unique and diverse casts. The interviewees are a Who's Who of Hollywood legends including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Lane, Jon Voight, Danny Glover, Bette Midler, John Travolta and countless others.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92
Jan. 17 -
We Steal Secrets
: The Story of Wikileaks features acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) who takes the reins for this no-holds-barred look at one of the most unusual phenomena of early 21st century media. In 2006, an Iceland-based outfit called The Sunshine Press launched the website WikiLeaks.org. As run by Australian Internet activist Julian Assange, the site's mandate involved regularly publishing top-secret documents and covert information, often regarding governments and their respective military operations. As might be expected, this set off a firestorm between those who admired the organization's bravado and resourcefulness, and those who argued, not unjustly, that the dissemination of data regarding such events as the U.S. war in Afghanistan could put untold numbers of lives at risk. In We Steal Secrets, Gibney relays the story of the WikiLeaks website from the inside, and moves beyond black and white to penetrate a complex network of activity guided by courage and idealism but also allegedly guilty of ethical insensitivity and hypocrisy.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93
Jan. 24 -
Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf's
features the most mythic of all American emporiums and the scene of many an ultimate fashion fantasy. Audiences get a rarified chance to peek behind the backroom doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodmans iconic history in Matthew Mieles Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51
Feb. 7 -
Good Ol' Freda
was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her. History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band's circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles' devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution - advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges - of the greatest band in history. Freda tells her stories for the first time in 50 years. One of few films with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, the film offers an insider perspective on the beloved band that changed the music industry.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81
Feb. 14 -
Muscle Shoals is a documentary about a place filled with magic and music, legend and folklore, where the river is inhabited by a Native American spirit who has lured some of the greatest Rock and Roll and Soul legends of all time, and drawn from them some of the most uplifting, defiant, and important music ever created. In Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music runs through the hills, the river, and the spirit of the people. It is a place where, even before the Civil Rights Movement really took shape, the color of your skin didn't matter inside the studio.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97
For the second year, Gathering Niagara brings in local food trucks and vendors to feature film-related fare, with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. Each week there will be a new lineup of food providers, offering innovative menus. Single ticket prices have gone up this year to $12 a ticket for each feature film and documentary or one can purchase a film pass for $130. The documentary pass, for admission to all six documentaries is $60. A stocking-stuffer pass allows admission to eight features for $88. Tickets are available by calling the Shaw Festival at 905-468-2172 or for more information, visit
Movie Material Source - Rotten Tomatoes
Martin Scorsese on the Importance of Visual Literacy
George Lucas' Advice