This week: final shows for “The Whale;” opening Friday, “Women Talking;” Classic Film Series presents “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962); and the Exhibition On Screen: Mary Cassatt.
“The Whale” - (R; 1 hour, 57 minutes) - Nominated for three Academy Awards: Actor in a Leading Role (Brendan Fraser), Actress in a Supporting Role (Hong Chau), and Best Achievement in Makeup & Hairstyling, The Whale is about a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Human agony of both the physical and emotional kind is a Darren Aronofsky staple, but The Whale, which is driven by shattering work from Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound teacher eating himself to death, pushes that theme to extremes while remaining steadfastly within the borders of naturalism. Adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his play, the intense chamber drama never disguises its stage roots but transcends them with the grace and compassion of the writing and the layers of pain and despair, love and dogged hope peeled back in the central performance. Fraser makes us see beyond the alarming appearance to the deeply affecting heart of this broken man. Plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 1 and Thursday, March 2.
“Women Talking”- (PG13; 1 hour, 44 minutes) - It’s rare to see a film where dialogue is the centerpiece, but “Women Talking,” adapted by writer-director Sarah Polley from Miriam Toews’ 2018 bestselling novel, is vibrant cinema and bellows a powerful message that women will not stand back and be silent in the face of abuse. When the women in their Mennonite community are being drugged and raped by a group of the men-folk, they hold a meeting in a hayloft to discuss their options. What makes this film fascinating is the debate itself—there are no flashy scenes, men busting in to stop them—only the imperative of decision. The women have until dawn when their attackers return and they are not all in agreement. Although the film is drenched in sepia like an old postcard, and the women appear to belong to another era, “Women Talking” is based on a true story. While this is clearly heavy subject matter, there is a buoyancy to Polley’s film—hope found in discourse, compromise, and commitment to a greater good. It turns out it’s quite dramatic to watch the ticking time bomb of debate. Opening Friday, March 3, 7 p.m. and continuing Saturday, March 4, 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 5, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, March 8, 7 p.m. and Thursday, March 9, 7 p.m.
"Quietly, confidently and without fanfare, Polley has made the first piece of great post-MeToo cinema. What it depicts, and a homogenizing hashtag doesn’t, is that there is no singular response to abuse." - Jessie Thompson, Independent (UK)
“The Manchurian Candidate” - (1962; PG13; 2 hours, 6 minutes) - Classic Film Series - The original 1962 poster for the unforgettable The Manchurian Candidate yelled in big letters: “If you come in five minutes after the picture begins, you won’t know what it’s all about! When you’ve seen it all, you’ll swear there’s never been anything like it!” But the poster really wasn’t lying, and 60 years later, The Manchurian Candidate, now recognized as a classic, looks just as terrifying—in fact more so! Angela Lansbury received an Oscar nomination as the extreme right-wing mother of Korean War officer Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) who returns from the war with a medal of honor—and as the focal point of recurrent nightmares by members of his squad there, including Frank Sinatra’s Captain Bennett Marcos (nightmares populated with Shaw murdering fellow squad members). Two shows only: Thursday, March 9, 2 p.m., Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m.
". . . powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying."- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
“Mary Cassatt” - (93 minutes) - Exhibition On Screen - Mary Cassatt made a career painting the lives of the women around her. Her radical images showed them as intellectual, feminine, and real, which was a major shift in the way women appeared in art. Presenting her astonishing prints, pastels and paintings, this film introduces us to the often-overlooked Impressionist whose own career was as full of contradiction as the women she painted. She printed, sketched, and painted dozens of images of mothers and children yet she never married or had children herself. She was a classically trained artist but chose to join a group of Parisian radicals – the Impressionists – a movement that transformed the language of art. The world’s most eminent Cassatt curators and scholars help tell this riveting tale of great social and cultural change: a time when women were fighting for their rights and the language of art was completely re-written. Mary Cassatt and her modern women were at the heart of it all. One show only: Friday, March 10, 2 p.m.
Harbor Theater is open Wednesday through Sunday at 7 p.m. with a matinee only on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for members and children under 18. ADA-mandated Audio Descriptive (AD) and Closed Caption (CC) devices are available for the visually and hearing-impaired. Inquire at the concession stand
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