Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2024

Flora and Son

Directed by John Carney | Ireland, USA | 2023 | 94 mins | R | English | Cineplex Pictures

With Flora and Son, Irish writer-director John Carney has crafted his most soulful song cycle yet, setting a young single mother on a journey of self-discovery.

Flora is something of a hot mess. She’s feisty, charismatic, and a trouble magnet. She loves to party — but she loves her 14-year-old son Max more, even if it seems like all they do is quarrel. In an effort to bridge the gulf between them, Flora gives Max a guitar, but Max’s ideal musical instrument is his computer, which he uses to construct infectious dance tracks.

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Rather than let the guitar collect dust, Flora opts to develop her own musical chops, taking online lessons from Jeff, a handsome troubadour who shows Flora how to form basic chords and introduces her to the genius of Joni Mitchell. Flora falls for Jeff, despite the fact that she’s in Dublin and he’s in Los Angeles. But as Jeff pierces Flora’s heart, he also inspires in her a creative urge that might lead to a whole new way of connecting with Max.

In films like the beloved Oscar winner Once and Sing Street, Carney has reinvented the musical. Carney’s films convey a profound understanding of how music lifts us out of life’s dead-end distractions and carries us to a place where we can be our best selves. Flora and Son is a soaring realization of this idea.

“Heart and soul — those two concepts beaten to death by lyricists — suffuse every scene of this modest, perfect picture.” –Kyle Smith, Wall Street Journal

Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2024

My Mother’s Men

Directed by Anik Jean | Canada | 2023 | 126 mins | NYR | French | Immina Films

Content advisory: drug and alcohol use, coarse language

My Mother’s Men, Anik Jean’s heartening feature film debut, delves into the curious and poignant world of familial eccentricity, personal growth, and unorthodox last wishes.

At its core lies the story of Elsie (Léane Labrèche-Dor), a 30-something young woman navigating the peculiar legacy left by her mother, Anne, a whimsical soul with an affinity for romance. Anne’s final request of Elsie is far from ordinary: she tasks her daughter with tracking down her five ex-husbands to help scatter her ashes.

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Elsie is determined to honour her mother’s memory, even if it means confronting her personal feelings and issues head on. Elsie embarks on a remarkable journey that unravels the intricacies of her family’s past and reshapes her life’s course. What ensues is a touching exploration of love, connection, and the indelible impact of the relationships that define us.

Anik Jean, who was moved to make the film after the death of her father, masterfully navigates the emotional terrain of Elsie’s story and her unconventional family. Bolstered by a fantastic ensemble cast, featuring Quebecois legend Marc Messier and Bon Cop, Bad Cop co-stars Patrick Huard and Colm Feore, Elsie’s transformative journey is a testament to the profound influence of the people we encounter in life — a poignant tale told with a lot of heart and tenderness.

Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2024

The Persian Version

Directed by Maryam Keshavarz | USA | 2022 | 107 mins | NYR | English, Persian | Mongrel Media

Writer-director Maryam Keshavarz, who previously won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival for her debut film, Circumstance, returns with this uproarious, genre-blurring crowd pleaser about identity, belonging, and secrets — those that tie families together and pull them apart, perhaps at the same time.

Just as brash as she is introspective, Leila (Layla Mohammadi, The Sex Lives of College Girls) defies expectation at every turn: those of her parents, and in particular her mother, Shireen (Niousha Noor, Kaleidoscope), who disapproves of Leila’s disregard for tradition and cultural norms; and those of her romantic partners, who are perplexed by the fondness that Leila has for her family (and Iranian heritage) despite their differences, simmering just beneath the surface of her feigned nonchalance. But it becomes harder for Leila to keep her opposing lives separate when she discovers she is pregnant just as her family convenes in New York for her father’s heart transplant surgery.

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It’s here that the film takes a beautiful and unexpected turn, as we are transported back in time to Shireen’s childhood in Iran through to her initial experiences in America, understanding the level of loss and personal sacrifice that has come to inform her rocky relationship with Leila.

As past and present continue to collide, the film balances the somber weight of its generations-spanning ambition with a quirky dynamism in the form of Fleabag-esque, fourth-wall-breaking monologues and intricately choreographed dance sequences as Leila’s love for retro pop music bleeds onto the screen. The Persian Version is undeniably full of heart (and with it, heartache) — one that beats to its own drum and will bring audiences to their feet.

“Braids comedy and tragedy, vibrant aplomb and thoughtful soberness.” –Lisa Kennedy, Variety

Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2024

Someone Lives Here

Directed by Zack Russell | Canada | 2023 | 75 mins | NYR | English | LaRue Entertainment

Someone Lives Here is a modern-day David and Goliath story, set against the backdrop of North America’s housing crisis. Carpenter Khaleel Seivwright builds small, life-saving shelters for unhoused people living outside in Toronto during the winter of the pandemic. His actions attract international attention, but also staunch opposition from city officials.

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North America’s housing crisis is felt in our own community. Red Deer’s Safe Harbour Society will be joining us at the box office prior to the film with information and resources relating to what Safe Harbour does in our community. We will have a box for warm-wear items (toques, mitts, gloves, socks etc) for Safe Harbour set up for you to donate to if you wish.

Pre-order your theatre snacks! As a special offer for RMM movie goers, you can now purchase your snacks for each film in advance. Click here to order your theatre snacks 

Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2024

Anatomy of a Fall

Directed by Justine Triet | France | 2023 | 151 min | R | French, English, German | Elevation Pictures

The much-lauded winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, Justine Triet’s fourth feature has cemented her status as one of today’s great filmmaking talents. Unfolding over two-and-a-half hours like a compulsively readable novel, the riveting Anatomy of a Fall is both a dissection of an intimate relationship and of the judiciary process.

Sandra (a ferocious, magnetic, and edgy Sandra Hüller; Toni Erdmann, The Zone of Interest) is a successful German writer who lives in the French Alps with her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) and their visually-impaired son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner). A brilliant, decibel-bursting opening scene suggests tensions in their isolated chalet, so when Samuel is discovered dead in the snow beneath one of their windows, suspicion is quickly aroused. Did he take his own life, or was he pushed to his death?

When the investigation proves to be inconclusive — its varying angles hinting at the microscopic examination to come — Sandra is ultimately indicted and put on trial.

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A captivating and sharply directed, written, and acted courtroom procedural, Anatomy of a Fall functions like a trenchant autopsy of confirmation bias and ambiguity itself, with the court an operatic arena in which every gesture, word, and past interaction are ripe for judgment.

As scrutiny turns to Sandra’s complex character and her tumultuous relationship with Samuel — their artistic rivalries, romantic jealousies, and contempt — the couple’s young son becomes the key witness. Taut, suspenseful, and thrilling until the final moment, Anatomy of a Fall progresses like a heady puzzle that tackles the messiness of existence and the often-elusive nature of truth itself.

“Part true crime legal thriller and part family drama, Triet’s Palme d’Or winner is a thrilling story about perception, truth, and ambition.” –Therese Lacson, Collider

Reel Conversations:

Trevor Anderson & Lacey Oake

Join us for a special virtual talk with Trevor Anderson, Red Deer College (Polytechnic) alumni and writer-director of the film Before I Change My Mind (our first film of the Fall 2023 Reel Movie Mondays season; partly filmed in Red Deer) and actor Lacey Oake, who starred in the film as Izzy.

This talk will take place via Zoom and registration is required to receive a link for the presentation. Please note this talk will contain Before I Change My Mind spoilers.

Register: Talk with Trevor Anderson & Lacey Oake

Trevor Anderson (photo by Lyle Bell)

About Trevor Anderson

Born in Red Deer and based in Montreal, Trevor Anderson is a writer-director and former video store clerk. His feature film Before I Change My Mind had its world premiere at the 2022 Locarno Film Festival and will be released in North America in 2024. Trevor’s short films have screened at many A-list and LGBTQ film festivals, including three times at Sundance, three times at SXSW, and twice at the Berlinale – where his musical The Man That Got Away (2012) won the D.A.A.D. Short Film Prize. For more information visit trevorandersonfilms.com

Lacey Oake

About Lacey Oake

Lacey Oake is from Red Deer and has been acting since she was 8 years old. Her first role was a fairy in the Cornerstone Youth Theatre’s 2017 production of Peter Pan and has since performed in 11 shows with the program. Lacey loves acting and has been in a number of short films, including The Events at Unity Farm (directed by Jason Wan Lim), Dream Catcher (directed by Christy Marchuk), and a number of short films directed by Red Deer Polytechnic Students. In 2020, Lacey was cast as Aela in the feature length horror film Jikirag, which was filmed entirely in Central Alberta, near Rocky Mountain House. That same year, she was cast as Izzy in Before I Change My Mind, which premiered in 2022 at the Locarno Film Festival. She won the 2022 International IRIS prize for Best Performance in a Female Role for her performance as Izzy, as well as a Canadian Joey Award for Best Principal Performer. In 2023, Lacey was awarded a Mayor’s Recognition Award for her outstanding contributions to the fine and performing arts here in Red Deer.

Lacey continues to act and was recently cast as a lead in Hunting Hills High School’s production of Ranked, which will open in March of 2024 at the Memorial Centre, while on the hunt for her next role in a feature film or series. When she isn’t acting, Lacey dances competitively and takes part in regular vocal lessons. She enjoys time with her family, her dog, and her friends.

Reel Movie Mondays: Fall 2023

Jules

Directed by Marc Turtletaub | US | 2023 | 87 mins | PG | English, levelFILM

Jules follows Milton (Ben Kingsley) who lives a quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town, but finds his day upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard.

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Before long, Milton develops a close relationship with the extra-terrestrial he calls “Jules.” Things become complicated when two neighbors (Harriet Samson Harris and Jane Curtin) discover Jules and the government quickly closes in. What follows is a funny, wildly inventive ride as the three neighbors find meaning and connection later in life – thanks to this unlikely stranger.

Directed by the Oscar-nominated producer of Little Miss Sunshine, The Farewell, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Loving.

Reel Movie Mondays: Fall 2023

Twice Colonized

Directed by Lin Alluna | Denmark, Greenland, Canada | 2023 | 91 mins | PG | Danish, Kalaallisut, English, Inuktitut, filmswelike

Renowned Greenlandic Inuk lawyer Aaju Peter (Angry Inuk) is a fierce protector and activist for Indigenous sovereignty and justice. Having been born in Greenland and living most of her life in the Canadian Arctic, Aaju Peter has the perspective of two different oppressive forces upon her and her communities: the colonizing governments of both countries. Jumping around the foster system, Peter was recognized as incredibly intelligent and a leader from a young age.

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As a lawyer, she has spent most of her life speaking her truth and fighting for Indigenous sovereignty. Peter now faces the hurdle of establishing an Indigenous-led forum within the European Union in order to create a pathway for Indigenous people to advocate for themselves. At the same time, her personal life sees heartbreak in the form of a loved one lost.

Twice Colonized is a gripping and visually stunning documentary that sheds light on the political challenges Indigenous leaders face in making legal change in Canada and Europe. Peter herself commands your eyes and ears with her incredible presence, forcing audiences to sit in uncomfortable truths. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in World Documentary at Sundance 2023, Twice Colonized is a must-see documentary.

“Canadian documentary Twice Colonized might be the most raw, personal film you will see this year.” –The Globe and Mail

Reel Movie Mondays: Fall 2023

Showing Up

Directed by Kelly Reichardt | US | 2022 | 107 mins | PG | English, Sphere

Lizzy (Michelle Williams) is a sculptor in Portland preparing to open a new show. While she is doing well, her fellow artist — and inattentive landlord, Jo (Hong Chau) — always seems to be doing better. It’s a tense relationship alight with the quiet buzz of competition. And to top it off, Lizzy’s hot water isn’t working in her apartment, no matter how much she begs Jo to fix it.

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As Lizzy tries to balance her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends, she feels as though things would be easier if she were only able to have a clear sense of direction. Thinking that everyone else has life figured out, she trips over the lesson that can be the hardest to learn — that everyone goes at their own pace.

Michelle Williams brilliantly embodies Lizzy in this quiet and complex look at the life of a working artist that shows both the joys of the creative life alongside the feelings of being left behind, and of isolation, inadequacy, and resentment. Director Kelly Reichardt is an inspired filmmaker, capturing the vibe of an artist community while also adding a dreamy and moody quality to the film.

“This beautifully acted, expertly modulated film is a work of such enveloping gentleness that even the worst crises are simply absorbed into the fabric of life and work. While the ending might have been corny in a less subtle director’s hands, here it’s quietly restorative. We don’t deserve Kelly Reichardt.” –David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

Reel Movie Mondays: Fall 2023

The Eight Mountains

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch | Italy, Belgium | 2022 | 147 mins | NYR | Italian w/English subtitles, filmswelike

Based on the award-winning 2016 novel of the same name, The Eight Mountains was the co-winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 and captures with remarkable precision a timeless friendship set in the Italian Alps.

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While visiting a mountainside village with his mother, Pietro meets and develops an unexpected friendship with a local boy, Bruno. As they grow into tired, downtrodden men over the next 20-plus years, we watch as their bond is tested and strengthened by the natural ebb and flow of their very different lives, the two reconnecting sporadically and eventually resolving to restore a dilapidated shack left behind by the Pietro’s deceased father.

Each played by three separate performers over the course of the film, Pietro and Bruno both feel fully realized, the performances seamlessly bleeding into the next along a carefully constructed continuum of jealousies, triumphs, and losses (on screen and off-screen).

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