Tag Archives: Rooney Mara

The Little Chill: ”A Ghost Story” is quietly haunting

 When you were a kid, chances are you considered being a ghost for Halloween.
Today’s ghosts have gotten very creative and gruesome, with bloody face paint or some wispy remnant of who the person was in life. But no one can forget the iconic bed-sheet ghost, with eyes cut out.

Writer/director David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” makes use of this classic, but not in the way that you would expect. The film, framed in a 4:3 aspect ratio that gives the impression of an old-fashioned home video, mostly follows a couple, played by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (they are listed simply as M and C, respectively), who seem to have differing opinions about the house they live in: she wants to move, and he would rather they stay. While it is clear that they love each other—the first half hour is peppered with quietly intimate moments between the two—the house is definitely a point of contention.

The tension rises slowly and nearly imperceptibly. This is a languid film, which makes no rush of the bare-bones plot, relishing in each scene as if holding onto its memory. While the film never tips into the horror genre that the title suggests, the noises the couple hears and odd glimpses of refracted light on the walls suggest something is awry. However, the horror our audience expects is more of a poignant, relatable fear of death, which is faced quite suddenly when C dies in a car crash.

This is when things start to get interesting. Our lovable bed-sheet ghost comes out to play. And, yes, I will warn you, you are going to uncomfortably wonder if you should laugh or not. There is something so silly about Lowery’s ghost—and yet chillingly beautiful. As M continues on with her life, the ghost watches his slip away. You don’t often get to see through the ghost’s perspective like you do here, probably because it achieves the opposite effect of a ghost story. It won’t make you scream; it will make you ache.

But that is the beauty of this film, and it goes deeper, even playing with the concept of time itself as the ghost does all he can to hold onto the house, even as things begin to shift and others inhabit it. There is even another ghost in the house next door, a piece that is beautiful in meaning, but ruined a little bit by the completely unnecessary captions for the conversations the two ghosts have (the story would still be understood without the captions, and my only guess is that Lowery was trying to make the audience laugh).

While both Mara and Affleck give compelling performances (Mara’s scene eating a pie is heartbreakingly difficult to watch in its honesty), the film’s true character is revealed in the cinematography. The long takes, with starkly minimal content, create a quietly alluring perspective that sets stillness as its focal point and really lets you meditate on the heart of the story, rather than extraneous details. This is a refreshing take on love and loss, one that will haunt you with its sincerity. “A Ghost Story” is coming soon to Midtown Cinema.


Director’s Collections: Spike Lee

“Do The Right Thing”

Saturday, Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m.


National Theatre Live


Monday, Aug. 7, 7 p.m.

“Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches”

Saturday, Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 20, 1 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika”

Sunday, Aug. 20, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 21, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 6:30 p.m.


Free Outdoor Film Series

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Friday, Aug. 11, at dusk

Rain date: Saturday, Aug. 12

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Friday, Aug. 25, at dusk

Rain date: Saturday, Aug. 26

Author: Sammi Leigh Melville 

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The Envelope Please: And the Oscar goes to . . .

Screenshot 2016-01-26 21.23.25It’s that time of year again!

The line of patrons at cinemas everywhere has grown exponentially as avid moviegoers cross films off their lists in preparation of Oscar’s big night. And though the lineup of nominees is whitewashed across the board—unfortunately repeating last year’s failure to recognize artists of color—there are definitely some competitive categories that will stir up excitement in this year’s standings.

There are many who will say that Leonardo DiCaprio may finally win his first Oscar for Best Actor—it’s been joked about for years, but it’s finally time. However, DiCaprio has some tough competition with Bryan Cranston as Trumbo and Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs. The fact that all three compete with biographical roles makes it an even tougher call, but my vote goes to Fassbender. While DiCaprio won a Golden Globe and certainly had the widest emotional range of the contenders, the Academy tends to lean towards actors whose roles serve as a departure—and Fassbender definitely falls into that category with such a transformation.

The Best Actress category has a much clearer outcome. Though the other performances pack a punch, none quite sticks in your mind like Brie Larson’s heartbreaking role in “Room.” We’ve seen her rising in the indie world through the past few years, and she’s finally found the role that will get her some Oscar love. Though Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence certainly deserve nods for their performances in “Carol” and “Joy,” respectively, it’s an indisputable win for Larson.

This year’s supporting nominees are something of an oddity, as many of the films have a pretty evenly distributed ensemble cast, and, in several nominations, the role in mind is actually the protagonist (Rooney Mara in “Carol” and Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”). Despite these quirks, the winners are still pretty clear.

Tom Hardy has the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor with his performance in “The Revenant.” In his usual transformative way, he is nearly unrecognizable as the ornery money-grubber and antagonist, John Fitzgerald. And it is a no brainer that Alicia Vikander will win Best Supporting Actress. While it is true that Kate Winslet’s persistent strength in “Steve Jobs” won her this year’s Golden Globe, this is another example of the difference in personality between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Academy. Vikander’s immersion into her character will sway the decision in the end.

For this year’s Best Director, there is not a question in my mind that Alejandro González Iñárritu will win it for the second year in a row. Last year, he took the Oscar for “Birdman,” and, in my mind, it was always a given that his next film would either equal his prior effort or collapse to the status of a disappointment. The technical proficiency and artistic orchestration of “The Revenant” makes Iñárritu the obvious choice for this award.

The Best Picture category is always the hardest, but, this year, the two strongest contenders are “The Revenant” and “Spotlight.” It’s hard to even compare the two, as they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While “The Revenant” deals out brute emotion and focuses centrally on the visual, “Spotlight” delves into more complex emotions and focuses on story. Despite the sheer number of nominations that “The Revenant” racked up, my gut instinct tells me that “Spotlight” will still win the prize. I believe 2016 will harken to 2014, when Best Picture and Best Director didn’t line up (“12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity”).

But only time will tell. And let’s be honest, what fun would the Oscars be if we weren’t kept on our toes? Anticipation is the Academy’s best friend, and you can count on them milking it all the way until Feb. 28.


Midtown Cinema
February Special Events

Midnight Matinee
“A Clockwork Orange”
Saturday, Feb. 6, 11:45 p.m.

Two Special Screenings of:
“The Notebook”
Hate it?
Friday, Feb. 12, 9:30 p.m.
with Down in Front! comedy riffing
Love it?
Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.

Classic Film Series
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
Sunday, Feb. 14, 6 p.m.

3rd in the Burg $3 Movie
“When Harry Met Sally”
Friday, Feb. 19, 9:30 p.m.

Faulkner Honda Family Film Series
“Dennis the Menace”
Saturday, Feb. 20, 12 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m.

15th Anniversary Series
“Lost in Translation”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m.

Oscar Party
Sunday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.


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