February 8: SWISS ARMY MAN
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2016, USA
At once absurd, astonishing, and audacious, Swiss Army Man chronicles the unusual bromance between a lonely castaway and a washed up corpse he discovers on the beach. Acclaimed music video directors, the Daniels, weave together extraordinary performances from Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, whimsical production design, an ingenious score, and lots of flatulence to create one of the most daring and original visions in the history of cinema. Disarmingly odd and, once you give over to it, strangely poignant and affecting, the film is a sheer delight for adventuresome filmgoers. Director Daniel Kwan and animator Kirsten Lepore will participate in a pre-film interview at 6pm and take questions following the 7pm screening. 97 minutes.
February 15: ARRIVAL
Denis Villeneuve, 2016, USA
When extraterrestrial spacecraft plant themselves at various locations around the globe, a linguist (Amy Adams) and a theoretical physicist (Jeremy Renner) must find a way to communicate with the mysterious visitors in order to learn what they want and whether they pose a threat to humanity. Both wondrous and mind-bending, Arrival‘s quiet and understated approach to its nearly apocalyptic premise elevates this gorgeous sci-fi drama to a place alongside such classics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Editing, and Sound. 118 minutes.
February 22: THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Nate Parker, 2016, USA
Nate Parker attempts to re-appropriate the long lingering negative associations with D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film of the same name that heroizes the KKK with a powerful true story of Black revolt against institutional racism. The film chronicles the 1831 slave rebellion led by literate slave and preacher Nat Turner in Southhampton, Virginia. Gorgeously designed and emotionally resonant, Parker’s adaptation was purchased at Sundance for a record-shattering 17.5 million only to become embroiled in a scandal that botched its domestic release as well as its front-runner status in the Oscar race. Nonetheless, the film is an important tribute to social justice and a triumph of artistry for its African-American cast and crew that deserves our attention, especially during Black History Month. 120 minutes.
March 1: MOONLIGHT
Barry Jenkins, 2016, USA
Barry Jenkins sheds light on the tender and heartbreaking travails of a sensitive African-American boy, Chiron, growing up with a crack-addicted single parent in the ghettos of Miami. Intricately structured into a triptych that peeks into different stages of his life, the resulting film communicates more as a visual tone poem than a conventional narrative. Gorgeously photographed, the visual design remains faithful to its source material — In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue — all while lyrically exploring themes of race, class, sexuality, and isolation. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, the film won Best Picture, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. 111 minutes.
March 8: LAMB
Yared Zeleke, 2015, Ethiopia
Yared Zeleke’s remarkable debut feature tells the story of young Ephraim who is sent to live among distant relatives upon his mother’s death. When his uncle announces that his beloved sheep must be sacrificed for an upcoming religious ceremony, Ephraim will stop at nothing to save his animal and return home. Beautifully shot against the majestic backdrop of Ethiopia’s southern mountains with a predominantly nonprofessional cast, Lamb offers us an emotionally resonant glimpse into a culture and landscape rarely seen on film. The film was Ethiopia’s first film to be in competition at Cannes. Director Yared Zeleke will participate in a pre-film interview at 6pm and take questions following the 7pm screening. 94 minutes.
March 15: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Tom Ford, 2016, USA
Few films are as exquisitely crafted as fashion designer Tom Ford’s haunting romantic thriller Nocturnal Animals. When novelist Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends his new manuscript to art gallery owner and ex-wife Susan (Amy Adams), she becomes psychologically immersed in a complex tale of love and betrayal that may have more serious repercussions than she bargained for. Featuring extraordinary production design and exceptional supporting performances from Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Oscar nominated Michael Shannon, the film is well on its way to becoming a neo-noir masterpiece. 116 minutes.
March 29: LION
Garth Davis, 2016, Australia/USA
When 5-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train in India and is unable to find his way home, he embarks on a remarkable story of survival that ultimately finds him placed with an Australian family thousands of miles away. Twenty five years later, with the help of modern technology, he embarks on a journey to discover the life he left behind. Beautiful cinematography and Oscar worthy performances create an emotionally powerful story of self determination. The film stars Dev Patel as the adult Saroo and Nicole Kidman as his Australian mother (both of whom earned Oscar nominations this year). Lion is also nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, Cinematography, and Score. 118 minutes.
April 5: LA LA LAND
Damien Chazelle, 2016, USA
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), La La Land tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical romance about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing one’s dreams. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, the film picked up prizes for Best Actress (Stone), Best Director (Chazelle), Best Cinematography, Song, and Score.
April 12: THE JUNGLE BOOK
Jon Favreau, 2016, USA
Disney’s live-action version of its 1967 classic tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan. Featuring Oscar-winning visual effects and superb vocal performances from Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, and Christopher Walken, the film is an action-packed funny, scary, and touching family adventure. 111 minutes.
April 19: GUN CRAZY
Joseph Lewis, 1950, USA
Long before Bonnie and Clyde or Natural Born Killers, Gun Crazy’s two star-crossed lovers travelled through the Midwest with guns a-blazing in this classic film noir thriller. Considered by many to be the ultimate B-movie, the film oozes with action, style, and plenty of sexual innuendo. Penned by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the film was originally released under the title, Deadly Is the Female. 86 min.
April 26: 20th Century Women
Mike Mills, 2016, USA
Annette Bening stars as Dorothea, a single mom who runs a Santa Barbara boardinghouse in the 1970s. Eliciting the aid of her two female tenants, she struggles to raise her son and navigate the changing social and cultural mores of America. Filled with rich multi-layered performances and an innovative editing style, the film is a heartfelt study of the need for friendship and family in periods of historical transition. 119 minutes.
May 3: GREEN IS GOLD
Ryon Baxter, 2016, USA
13-year-old Mason is forced to live with his older brother when his father is sent to prison. However it doesn’t take long for his brother’s illegal trade to create a rift between them that may prove irreparable. Local filmmaker and Sonoma State graduate Ryon Baxter (who also plays older brother Cameron) delivers a tense and intimate family drama set in green hills of Northern California. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. Director Ryon Baxter will participate in a pre-film interview at 6pm and answer questions following the 7pm screening. 82 minutes.
May 10: THE TRUMAN SHOW
Peter Weir, 1998, USA
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is an insurance salesman leading an idyllic, peaceful life on Seahaven Island. Truman also happens to be the star of the most popular live show in television history. The only problem is, he doesn’t know it! Undeniably provocative and wholly entertaining, The Truman Show is one of those high-concept movies whose clever and prescient premise accurately foretold our obsession with celebrity culture and the private details of ordinary lives. Nominated for three Oscars in 1999 including Best Supporting Actor for Ed Harris, Best Screenplay, and Best Director for Weir. 103 minutes.
May 17: DEADPOOL
Tim Miller, 2016, USA
This is the Marvel origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) who, after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. Surprising at every turn, this subversive and self reflexive blockbuster flips the superhero formula on its head with wildly entertaining results. 108 minutes.