By tradition, the Hollywood studios release their least promising films in January and February: movies that they know turned out badly, movies they hope aren’t as bad as they think, movies they wish they had never made. Fall is the season for Oscar contenders (they must be released before the first of the year). Winter is the season of low expectations.
But the world of independent cinema need not follow these rules, and this January 2023, we find the indie moviehouses of Hudson Valley offering a wide variety of compelling films—domestic, foreign, classic—that are absolutely worth a trip to your local theater. Here are just a few that are opening locally this month.
All That Breathes
Why not begin your month of cinema with a special showing of All That Breathes at the Moviehouse in Millerton. The first film to ever win best documentary at Sundance and Cannes, and recently shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, this dreamy, evocative film pulls us into a tiny bird hospital in a cramped New Delhi basement. The hospital is run by two brothers dedicated to protecting their city’s population of kites, a majestic bird of prey that is itself falling prey to the environmental toxicity of the city. This intimate view of these two men’s single-minded work offers rare insight into an urban world challenged by changes both political and climatic.
This January 8 presentation of All That Breathes at The Moviehouse will begin with a Q&A with Dr. Eileen Fielding, Director of the Sharon Audubon Center, which will benefit from the proceeds of ticket sales.
Often referred to as “that donkey movie” EO does, in fact, have a melancholic four-legged beast as its protagonist who, after escaping captivity, takes us on a journey through the Polish and Italian countryside. But the landscape we see through his innocent eyes, gorgeously shot and often utterly mysterious, includes us humans as objects of intrigue, along with our curious range of human behavior, both physical and emotional: tender, baffling, violent.
EO, Poland’s official Oscar submission for Best International Feature Film, asks a lot of its audience. It asks us to pay close attention, to be willing to see our world through clear unbiased eyes. But the payoff is that we walk out considering truly vital questions: How do we treat each other? How do we treat those of the animal kingdom?
EO screens at Time & Space in Hudson on January 7 and 8 and opens its run at Upstate Films Starr Cinema in Rhinebeck on January 20.
True stories of investigative journalism make for tricky movies because so much of cinematic story-telling depends on not knowing the ending in advance. She Said is, for most, a well-known tale: dogged work by two New York Times reporters, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct at Miramax, sparking the #MeToo movement and eventually landing Weinstein in jail for life. But like 1976’s All the President's Men, which this film closely resembles in form, She Said manages to maintain a palpable sense of the tension and uncertainty of the outcome throughout.
Kerry Mulligan and Zoe Kazan both give intense, nuanced performances as the Times reporters, and a special mention is needed for Samantha Morton's work as a former Miramax employee who, in a single pivotal scene, conjures a truly brave vulnerability. So yes, we know the outcome, but the journey is fascinating, and in addition to taking Weinstein down, the film offers an affirmation of the importance of independent journalism in a time when truth is so under siege and delivers the satisfaction of its triumph.
She Said opens at Crandall Theatre in Chatham on January 13.
Award-winning director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters), takes on the story of a young woman who abandons her infant son to a church’s “baby box,” knowing that he’ll be found and cared for. But when she has a change of heart, she discovers that he’s been taken in by a pair of self-described “benevolent” brokers.
Her choice to join these two men on a road trip in search of potential parents for her own child puts them all at risk with the law, but more importantly, leads to the formation of an improvised family, which challenges their sense of who they each have become. The resulting tale is one full of compassion for all those lives that have been touched by abandonment, always vulnerable to the specter of feeling they are undeserving of love.
Broker opens at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck January 13; at Time & Space in Hudson January 14; and at the Moviehouse in Millerton on January 20.
In 1984, Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas took the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Nearly 40 years on, the beauty of the film’s cinematography and the mesmerizing tale it tells prove to have enduring resonance, and it will be a treat to see it on the big screen at the Orpheum in Saugerties later this month.
Harry Dean Stanton made his name playing Travis, seen first alone, striding blank-eyed and empty through a blanched southwest landscape. But as memories of his lost life return, he comes to embark on a journey with his seven-year-old son, Hunter, in search of the boy’s mother (a luminous Nastassja Kinski). He yearns to piece together his broken family, which he abandoned years ago when he left Hunter in the care of his brother. With a script by Sam Shepard and L.M. Kit Carson, music by Ry Cooder, and the stunning cinematography of Robby Müller, it’s impossible not to appreciate what a generously conceived and realized movie Paris, Texas is.
Near its denouement, Stanton delivers a stunning, elegiac monologue about the heartbreak of his years with Kinski, told to Kinski herself before she knows who the speaker is: a story whose familiarity we witness slowly dawning on her face. It’s a distinctive duet they play out together while each is still alone, a tale of history lost and found. As they say, worth the price of admission...
Paris, Texas, which was rereleased last summer, takes its victory lap at Upstate Films’ Orpheum Theater in Saugerties starting January 13.