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Dear White People

Starts Friday
in Woodstock
Oct 31 – Nov 2
Fri 5:30
Sat 8:00
Sun 5:30
Mon – Thur 7:30
(US/2014/wr/dir Justin Simien)
R / 108 mins
Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, this is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in what is supposedly ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life – getting ahead vs getting along – at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety’s annual “10 Directors to Watch.” Divided into clever chapters, the film follows the stories of four black students at Winchester University where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed Halloween party thrown by a white fraternity. 

As smart and fearless a debut as I have seen from an American filmmaker in quite some time: knowing but not snarky, self-aware but not solipsistic, open to influence and confident in its own originality. – A.O. Scott, NY TIMES

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Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance

Starts Friday
in Rhinebeck 
Oct 31 – Nov 6
Fri 4:00 6:45 9:20
Sat 4:00 6:45 9:20
Sun 2:45 5:30 8:00
Mon 5:30 8:00
Tues 5:30 8:00
Wed 2:45 5:30 8:00
Thur 5:30 8:00
 (US/2014/Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
R / 119 mins
A black comedy – the hit of Venice Film Festival & now here in the States – tells the story of a washed up actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim past glory. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and a fellow actor as he attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.
Peter Debruge, VARIETY: “A quarter-century after “Batman” ushered in the era of Hollywood mega-tentpoles — hollow comic-book pictures manufactured to enthrall teens and hustle merch — a penitent Michael Keaton returns with the comeback of the century, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” a blisteringly hot-blooded, defiantly anti-formulaic look at a has-been movie star’s attempts to resuscitate his career by mounting a vanity project on Broadway. In a year overloaded with self-aware showbiz satires, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s fifth and best feature provides the delirious coup de grace — a triumph on every creative level, from casting to execution, that will electrify the industry, captivate arthouse and megaplex crowds alike, send awards pundits into orbit and give fresh wings to Keaton’s career.”
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Whiplash

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Nov 7 Woodstock
check back
(US/2014/wr&dir by Damien Chazelle)
R / 106mins
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), an ambitious young jazz drummer, plagued by the failed writing career of his father, is single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory under the tutelage of the school’s fearsome maestro of jazz (J. K. Simmons). 
Andrew hungers to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability — and his sanity.

 Whiplash won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

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Borgman

In Woodstock 
Oct 31 – Nov 2
Fri 8:00
Sat 5:30
Sun 8:00 
(Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark / 2013 / Directed by Alex van Warmerdam)
Unrated / 113 mins.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Come celebrate at Upstate Films with the creepy, crafty, and utterly surreal BORGMAN… an awesomely bizarre home-invasion film that rests on a trickster-ish screenplay. 
The title refers to the main character, Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet), a bearded and disheveled vagrant who shows up at a wealthy family’s front door asking for a bath. When her husband Richard (Jeroen Perceval) refuses him entry, Marina (Hadewych Minis) takes pity on the man and offers him a place to stay. But Marina gradually falls under Borgman’s mysterious spell. As the visitor shifts between the roles of victim and aggressor, strange things begin to happen. A pack of potentially shape-shifting dogs roams the property, a dancer in a gray costume spins around in the yard, and a clan of shifty forest-dwellers moves in, toying with the family and uprooting their garden before their eyes. With hints of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games or Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, Borgman is a film that will chill and fascinate in equal measure. In Dutch with subtitles.
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Mood Indigo

Coming Soon
(France, Belgium / 2013 / Directed by Michel Gondry)
Unrated / 131 mins. 
A powerful and accomplished film from director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep), Mood Indigo tells the surreal and poetic tale of Colin (Romain Duris), an idealistic and inventive young man, and Chloé (Audrey Tautou), the stunning and quick-witted gal who captures his heart.
In a world where you can travel around on a pink cloud or be swept off an ice-skating rink into an inexplicable hole, Colin, a wealthy young man and inventor of the cocktail-mixing piano wants to fall in love. With the help of his cook Nicolas (Omar Sy) and his best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh), he meets and falls for Chloé. But soon after their wedding, a water lily starts growing in Chloé’s chest and she falls ill. Ruined by medical expenses, Colin resorts to increasingly desperate methods to save his beloved’s life. Spiced by a cascade of surprising visual effects, Gondry’s fertile imagination summons the ghosts of Tex Avery, Jacques Tati, and Rube Golderg in this starry-eyed fantasia, pitched somewhere between the jazzy airiness of the French New Wave and the freewheeling nuttiness of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen or Amélie. Unrated / 131 mins. In French with subtitles.
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Actress

In Woodstock 
Saturday November 29
5:00
(USA / 2014 / Directed by Robert Greene)
*Saturday November 29th, In Person: Director Robert Greene and actress Brandy Burre
With luxurious slow-motion sequences and staging worthy of a ‘50s melodrama, Robert Greene’s celebrated new film follows Brandy Burre, an actress (HBO’s The Wire) who gave up working to start a family and decided to re-start her career years later.
With glimpses of her stint on The Wire and a funny peek at Burre sifting through paltry royalty checks while her daughter plays nearby, Actress presents a sharp contrast between the allure of the spotlight and the dull rhythms that continue once it recedes. But as she returns to work, the affirmative aspect of her careerism is juxtaposed with conventional expectations about what a woman in her late 30s is supposed to want. Pivoting on an off-screen event that feels as impactful as the drama that takes place on camera, it becomes unclear how much Brandy is sacrificing the feelings and futures of her loved ones on the altar of self-interest. Acting, in the end, is not only Brandy’s profession; it’s something that she does all the time, whether interacting with her restaurateur husband Tim, her children, or Greene’s camera. With a dramatic, affective, and polyvalent ending, Greene’s film is documentary portraiture at its finest, taking on the resonance of a densely packed short story. Unrated / 86 mins. 
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This project is made possible in part with public funds from NYSCA’s’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (www.NYSCA.org   www.eARTS.org).
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Reviews forthcoming

Foxcatcher

Coming Soon
(USA / 2014 / Directed by Bennett Miller)
R / 133 mins. 
From director Bennett Miller (CAPOTE, MONEYBALL), FOXCATCHER tells the chilling true story of multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell) and his relationship with Olympic wrestler brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo).
After winning the Olympic gold medal in 1984, Mark (Tatum) receives an offer to train with “Team Foxcatcher” from patriotic millionaire John du Pont (Carrell). Moving to the du Pont estate, Mark is initially showered with gifts and praise, enveloped in a cocoon of wealth. But there is something disquieting about John’s generosity, and it soon becomes unclear whether he’s more of a friend or a manipulator. The psychodrama thickens when Mark’s older brother David (Ruffalo), a sweetly centered family man who can see through John’s ego, is brought into the compound. With Carrell transforming himself into the pale, ominous du Pont and Tatum acting with stony force, the cast plays off one another brilliantly. A meticulous, chilling depiction of American ambition and the cold-blooded pursuit of success, FOXCATCHER delivers an impact that lingers long after the lights come up.
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Citizen Four


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Coming November
Check  back 
(US/2014/Writer/Director Laura Poitras)
R / 114 mins
Laura Poitras (recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship and co-recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service) was several years into making a film about surveillance and national security issues in the post-9/11 era when she started receiving encrypted emails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. 
In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema:  a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes. Poitras is a great and brave filmmaker, but she is also a masterful storyteller: she compresses the many days of questioning, waiting, confirming, watching the world’s reaction and agonizing over the next move, into both a great character study of Snowden and a narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat as it inexorably moves toward its conclusion. CITIZEN FOUR is a major work on multiple levels, and a deeply unsettling experience.

 Snowden made the decision to come forward, he says in the film, because he feels there’s a great threat to the future of American free speech. “The elected and the electorate,” Snowden says, have become “the ruler and the ruled.”

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Rosewater

Coming Soon
(Rosewater USA / 2014 / Directed by Jon Stewart)
Unrated / 103 mins.
In his directorial debut, Jon Stewart brings the story of Maziar Bahari, a journalist imprisoned in Iran for 118 days on charges of espionage, to the screen with tact and intelligence.
Played with elegant modesty by Gael Garcia Bernal, Bahari is a London-based journalist who travels to Iran to cover the 2009 presidential election. After interviewing everyone from conservative zealots to voters protesting Ahmadinejad’s victory, he finds himself plucked from his home and landed in prison. Convinced he is not only a reporter but a spy, Bahari’s interrogator is obsessed with making him confess and dangles the fear of torture in the air. But since Bahari has nothing to confess, the situation is an absurd one. To keep his sanity while awaiting a release that may never come, he deploys his wit like a banana peel, letting his interrogators slip on their own ignorance. Both subtle and heartfelt, ROSEWATER illuminates the precarious and often brave position of journalists in today’s world. 
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Pelican Dreams

Coming Soon
(USA / 2014 / Directed by Judy Irving)
G / 80 mins.
In a story of friendship, survival and the spirit of flight, filmmaker Judy Irving (THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL) follows a wayward, starving California brown pelican from her “arrest” on the Golden Gate Bridge into care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, and from there explores pelicans’ nesting grounds, Pacific coast migration and survival challenges.
The film is about wildness: How close can we get to a wild animal without taming or harming it? Why do we need wildness in our lives, and how can we protect it? PELICAN DREAMS stars “Gigi” (for Golden Gate) and Morro (a backyard pelican with an injured wing). Like THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL, Irving’s study of brown pelicans is affectionate, at times humorous and reveals a sense of wonder and awe at the birds’ simple beauty. — Shadow Distribution
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The Wonderful World of Boning: Sex Ed With a Sense of Humor

In Woodstock   
Dec 10  
Time tba  
 
 
Where did I come from? What’s happening to my body? And why is this script so bad?
In “The Wonderful World of Boning,” writer, sex educator, and funny lady Lux Alptraum teams up with comedian friends to take a tour of classic sex education videos, where some of America’s best community theater actors teach our nation’s youth all about puberty, sexual health, and what’s happening down at the STI clinic. Hosted by Lux Alptraum and Tiara Francis, the show adds comic commentary to clips pulled from videos collected by Alptraum during her former career as a high school sex ed teacher.

Among the films featured in this show:

  • Seriously Fresh, a film that combines hip ‘90s fashion and lingo with lessons about HIV
  • You, Your Body, and Puberty, a guide to the weird experience of adolescence, and the even weirder experience of talking to your dad about boners
  • A Family Talks About Sex, the 1981 classic that finally answers the question, “How many times do I have to have gay sex before I’m considered gay?”
  • What’s Happening to Me?, an animated film about puberty that might just be racist
About the Hosts:
Lux Alptraum
spent four years teaching sex education to teenagers, and six years recommending porn to adults. The former editor/publisher of renowned sex blog Fleshbot.com, she currently works as a writer, consultant, and mocker of vintage sex education videos.
Tiara Francis is an actor, comedian, and writer from New York City. She has studied improvisation and sketch writing at The Upright Citizens Brigade NYC and performs with the all-women-of-color improv group Affirmative Action.
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Wild

Coming Soon
(USA / 2014 / Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée)
R / 115 mins.
Reese Witherspoon delivers one of the year’s best performances in WILD. Adapted by writer Nick Hornby (HIGH FIDELITY, ABOUT A BOY, AN EDUCATION) from Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling 2012 memoir, director Jean-Marc Vallee’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is an odyssey of loss and self-discovery.
The Pacific Coast Trail, which runs up the entire Western spine of the USA from the Mexican to the Canadian border, is a backpacking challenge of fabled difficulty and rugged beauty. In 2005, at age 22, Strayed walked it to clear her head after a grim decade of loss and personal meltdown. WILD tells the story of that journey, alternating remarkable moments from the novice hiker’s unaccompanied trek with powerful flashbacks of the traumas that triggered her adventure. At once an epic cinematic experience and an intimate personal narrative, the film retains the compelling blend of humor and pathos that won Strayed’s book such acclaim. Bolstered by strong performances from Laura Dern and Gaby Hoffman, Vallée’s rendering is as rich and enveloping as this true story deserves.
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Laggies

Coming Soon
(USA / 2014 / Directed by Lynn Shelton)
R / 100 mins. 
This belated coming-of-age comedy from director Lynn Shelton (YOUR SISTER’S SISTER) stars Keira Knightley as a woman who decides to take a vacation from her life when she realizes how far behind she is on fulfilling her potential.
After her ten-year high school reunion, Megan (Knightley) is struck by how little her life has changed since she graduated. When her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) startles her with a marriage proposal, she gets in her car and just drives, winding up in a grocery store parking lot where she meets Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), with whom she feels immediate kinship. On a whim, Megan tells Anthony she’s leaving town for a seminar but instead spends a weekend at Annika’s, where she hopes to find a revelation about what to do with her life. Moving along at a perky pace despite its title, LAGGIES is warm, perceptive, and a lot of fun, brimming with winsome characterizations from a great cast, including the charmingly ragged Sam Rockwell and the hilariously sarcastic Kaitlyn Dever.
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