Fall 2015 movie lineup

All shows start on Friday at 7:30PM, unless specified otherwise, at Battelle Auditorium on PNNL campus.

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Date Movie Title (release year) Venue
September 11 th The One I Love (2014) Battelle Auditorium
September 25th Muscle Shoals(2013) Battelle Auditorium
October 9th Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed (2013) Battelle Auditorium
October 23rd The Call of Cthulhu(2005)/The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) Battelle Auditorium
November 6th Force Majeure (2014) Battelle Auditorium

To download the Battelle Film Club Spring 2015 Series schedule for your Outlook, or iPhone (iCloud) calendars, click here.

September 11th

Charlie McDowell’s feature directorial debut is a story of two people’s struggle with a marriage that is clearly falling apart, during a couples escape weekend, suggested by their marriage counselor. They figure they have nothing to lose. When they arrive, however, the weirdness starts. Although they are the only ones present at the retreat, they are separately experiencing life as it was, and as it could be. What is the secret of the guest house?

Read more details.

Sheila O’Malley, for www.RogerEbert.com

The set-up of “The One I Love,” Charlie McDowell’s directorial debut, starring Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss, is filled with tremendous possibilities, all of which are explored throughout the film. The set-up, reminiscent of some of Hitchcock’s films, works like a well-oiled stopwatch: once the situation starts, it cannot be stopped. The film unfolds with a sense of inevitability, and while the events are odd, they never lose their logic. There’s a reason “The Twilight Zone” is referenced in Justin Lader’s script. “The One I Love” is a romance and a mystery and a drama, with really only two characters in it, characters who are sketches approximating human beings, but played with sadness and humor by the two lead actors. Not knowing the “twist” going in was part of the film’s pleasure, and it’s enough to say that nothing is what it seems.

Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) are in marriage counseling for a variety of commonplace reasons: he cheated on her, they don’t communicate well, they don’t have sex anymore. They mourn their former “irreverent” selves, the selves who “did ecstasy at Lollapalooza.” (That’s as wild as they got.) Their relationship now consists of trying to re-capture the happiness they had in the past, with predictably hollow results. The marriage counselor (Ted Danson) suggests that they go on a “retreat” for the weekend. He has sent many couples to this place and they have all come back refreshed and renewed. Ethan and Sophie figure they have nothing to lose.

The “retreat” is a weekend alone in a big old house on a large property, complete with a pool and guest house. There are no other guests. There is no guru leading them through trust exercises. There is no Steve Carell in “Hope Springs.” It is just Ethan and Sophie, hanging out, exploring the grounds.

[...]On their retreat, alone in the big house, Ethan and Sophie make dinner. They drink wine and smoke pot. They loosen up. The dynamic between Duplass and Moss has been tense and sad, and so their laughter brings with it relief, release, a sense that they are beginning to remember why they got together in the first place. That night, they crash in the guest house and have sex. But when Sophie mentions it to Ethan the next morning, he has no memory of it. Was he really that wasted?

Strange things keep happening, and these strange things seem to be emanating from the guest house. Ethan and Sophie, freaked out, flee the property, but then are drawn back, thinking maybe that their marriage counselor is on to something, that whatever this is, it is something they need to explore. Remember when they used to be open to new things?

But what they open themselves to is a Hall of Mirrors, increasingly disturbing, and the secrets start to pile up again, casually at first, and then consciously and deliberately. The entire film rests on the chemistry between Duplass and Moss. Except for the counselor, there are no other people in it. The two actors create a very real relationship, with a sense of shared joy in one another’s company, and myriad problems threatening to derail the entire thing. We can see how bored they are with life, with themselves, and with each other. To Ethan, trying something new means “going horseback riding with a satchel of wine.” Ethan and Sophie are not extraordinary characters. But the situation in which they find themselves in is.

Unabashedly entertaining at an efficient 91-minutes, “The One I Love” is an extremely confident first feature, with some really fun things to say about identity and relationship, connection and destiny.

Read the entire review and more on www.RogerEbert.com

(2014) Director: Charlie McDowell. Writer: Justin Lader. Genres: Comedy, drama, romance. Country: USA. Language: English. Runtime: 91 min. Color: Color. Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use.

Awards: Two wins at Newport Beach Film Festival, and San Francisco Film Critics Circle, and two extra nominations.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official Facebook Page
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic
Rotten Tomatoes
Movie Review Query Engine

September 25th

Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the “Singing River,” as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Hall brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations.

Read more details.

John Patterson, for The Guardian

Muscle Shoals: one tiny town, countless musical memories
New documentary puts as many survivors of the southern country-soul studio scene on screen as possible

A long line of ghosts, some famous, others unfairly forgotten, haunts Greg “Freddy” Camalier’s splendid music documentary Muscle Shoals. Duane Allman, Arthur Alexander, Wilson Pickett, half of Lynyrd Skynyrd... a full accounting of the dead is too sad to contemplate, but Muscle Shoals does us the great favour of putting on camera almost all of the survivors of a defining era in American popular music and of two feuding studios - FAME and its spin-off Muscle Shoals Sound - both located in a single tiny town on the Tennessee river.

If you’ve read Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music you’ll know much of the story, but Camalier puts ageing faces to names often only seen in liner notes. The central figure is legendary producer Rick Hall, a dyed-in-the-wool Alabama good ol’ boy who, in a place where everything was segregated except the airwaves, played unwitting midwife to a dream of transracial cooperation and cultural miscegenation, and built up at FAME Studios a house band that played on more hits than any comparable outfit of the period - or any since.

You can see ripples radiating outwards from Rick Hall and FAME that tell the hidden story of soul, country music and rock’n’roll, and the swampy sound he cooked up using all of them. His early 60s white R&B band the Fairlanes included guitarist Billy Sherrill, the producer who later pioneered the 1970s “countrypolitan” sound by laying syrupy strings and a whole lot of rhinestones on George’n’Tammy and Charlie Rich, while lead singer Dan Penn, along with fellow FAMEr Spooner Oldham and others, later wrote some of the greatest soul songs of the 60s, including The Dark End Of The Street. His first hit single at FAME was Arthur Alexander’s You Better Move On, which was soon covered by the emerging Rolling Stones. Among the studio players from FAME with vastly different afterlives were proto-outlaw singer-songwriter Donnie Fritts (who’s also in a few Peckinpah movies), and David Briggs, who for 30 years after quitting FAME was in-house producer and de facto musical director for Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Guitar and slide prodigy Duane Allman played such a stinging guitar solo - it’s more of a blizzard - on the outro of Wilson Pickett’'s cover of Hey Jude that the late Otis Redding’s manager Phil Walden pushed him into forming the Allman Brothers Band, thereby singlehandedly inventing 70s southern boogie, which in turn led to the success of Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose Sweet Home Alabama - that redneck Ride Of The Valkyries - namechecks Muscle Shoals and its house band the Swampers by name. Everything goes in circles...

I could have used less of Bono’s insufferable musings and a lot more archival footage of Wilson Pickett and any number of other lost greats but, then again, I’m the viewer who wishes this thing was nine hours long, not two.

Read this review and more at The Guardian.
Interesting reviews by Chris Michael, and Christy Lemire can be found at The Guardian, and www.RogerEbert.com, respectively.

(2013) Director: Greg ’Freddy’ Camalier. Genres: Documentary, biography, history. Country: USA. Language: English. Runtime: 111 min. Color: Color. Rated PG for thematic elements, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.

Awards: Winner of the Wyatt Award for the director, and the 3rd place for SEFCA Award at the 2013 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards, Audience Award at the 2013 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, and of the Best Documentary Poster at the 2014 Golden Trail Awards. Nominated, among other, for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official Site
Official Facebook Page
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic
Rotten Tomatoes
Movie Review Query Engine

October 9th

Original title: Vivir es facíl con los ojos cerrados

Living is easy with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see.
It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
It doesn’t matter much to me.


   Lennon/McCartney, Strawberry Fields Forever.

A warm-hearted retelling of the 1966 story of a Beatles-obsessed school teacher who travels to a Spanish film location, determined to meet John Lennon and have him explain the lyrics of Beatle songs.

Read more details.

Brendan Kelly, for Montreal Gazette

Let’s just say I was predisposed to like a film titled Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed. The Spanish film takes its inspiration from Strawberry Fields Forever, the 1966 Beatles song that marked - maybe better than any other - John Lennon’s transition from more traditional pop lyrics to a new, more personal style of songwriting.

You remember the verse, right? “Living is easy with eyes closed / Misunderstanding all you see / It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out.”

Writer-director David Trueba was also inspired by the true story of Spanish schoolteacher Juan Carrión Gañán, a huge admirer of Lennon who went to meet the Beatle when the pop star was shooting the film How I Won the War, in the Spanish province of Almeria in 1966. That was where Lennon penned Strawberry Fields. The story goes that he thought the garden around his villa was reminiscent of Strawberry Field, a Salvation Army garden near where he lived as a kid in Liverpool.

Near the end of the film, we hear an early acoustic version of the song, in an incredibly moving moment. Though it’s the story of this teacher obsessed with the singer, there is no other Beatles music in the movie and Lennon is only ever seen way off in the distance on the film set. Somehow, it doesn’t really matter that there are no other Beatles songs on the soundtrack. The score comes courtesy of ace jazzmen Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden, and it’s an appealing set of compositions anchored by Metheny’s acoustic guitar.

This charming, inspirational film focuses on a teacher named Antonio (Javier Cámara) and his quest to meet the Beatle. He is first seen in his class teaching the kids English by having them recite the lyrics to Help!, and he soon makes it clear that he’s more than just a Beatles fan. He sees Lennon as a symbol of freedom, someone refreshingly at odds with the repressive country where Antonio lives, a Spain still dominated by the rules and regulations imposed by the Church and Franco.

On his way to the film set, he picks up two fellow travellers who are just as fed up as him. Belén (Natalia de Molina) is a young pregnant woman who has been put in a convent by her family, and 16-year-old Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) is a rebellious kid who finally snaps when his policeman dad attacks him for the millionth time for having Beatles-length hair. They’re both on the run, and they find a kindred spirit in Antonio.

The film - which won six Goyas, the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars - never gets too heavy. But light as it is, it does a good job of capturing a time and place that few of us are familiar with. Cámara - best known for his work in Pedro Almodóvar’s films - is particularly impressive, creating no small amount of sympathy for his endearing character. He’s lovably quirky. De Molina and Colomer are also very good.

Read this review and more at Montreal Gazette.
Extra reading: Spanish Beatlemania and Icelandic horses steal the screen at San Sebastián by Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian, Lennon in Spain: Dir. David Trueba on the Uplifting Living is Easy with Eyes Closed by Carlos Aguilar for Indiewire.

(2013) Director: David Trueba. Writers: David Trueba. Genres: Comedy, drama. Country: Spain. Language: Spanish. Runtime: 108 min. Color: Color. Not rated.

Awards: A total of 16 wins and 15 nominations, which include the notable wins at the 2014 Goya Awards for Best Actor, Best New Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay - Original, and Best Film. Also, it was Spain's official selection for the 87th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film category.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official US Site
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic
Rotten Tomatoes
Movie Review Query Engine

October 23rd

This indie film, produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, is a faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s 1928 classic short story of cosmic (but not at all graphic) horror. It’s silent and black-and-white, in keeping with films of that era. (There is, however, an orchestral soundtrack.) Its style also owes a lot to Expressionist directors of the time like F. W. Murnau or Fritz Lang.

Read more details.

Film Adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu Released

Written in 1926, just before the advent of “talking” pictures, The Call of Cthulhu is one of the most famous and influential tales of H.P. Lovecraft, the father of Gothic horror. Now the story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920s silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score.

Using their own “Mythoscope” process - a mix of modern and vintage techniques - the filmmakers have strived to create the most authentic and faithful adaptation of a Lovecraft story ever attempted.

A dying professor’s strange bequest leads his nephew on a globe-spanning investigation to unravel a twisted knot of fear, madness, nameless cults and horrors best left unknown. This story formed the foundation for Lovecraft’s famed Cthulhu Mythos which has inspired generations of writers, musicians, filmmakers, gamers and popular culture itself.

More than eighteen months in production, the HPLHS film features a cast of more than 50 actors including noted stage, film, and television actors: Matt Foyer, David Mersault, Noah Wagner, and Barry Lynch. David Robertson photographed and edited the movie. Sean Branney adapted the story for the screen, and Andrew Leman directed the production.

Taken from the official press release.
More reviews can be found here.

(2005) Director: Andrew Leman. Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Sean Branney (screen adaptation). Genres: Fantasy, horror, mystery. Country: USA. Sound mix: Silent. Language: English intertitles. Runtime: 47 min. Color: Black and white. Not rated.

Awards: 2nd place at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards in 2005.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official site
Internet Movie Database
Rotten Tomatoes

October 23rd

Another Lovecraft adaptation from HPHLS, this time of his 1931 short story. In keeping with that time, this one is still black-and-white, but it’s a talkie. Longer, too, at 103 min.

Read more details.

Lovecraft’s Story

Howard Philips Lovecraft was a horror fiction author who wrote primarily in the 1920s and 30s. While he never achieved commercial success in his lifetime, his works have gone on to inspire generations of readers and writers in print and through adaptations into other media.

In The Whisperer in Darkness, folklore professor Albert Wilmarth investigates legends of strange creatures in the most remote hills of Vermont. His inquiry reveals a terrifying glimpse of the truth that lurks behind the legends. Filmed in the style of the classic 1930s films such as Frankenstein, Dracula and King Kong, The Whisperer in Darkness returns us to the golden age of movies for a thrilling adventure of supernatural horror. Filmed on location in New England in MythoscopeTM by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, The Whisperer in Darkness treats audiences to a cinematic thrill not felt since the Hoover administration.

Take from the movie web page.

(2011) Director: Sean Branney. Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (story), Sean Branney, Andrew Leman (screenplay). Genres: Mystery, sci-fi, thriller. Country: USA. Language: English. Runtime: 103 min. Color: Black and white. Not rated.

Awards: Nominated for Gold Hugo Award at the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival, and the Free Spirit Award at the 2011 Warsaw International Film Festival.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official Site
Internet Movie Database
Rotten Tomatoes

November 6th

Original title: Turist

The story of a family on a ski holiday in the French Alps during a lunchtime avalanche, and the reactions of each family member threatens their family dynamic. They cannot undo what they have done, no matter how much they want to, and that leads to a path of challenges and confrontations.

Read more details.

Peter Bradshaw, for The Guardian

Force Majeure review – after the avalanche

This deliciously chilling drama charts the aftershocks that tear through a middle-class skiing holiday following a life-changing event in the Alps

Ruben Östlund’s icily disturbing family drama, set in an upscale ski resort in the French Alps, is a disaster movie without a disaster. Or it could be that the disaster, like the death of Schrödinger’s cat, both happens and does not happen. Actually, the non-disaster is more catastrophic, revealing to its participants their true nature and true situation, but withholding from them the drama and catharsis of outright tragedy. All of which makes this film sound rather cerebral and internalised. In fact, it is as nail-biting as Where Eagles Dare.

Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are a handsome professional couple on a well-earned break with their two beautiful young children at a ski resort whose crisp design, cool efficiency and pale wood features all seem rather northern European. (So, oddly, does the accordion version of Vivaldi that occasionally thunders on the film’s soundtrack.) Charming and relaxed, enjoying the skiing, and maybe drinking more than usual, the couple befriend a middle-aged divorcee who is on holiday with his pretty twentysomething girlfriend, and also a racy married woman who is there on her own and fairly open about seeking sexual adventures.

The catastrophe happens when Tomas and Ebba are at an open-air mountaintop restaurant for lunch, with a magnificent view. There is a loud and alarming bang, which, Tomas airily explains to his frightened wife and children, is merely to provoke controlled avalanches, improving the terrain for skiing. Soon, an exciting tidal wave of snow is whooshing directly towards them, and diners are taking pictures and videos on their phones. But how controlled is it?

Things can never be the same again. Tomas and Ebba cannot unsee what they have seen, or undo what they have done, no matter how much they want to. There are confrontational conversations and one spouse challenges the other to admit something, and there is evasive and self-important waffle about their differing interpretations. Östlund shows how this attitude makes the trauma worse; it is a poison that begins to destroy their whole conception of themselves.

It reminded me of the photo of Jacqueline Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 just after John F Kennedy was shot, apparently clambering towards a secret service agent at the rear of the car - leading many to express or suppress surprise that she did not instinctively stay with her husband. In fact, there is some Zapruder-style footage on Ebba’s phone that is revealed to her new friends in an all-but-unwatchable scene.

Force Majeure has something of Michael Haneke’s Hidden (2005) and The Seventh Continent (1989), although the ending - which discloses what Ebba is prepared to do to repair the situation - is perhaps overextended, and takes away some of the story’s delicious chill.

The Alps themselves are sinister in their forbidding, implacable vastness and so, somehow, is the activity of skiing - an ecstatic, solitary pleasure and an escape from the boring cares and responsibilities of family life. Östlund is clearly a sharp-eyed connoisseur of all this. (He began his directing career in the 90s making skiing films called Addicted and Free Radicals.) Using mostly fixed camera positions, he will intersperse scenes with establishing shots of the clanking, pitiless machinery of the ski lift, rattling rhythmically as bits of cable and metal thunk into each other. It’s the kind of machinery in which you might sever your leg or from which you might fall and kill yourself. Then there are the pipes, like mysterious weapons of war, from which great big bangs are discharged to make the snow shift. We get weird, almost extraterrestrial, scenes at night that show a rich kid flying his drone about the place; this supplies a coup de cinéma that will get the audience jumping out of their seats.

Force Majeure is a legal concept that allows you to get out of a contractual obligation: an act of God that means you can’t be sued. Even the intimate assumptions of family life constitute a tacit contract liable to be nullified in a crisis. Safety and comfort are concepts civilised societies have invented to protect themselves from self-knowledge, not physical harm, and perhaps even our most basic conventions are no more than a rickety rope-bridge, or clanking ski-lift. If we glance down at the abyss below, we are lost.

Read this review at The Guardian.
More reading. Force Majeure review – compelling, intelligent and grimly entertaining by Jonathan Romney. Masculinity in crisis? Plus jokes? Force Majeure is just for you by Yvonne Roberts. Force Majeure review by Godfrey Cheshire.

(2014) Director: Ruben Östlund. Writer: Ruben Östlund. Genres: Comedy, drama. Country: Sweden, France, Norway, Denmark. Language: Swedish, English, French, Norwegian. Runtime: 120 min. Color: Color. Rated R for some language and brief nudity.

Awards: Total of 30 wins and 27 nominations, the most notable being the nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards.

More details, reviews, and comments can be found at:
Official US Site
Official Facebook Page
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic
Rotten Tomatoes
Movie Review Query Engine