Film can offer the perfect recipe for a sensory experience. Combining visuals, state-of-the-art sound, and an endless choice of topics, the cinema can take you on an adventure to far-away lands or refocus your mind to consider world issues at a local level. That’s why I love it so much: the diversity. In my time as marketing coordinator for Bellingham’s premiere local independent cinema, Pickford Film Center, I have come to learn that the art of film is so much more than simply the final product. With every film, there are so many parts that make up a whole—history, inspiration, story, cast, music, scenery, art direction, distribution, the list goes on—and how those parts all come together in the end is very exciting. The impact of cinema goes way beyond simple entertainment on a screen—film has the power to educate and inspire, encourage visual literacy, and draw communities together. This spring, I invite you to try something new, cast your net a bit wider and explore some titles you may not ordinarily choose. You might be surprised at the outcome. Here are some of my suggestions.
Acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson has delivered a solid catalogue of fantastic films thus far in his 20-year career, so it’s a safe bet his next feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, will also be, well, purely awesome. Anderson’s style—colourful, eccentric, idiosyncratic, with meticulous attention to detail, infused with an eclectic rock and roll soundtrack, was considered atypical at the start of his career in 1994, but no longer. Homegrown filmmakers around the globe are inspired by Anderson’s work, and he is redefining standards in today’s indie cinema. The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of M. Gustave, a legendary hotel concierge at this European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The star-studded cast includes Anderson regulars Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton, as well as new collaborators Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, and Jude Law. If you loved Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll love this one, too. Look for it at Pickford Film Center in March and April.
More Favourites: Little Miss Sunshine, Donnie Darko, Upstream Color
After indulging myself with a plethora of wonderful documentaries during this year’s Doctober Festival, I’m finding it hard to choose just one to recommend. Doctober, the month-long ode to documentaries at Pickford Film Center, boasts almost 40 titles and is Bellingham’s largest film festival. A devout music lover myself, I was partial to Muscle Shoals, the inspiring tale of small-town Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which held a certain magic for all those who recorded there. Another favourite of mine was AKA Doc Pomus, the story of the little-known man behind some of the most well-known rock and roll songs (“This Magic Moment”, “Viva Las Vegas,” and others). Music, art, the natural world—whatever your pleasure, I propose you take a chance on learning about a new topic by way of a documentary, which can open your eyes to new perspectives and new topics around the globe.
More Favourites: Man on Wire, Rivers and Tides, Searching for Sugarman, The Act of Killing, Finding Vivian Maier
A great starter in this category is the vibrant, charming French picture Amelie. In it, we follow Amelie Poulain, a timid yet alluring young waitress with enormous doe eyes and an endless sense of wistful curiosity. Determined to return an old box of childhood memories she found beneath her apartment floorboards to the original owner, Amelie embarks on an adventure through Montmarte, touching the lives of those around her, handling wrongdoers with her own amusing sense of justice, and all the while leaving a trail of wonder in her wake. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet lends his playful, mischievous style to a number of brilliant films—Amelie, Delicatessen, Micmacs—and I anxiously await his next project: The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, due out in March. Keep your eye out for this one; if it’s anything like the rest of Jeunet’s creations, it will be nothing short of an absolute delight.
More Favourites: Delicatessen, Amores Perros, The Past, The Great Beauty
By Lindsey Gerhard