Films at the Myrna Loy Center
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Maps to the Stars - R - 112 min - Digital

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A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Fri. - March 27 - 6:30 pm S
Sat. - March 28 - 6:30 - 9:00 pmA
Sun. - March 29 - 2:00 - 4:30 pm A
Mon. - March 30 - 7:15 pm S
Tues. - March 31 - 7:00 pm A
Wed. - April 1 - 7:00 pm A
Thurs. - April 2 - 7:00 pm A

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SYNOPSIS: A Hollywood family with some explosive secrets finds their perfect world unraveling in this satire from director David Cronenberg and writer Bruce Wagner. His wildly popular "Hour of Personal Power" TV program having earned him loyal following among the Hollywood elite, self-help guru Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) caters to his high-powered clientele as his wife Cristina (Olivia Williams) manages the career of their 13-year-old son Benjie (Evan Bird), a former child-star who's just returned home following a stint in rehab. Meanwhile, determined to start over after being released from a psychiatric hospital, burn-scarred Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in L.A. and strikes up a friendship with a local limo driver (Robert Pattinson) before landing a job as personal assistant to Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), an aging Hollywood starlet whose career seems to be on the downturn.

As a major motion picture about her celebrated mother Clarice (Sarah Gadon) goes into production, Havana comes undone by the realization that she may never emerge from her mother's formidable shadow. Subsequently adrift in a world of excess and artifice, Agatha seeks the one thing that could still give her life true meaning - redemption. Little does Agatha realize, in this town any attempt at achieving real substance leaves you dangerously exposed to the circling sharks who value self-preservation above all else.

Click to Expand/Collapse our Selected Review:

David Cronenberg is near the top of the list of directors whose works resist snap judgments. His mix of black comedy and unabashed melodrama is so delicate, and in some ways so off-putting, that at times it's hard to tell if he's kidding or serious (the answer is usually both). He's been described as a horror filmmaker, and his longstanding fascination with bodily invasion and the fragility of flesh confirms that label—or does it? A good many of his films play like horror movies even if they don't have genetic mutations or other obvious "monsters." Why? Maybe because he's less interested in gore and goo than in the beasts within: the monstrous nature of obsession and desire; the difficulty of escaping oneself, physically or emotionally; the cruelty of the societies that enfold and define his characters. Look back over Cronenberg's filmography, and you realize that he hasn't made an according-to-Hoyle horror picture since 1986's "The Fly." The horrific quality seems to come more from his being appalled by what people can be, and do—and from being sympathetic to their urges anyway.

"Maps to the Stars," written by Bruce Wagner, is another work in the good old Cronenbergian vein. Although it's been dismissed in some quarters as minor Cronenberg—and criticized for "getting Hollywood wrong," or something like that; as if "Dead Ringers" cared about the fine points of gynecology—it's a sneakily powerful movie, so much so that its conceptual thinness isn't a deal-breaker. Not for nothing did Cronenberg model his remake of "The Fly" on tragic opera, then re-stage it with his regular composer Howard Shore as an actual opera, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang. This new film's cast of anxious, duplicitous, sometimes violent creative types rattle off declamatory dialogue so overwrought that it could be treated as arias scored for a 40-piece orchestra. The characters inhabit a Los Angeles that seems as intimate, even inbred, as a stereotypical backwoods town: every other scene reveals that characters you didn't know were connected are, in fact, part of an extended family, united not just by blood, but hunger for validation. They want luxury and fame as well, but those are signifiers of what they're truly after: adoration. Love. Unconditional acceptance.

Julianne Moore stars as Havana Segrand, a formidable actress whose star has begun to fade now that she's passed 50. Like a lot of characters in this film—and a lot of characters in Cronenberg's films, period, and Wagner's fiction—she's defined by her tragic past, and knows this all too well, and is palpably desperate to escape it and re-create herself. Ironically, though (and appropriately, since this is Cronenberg) she's trying to escape herself by crawling deeper into a psychological cage that's enclosed her since birth: Havana wants to star in a biographical drama about her late mother Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon), a mercurial, psychologically and sexually abusive actress who could be a combination of Frances Farmer and Joan Crawford.

This one subplot, about an actress trying to master the awful memories of her mother by figuratively becoming her, gives you some clue what Cronenberg and Wagner are up to, not just with Havana but with all the major characters. Like Cronenberg's little-seen but fascinating "Spider," "Maps to the Stars" often feels like a ghost story made by people who don't believe in the supernatural. The mother appears to her daughter in a very straightforward way—as she might manifest herself in a theatrical production. But even though she's clearly an outgrowth of Havana's mangled psyche, you have to count her as an accusing spirit, rattling around in the haunted house of her daughter's damaged mind, and saying the most vile, undermining things. (As if the movie didn't already subtly echo "The Shining," Cronenberg has Clarice appearing to Havana in a bathtub: shades of room 237.)

Havana, who will do or say just about anything to play her mother and hopefully win an Oscar, is the most vivid of the film's troubled souls, thanks mainly to Moore's utter disinterest in seeming powerful or dignified or otherwise stereotypically movie star-like. From "Short Cuts" and "Safe" onward, this actress has played troubled, desperate or generally put-upon characters so often that the best actress Oscar she won for "Still Alice" might as well have been mounted on a torture rack. But Havana proves merely the brightest star in this film's constellation of scheming sufferers, a bunch whose manias are a bit too contrived and schematic, but which fascinate anyway, thanks to the actors' virtuosity and Cronenberg's control of tone.

Havana's regular therapist/masseuse/TV psychologist is a self-help guru named Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), a man who presents himself as selfless and caring, but seems determined to crack open repressed minds mainly so he can root around and provoke extreme reactions. (When Stafford manipulates Havana's body on a yoga mat, Cronenberg's staging suggests sex, sometimes rape.)

Havana's new personal assistant, Stafford's daughter Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska), wears long gloves to cover arms that were burned in a mysterious fire; at first she seems almost Pollyanna-sweet, but soon enough she reveals a capacity for ruthlessness that rivals Havana's. The ghost story parallels continue via Agatha, who haunts Stafford; his brittle, fearful wife Cristina (Olivia Williams, in the latest in a series of knockout supporting performances), and Agatha's kid brother Benjie. The youngest Weiss is a cruel and territorial former child star who's looking to escape the gilded prison of juvenile idol-hood. Benjie is played by Evan Bird of "The Killing," an actor whose haircut and clipped delivery revoke Frankie Muniz on "Malcolm in the Middle" when the character isn't doing a snotnosed power-broker routine, lounging around nightclubs like Leonard DiCaprio in his post-"Titanic" period. Compared to all these misfits, slimeballs and emotional basket cases, Robert Pattinson's limo driver and aspiring screenwriter Jerome Fontana seems well-adjusted, but as is so often the case with Wagner's characters, you'd best not get too comfortable with him. (This is the second time Pattinson has spent time in a limo for Cronenberg, after "Cosmopolis," and the second time he's delivered a top-notch, blase-sexy-decadent performance.)

I'm not convinced that the film's themes and situations are deep enough or well-articulated enough to deserve the brilliant filmmaking and acting placed in their service. As the story wears on and we glean new bits of information establishing the characters' connections, the story starts to seem less operatically inevitable than contrived and convenient: too neat, and trying to camouflage its too-neatness with wrenching scenes of violence and self-abasement. By the time you get to the end, Cronenberg has pinned all his people against the screen like so many laboratory specimens, ripped off their scabs, and vivisected their longings: an old wound here, a long--deferred dream there. Still, the movie sticks with you. It's a fleeting nightmare that refuses to fade.





My Favorite Movie - Not Rated - Digital

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A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Fri. - March 27 - 7:30 pm A
Sat. - March 28 - 4:00 - 9:15 pm A/S
Sun. - March 29 - 2:15 - 7:00 pm S/A

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SYNOPSIS: The American Dream, who wants it? Everyone! Dave HAS the American Dream and hates it. As a young man, a pushover, and a bookworm, Dave grew up with good grades, received a college degree, and now works in a cubicle. Dave's best friends are a supremely content gas station worker, a video game addicted secretary, and an eccentric stockbroker who hates the evil fast food chain, McDucks.

During Dave's friends' quest to help him find true happiness, trouble arises when Dave falls for an employee of McDucks. Now he must keep his friends from knowing he's found happiness within the walls of their most hated entity while they are desperately fighting to pull him out of his depressed darkness!

Filmed in Helena, My Favorite Movie is a zaney film about quirky friends and their search for true happiness!



Two Days One Night - PG-13 - 91 min - Digital

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A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Thurs. - March 26 - 7:15 pm S
Fri. - March 27 - 8:30 pm S
Sat. - March 28 - 4:15 - 6:45 pm S
Sun. - March 29 - 4:15 - 6:45 pm S
Mon. - March 30 - Not Showing
Tues. - March 31 - 7:15 pm S
Wed. - April 1 - 7:15 pm S
Thurs. - April 2 - 7:15 pm S

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SYNOPSIS: For the first time, Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne team up with a major international star, Marion Cotillard, to create a universal story about working-class people living on the edges of society. Sandra (Cotillard) has just returned to work after recovering from a serious bout with depression. Realizing that the company can operate with one fewer employee, management tells Sandra she is to be let go. After learning that her co-workers will vote to decide her fate on Monday morning, Sandra races against time over the course of the weekend, often with the help of her husband, to convince each of her fellow employees to sacrifice their much-needed bonuses so she can keep her job. With each encounter, Sandra is brought into a different world with unexpected results in this powerful statement on community solidarity.



Still Alice - PG-13 - 99 min - Digital

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A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Thurs. - March 26 - 7:00 pm A

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SYNOPSIS: Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

Click to Expand/Collapse our Selected Review:

With a combination of power and grace, Julianne Moore elevates “Still Alice” above its made-for-cable-television trappings, and delivers one of the more memorable performances of her career.

This is no small feat, given the depth and breadth of Moore’s filmography and her consistent ability to produce great work, from playing a porn star in “Boogie Nights” to an eccentric artist in “The Big Lebowski” to a frustrated housewife in “Far From Heaven” to her dead-on portrayal of Sarah Palin in HBO’s “Game Change.” She’s such a smart, clever and instinctive actress that she never hits a false note. She finds unexpected avenues into her character, a challenging role that requires her to show a mental deterioration that’s both gradual and inherently internal.

Thankfully, “Still Alice” doesn’t deify the woman she plays: Dr. Alice Howland, an esteemed linguistics professor at Columbia University who finds she’s suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Co-directors and writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland don’t shy away from the steady and terrifying way the disease can take hold of a person and strip away her ability to communicate and connect with the outside world. But they also don’t tell this story with much nuance or artistry in adapting Lisa Genova’s novel.

This is especially true when comparing “Still Alice” to a couple of recent films that have tackled the same territory: Sarah Polley’s haunting “Away From Her” and Michael Haneke’s unflinching “Amour.” The flat lighting, the frequent use of maudlin music, a heavy reliance on medium shots and some awkward cutaways for reactions all contribute to the sensation of watching a rather workmanlike production better suited to the small screen. But the film’s heart is in the right place, and the message matters, and it surely will resonate with the millions of people whose loved ones have suffered from this cruel disease.

At the film’s start, though, Alice has everything. It’s her 50th birthday, and she’s celebrating at a chic New York restaurant with her adoring family. Her husband (Alec Baldwin), who’s also an academic, toasts her as the most beautiful, intelligent person he’s ever known. She’s stylish, accomplished, happy and financially secure. She radiates confidence and competence at all times. But soon, words–which have fascinated her throughout her life and provided the basis for her career–begin to elude her. She becomes disoriented on her daily jog around campus. She starts losing items around the house and forgetting scheduled events.

A visit to a neurologist reveals that Alice has a rare form of Alzheimer’s, and that it’s genetic. Fascinatingly, because she is such an intellectual, she’s been able to play tricks on her brain and find shortcuts to mask her illness. But in no time, the bottom drops out from underneath her, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. Moore plays it small for the most part, conveying fear with her eyes or slight shifts in the tone of her voice, so the moments when her character understandably snaps in panic really stand out in contrast.

The fact that a woman who’s an expert in linguistics has trouble articulating herself may seem like an obvious device, but it also adds to the film’s sense of sadness and frustration, because Alice knows all too well the power of self-expression. “Still Alice” is about how she reacts to her own deterioration–how she constantly reassesses it and figures out how to cope. She doesn’t always do it with quiet dignity, which is refreshing; sometimes she even uses the disease to manipulate those around her or get out of a social occasion she’d rather avoid.

But it’s also about how her family reacts in unexpected ways. Her eldest daughter, Anna (a stiff Kate Bosworth), a prim and perfectly coifed lawyer who married well, doesn’t handle Alice’s illness as well as her free-spirited youngest daughter, Lydia (an excellent Kristen Stewart), who’s moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an actress. (The middle child, a son played by Hunter Parrish, is also on the verge of his own impressive career as a doctor).

Adding to the poignancy is the fact that Glatzer was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 after a decade of making independent films with his partner, Westmoreland, including the 2006 hit “Quinceanera.” Surely, he is all too familiar with the struggle of remaining creative and vital. The fact that this is a personal story, earnestly told and filled with hope, ultimately is what shines through with great clarity.







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