Films at the Myrna Loy Center
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  • $ 7.00 Seniors
  • $ 7.00 Students (High School and younger)
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  • $ 5.50 Children 12 and under
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Now Showing

Slow West - R - 84 min - Digital


A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Fri. - May 22 - 7:00 - 9:00 pm A
Sat. - May 23 - 4:00 - 9:00 pm S
Sun. - May 24 - 2:15 - 4:15 - 7:15 pm A
Mon. - May 25 - 7:15 pm A
Tues. - May 26 - 7:15 pm A
Wed. - May 27 - 7:15 pm A
Thurs. - May 28 - 7:15 pm A

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SYNOPSIS: Jay is a lovelorn 17-year-old Scottish aristocrat who travels to the American West at the close of the nineteenth century to track down his former lover. Confronted with the harsh realities of the frontier, he falls in with a rough and mysterious traveler named Silas (Michael Fassbender), who soon discovers that the focus of Jay's affection has a price on her head. Together, the two navigate a vast, untamed wilderness while attempting to stay one step ahead of a bloodthirsty posse and colorful bounty hunter. Their search leads to a bloody confrontation where Jay's romanticism is the first of many casualties. Scottish filmmaker John Maclean makes his Sundance Film Festival debut with a fresh, lyrical perspective on a quintessentially American art form. With performances buoyed by Fassbender's enigmatic and modern take on the stoic Western hero, a wry sense of humor, and stunning panoramic cinematography, Slow West is a surreal journey through a gorgeous yet inhospitable landscape.

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SLOW WEST is another hidden Sundance gem. Having already been picked up by A24 and DirectTV, SLOW WEST was not among the films to get crazy buzz around town amid the buyers as its already slated for a theatrical/VOD release this spring. Yet, while the headlines have been going to the acquisition titles, SLOW WEST has been steadily building up some strong word-of-mouth among critics and audiences, and lucky for me I was able to finally catch up with it before the festival's end.

It's really a shame that most people will be catching SLOW WEST as VOD as if ever a movie cried out to be seen on the big screen it's this. Lavishly shot in New Zealand (despite taking place in Colorado) SLOW WEST is intriguing in that it's an utterly foreign take on the American West, with a cast and crew mostly stacked with Europeans. Despite that, the film is very true to the spirit of old time westerns, at its heart being a relatively straightforward story of a young man's quest for love and how he becomes a man on the way to fulfilling his goal.

It's funny how Kodi Smit-McPhee's found himself finally cast in a western after appearing in two other pseudo-westerns (THE ROAD & YOUNG ONES). McPhee, with his fresh-face and boyishness makes a likable tenderfoot, and his chemistry with Fassbender is spot-on, with the two quickly establishing a kind of big-brother/younger-brother dynamic that gives the film a lot of heart. For his part, Fassbender has never looked cooler, with his stubble, omni-present cigarillo, and worn-out cowboy duds making him look like Eastwood's “The Man With No Name” (although he's way more verbose).

For the most part, SLOW WEST is a two-hander, but lots of interesting character actors like the great Ben Mendelsohn wander in and out, giving the film some personality. What really distinguishes SLOW WEST is writer-director John Maclean's black sense-of-humor. The movie often hilarious in a pitch-black kind of way that constantly livens it up, although running a brisk eighty minutes, SLOW WEST is a quick watch, not unlike the many great western programmers it takes a page from. One could imagine Anthony Mann directing a (possibly) less funny version of this back in the fifties with a guy like Jimmy Stewart in the Fassbender role. It's certainly not a grandiose epic, or as elegiac and poetic as THE PROPOSITION or THE ASSASINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, but it's a very effective modern take on the western with enough unconventional bits mixed in to give it an eccentric style all of its own. Keep an eye peeled for its eventual VOD release although if a theatrical option is available I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Leviathan - R - 140 min - Digital


A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Fri. - May 22 - 6:30 - 9:15 pm S
Sat. - May 23 - 6:30 pm S
Sun. - May 24 - 2:00 - 5:00 - 7:30 pm S
Mon. - May 25 - 7:00 pm S
Tues. - May 26 - 7:00 pm S
Wed. - May 27 - 7:00 pm S
Thurs. - May 28 - 7:00 pm S

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SYNOPSIS: Kolia (the magnetic Alexey Serebryakov) lives in a coastal village near the Barents Sea in Northern Russia, running an auto-repair shop from the garage of his childhood home, shared with young wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and his teenage son from a previous marriage. The family's world is under threat: Vadim Sergeyich (Roman Madyanov), the imperious town Mayor, has slapped a compulsory acquisition order on Kolia's prime land, earmarking the site for a development of undetermined but dubious funding (and offering risible, token compensation). To Sergeyich's great surprise, Kolia enlists the help of ex-army friend Dmitri (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), now a hotshot lawyer from Moscow. Dmitri has uncovered some highly incriminating evidence that he believes will force the Mayor to back down, even if he has secrets of his own. Soon tempers and passions are inflamed, events spiral out of control, and lives are placed at stake.

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Though it takes place in a small town and involves only a handful of characters, the Russian drama “Leviathan” has a feeling of expansiveness, even grandeur. It opens with distant, monumental views of Russia’s north shore, where huge rock formations slope down into a churning, slate-gray sea, images set to a propulsive Phillip Glass score. Soon we see the husks of abandoned sea-faring vessels along the water’s edge, where, later in the film, we’ll behold the enormous skeleton of a beached whale – a leviathan evoking both the Book of Job and Thomas Hobbes’ famous political tract.

A prize winner at Cannes and Russia’s nominee for this year’s Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, “Leviathan” is easily the most important and imposing film to emerge from Russia in recent years. Since its story conveys a sense of pervasive political corruption, it has been read as a daring and scathing critique of conditions in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and it is certainly fascinating to contemplate on that level. Yet there’s much more to writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s singular artistic vision than simple political allegorizing, as the hypnotic opening of “Leviathan” makes clear.

In a sense, the film takes us back to the first of Zvyagintsev’s four features, “The Return” (2003), which won the Golden Lion at Venice and became an international art-house hit. Both movies feature dramatic landscapes that almost function as an additional character. Yet geographic specificity has no importance here; we never learn where either story takes place. The locales may seem vividly real, but for Zvaginstsev they’re primarily mythic – crucibles for dramas of the Russian soul.

Both movies also feature Biblical references that have oblique political connotations. In “The Return,” about a gruff father who encounters his two teenage sons after an absence of 12 years, it’s the story of Abraham and Isaac, with the suggestion that the tale concerns the re-imposition of threatening paternalistic authority 12 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In “Leviathan,” the Book of Job references evoke timeless human suffering as well as the metaphysical questions it entails, while also pointing toward Hobbes’ notions of the freedoms that people surrender for the security of an authoritarian regime like Putin’s – a theme that obviously has implications for many countries besides Russia.

The invocation of the mythic and the Biblical along with related historical, philosophical and political ideas should indicate that much of the “drama” in a Zvyagintsev film lies in wrestling with its multi-leveled (potential) meanings. The dramas themselves are usually fairly simple and emotionally direct, though each has a core of mystery and ambiguity that not only invites but compels our interpretative engagement.

The main character in “Leviathan,” Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov), lives and works on a small but desirable piece of waterside property that the local mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov), covets and has claimed for the town. The story opens when an old army buddy of Kolya’s who’s now a slick Moscow lawyer, Dmitri (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), arrives to help him fight for his land. Though Kolya loses again in court, which seems under Vadim’s thumb, Dmitri then goes to the mayor and presents him with a sheaf of incriminating documents he’s gathered. It’s blackmail of a sort but at first it seems to work. Apoplectic, Vadim agrees to cut a deal.

All of this happens in a context where there’s lots of vodka drinking, argumentation and simmering discontent of various sorts. Kolya’s moody teenage son by a previous marriage (Sergey Pokhodaev) can’t get along with his current wife, Lilya (Elena Lyadova), a pensive beauty who works in a fishery. Introducing Dmitri into the home ups the chances for both bonhomie and trouble. Meanwhile we see the almost constantly drunken Vadim consorting with a well-groomed priest, who tries to allay his political fears with religious platitudes.

The corrosive intertwining of politics and religion is a provocative theme in “Leviathan.” Thoroughly corrupt, Vadim belongs to a national hierarchy that, Zvyagintsev pointedly suggests, isn’t much different from the Communist one it replaced: indeed, while a statue of Lenin still stands in front of the courthouse, a glowering portrait of Putin looms over Vadim’s office. Yet today’s strongmen, rather than trying to eradicate religion, are bolstered by their mutually beneficial support of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Still, though he includes a brief reference to Pussy Riot, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Zvyagintsev is anti-religious in any one-dimensional or atheistic sense. Like Andrei Tarkovsky before him, he’s a staunch anti-Communist who seeks to, in critic Oleg Sulkin’s words, “draw support from the archetypally Russian intellectual and spiritual tradition that was trampled by the Bolshevik regime.” Late in “Leviathan,” there’s scene with a humble local priest who is portrayed as a sympathetic, spiritual counterpoint to the gilded, officious prelates we see in the film’s climactic scene, where current Russia’s perverse symbiosis of church and state is anatomized to devastating effect.

Though the tone of most Zvyagintsev films might be described as brooding if not portentous, there’s also a degree of wit to his approach here. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Dmitri joins Kolya, two male friends and their wives and kids for an outing to the country to shoot guns and drink vodka. After one of the men destroys all of the bottles they’ve brought for target shooting with a blast of machine-gun fire, another produces an alternate set of targets – portraits of Soviet leaders from Lenin through Gorbachev. Asked if he’s got any of subsequent Russian leaders, he jokes, “It’s too early for the current ones.”

While this scene contains another of the haunting landscapes that Zvyagintsev is so adept at conjuring, it also illustrates his particular visual mastery. Indeed those portraits are a characteristic instance of symbolic iconography; the director often pauses to gaze at such ambient images, whether old photos or fading religious murals. More characteristic still is his elegant choreography of subtle camera movements, muted natural lighting (Michail Krichman’s cinematography is precise and understated throughout) and the comings and goings of several actors, all of them part of an ensemble that’s uniformly excellent.

Ultimately “Leviathan” may divide viewers between those who find its possible meanings too numerous and inchoate and others who welcome the challenges of helping create its meaning. Certainly, its prize-winning script can be faulted on a couple of levels: the motivations of Lilya, an important character, are left entirely opaque; and the attempt at a piercingly tragic conclusion doesn’t quite come off. Yet the film’s ambitions are so grand and multi-dimensional, and mostly accomplished, that Zvyagintsev’s audacity can only be applauded. His is a career that now must be counted one of the most significant in contemporary cinema.



A = Auditorium
S = Screening Room

Thurs. - June 18 - 7:00 pm A

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Visit Montana Environmental Information Center's website

The Myrna Loy Center and Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) will co-host a benefit screening of the new documentary film Wrenched on Thursday, June 18, at the Myrna Loy. Fifty percent of proceeds from the event will go toward MEIC’s “Save Our Smith” campaign to protect Montana’s beloved Smith River from copper mine development.

Wrenched, released in 2014, documents the life and work of Edward Abbey, father of the environmental activist movement and author of the classic comic novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang. The film reveals how Abbey’s anarchistic spirit and riotous novels influenced and helped guide the nascent environmental movement of the 1970s and ‘80s. Through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments, ML Lincoln captures the outrage of Abbey’s friends who were the original eco-warriors.

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