A story of enduring love between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen. Filmmaker Nick Broomfield chronicles their relationship, from the early days in Greece to how their love evolved when Leonard became a successful musician.
Their love affair began on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. Through never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with their friends and former colleagues, a portrait emerges of the woman behind the lyrics and the long-lasting influence she had on Cohen.
Broomfield himself was inspired by Ihlen. After a brief romantic dalliance with Broomfield in 1968, she encouraged him to make his first film. They remained friends until her death in 2016, three months prior to Cohen’s death. Much of Ihlen and Cohen’s story is made up of the time they spent apart, though Cohen continued to write to her after leaving Hydra to pursue his music career. “I was always escaping. I was always trying to get away,” Cohen expressed in an interview. The interviews in Words of Love are a tell-all of Cohen’s concerts and conquests, revealing the women in his life to be the source of many of his songs.
But Ihlen was his longest-lasting influence. Famously, he wrote to her not long before her death: “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.” Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is a remarkable and rare portrait of a love that lasted a lifetime, from its intoxicating beginning to its poetic end. While the proof of it will live on in Cohen’s songs, this documentary captures the time, place, and circumstance that ignited the heart of a soulful singer-songwriter.
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Monday, March 23rd | 7:00 p.m. at the Norwood Theatre
The iconic Merce Cunningham and the last generation of his dance company is stunningly profiled in Alla Kovgan’s 3D documentary. Though a breathtaking explosion of dance, music, and never-before-seen archival material, the film traces the artistic evolution of Cunningham from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers.
Cunningham’s mid-20th century collaborations with composer John Cage (his lifelong partner) and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg were central to an era of transformation. The film brings us closer to these works than any audience has ever been before. We also hear illuminating interviews with Cage, Rauschenberg, and members of the original Merce Cunningham Dance Company, who endured years of rejection and outrage before they slowly won over audiences.
” Whether you come to Cunningham as a neophyte or an aficionado, you’ll leave with a rich experience of his art.” —Toronto International Film Festival
Monday, March 9th | 7:00 p.m. at the Norwood Theatre
Set in the summer of 1926, Brotherhood recounts the true story of a group of youth at a camp on Balsam Lake in the Kawartha Lakes. In a terrifying test of will and strength, they have to fight for survival when an unforeseen thunderstorm capsizes their war canoe. Ten campers and their two leaders are left stranded in freezing water far from shore. The boys are propelled into manhood, all in the darkness of one catastrophic summer night.
Written and directed by Richard Bell, this drama-cum-thriller was shot near Wawa, Ontario and in studio in Toronto.
“Bell orchestrates some fine moments among the young cast – which includes The Order’s Jake Manley and Northern Rescue’s Spencer Macpherson in key roles – and Brendan Fehr and Brendan Fletcher find some compelling notes as the First World War veterans charged with minding the boys.” Norman Wilner, NOW
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An exploration of the career, music and influence of the legendary Canadian musical icon. With unprecedented access to the artist, the film takes audiences from Lightfoot’s high school auditorium in Orillia in the ’50s to the coffee houses of Yorkville and Greenwich Village in the ’60s, through his turbulent, substance-fueled arena shows of the ’70s, and finally to Gordon Lightfoot in present day.
Monday, February 24th | 7:00 p.m. at the Norwood Theatre
The documentary features interviews from many notable voices in the music industry including Lightfoot peers Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Randy Bachman, and Steve Earle; famous fans Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee from Rush, Alec Baldwin, Anne Murray and Sarah McLachlan; as well as behind the scenes stories from members of his longtime band.
Following Lightfoot’s evolution from Christian choirboy to troubled troubadour to international star and beloved Canadian icon, Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind is an intimate and emotional examination of the artist’s profound relationship to his music and his Canadian roots.
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Gripping, powerful, and of-the-moment, Antigone loosely adapts Sophocles’ Greek tragedy and situates it in contemporary Montreal.
Following the murder of their parents, Antigone, her sister Ismène, her brothers Étéocle and Polynice, and their grandmother Ménécée find refuge in Montreal. They live a quiet modest life in a tiny apartment in a working-class neighbourhood. A straight-A student seemingly destined for greatness, Antigone is the glue that holds the family together. Tragedy strikes when Étéocle is wrongfully gunned down by police during the arrest of Polynice, a small-time drug dealer. Motivated by her sense of duty towards her family and fuelled by the memory she cherishes of her dead parents, Antigone decides to jeopardize her own future to preserve that of her family.
“Canada’s Oscar submission is an intelligent, moving reworking of Sophocles’ tragedy, electrified by a breakout turn from star Nahéma Ricci.” Variety
“The latest from critically acclaimed Québécois writer-director Sophie Deraspe, Antigone is a compassionate family drama that doesn’t hold back on its indictment of the current refugee and immigrant experience in North America.” TIFF Winner – Best Canadian Feature Film
As Europe erupts into World War II, 9 year old Martin comes to love his new brother Dovidl, a highly gifted violin prodigy of the same age and recent Polish-Jewish refugee to London. But hours before Dovidl’s debut concert performance at the age of 21 he vanishes without a trace, causing shame and ruin for their family.
A lifetime later, a young violinist shows a 56 year old Martin a stylistic flourish that could only have been taught by Dovidl. This triggers Martin’s odyssey overseas in search of his lost brother, one that will lead to surprising revelations for both men and for Helen, the woman who stood between them.
Song of Names is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Norman Lebrecht. Directed by François Girard (“The Red Violin”), the film stars Tim Roth and Clive Owen. It was nominated for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Exhilarating, suspenseful, and emotionally charged, this documentary from director Alex Holmes chronicles Tracy Edwards’ 1989–90 precedent-setting sea voyage around the world with an all-female crew. The Whitbread Round the World Race was considered an exclusively masculine endeavour when 24 year old Edwards came along and, in the face of much sexist condescension, proved that skill, perseverance, and courage at sea know no gender.
Edwards and her crew members — all of them rousing storytellers — collectively narrate their experience in the film. MAIDEN is a classic tale of people contending with the elements; though, in this case, some of those elements are other people.
“Using archival footage and fresh recollections, director Alex Holmes offers an illuminating look into the weird world of jibs and rigging in a film that transcends the action of the sport.” Brad Wheeler, The Globe & Mail
“This stirring documentary recounts not just the feminist achievement, but triumph of the human spirit.” Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Please join us at the Norwood Theatre on Monday, November 25th at 7:00 p.m. for The Great Buster: A Celebration. In his documentary, Peter Bogdanovich examines the legendary life and career of actor, filmmaker and comic genius Buster Keaton.
Keaton’s singular style and fertile output during the silent era created his legacy as a true cinematic visionary. His beginnings on the vaudeville circuit are chronicled in THE GREAT BUSTER, as is the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker of “The Great Stone Face”, all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer and star of his own short films and features.
The movie is filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films and interspersed throughout are interviews with nearly two-dozen collaborators, filmmakers, performers and friends. These include Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Dick van Dyke and Johnny Knoxville, who discuss Keaton’s influence on modern comedy and, indeed, cinema itself.
Director Bogdanovich is a filmmaker and cinema historian whose landmark writings and films on such renowned directors as John Ford and Orson Welles have become the standard by which all other studies are measured.
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Please join us at the Norwood Theatre on Monday, November 11th at 7:00 p.m.
Writer-director Noble Jones’ The Tomorrow Man is a dramatic and romantic character piece about two quirky seniors from a small town who look past their drastic differences to find love. Ed (John Lithgow) is obsessed with the end of the world and spends his life preparing for a disaster that may never happen. Ronnie (Blythe Danner) is a lively woman who spends her time shopping for items she may never need in order to feel close to her loved ones. When they meet, sparks fly and they soon begin their journey together.
At first, their disparate lifestyles cause some problems for Ed — but when an incident lands him in the hospital, he must decide if going through life according to his own future plans is more important than living in the present with Ronnie.
“Jones’ portrayal of finding love in the later stages of life pulls at your heartstrings and makes you think about your beliefs — and about conspiracy theories that may impact your life in an unexpected way.” tiff
Join us on Monday, October 28th for Official Secrets, an American-British docudrama film based on world-shaking true events.
She risked everything to stop an unjust war. Her government called her a traitor. This is the gripping story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist whose job involves routine handling of classified information. One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, Gun receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on United Nations Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into an illegal war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press. So begins an explosive chain of events that will ignite an international firestorm, expose a vast political conspiracy, and put Gun and her family directly in harm’s way.
“The end result is a professionally made film that is whistle-blowingly relevant, starring an excellent actress who successfully comes in from her Pride & Prejudice past.” Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail
Join us on Monday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m. at the Norwood Theatre for Sometimes, Always, Never. This British comedy-drama stars Bill Nighy, a Spinning Reels favourite.
Alan (Nighy) has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son Michael who stormed out over a game of Scrabble. With a body to identify and his family torn apart, Alan must repair the relationship with his youngest son Peter (Sam Riley) and solve the mystery of an online player who he thinks could be Michael, so he can finally move on and reunite his family.
Here’s what some of the critics had to say:
Director Carl Hunter deploys a vivid visual style and striking production design to capture the shifting moods of a family who know plenty of words but struggle to communicate.
Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who adapted the film from his own short story, has crafted a joy of a script, which seeds its themes as elegantly as Nighy’s character, a Scrabble-obsessed tailor, wears his suits.
Tickets now available. See right column for details.
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Spinning Reels is a Bracebridge-based not-for-profit group bringing great movies to Muskoka.
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Spinning Reels proudly announces the winner of its 2020 Student Bursary
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