Path Alias: 

Woody Allen: A Documentary

(2012, 113 mins, DCP)
FEATURING Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Letty Aaronson, Marshall Brickman, Naomi Watts, Larry David, Gordon Willis, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Dianne Wiest


Woody Allen once boxed a kangaroo on TV. And he still uses the exact same Olympus typewriter on which he’s written all his scripts since he started churning out gags at the age of 16. (He uses a stapler to cut and paste.) Who knew?

Director Robert B Weide made How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Curb Your Enthusiasm and (perhaps most relevant for Allen, a documentary about his early inspiration, US stand up Mort Sahl). He’s an unabashed fan, but then who isn’t? At any rate myriad friends and collaborators turn up to sing his praises. They include Woody’s younger sister and regular producer Letty Aronson, Diane Keaton, his second wife Louise Lesser, producers and agents Charles Joffe, Jack Rollins and Robert Greenhut, DP Gordon Willis, cowriter Marshall Brickman, casting director Juliet Taylor, stars Larry David, Dianne Wiest, Tony Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Mira Sorvino, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Owen Wilson…

So, everything you wanted to know about Woody? Well, close to it, anyway. Not surprisingly, Mia Farrow is a no-show, and as much as possible Weide respects his subject’s privacy on that score. He’s a rare biographer who’s more interested in the work than the life – and you won’t find out much about the “real” Woody here, at least not about Woody the adult, there’s plenty of interesting material about his childhood and his early years as a teenage gag-factory. Allen himself is more amiable and relaxed than we might expect – his sister says this seems to be the happiest time in his life. And given that his father died at the age of 100, and his mum at 96, we could easily be in for another 20+ Woody Allen movies before he’s done.

"Not a film to be missed." Philip French, The Observer

When Jews Were Funny

(2013, 90 mins)
FEATURING Alan Zweig, Gilbert Gottfried, Howie Mandel, Shecky Greene, Shelley Berman, David Steinberg, Mark Breslin, Norm Crosby, Judy Gold


Why is the history of American humour over the last century so inextricably tied to Jewish comedy? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.

The questions are deliberately provocative, and not a few of Zweig’s interviewees take issue with his thesis, but more often than not the movie goes to prove that there’s nothing funnier than a couple of old Jewish guys arguing about what’s funny, and why.

Director’s Bio

Alan Zweig was born and educated in Toronto. After working in the film industry as a writer, producer, director and actor for twenty-five years, he found his niche directing documentaries. His films include Vinyl (00); Family Secrets (03); I, Curmudgeon (04); Lovable (07); A Hard Name (09); which won the Genie Award for Best Documentary; and When Jews Were Funny (13).

Coenpalooza! The Hudsucker Proxy

(1994, 111 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Charles Durning, John Mahoney, Jim True, Steve Buscemi


New Year’s Eve, 1958. What brings mailroom boy Norville Barnes to the very edge of suicide? An enormous stroke of luck seems to be the correct answer. When CEO and founder Warring Hudsucker (Charles Durning takes a dive from his office window), corporate honcho Sidney J Mussburger (Paul Newman) seizes the moment and sizes up Norville for an astronomical promotion. He figures with this patsy installed as corporate president the stock will plummet, and he’ll be in prime place to pick up the pieces.

Written by the Coens with their friend Sam Raimi, The Hudsucker Proxy is an echt screwball comedy in the syncopated style of Frank Capra, Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks. Not that those masters would have troubled themselves with the dazzling Art Deco production design or the breathtaking bravura camera moves, but this is the Coens in their element, reworking Hollywood classicism into something even more fabulous than we remember it.

"Criminally overlooked and sinfully wonderful Coen brothers comedy." Scott Weinberg, efilmcritic

Coenpalooza! Barton Fink

(1991, 116 mins, 35mm)
CAST John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney


“I gotta tell you, the life of the mind… There’s no roadmap for that territory… And exploring it can be painful.” John Turturro gives what may be the definitive portrait of a blocked - but still unbearably pompous - writer in this insider satire on Hollywood culture. The Coens, of course, were indie darlings getting their first glimpse of La-la-land when they decided to riff on the myriad American literary lions who sold out to the movie studios in the 1930s and 40s: Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hammett and Hemingway, to name but a few. Playwright Clifford Odets would be another example, and probably the closest model for Barton Fink, a New York dramatist feted for his poetic paeans to the common man, despite his middle class origins and palpable unease with genuine working stiffs.

This is a movie where every single supporting performance is stellar, including an unforgettable turn from Coen regular John Goodman, but still, mention must be made to Michael Lerner’s hilarious take on the vulgar Hollywood studio head, Jack Lipnick, who only wants to inject a little of "that Barton Fink feeling" into his reliably profitable Wallace Beery wrestling pictures.

Comic but with creepy surreal edge, the movie swept the top three awards at the Cannes film festival but flopped in theatres. Nevertheless, the Coens have talked about making a sequel, Old Fink, with Barton as a California academic…

Coenpalooza! Miller's Crossing

(1990, 115 mins, DCP)
CAST Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito, Steve Buscemi


What’s the rumpus? The Coens’ riff on Dashiell Hammett’s 1930s gangster novels The Glass Key and Red Harvest is one of their most flavourful achievements, an intricate, complex, compelling study of integrity among thieves set in the ethically compromised world of civic politics in the Prohibition era.

Gabriel Byrne channels Humphrey Bogart as Tom Regan, right hand man to crime boss Albert Finney - who is embroiled in a turf war with a rival gangster, Caspar (Jon Polito). Regan is pulled into a dangerous middle ground by his lover, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), whose brother Bernie (John Turturro) is on Caspar’s hit-list.

With its highly poetic hardboiled dialogue and dreamy ambiance, Miller’s Crossing is a kind of zen gangster movie, contemplative and wistful. Yet there is real feeling here that keeps bursting through its immaculate period veneer, a dread of betrayal, that bullet in the back.

"A superb, languid fantasia on the theme of the gangster film that repays endless viewing." David Thomson, Have You Seen…?

"Maybe the greatest motion picture of the last 20 years." Jim Emerson, Scanners (2007)

"Elegantly profound, it’s a meditation on what doing the right thing might mean, with a spookily good, career-best performance from Byrne." Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph

Coenpalooza! Raising Arizona

(1987, 94 mins, DCP)
CAST Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Trey Wilson, William Forsythe, Frances McDormand


Coenapolooza! The year was 1987 and the Coen brothers boys only had one previous feature to their name, the byzantine Texan noir Blood Simple. For all that film’s twisted wit there wasn’t much to anticipate this demented slice of screwball Western farce.

Career criminal H.I. McDonnaugh (Nic Cage) marries police woman Ed (Holly Hunter), but sadly her womb is a barren place. Hi resolves to make off with one of the quintuplets born to local furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona - after all, how many babies does he need, really?

Coenpalooza! The Big Lebowski

(1998, 127 mins, DCP)
CAST Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddlestone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara, Sam Elliott


Some film only get better the more you see them. And while The Big Lebowski is far from the perfect movie - it’s a shaggy dog story that barely hangs together - it may be the best time Hollywood has given us in the last two decades. Certainly it’s the most ubiquitous cult phenomenon we’ve seen since The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Blues Brothers, a Philip Marlow mystery for the slacker generation (Chandler by way of Altman’s Long Goodbye).

Jeff Bridges is the Dude, a drop out looking for his virtue, and his rug, in the moral free-zone of contemporary Malibu. "The plot - thick as Kahlua - accommodates nihilist former krautrockers, fluxus artists, porn moguls, tearaway Minnesota farmgirls, paraplegic fake millionaires, TV Western writers in iron lungs, neo-Jewish Vietnam vets, paedophile bowlers and Saddam Hussein… Key ingredients include the endlessly quotable dialogue, an inspired cast of actors clearly relishing their lines, and T Bone Burnett’s jukebox soundtrack." Nick Bradshaw, The DVD Stack

Inequality For All

(2013, 89 mins, DCP)
FEATURING Robert Reich


It’s no secret: the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are working harder, longer hours for less reward (that is, if we’re lucky enough to be in work). Economist Robert Reich explains why the free market is a misnomer, how late capitalism has jumped the tracks, and what we should do about it in this passionate, lucid and compelling state of the nation address.

About Robert Reich

If you have followed US politics with even cursory interest over the past four decades, you will almost certainly have come across the economist Robert Reich. He served in the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter administrations before Bill Clinton appointed him Secretary of Labor 1993-1997. Since then he’s appeared regularly across the media as a commentator on the economic scene. He’s also the author of some 14 books, and Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley.

"Smart, funny and articulate, Robert Reich is the university professor we all wish we’d had. He’s so accessible and entertaining he takes a subject that sounds soporific and makes it come alive like you wouldn’t believe in ’Inequality for All." Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"An often essential primer." Sam Adams, Time Out New York

Screening in advance a 3 minute short: Hope in the Shadows a portrait of one of the Downtown Eastside photographers featured in this year's Hope In The Shadows calendar made by Vancouver's Pivot Legal Society. 

Federico of the Spirits

(Federico degli spiriti)
(2013, 20 mins)
In Italian with English subtitles
FEATURING Vincenzo Mollica, Pupi Avati, Paolo Villaggio, Sergio Rubini, Sandra Milo, Ettore Scola, Lina Wertmuller, Dante Ferretti, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carlo Verdone, Claudio Amendola


Federico Fellini died on October 31, 1993. After two days of lying in state in “his” Theater 5 at Cinecittà, crowded with friends from cinema and ordinary people, his solemn funeral was celebrated in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Rome, by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini.

It was November 3. Just a little over 20 years ago. Three intense, extraordinary days transformed into the first great media event (approximately one hundred television networks present) centered on the demise of an Italian show business figure. A particularly moving event in which Italy, and the world, gave a last affectionate farewell to one of the greatest, universally recognized geniuses in its history (Fellini is the only Italian director to have 5 Oscars) through images filmed between Cinecittà, airports (to interview the great names in cinema in arrival from abroad like Mastroianni, Chabrol and many others) and, lastly Piazza della Republica in Rome, where the funeral rites were held before a veritable ocean of people while the church was packed with all the great stars of Italian filmmaking. But beyond its images, the documentary narrates those three incredible days which by now have become movie history, through the memories of those who were there: Vincenzo Mollica, Pupi Avati, Paolo Villaggio, Sergio Rubini, Sandra Milo, Ettore Scola, Lina Wertmuller, Dante Ferretti, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carlo Verdone, Claudio Amendola as well as many other friends and colleagues of the deceased director.

Screens with feature Amarcord

Coenpalooza! Blood Simple

(1984, 99 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Frances McDormand, John Getz, M Emmett Walsh, Dan Hedaya


You can’t keep a dead man down. Not in the Coens’ bravura suspense thriller. A curtain-raiser for tomorrow’s Coen Bros marathon - Coenapolooza! -:here’s the brothers’ first movie, a delectably twisted film noir set in modern day (well, mid 80s) Texas, where Marty (Dan Hedaya) doesn’t much care for the fact that his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is playing around behind his back. This is one of the great debut films, bursting with malicious wit and style, with an unforgettable performance from character actor M Emmett Walsh as a sleazy private dick with a very personal notion of ethics.

"It’s the boys’ most immediately gratifying movie: The goods are delivered in a hearse." Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner

"A tight, beautifully ugly neo-noir classic." Kim Morgan, Portland Oregonian

"As black, sinful and nasty as a weekful of Hitchcocks, this is as fresh and intoxicating now as it was back then. In a word: deadly." Ian Nathan, Empire