OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

The lights will come on again!

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The ByTowne is now closed. But there's good news!

After the pandemic has been brought under control,
new management will take over the space and the ByTowne will re-open.

It may take a while for pandemic restrictions to be eased enough
that a feasible number of patrons can be allowed to watch a movie again,
but the new owners are working towards that day.

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A Thousand Times Good Night

She risked life and family to save the world.

A Norwegian-made, English-language film set in Ireland, Kenya and Afghanistan, and starring French luminary Juliette Binoche, would seem to wear its internationalism on its sleeve. Yet globe-trotting, at least to war zones, forms the central conflict in A Thousand Times Good Night, Erik Poppe’s gripping tale of a dedicated photojournalist torn between passionate involvement with her work and commitment to her worried family. Deftly sidestepping both melodrama and family-values messaging, Poppe imbues the film with enormous emotional resonance, brilliantly grounded by his leading lady.

Poster art for A Thousand Times Good NightPhotographer Rebecca (Binoche) is at once horrified and fascinated by the rituals surrounding an all-female suicide-bomber group, the camera alternating between seer and seen, each an integral part of the other, as the chosen bomber is cleansed, wrapped in explosives and tearfully hugged. Rebecca even insists on accompanying the martyr-to-be into Kabul, where her inability to stop snapping pictures causes everything to detonate prematurely.

Poppe, himself a photojournalist in the ’80s, gives Rebecca a serene ability to balance all-consuming work and affectionate downtime with her family. But to her marine-biologist husband, Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Rebecca’s chosen profession serves her addiction to the adrenaline rush of danger, while to her teenage daughter, Steph (Lauryn Canny), it represents inexplicable abandonment. Rebecca’s latest near fatality in Kabul proves the final straw; faced with a war-or-family ultimatum, she chooses the latter.

Ironically, it is Steph’s growing appreciation for her mother’s photographs, coinciding with a school-fostered humanitarian interest in African conflicts, that encourages Rebecca, with hubby’s blessing, to accept a ‘safe’ assignment to a Kenyan refugee camp with Steph. When violence unexpectedly erupts, Rebecca sends her daughter to safety but cannot personally tear herself away.

The film distinguishes itself from Hollywood-made photojournalist action movies like Under Fire, in which the movie pivots around the hero questioning his neutrality in the face of political injustice. Here, the viewer becomes so totally invested in the heroine’s compulsion to record what she witnesses that, paradoxically, the action itself is more honestly portrayed.

– Ronnie Scheib, Variety
 

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