Family takes center stage at Star Hall this month, with free screenings of two very different movies that champion family values in their own unique ways.
On Saturday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m., the Utah Film Center will present the Disney documentary “Bears.” The G-rated movie showcases a year in the life of a first-time mother bear and her two young cubs as they come out of hibernation and face the challenges of life in the Alaskan wilderness.
The following week, the film center will be teaming up with the Grand County Library to host a free Star Hall screening of “Love Is Strange” on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. Writer-director Ira Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zacharias’ film tells the tale of a newly married gay couple whose lives together are interrupted when they’re forced out of the home they’ve shared.
While “Love Is Strange” is rated R, “Bears” is suitable for audiences of all ages; it also comes with a glowing recommendation from Utah Film Center outreach coordinator Sallie Hodges.
“’Bears’ is a wonderful film set against the stunning backdrop of Alaska,” Hodges said. “Its importance is showing the beauty and resilience of this misunderstood creature. Often portrayed as a terrifying killer, this film illuminates the family structure, its playfulness and need to be left alone.”
The filmmakers say the 78-minute documentary is full of fast-moving action and suspense, as the endearing family of bears learns to live life to its fullest in one of the planet’s last great wilderness areas.
On the other side of the country, the fictional New York couple at the center of “Love Is Strange” face their own sets of challenges.
While they happen to be gay, “Love Is Strange” has less to do about the couple’s struggle for civil rights than it does about their struggle to find affordable real estate in the Big Apple, according to many critics who have seen the film.
According to the movie’s official synopsis, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony after nearly four decades together. But when George subsequently loses his job, the couple must sell their apartment and temporarily live apart until they can come up with other arrangements.
While George moves in with two cops who live downstairs, Ben lands in Brooklyn with his nephew, his wife and their teenage son, with whom he is forced to share a bunk bed.
Critics say the film is grounded by strong performances from Lithgow and Molina, and according to the website Rotten Tomatoes, “Love Is Strange” is one of the best-reviewed movies of 2014: The aggregator of movie reviews gives the film 117 “fresh” ratings and eight “rotten” ratings.
Grand County Library Head of Adult Services Meg Flynn hasn’t seen the film yet, but after reading the rave reviews, she’s eager to join local audiences at the free screening on Jan. 15.
“Most reviews note that the lead performances from John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are remarkable, and the entire film is accompanied by an excellent score,” Flynn said. “Based on reviews, I am expecting the film to be a beautifully acted, thoughtful look at dealing with life’s unexpected upsets. Across the board, the critics raved about this film, which promises to be smart, moving, and authentic.”
Hodges said she is happy that local residents will have a chance to see the movie.
“I am so glad we are showing this film as it is a heart-wrenching story showing the realities of discrimination,” Hodges said. “After 39 years together, Ben and George’s dedication and love for each other cannot be brought into question, depicting a love story that is truly universal. Bring your hankies!
Star Hall plans free screenings of “Bears,” “Love Is Strange”
For more information about either movie, go to www.utahfilmcenter.org. Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St.
What: Free movie screenings of “Bears” and “Love Is Strange”
When: “Bears” will be showing at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10; “Love Is Strange” will be showing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.