No Light and No Land Anywhere; Off the Rails; One Week and a Day; To Keep the Light
NO LIGHT AND NO LAND ANYWHERE drama, 75 minutes, not rated, 3.5 chiles
Director Amber Sealey’s new feature film begins in sadness and works its melancholic way through grief and sorrow. It follows Lexi (Gemma Brockis), who is reeling from the recent death of her mother and dealing with a dead-end marriage. She heads from London to Los Angeles, searching for the father who abandoned her when she was a child — a metaphor for the universal desire to forge a connection with others. From her seedy hotel, she embarks on her quest, meeting lonely, desperate characters along the way. Brockis delivers a moving, empathetic performance as a woman seeking something real, retreating to self-destructive tendencies, and coming to an understanding of herself. Lexi’s inner struggle is reflected in Sealey’s atmospheric and moody look at Los Angeles street life. No Light and No Land Anywhere is an introspective film that explores the ways in which we deal with loss and longing and the risks involved in establishing intimate relations. — M.A. Center for Contemporary Arts, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20; Lensic Performing Arts Center, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21
OFF THE RAILS documentary, 86 minutes, not rated, 4 chiles
Off the Rails, director Adam Irving’s captivating profile of New York City transit enthusiast Darius McCollum, inspires a mixture of awe and delight early on. McCollum’s story is fascinating — having memorized the subway map by age eight, he has always felt at home in the transit system. At fifteen, he made tabloid headlines all over the city after he took over an in-service E train for six stops, announcing each one. Since then, McCollum, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, has been arrested over 30 times for impersonating a MTA employee and/or hijacking a mass transit vehicle.
Once the film takes full stock of McCollum’s life, the audience’s wonder at this obsessive genius turns to disappointment and anger — at a legal system that has allowed him to fail over and over again without providing the mental health support he so desperately needs. Irving’s film skillfully navigates this mix of emotions with heartbreaking and illuminating interviews with McCollum, transit employees, family members, and mental health consultants. Near the end of the film, the pitiful image of McCollum contending with an ankle bracelet that is meant to keep him above ground drives the point home: We need a better way to help people like him. — M.B. Jean Cocteau Cinema, 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20; 1 p.m. Oct. 23
ONE WEEK AND A DAY drama, 98 minutes, in Hebrew with subtitles, not rated, 3.5 chiles
It’s the last day of the shiva for Vicky and Eyal’s teenage son Ronnie. Eyal (Shai Avivi) is generally pissed. When he tells Vicky (Evgenia Dodina) that he wants to stay home because people read obits and then break into empty homes, she replies, “Are you stupid?” Director Asaph Polonsky tells his story with a naturalistic pace and personal portrayals of an Israeli community. Through all of her husband’s bad behaviors, Vicky is matter-of-fact and beautiful — with a veneer of weariness. When she asks Eyal if he reserved burial plots for them next to Ronnie’s, he freaks out: He forgot, and one of the plots has already been excavated for someone else. He’s heading for that funeral, going to make trouble, but what he finds is transformative. The final scene ties the knot on Polonsky’s telling of a story that is realistic in both its deep-felt emotions and its goofiness. — P.W. Center for Contemporary Arts, 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20; 12 p.m. Oct. 22
TO KEEP THE LIGHT drama, 88 minutes, not rated, 4 chiles
New York filmmaker Erica Fae transports us to 1870s Maine for a gripping portrait of a woman lighthouse keeper. More than 300 women tended lighthouses along U.S. coasts in the 1800s, and Fae’s film, in which she portrays Abbie Moore, is inspired by true stories. It opens in the middle of the night, in a raging storm. As the day begins, Abbie is polishing the light while gulls fly and cry overhead. She bails out the rowboats and the camera scans over the expanse of smooth rocks that drop into the sea. On one, she finds a body, but the man is not drowned. It is Johan (Antti Reini), who tells her he is a shipwreck survivor. The two gradually get to know each another. Meanwhile, an unseen Mr. Moore is in bed upstairs, apparently ailing and completely silent.
Abbie learns that a local troublemaker sent an official complaint about the lighthouse having been activated late on the evening of the storm. Everything comes to a head after an annual visit by the government lighthouse inspectors. The situation is wonderfully mysterious. Fae’s Abbie is an entrancing blend of delicacy and strength, and the cinematography is just stunning. — P.W. Violet Crown, 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20; 11:30 a.m. Oct. 21; 7 p.m. Oct. 22
One Week and a Day
To Keep the Light