Monthly Archives: August 2017

Review: ‘Maudie’

Emotions are stirred up in this biopic film as Hawkins delivers an outstanding performance

Vulnerability often leads people to seek help from others, but what few realize is that help can also come from within the self through the making of art. Art has the power to expand one’s abilities beyond those given by nature, compensating for a certain innate weakness of mind or body. In Maudie (2017), directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White, the colorful, vibrant paintings of folk artist Maud Lewis transcend her natural physical limitations to find a place in the viewer’s heart.

Sally Hawkins gives life to Maud Lewis, a self-taught, Canadian painter with rheumatoid arthritis, struggling to prove herself capable despite her crippling appearance. When Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a fish peddler, decides to find a woman to help him with the housework, he meets Maud. She moves in to work for Everett, whose toxic masculinity makes it hard to understand the attraction Maud soon develops for him.

Emotions are stirred up in this biopic film as Hawkins delivers an outstanding performance as Maud. The actress manages to portray the troubled physical limitations of her character, while showing a glittery charismatic side of Maud’s personality, whose life’s surroundings are not so bright and colorful as the life she portrays in her paintings. We should not be surprised if Sally Hawkins, who was recently nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress, gets nominated for best actress next year for her role in Maudie; Hawkins’ transformation into Maud will not go unnoticed.

Ethan Hawke’s performance also causes an impression, for we find it hard to sympathize with his character, an abusive Everett. “Let me tell you how it is around here,” Everett says to Maud after she starts living with him. “There’s me, them dogs, them chickens, then you.” But, Everett’s traditional views soon collapse as he finds himself sweeping the front porch while Maud slowly starts selling her paintings and becomes the provider.

The cinematography in the story immerses the viewer into Maud’s artistic solitude. The frame-within-a-frame shots constantly puts Maud looking from behind windows, which adds a loneliness in the already lonely rural environment. Yet, the windows present life already framed right in front of her, just expecting to be painted. The eyes might be the windows for the soul, but in Maud’s creative process the windows are the ones serving as eyes for life.

In Maudie, we find the inspiring story of a woman whose limitations never prevented her from comprehending how beautiful life can be. You might not know about Maud’s work or history, but you will most likely walk away from the movie theater idolizing a new artist. Maudie may become one of the most touching movies you might see this year. Just be sure to bring your own tissues because you may eventually drop a few tears – or just grab the closest napkin on the Art House’s bar.

Director: Aisling Walsh

Screenplay: Sherry White

Genre: Drama film/Romance

Running Time: 1h 55m

Review: ‘Band Aid’

When life gets a little too hard, art becomes a therapy

In Band Aid (2017), a comedy-drama about the unresolved conflicts couples often face, Anna (Zoe-Lister Jones) and Ben (Adam Pelly) find in music a way to deal with their excess of emotions by turning their fights into songs. The couple put their guitars together, listed their most intense fights, and began writing lyrics. They soon realize they need a drummer, so they team up with their one-of-a-kind neighbor, Dave (Fred Armisen), to start a band named “The Dirty Dishes.”

Ben is a frustrated freelance designer working from home. Anna is an Uber driver with a failed book deal. Together they watch their friends’ lives move on as their very own seem stuck in time, especially after Anna’s miscarriage, which left them far more than just grief. The band’s name is a reference to one of their main contentions: a sink full of dirty dishes. Ben seems apathetic to the mess in the sink, while it drives Anna crazy. The dirty dishes are not only a metaphor for the couple’s issues, but are also the way they both approach and deal with their problems. While Ben seems to build up his emotions, Anna’s are very clear. Singing about these “dirty dishes” allows the couple to externalize their emotions, tuning them into the same frequency; a frequency not often reached in their music-less everyday routine.

Directed, written, produced, and starred by Zoe Lister-Jones, Band Aid is not only a light-hearted dramedy on marriage’s intrinsic obstacles, but also a strong statement on women’s representation in cinema, considering the movie was made by an all-female crew. “I had been very aware — both being in front of the camera and behind it — of the under-representation of women on television and film crews, so I wanted to create opportunities for women, especially in departments where they’re very rarely given them,” said Lister-Jones during an interview with CBS News.

Band Aid is Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, and she manages to create a fun chemistry between the two main characters. Eventually, the couple discovers – spoiler alert! — a Band-Aid is just a temporary solution, and love is nothing but constantly repairing, or healing, if you will.

Director: Zoe Lister-Jones

Screenplay: Zoe Lister-Jones

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 1h 31m

Review: ‘Score: A Film Music Documentary’

The power of music in storytelling

I was a fourteen-year-old awkward teenager watching Titanic when I first understood music’s effect on films. In the second-half of the movie, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) convinces Rose (Kate Winslet) to get into a lifeboat. As the boat goes down and Rose looks back to Jack, I remember feeling deeply sad, yet there was still no sign of tears rolling down my face. It was not until the music that I started crying, as if I were Rose herself leaving Jack behind. When James Horner’s music was brought to the drama, that scene truly became something else, something composers hope to achieve as we learn in Score: A Film Music Documentary, written and directed by Matt Schrader. 

Matt Schrader left his job at CBS in 2014 to work on a documentary about the power of music. “It was always interesting to me how something without any lyrics could have such a profound meaning on us,” Schrader said during an interview with the Hamptons International Film Festival. The profound meaning of music on film-making becomes apparent as the documentary takes the viewer on an adventure through the creative process of Hollywood’s greatest film score composers. From organs in silent movies, to Hans Zimmer transforming orchestral songs into Led Zeppelin, Score revisits remarkable moments in cinema which were the results of collaborations between the director and the composer.

One such collaboration was between filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and music composer Bernard Hermman (Psycho, Taxi Driver, Citizen Kane). Hitchcock had already planned the infamous shower scene in Psycho to be played without music before teaming up with Hermman. The composer, however, decided to create a score for the murder scene. Hitchcock accepted Hermman’s change and soon the score would become the quintessential sound of terror. Impressed with Hermman’s contribution to the film, Hitchcock stated that “33 percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music.”

The story of film scores as told by Schrader turns into an ode to the works of many award-winning composers, such as Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator, Interstellar), John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws, Schindler’s List), and James Horner (Titanic, Avatar, Braveheart). Emotions are still invoked when William’s “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars series begins playing. John Barry’s “James Bond Theme,” composed half-a-century ago, still has a huge influence on spy films. Hermman’s eeeh-eeeh-eeeh in Psycho still gives us goosebumps.

Score speaks differently to every viewer. Moviegoers get a closer look at the creative process behind their favorite films. Music lovers can get inspired by the works of acclaimed musicians. Nostalgic viewers will leave the cinema with a smile on their face. One thing is right, viewers will likely search for composers on Spotify at the end of the film, so they can listen to scores on their way home to keep up the momentum.

Director: Matt Schrader

Screenplay: Matt Schrader

Genre: Music/Documentary

Running Time: 1h 34m

How much have we raised for Phase 2 so far?

Last November, we set out to raise $2.1 Million to expand our theater.  The expansion includes adding food, 3 screens, a redesigned pub space, being open 7 days a week, and more giving back to our arts community!

We were rewarded a $350,000 reimbursement TIF from the city and have received gifts and pledges from many of you!  We have enjoyed some fabulous events and have been working hard to reach our goals.
But you are probably wondering how we are doing in all of this fundraising!?


We are happy to report that we have raised 20% of our goal so far! This includes gifts and pledges, as well as the TIF from the city.

We still have a ways to go, but we are just getting started!

We are a nonprofit organization with a goal to give back to our community.  Art House is a place where people can gather and enjoy a film that stirs thought and conversation.  Films that make us think.  Films that allow us to connect with other people.  We do film festivals, events of all kinds, concerts. And we want to do more.  More great film, art, and culture.  But we can’t do it alone.


We need people who want great things for downtown Billings and who want to see it thrive!  We need people who love connecting with other people.  We need people who love supporting the arts – because we love supporting the arts!

So maybe you’re a film buff.  Maybe you’re an artist.  A musician.  A painter.  A performer.  Maybe someone you know loves the arts.  Maybe you just want to see downtown Billings continue to be a place that brings people together.  Or maybe you are really none of those things but you just love having something interesting and fun to do on the weekends.  Whatever you are, whatever you love, let it show through your support of Art House.

Will you join the Phase 2 story and consider giving?  Whether it’s a one time gift or monthly gifts, it all makes a huge difference!
Click the DONATE button here at the top of our web page and help us reach our goals and make a difference in your city! Thank you!!
All donations are tax deductible.  We will provide a year end statement.

Phase 2 Update

Hello Art House supporters and friends!

It’s been a while since we have updated you on the happenings of Phase 2!

Recently we brought you a fabulous Phase 2 Presents Event; 100 Words Film Festival.  We had a great time dining with friends while enjoying 18 short films with exactly 100 words in each.  We so enjoyed our time with those of you who could make it down.  And we missed those of you who couldn’t be there!

That night, we asked for people to join the Phase 2 story.  The story of what Phase 2 is all about and what it will mean for Billings.  We had a handful of wonderful donors step up and give.  Some gave a one time gift and some committed to a monthly gift.  Gifts were given at different levels and those who gave will receive their name on a future seat in a new theater, their name on our future Cast Wall, or even have their name on our Assoc. Producer Wall.
It was AMAZING to see people step up and give.  We really felt the love and we are so appreciative!

We are excited to announce that we raised over $15,000 in donations and earnings that night!
So THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your support and love.
If you were unable to attend our latest Phase 2 Presents Event, don’t worry…there will be another…because our story isn’t over.

Art House is a nonprofit organization with a mission to stir great conversation through film, art, and culture.  We are committed to giving back to our arts community and the great things happening in Billings.
If you want to see more great art and culture in our city, give to Art House.  Your donation means more than you think.  Once Phase 2 is a reality, we have budgeted to give $25,000 annually to artists and art programs around our city!  But we need your help.
Head to to donate. Your donation is tax deductible.
Stay tuned for more about Phase 2 and our heart to see more great film, art, and culture in Billings.