Arts Briefs: Oscar-buzz films at Amherst Cinema, a virtual show by the Young@Heart Chorus, and more

Paul Giamatti is getting Oscar buzz for his performance in “The Holdovers,” now playing at Amherst Cinema.

Paul Giamatti is getting Oscar buzz for his performance in “The Holdovers,” now playing at Amherst Cinema. Image from Amherst Cinema website

German actress Sandra Hüller, right, is getting Oscar buzz for her performance in “Anatomy of a Fall,” now playing at Amherst Cinema.

German actress Sandra Hüller, right, is getting Oscar buzz for her performance in “Anatomy of a Fall,” now playing at Amherst Cinema. Image from Amherst Cinema website

Go-go dancer Harley Foxx rehearses last month with the Young@Heart Chorus for the group’s recent live show, “Twist & Crawl,” which will be livestreamed Dec. 22.

Go-go dancer Harley Foxx rehearses last month with the Young@Heart Chorus for the group’s recent live show, “Twist & Crawl,” which will be livestreamed Dec. 22. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis

 “Blue Butterfly,” a pastel painting by Cynthia Chamberland that’s part of a group exhibit at Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library

 “Blue Butterfly,” a pastel painting by Cynthia Chamberland that’s part of a group exhibit at Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library Image courtesy Hosmer Gallery/Forbes Library

“Cows on Moody Bridge Road,” an oil on linen painting by Gillian Haven that’s part of a group exhibit at Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library

“Cows on Moody Bridge Road,” an oil on linen painting by Gillian Haven that’s part of a group exhibit at Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library Image courtesy Hosmer Gallery/Forbes Library

The Northampton Center for the Arts hosts the third annual Northampton Artisan Fair Dec. 17 at 33 Hawley.

The Northampton Center for the Arts hosts the third annual Northampton Artisan Fair Dec. 17 at 33 Hawley. Image courtesy Northampton Center for the Arts

“The House in the Pines,” a bestselling 2023 mystery by Easthampton author Ana Reyes, is now available in paperback.

“The House in the Pines,” a bestselling 2023 mystery by Easthampton author Ana Reyes, is now available in paperback.

Ana Reyes, who grew up partly in the Valley and this year moved from California to Easthampton, will discuss her novel “The House in the Pines” Dec. 14 at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.

Ana Reyes, who grew up partly in the Valley and this year moved from California to Easthampton, will discuss her novel “The House in the Pines” Dec. 14 at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. Photo by Christopher Brown

Published: 12-07-2023 4:07 PM

Hot tickets at the movies

AMHERST — Amherst Cinema usually has plenty of interesting and critically lauded films on its schedule. But at the moment, the independent movie house is screening two titles that are generating Oscar buzz as well.

“The Holdovers,” an offbeat tale about a cranky prep school teacher (Paul Giamatti) who forms an unlikely bond with a lonely student (Dominic Sessa) and the school’s head cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), has sparked much press and online chatter as a potential Academy Award nominee for best film.

Directed by Alexander Payne, a two-time Oscar winner for best adapted screenplay, “The Holdovers” has also shone a spotlight on Giamatti, who starred in Payne’s 2004 film, “Sideways,” and Giamatti has been gaining steam as a possible best actor nominee.

The movie has local connections, too: It was filmed partly at Deerfield Academy, and it features Sessa, a former Deerfield student, as Angus Tully, a student at the fictional Barton Academy who’s left on campus during Christmas break.

Meantime, German actress Sandra Hüller is also generating Oscar talk for her starring role in “Anatomy of a Fall,” a French/Swiss crime thriller that won two major awards at the Cannes Film Festival in May under its French title, “Anatomie d’une chute.”

“Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Holdovers” are showing at Amherst Cinema through at least Dec. 14.

“May September,” a drama that just finished its run at the movie house, is also being bandied about as a best-film nominee, as is the actor Charles Melton for Best Supporting Actor.

The film stars Natalie Portman as an actress who comes into the lives of Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Joe (Melton) to research their relationship. The Portman character is set to play Gracie in a film exploring a past scandal involving the couple, when a 36-year-old Gracie first got involved with Joe, then in seventh grade.

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Another movie playing through Dec. 14 at Amherst Cinema, the impressionistic documentary “King Coal,” has also picked up strong endorsements from the New York Times and other critics.

 

Twisting and crawling on the internet

NORTHAMPTON — Did you miss the most recent concert by the Young@Heart Concert? The one at which the elderly singers came up with a new program, sharing the stage with a range of dancers performing Irish step, Go-go, salsa and more?

If that’s the case, you can tune in to a livestream version of “Twist & Crawl” on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m., after Young@Heart’s Nov. 19 show at the Academy of Music was captured live by multiple cameras and filmed in 4K resolution.

It’s an upbeat show for which the chorus learned a number of new songs that were designed to be good templates for up to 50 dancers — including younger and older teens as well as adults — to choreograph their moves to.

The songs themselves range from R&B to rock to funk to Irish ballads.

As is the case for other Y@H virtual concerts, the Dec. 22 show is free, but donations are encouraged to support the group’s work. Anything above $25 provides a link to the virtual post-party with the chorus members and the group’s ace support band and staff.

To register, go to youngatheartchorus.com.

 

Winter outside, summer inside

NORTHAMPTON — As the weather turns colder, Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library is offering a vision this month of warmer times, with landscape and still life paintings, as well as mixed-media collages and prints, that are inspired by nature.

Easthampton artist Cynthia Chamberland uses a number of mediums — acrylics, oils, watercolors and pastels — in her paintings of landscapes, water and flowers. She’s also learned to paint from her wheelchair and overcome limitations in hand strength, working both en plein air and in her studio.

Gillian Haven, who bases her oil paintings on local landscapes, calls her painting process “a dialogue between constant flux and the search for an enduring presence … [It’s] my way of paying attention and homage to a place.”

And Debra Hoyle says she draws from “the natural world, a love of history, memoir, mark making, color, texture, and the movement of energy” for her mixed-media work.

The Hosmer Gallery show runs through Dec. 29, and there will be an artists’ reception there Dec. 8 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

 

Late forum for holiday gifts

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton Community Arts Trust building (33 Hawley) is gearing up for a full return to activities after months of construction, and one important date on the calendar is Sunday, Dec. 17.

That’s when the Northampton Center for the Arts, one of the tenants at 33 Hawley, will host the third annual Northampton Artisan Fair, a forum featuring the work of over 55 artists and artisans, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event, which is free, offers a wide variety of goods, from visual art — paintings, photographs, prints, ceramics — to “funky repurposed designs,” wearable art, fiber art, and more.

Live music by Carrie Ferguson and Friends, Rose Jackson and Becky Tracy, and Kay Peeri Evie and Anni Abigail will be part of the fair, and scones, muffins, and coffee from event sponsor The Roost will be on sale in the morning.

 

End-of-year book talks

SOUTH HADLEY — The Odyssey Bookshop is closing out its 2023 events with back-to-back talks with two writers whose work generated plenty of buzz this year.

On Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., Jen Beagin will read from her newest novel, “Big Swiss,” an Amazon Best Book in February that’s received acclaim from the New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and many other critics; NPR calls the novel a “hilarious, dark and quirky coming-of-middle-age story.”

In “Big Swiss,” Greta, a woman living in the Hudson River Valley, spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. Greta becomes infatuated with Om’s newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately calls Big Swiss — and Greta soon sets her sights on making Big Swiss a big part of her life.

And on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., Ana Reyes, who grew up partly in the Valley and this year moved from California to Easthampton, will launch the paperback edition of her psychological mystery “The House in the Pines,” a 2023 bestseller that Reese Witherspoon calls “an absolute, can’t-put-it-down thriller.”

“The House in the Pines” — now optioned for TV — is narrated by Maya, a young woman struggling with a drinking problem and scattershot memories about disturbing events that happened to her in her last year of high school, including the mysterious death of a good friend.

Determined to find out what’s behind her fractured memories, Anna travels from her apartment in Boston to her mother’s house in Pittsfield to confront the man she suspects is at the center of the issue, an older guy named Frank who she’d first met in high school.

Reyes will be in conversation at the Odyssey with Margot Douaihy, a Massachusetts poet and author whose crime novel “Scorched Grace” was named a 2023 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

— compiled by Steve Pfarrer