If you know that you like independent films or are open-minded about changing your routine, I highly recommend that you see a flick at Sunshine Cinema, my favorite movie theater in Manhattan. Owned by Landmark Theatres, the largest chain dedicated to independent films, it is located in the East Village on East Houston and Forsyth Street. In addition to showing movies, it hosts special events that you can attend with a ticket purchase. Celebrities and other public figures often make appearances. A few weeks ago, Governor Cuomo attended a Q&A with the director of Newtown, a new documentary about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Recently, I have seen two standout movies – Captain Fantastic and Don’t Think Twice – which are still playing.
The star of Captain Fantastic is Viggo Mortensen, who plays Ben Cash, a father to six children. He denounces societal norms and chooses an alternative lifestyle for his offspring, living isolated in the wilderness where he controls their activities and education, with an extreme emphasis on physical strength and anti-materialism. When the Cash family is forced to re-enter society, the film raises societal issues, including how to raise children: How will I inspire my children to enjoy learning? Will instilling religion teach them moral values? How honest should I be with my kids? The film was serious, but it was also very funny. Without giving too much away, some of the moments that made me laugh out loud involved the kids singing religious prayers to a police officer and the eldest son professing his love for a girl to her mother outside a trailer truck.
Rotten Tomatoes gives Don’t Think Twice a 99 percent rating, so I had no doubt that it would be wildly entertaining. The movie is about an improv group in Manhattan and features several established actors, including Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher. I was most familiar with Jacobs and Micucci, who play love interests on my favorite television shows. Jacobs was Adam’s ex-girlfriend on Girls and Micucci was Raj’s girlfriend on The Big Bang Theory. I was also excited to see that Lena Dunham and Ben Stiller make cameo appearances. The comedians in Don’t Think Twice are close friends, but they are also competitive, as most of them vie for a spot on WEEKEND LIVE, the movie’s equivalent of Saturday Night Live. The story is about the group figuring out what makes them happy and defining who they are as they reach their mid-thirties. The highlights were the many revealing improv skits in which they used acting as an outlet for processing their feelings.
Either Don’t Think Twice or Captain Fantastic are great options for a movie night. You should see them, or another indie film, at the Sunshine Cinema while you can. Unfortunately, according to online research, the theater is in danger of being sold to developers and may face destruction in order to make room for new projects. On the bright side, I also read that its parent company is opening a modern venue featuring “film and luxury” and an open bar in Lincoln Center in the spring of 2017.