MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 30, 2020 – US KIDS

If there’s any upside to the turmoil and tragedy that the United States — and the world — has been experiencing in recent years, it’s the fact that it’s shaping and motivating a powerful surge of youth activism. While it’s certainly not fair for society to look to teenagers to solve problems caused by generations of adults, there’s no denying the passion, drive, and ingenuity of change-makers like Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and the Parkland shooting survivors. Filmmaker Kim A. Snyder introduces us to several of the latter in her moving documentary Us Kids.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 23, 2020: ON THE ROCKS

On the Rocks feels a bit like what you’d get if Woody Allen and Wes Anderson made a movie together — only with a lot more feminine energy, empathy, and understanding. Sofia Coppola’s dramedy tackles modern marriage, motherhood, career uncertainty, and parent/adult child relationships with a light touch and strong performances from a talented cast.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, October 16, 2020: YELLOW ROSE

Both a timely drama about the harsh nature of U.S. immigration policy and its impact on families, and a poignant coming-of-age story, Diane Paragas’ semi-autobiographical first feature Yellow Rose centers on a talented Filipina teenager living in Texas whose love of country music is one of the few things she has left after her world abruptly crumbles around her.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 9, 2020: THE GLORIAS

Modern feminism owes a lot to Gloria Steinem, and director Julie Taymor revels in explaining why in The Glorias, her creative biopic about a woman who has fought tirelessly throughout her life for the rights of all women. Taking the title of Steinem’s autobiography — My Life on the Road — literally, Taymor centers her story on a bus on which primary passengers are Steinem at different ages: child (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), young teen (Lulu Wilson), young woman (Alicia Vikander), and mature activist (Julianne Moore).

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 2, 2020: MISBEHAVIOUR

Activism and intersectionality are at the heart of Philippa Lowthorpe’s fact-based dramedy Misbehaviour, which follows the tumultuous events surrounding the 1970 Miss World pageant in London and their impact on the women’s liberation movement. While always firmly on the side of the feminists who disrupted the event to protest its objectification of women, the film also makes sure to include other important perspectives on women’s roles and representations — which ultimately makes its message all the more effective.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 25, 2020: BLACKBIRD

Centered on an emotional, moving performance by Susan Sarandon, Roger Michell’s Blackbird (a remake of the Danish film Silent Heart) is a powerful family drama about love and loss — and letting someone say goodbye on their own terms. It addresses the often-controversial issue of assisted death head on, ultimately depicting it as one of the hardest but most important choices a person can make for themselves.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 18, 2020: SIBYL

The line between life and art becomes very blurred in Sibyl, French feminist filmmaker Justine Triet’s intimate, ethically complex drama about the titular Sibyl (Virginie Efira), an emotionally fragile psychotherapist who finds inspiration for her novel in her patient’s complicated life. But can she deal with her own insecurities and past entanglements?

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 11, 2020: MULAN

This isn’t one of Disney’s shot-for-shot, song-for-song live-action remakes. Rather, Niki Caro’s Mulan is a serious, often-intense reimagining of the ancient Chinese ballad that also inspired the studio’s 1998 animated hit. More Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than Disney Princess story, it’s a beautifully filmed epic that gives Hua Mulan increased agency and confidence. Mulan is a hero who may hail from olden times, but speaks to our own.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 4, 2020: THE MOLE AGENT

Both a charming story about a most unlikely spy and a poignant meditation on the loneliness of growing old, Maite Alberdi’s engaging film The Mole Agent isn’t your everyday documentary. Like the Chilean filmmaker’s previous films, it has its own rhythm and style, feeling like a hybrid of nonfiction and carefully observed drama.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 25, 2020: LINGUA FRANCA

In telling the story of undocumented transgender Filipina caregiver Olivia, writer/director/actress Isabel Sandoval’s quietly powerful drama Lingua Franca calls attention to an issue that too many people find easy to dismiss as not their concern. And it does so with empathy and humanity, hopefully opening hearts and minds before the credits roll.

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