MOVIE OF THE WEEK Nov 26, 2021: WRITING WITH FIRE

Feminism meets the fourth estate in Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas‘ powerful documentary Writing With Fire. As it tells the story of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only female-run news outlet, it both examines the media’s critical role in supporting democracy and celebrates the women who won’t let anything get in the way of telling the truth. Armed with smartphones and determination, they shed light on those whose stories are far too often kept hidden in the dark.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 19, 2021: LADY BUDS

By turns idealistic and realistic, hopeful and frustrating, Chris J. Russo’s documentary Lady Buds is an engaging look at the budding (pun intended) legal marijuana business and a few of the determined, persevering, independent women who see opportunities for themselves and their friends/family members amid the cannabis plants’ verdant green leaves. As it tells their stories, it explores the impact that legalization has had on small businesses as large corporations swoop in on a new market.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 12, 2021: JULIA

Documentarians Betsy West and Julie Cohen treat their subject, the inestimable Julia Child, with both respect and honesty, building a portrait of a woman who was as complex as the food she so adored. Ultimately, Julia is very much like one of Child’s beloved French recipes: a proven quantity that’s made with excellent ingredients, flavored with the right blend of spices, and assembled with care and enthusiasm. And the cooking footage will leave you drooling.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 5, 2021: HIVE

Perseverance in the face of uncertainty and repression is at the heart of writer/director Blerta Basholli’s feature debut, Hive, which illustrates the devastating real-life impact of the Kosovo War through the story of a determined woman named Fahrije (Yllka Gashi). Left in the painful limbo of not knowing whether her long-missing husband is dead or alive, Fahrije must defy norms and expectations to protect her family, proving herself a true heroine in the process.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 29, 2021: PASSING

Based on Nella Larsen’s same-named novella, Rebecca Hall’s powerful 1920s-set directorial debut, Passing, tells the story of two friends — Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) — who unexpectedly reunite after a long separation, only to discover that their lives have taken very different trajectories. As it reveals what happens after their paths re-cross, the film examines complex issues related to race, identity, marriage, motherhood, and more.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 22, 2021: WOMEN IS LOSERS

The patriarchy is far from dead, but every woman lucky enough to come of age in the United Stats in a post-RBG, post-Roe v. Wade world is likely to find Lissette Feliciano’s earnest, scrappy ’60-set drama Women Is Losers an eye-opening reminder of how much harder things used to be. It also serves as a powerful argument for why it’s so important not to lose the progress we’ve gained.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 15, 2021: BERGMAN ISLAND

Art imitates life and life imitates art in Mia Hansen-Løve’s leisurely, introspective drama Bergman Island. The film follows partners/fellow screenwriters Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) as they retreat to Fårö, the remote island that celebrated Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman called home. Eager for both inspiration and connection, the pair — especially Chris — instead find themselves restless and sometimes at odds. As their story unspools, so does that of the screenplay for which Chris is determined to find an ending.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 8, 2021: ASCENSION

A study in contrasts, director Jessica Kingdon’s observational documentary Ascension (her first feature) is a fascinating look at contemporary China, a country driven by both consumption and service, tradition and innovation. Kingdon’s camera captures a wide swathe of modern Chinese society — from phalanxes of factory workers to nouveau riche executives. Her remarkable level of access supports a fly-on-the-wall filmmaking style that lends itself to a truly intimate cinematic experience.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 1, 2021: STOP AND GO

Time has moved differently since March 2020, often slowing to a glacial crawl. For that reason, the charming road comedy Stop and Go — which is set during the early days of Covid-19 — already feels quaintly nostalgic. Remember when we doused everything in Lysol? And changed clothes after coming back from the store? And were terrified our loved ones would catch Covid and die? (Hmm. Maybe things haven’t changed so much since lockdown started after all.)

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 24, 2021: EL PLANETA

Part Grey Gardens, part Kajillionaire, and part Paper Moon, writer/director Amalia Ulman’s feature directorial debut, El Planeta, is also wholly its own beast. The film is a naturalistic, observational dramedy about a mother and daughter in Gijon, Spain, who find themselves facing impending eviction and doing whatever they need to in order to get by. Filmed in expressive black and white, El Planeta is a thoughtful, slice-of-life character study.

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