MR JONES – Review by Cate Marquis

The great Polish director/writer Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness, Europa Europa) reverses the usual case of a male director telling the story of a courageous woman, to tell the story of a persistent young Welsh journalist in the early 1930s. Mr. Jones tells a truth-based tale about Gareth Jones (James Norton), who uncovers a secret famine in the Ukraine, and whose discoveries reveal the truth about Stalin and help inspire George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – Review by Cate Marquis

Zoe Kazan and a fine ensemble of actors play characters on the margins of life in Manhattan in Danish writer/director Lone Scherfig’s The Kindness of Strangers. The narrative has a stream of dark comedy as it follows the lives of a mixed bag of struggling strangers.

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ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH – Review by Cate Marquis

While mass extinction and climate change are part of the discussion, they come up late in the documentary and are not the major focus. It is instead, the far-reaching impact humans have had on the whole planet, both physically and on other forms of life here. This is a fascinating, thoughtful documentary film, filled with stunning photography, that makes a powerful point of which we should all be aware.

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TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID – Review by Cate Marquis

Tigers Are Not Afraid, a mix of magical realism and horror film about children living under the devastating conditions of the Mexican drug wars, starts in a reassuringly normal place, a classroom full of grade school children working on an assignment. That assignment is to create a fairy tale story. One preteen girl writes about a prince who wants to become a tiger, because tigers are never afraid.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by Cate Marquis

Vita & Virginia is a gorgeously-appointed historical drama based on the facts of the romantic affair between literary giant Virginia Woolf and fellow writer Vita Sackville-West. The drama is directed by Chanya Button, who co-wrote the screenplay with renowned British actor Eileen Atkins, who used the letters between Woolf and Sackville-West as the basis for the stage play on which the film is based. Filled with stunning 1920s costumes and wonderfully lush sets, the film’s visual beauty seems aimed to seduce us, as much as the lively, aristocratic Vita sets out seduce the aloof, intellectual Virginia Woolf.

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HONEYLAND – Review by Cate Marquis

Honeyland is a documentary but it plays out so much like a narrative film, a touching drama, perhaps even an epic, that one has to remind oneself that it is documentary. There is no introductory text at the start to tell us who she is or where we are, and there is no voice-over. Instead it is just the fly-on-the-wall camera, some strikingly beautiful photography, and a dramatic story that unfolds like a narrative film, with moments of drama, of humor, and an unspoken message about cultural change and caring for the earth.

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ABOVE THE SHADOWS – Review by Cate Marquis

Like most good science fiction/fantasy, Claudia Myers’ Above the Shadows is really about our world and the people who live in it. Actually, it is more a fairy tale or parable than science fiction, so analyzing how her invisibility works is pointless. You just have to go with it, but Above the Shadows will reward you for that journey.

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LATE NIGHT – Review by Cate Marquis

Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson make a great, if unlikely, team, with Kaling handling the comedy heavy lifting and Thompson taking on the dramatic, more reflective stuff. Together they cover issues that women at either end of their career face – a rare, ambitious two-pronged approach. It is a lot of ground for one film to cover, and not everything works perfectly, but Late Night handles in well enough that it comes out a comedy winner.

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