MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 21, 2020: BEANPOLE

Settings don’t get much bleaker than 1945 Leningrad, decimated after the ravages of WWII, but even the darkest times have moments of intimacy and beauty in Kantemir Balagov’s spare, unflinching Russian drama Beanpole. The film tells the story of the intense, complicated friendship between gangly, awkward Iya — the titular Beanpole — and impulsive, yearning Masha as they struggle to find happiness in a post-war world.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 17, 2020: CHICHINETTE: THE ACCIDENTAL SPY

Telling your story — bearing witness to your own life and those of the people you’ve loved (and lost) — is one of the most powerful things someone can do, especially when they’ve lived through historic events. But it’s not always easy, as we learn from watching Nicola Hens’ engaging documentary Chichinette: The Accidental Spy about former WWII spy Marthe Cohn, who, now nearly 100 years old, still travels the world sharing her experiences with others.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 3, 2020: SPEED OF LIFE

What if, instead of being a space oddity, the infinitely creative David Bowie was actually a time and space oddity, and his passing literally ripped a hole in the universe? That’s the intriguing premise of Liz Manashil’s charming indie dramedy Speed of Life, which centers on an avid Bowie fan named June whose life takes a very unexpected twist after Bowie’s untimely death in 2016.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 13, 2019: THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN

A chance encounter brings two women together for a day that neither could have anticipated in Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ drama The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open. Authentic in every way, from the gritty cinematography to the convincing performances, it’s documentary-like in its frank honesty.

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Horror Movies and Kids: A Scary Combination — Betsy Bozdech, Brandy McDonnell, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow and Liz Whittemore comment

Research shows that, on average, kids see horror movies as young as 7 years old. And we’ve all noticed members of the PG crowd at decidedly R-rated movies — in fact, when my daughter was in the second grade, she had multiple classmates who’d seen “It.” And that’s a problem. While research indicates that media violence doesn’t directly make kids who are exposed to it more aggressive, some studies do suggest that, combined with other risk factors — including things like substance abuse and conflict at home — media violence can contribute to violent behavior.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 25, 2019: SERENDIPITY

Thoughtful, contemplative, and deeply personal, French artist Prune Nourry’s documentary “Serendipity” is an intimate glimpse inside the mind of a woman coping with the unexpected. Blindsided by a breast cancer diagnosis at age 31, Nourry channels her anger and fear over her health into art, documenting her treatment, her feelings, and the profound changes her body goes through.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 11, 2019: DILILI IN PARIS

Michel Ocelot’s Dilili in Paris isn’t your standard animated kids’ fare — not by a long shot. And that’s a good thing. With its sophisticated Belle Epoque setting and parade of cultural and artistic figures and references, it’s almost like taking a trip to a colorful, informative, interactive museum. Which is somewhat apropos, given that we first meet young Dilili (voiced by Prunelle Charles-Ambron) when she’s participating in a living cultural exhibit of the Kanak people.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 27, 2019: RIOT GIRLS

Scrappy and full of style, “Riot Girls” is a memorable first feature from director Jovanka Vuckovic, who shoots for cult-movie status with her story of warring teen factions in an alternate 1995 ravaged by a disease that’s wiped out everyone past the age of pimples and angst.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 20, 2019: EDIE

Fully embracing the idea that it’s never too late to follow a dream or try something new, Edie introduces us to a tenacious octogenarian who refuses to close the book on her life without — literally — climbing one last mountain. Sheila Hancock delivers a compelling lead performance as the titular Edie in director Simon Hunter’s poignant British dramedy about life, aging, friendship, and regret.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 13, 2019: ANGEL OF MINE

Moody and atmospheric, Kim Farrant’s Angel of Mine is part psychodrama, part thriller. Thanks to Farrant’s strong storytelling and confidently convincing performances from stars Noomi Rapace and Yvonne Strahovski, the film brings depth and nuance to its compelling tale of a woman convinced that her long-dead baby is actually alive and being raised by another family.

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