MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 28, 2019: COMMUNION

A tenacious Polish teen who’s had to grow up too soon takes center stage in Anna Zamecka’s powerful documentary Communion.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 11, 2019: WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?

motw logo 1-35 Thought-provoking and philosophical, Astra Taylor’s timely documentary What Is Democracy? takes a deep dive into a topic that many of us probably think we know a lot about. But, as is shown in this compelling film, it turns out that the concept of “democracy” has greater nuance and more room for interpretations than most average citizens (voters or, sadly, non-voters) around the world seem to realize.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 21, 2018: BIRD BOX

Atmospheric and tense, Susanne Bier’s “Bird Box” is both a post-apocalyptic horror/thriller story and a character study. Anchored by Sandra Bullock’s star performance, the film explores what happens after the majority of the world’s population is struck down by an affliction that makes them see visions so nightmarish that they’re driven to kill themselves as quickly as possible.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 7, 2018: CAPERNAUM

motw logo 1-35.Nadine Labaki’s painfully honest drama about a street-smart Lebanese boy who sues his parents for neglect (“for giving me life,” as he tells the judge) is relentlessly gritty, but it also never loses its humanity. The latter is largely thanks to 12-year-old Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), the compelling character at the center of the story. Because, despite every awful thing life throws in his path, he never stops caring for those who’ve earned his affection.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 30, 2018: Best 2018 #MOTWs

motw logo 1-35.AWFJ’s Movie of the Week focuses attention on excellent films directed by women and/or centered on the stories of complex and fully realized women characters who are grappling — directly or metaphorically — with the issues women face in daily life. From January 1 to November 23 of this year, we have designated 48 Movie of the Week films. All of these have had strong women characters and 36 of them have been directed by women. We heartily applaud the variety of style and story, we honor the moviemakers who’ve brought them to the screen. As year end holidays approach and the movie awards season heats up, Team #MOTW members revisit our selections to suggest their favorites for immediate viewing.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 16, 2018: BECOMING ASTRID

motw logo 1-35When you hear the name “Pippi Longstocking,” you likely immediately picture a vivacious, free-spirited Scandinavian scamp with red braids and a talent for mischief. But what about her creator, celebrated Swedish author Astrid Lindgren? In Becoming Astrid, director/co-writer Pernille Fischer Christensen reminds us that the authors behind some of the world’s most beloved children’s book characters were living, breathing people with complicated lives and all-too-human struggles.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 9, 2018: HERE AND NOW

motw logo 1-35Introspective and contemplative, Fabien Constant’s drama Here and Now follows talented singer Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) through roughly 24 hours after she’s diagnosed with a serious form of brain cancer and learns she may have no more than 14 months left to live. With everything from her upcoming tour to her time with her teenage daughter now up in the air, Vivienne struggles to come to terms with this unexpected twist of fate.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, November 2, 2018: WHAT THEY HAD

motw logo 1-35What They Had, the first feature from actress-turned-writer/director Elizabeth Chomko, is a stirring family drama in which adult siblings, Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nick (Michael Shannon) are trying to cope with their mother’s (Blythe Danner) progressive dementia and their father’s (Robert Forster) denial of her disability. Chomko’s well-crafted script and sensitive direction, and the superb performances from the stellar ensemble bring a balance of heartbreak and humor to this painful and entirely relatable situation.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, October 26, 2018: LIYANA

motw logo 1-35Profound and poignant, the documentary affirms the value of story and storytelling as emotional relief and an element in healing for those who’ve been traumatized — the five orphaned children followed in this extraordinary documentary and, by extension, the survivors of war, rape, genocide, drought, starvation, extreme poverty and other disasters around the globe. Movies can matter. Liyana clearly does.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 19, 2018: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Melissa McCarthy trades pratfalls and slapstick for wry wit and introspection in Marielle Heller’s keenly observed biopic “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” McCarthy plays biographer Lee Israel, whose brief time in the Manhattan publishing scene’s spotlight has passed, leaving her bitter, lonely, and strapped for cash, which ultimately leads to a life of literary crime. It’s a compelling role for McCarthy, who seems to relish the opportunity to take on more serious material.

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