MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 19, 2022: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON

Race, feminism, marriage, motherhood, and colonialism are the potent ingredients in Leah Purcell’s grim but powerful Australian drama The Legend of Molly Johnson. Based on Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story The Drover’s Wife, the film tells the story of the titular Molly (Purcell), a strong, independent woman who wants nothing more than to be able to raise her children in peace and safety. But life in the late-19th century outback makes that a very unlikely wish.

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THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON – Review by Sherin Nicole

The British Empire’s predisposition towards planting flags in other people’s living rooms fomented quite a few parallels in history. One of those lies in the colonization of the American Frontier and of the Australian Bush. The seizing of lands, the vilification of the Indigenous populations, and the culture of violence beneath a thin veneer of religion were wrought by men who called themselves pioneers. On paper, other than the accents, it is difficult to tell the two apart (this is sarcasm and yet it is also truth). These parallels are what make the Western such an apt genre for 1893 Australia, but when those wild “western” lands are pitched as a metaphor for Aboriginal Australians and untamed womanhood the genre takes a turn.

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THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Just like her gutsy titular heroine, Aboriginal actress Leah Purcell proves herself to be quite a quadruple threat as the star, director, writer and co-producer of The Legend of Molly Johnson. Set in 1893 and based on Henry Lawson’s short story The Drover’s Wife, the film is set in raw and brutal outback in Australia. Purcell portrays an indigenous woman whose husband is often far away from home as he accompanies a herd of sheep across the high country.

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THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON – Review by Leslie Combemale

Purcell’s story takes the Australian romantic myth of frontier freedom and egalitarianism for all, and blows it to smithereens, giving audiences a bleak look into the challenges for indigenous people and women of the time. She is also up to the task as a performer to make Molly, a powerful, stoic survivor, completely believable, and her character someone for whom the audience wishes more than just suffering and survival. Molly is the ultimate mother archetype, and as such arouses our deepest feelings of empathy and compassion.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 12, 2022: EMILY THE CRIMINAL

Aubrey Plaza commands the screen in John Patton Ford’s taut thriller/character study Emily the Criminal, which explores the idea of finding empowerment in operating outside the law. Plaza has always been a charismatic performer, whether she’s angling for laughs or going for menace by leaning into her innate intensity, and she turns the story of a frustrated woman who discovers a talent for credit card fraud into a gripping viewing experience.

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EMILY THE CRIMINAL – Review by Loren King

Even admirers of the always solid work from Aubrey Plaza over the years will be stunned by her riveting, nuanced performance in this taut thriller/character study about a young woman who, for complicated reasons, is trapped by her circumstances and turns to a life of crime. That’s the power of both John Patton Ford’s razor sharp debut and Plaza’s coiled but controlled performance.

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Movie of the Week: FREE PUPPIES!

“Adopt, don’t shop.” It’s a pet-rescue mantra we’ve probably all heard, and it comes to vivid life in Christina Thomas and Samantha Wishman’s poignant, informative documentary (or should that be “dogumentary”?) Free Puppies!. As they follow a group of tireless volunteers who work on many fronts to help control the prolific pet population in largely unregulated Southern states, the co-directors shine an empathetic light on both the animals and those who want to help them find happy forever homes.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 29, 2022: ALI & AVA

Two lonely, good-hearted people yearning for companionship and affection find each other in writer/director Clio Barnard’s sweet, understated, music-infused romantic drama Ali & Ava. As their relationship progresses from acquaintanceship to friendship to love, Ali (Adeel Akhtar) and Ava (Claire Rushbrook) must acknowledge and move past their personal history and circumstances that make them hesitant to believe in and embrace the happiness they’ve discovered in being together.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 22, 2022: SKIES OF LEBANON

Quirky and poignant, creative and heartfelt, Chloe Mazlo’s drama Skies of Lebanon is a singular achievement in inventive filmmaking. As she tells the story of Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) — a young Swiss woman who leaves home in the 1950s and makes her way to Beirut, where she falls in love, marries, and raises a family — Mazlo serves up a unique mix of tone and style that’s likely to both charm and move viewers.

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SKIES OF LEBANON – Review by Jennifer Merin

Skies of Lebanon opens the mind to deep consideration of the invasive impact that war and social strife have on families who work hard to contribute to society and, in return, just want to live in peace. Thanks to its genre-defying style, it is a lot of fun while it’s being quite serious in touching on themes that are currently relevant around the world, as well as right here, at home. The film is a must see.

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