MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 28, 2024: DADDIO

Two strangers make an unexpectedly meaningful connection in writer-director Christy Hall’s feature debut, Daddio. Play-like in the simplicity of its setting and focus on dialogue, this “two hander” drama is a fascinating character study that features nuanced, memorable performances by stars Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson as, respectively, a brash New York City cabbie and the pensive passenger he picks up at JFK airport to drive into Manhattan.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 21, 2024: GREEN BORDER

Harrowing in its brutal depiction of the way that refugees from Africa and the Middle East are treated by authorities on both sides of the vicious barbed-wire fence between Belarus and Poland, Agnieszka Holland’s riveting drama Green Border begs viewers to pay attention to the tragic consequences of dehumanizing the vulnerable people who need help the most. It’s a difficult film to watch — which is exactly why it needs to be seen.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 31, 2024: THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW

At a time when some U.S. public schools are shutting down lesson plans that run the risk of making White American children feel bad about the country’s history of enslavement and oppression, The Commandant’s Shadow is an especially timely reminder of the dangers of willfully turning a blind eye to history. Daniela Volker’s documentary about coming to terms with both personal and societal legacies is a compelling addition to the catalog of films about World War II and the Holocaust.

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THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW – Review by Loren King

By focusing on the specific stories of several individuals, director Daniela Volker’s The Commandant’s Shadow explores universal issues about generational trauma related to the Holocaust. It’s a moving and profound journey that we take with the son, daughter, and grandson of notorious Auschwitz commander Rudolf Hoss, the Nazi responsible for the systematic murder of millions and the subject of Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar-winning film The Zone of Interest.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 17, 2024 – BABES

Pamela Adlon may be a Gen Xer herself, but she proves that she genuinely understands Millennials in her feature directorial debut, Babes. With its sometimes crude, sometimes sweet script co-written by uber-Millennial comedian Ilana Glazer (who also co-stars), Adlon’s New York City-set comedy follows main characters Eden (Glazer) and Dawn (Michelle Buteau) as they authentically navigate the messy glory of adult life, from motherhood and marriage to friendship and self care.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 26, 2024: IRENA’S VOW

There’s no denying the fact that humans are capable of terrible cruelty; everything from the history books to the headlines of today’s newspapers makes that sadly, abundantly clear. But people are also capable of acts of tremendous courage and character. Such is the case in director Louise Archambault’s moving drama Irena’s Vow, which tells the story of Irena Gut Opdyke, a Catholic Polish woman who risked herself repeatedly to hide a group of Jews during the Holocaust.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 12, 2024: SWEET DREAMS

Writer-director Ena Sendijarević’s strange, sumptuous critique of Dutch colonialism Indonesia during the early 1900s is rich with beautifully composed shots but the lacerating tragic tone is mixed with sardonic wit. From the opening shot of a boy killing a tiger that is then carted through the cane fields on the shoulders of Indonesian natives, sugar will be the undoing of everything and everyone by murder or suicide. Central to the action is Siti, the Indonesian housekeeper for plantation owner Jan and his bored wife Agathe. Their days of oppressive rule are quickly wilting in the torrid heat. There is unrest among the exploited indigenous workers; one of whom suggests that Siti poison their overseers. But Jan, we soon learn, is the father of Siti’s young son Karel who is treated as his heir and identifies with the colonizers. It’s Karel, the product of patriarchy, exploitation and greed, who is left with the spoils but at what cost? Full of eerie, surreal beauty and a touch of madness, Sendijarević’s twisted, tragic tale is a stunning film.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 5, 2024: PARACHUTE

Launching into adulthood and finding her place in the world is a messy, challenging process for Riley (Courtney Eaton of the show Yellowjackets) in actor-turned-director Brittany Snow’s thoughtful feature debut, Parachute. As she stumbles toward real maturity after going through rehab for eating and body image disorders, Riley isn’t always easy to like, but Snow and Eaton work together to make you want to root for her to succeed.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 29, 2024: LA CHIMERA

Love and contentment are as elusive as an undisturbed Etruscan tomb in Alice Rohrwacher’s piquant dramedy La Chimera. As it tells the story of a merry group of Italian grave robbers — known as tombaroli — and the inscrutable Englishman who leads them to the caches of objects they happily sell to the highest bidder, the film examines the allure of pursuing something that always seems just beyond your grasp.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 22, 2024: YUNI

If there’s any universal truth about teenagers, it’s that the process of growing up and finding their way in the world usually involves angst, big feelings, and at least a bit of rebellion. Such is the case in Kamila Andini’s poignant coming-of-age drama Yuni, which follows a bright, thoughtful Indonesian 16-year-old who yearns for something other than the traditional path that’s been laid out before her but isn’t sure how to escape living a conventional life.

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