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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CAPERNAUM – Review by Nikki Baughan

Joining a host of recent works of both fact and fiction – such as Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy and Gabrielle Brady’s Island Of The Hungry Ghosts – which highlight the refugee crisis engulfing the globe, Capernaum is a gut-punch reminder that the rise of isolationist politics is leaving swathes of human casualties in its wake. Devastating but utterly essential cinema

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CAPERNAUM – Rreview by Susan Wloszczyna

Capernaum is part Oliver Twist, part Slumdog Millionaire, but with only a modicum of a fairy-tale ending. Much like last year’s The Florida Project, children pay a high price when their impoverished circumstances are the result of selfish adults who lead careless lives. The difference is that Zain (played by Zain Al Rafeea), the streetwise 12-year-old Lebanese boy who barely has room to sleep amongst his countless siblings, is playing a real-life version of himself.

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CAPERNAUM — Review by Loren King

Nadine Labaki’s extraordinary neorealist film left me gutted, and grateful to be allowed such an emotional response. The film opens with 12-year-old Zain (a stunning Zain Al Rafeea, offering one of the best juvenile performances ever) in court for stabbing, as he puts it, “a sonofabitch.”

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CAPERNAUM – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Capernaum is an angry cry, through the character of Zain, for people to pay attention to and do something about the misery of others. Labaki’s greatest achievement may be that she made a beautifully crafted film with such a deep understanding for her untrained actors that it’s nearly impossible to tear our eyes from the screen or forget what we’ve witnessed.

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CAPERNAUM – Review by Cate Marquis

There are striking parallels to both Slumdog Millionaire and Charles Dickens in this grim drama, from the focus on innocent children whose lives are appalling, to indifferent parents, a cast of nefarious characters, harsh officials, and unexpected moments of kindness from strangers. Director Nadine Labaki chose to cast mostly non-actors whose lives were close to these characters.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Michelle Yeoh Represents – Brandy McDonnell Reports

When the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 22, we’ll see whether the blockbuster romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians gives Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) her long-awaited shot at an Academy Award. If Yeoh gets a supporting actress nod this year, she will be only the sixth actress of Asian descent ever to be nominated in the history of the Academy.

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JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

“What in the world is wrong with Jane Fonda?” is the opening question of Jane Fonda in Five Acts, an extraordinarily intimate and perceptive new HBO biography. It’s a cleverly ironic way for director Susan Lacy to begin framing her portrait of the legendary actress and activist, structuring the film around extensive on camera interviews in which Fonda examines her own life story.

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AWARDS INTELLIGENCER: Early Oscars Buzz for LEAVE NO TRACE — Jennifer Merin reports

Beloved by Sundance and other top film festivals, as well as by the Academy and indie awards organizations and a long list of awards-presenting critics groups, Debra Granik is attracting early Oscars buzz for Leave No Trace, her third narrative feature. AWFJ selected Leave No Trace as Movie of the Week for June 29, and an informal poll of AWFJ members shows that the film is placing high on most members’ lists of best 2018 films to date. AWFJ says Leave No Trace has legs that will lead to Oscars, come awards season

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