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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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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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 15, 2022: GABBY GIFFORDS WON’T BACK DOWN

In a time when “thoughts and prayers” are all that too many politicians can offer in the face of tragic mass shootings like the ones in Buffalo and Uvalde, Gabby Giffords’ tireless advocacy for smart gun control is more meaningful than ever — especially when you know that every word she says on the subject is a hard-fought victory over the lasting impact of the brain injuries she sustained when she was shot in the head in 2011.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 8, 2022: FIRE OF LOVE

Part romance, part breathtaking nature film, and wholly engrossing, Fire of Love tells the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft, two of the world’s foremost volcanologists. Their dedication to their calling — and each other — is captured deftly by director Sara Dosa, who mines extraordinary historic footage and pairs it with narration by Miranda July to produce a film that’s both quirky and a loving homage to two very passionate people.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 1, 2022: CLARA SOLA

The powerful need for expression and agency are at the heart of Nathalie Alvarez Mesen’s debut feature Clara Sola. The film centers on a 40-year-old Costa Rican woman named Clara (a mesmerizing Wendy Chinchilla Araya), whose deep connection to nature and animals seems to include the mystical ability to heal — but whose body and soul are constantly repressed, particularly by her devout mother, Fresia (Flor María Vargas Chavez). When Clara dares to test those constraints, the consequences are volatile.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 10, 2022: OFFICIAL COMPETITION

As long as there have been movies, there have been movies about making movies. Some are serious, some are silly; some are dark, some are light. One thing most have in common is that they always seem to bring those involved that particularly satisfying form of glee that comes from casting a critical light on something you have a complex relationship with. All of that is in play in Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat’s sharp showbiz satire Official Competition.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 3, 2022: THE JANES

It would be nice if Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes’ documentary The Janes could be viewed strictly as part of the historical record — a detailed account of “how things used to be.” But with women’s right to choose still under relentless attack and Roe v. Wade seemingly on the brink of being reversed, this film about a group of young women who worked tirelessly in the late 1960s and early ’70s to help provide access to safe illegal abortions couldn’t be more timely.

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