MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 17, 2021: I’M YOUR MAN

If Westworld had been a romcom instead of a gory sci-fi parable, it might have ended up looking something like Maria Schrader‘s winsome I’m Your Man, which follows a skeptical academic who agrees to test a “perfect partner” android in exchange for research funding support. Determined to poke the concept full of holes, she reluctantly finds herself drawn to her manufactured soulmate — and does a fair bit of self-analysis along the way.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 10, 2021: LANGUAGE LESSONS

After the last year and a half, it would be understandable if someone read the quick summary of Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons — two very different people bond through a series of online chats and messages — and thought “A Zoom movie? No way!” But this intimate, heartfelt dramedy is so much more than that. It’s a carefully observed character study about friendship, privilege, and the power of a genuine connection, whether it’s virtual or IRL.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 27, 2021: LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD

In a social media world full of misinformation and over-filtered influencers, it’s always refreshing to encounter a creator who’s genuine, whose passion is about what they do, rather than just getting people to smash the subscribe button. That description perfectly fits accomplished domino-toppler Lily Hevesh, the subject of Jeremy Workman’s charming documentary Lily Topples the World. Ambitious but understated, focused but unassuming, Lily has earned success through an all-too-rare combination of talent and authenticity.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 20, 2021: REMINISCENCE

Writer/director Lisa Joy’s twisty Reminiscence has all the hallmarks of a classic film noir. A flawed hero. A femme fatale with a dark past. A manipulative crime boss. Double-crosses and misdirection. Climate change. Wait, climate change? Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum might never have had to deal with soaring temperatures and rising sea levels, but that all-too-realistic threat underlines everything in Joy’s sci-fi-tinged mystery, offering a new angle on a familiar trope.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 16, 2021: CODA

In telling the story of teenage Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing person in her deaf family, writer/director Sian Heder breathes fresh life into a familiar narrative about a young adult caught between following her dreams and a sense of duty to her home and loved ones. The result is CODA, a warm, funny family dramedy with excellent character development and strong performances. It’s easy to see why it was a hit at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 30, 2021: AILEY

Jamila Wignot’s captivating documentary Ailey is a welcome burst of celebration. This thoughtful chronicle of the life and work of groundbreaking, enormously talented dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey centers Black pride, creativity, self-identity, empowerment, and achievement. And, of course, it captures the unforgettable performances that made Ailey and his company famous around the world.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 23, 2021: PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY

Valerie Taylor started diving with sharks back when, as archival footage reveals, it was considered droll to refer to her as a “mermaid” who was there to support and presumably fawn over the male divers. But based on what we learn of her in Sally Aitken’s entertaining documentary Playing with Sharks, it seems likely that if Taylor ever heard that description, she probably rolled her eyes and left the guys eating her bubbles.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 16, 2021: MAMA WEED

If necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, then being short on cash must be the godfather — or, in this case, godmother — of trying your hand at a life of crime. Such is the situation in Jean-Paul Salomé’s Mama Weed, which stars Isabelle Huppert as Patience Portefeux, a police translator whose lack of funds leads her to seize a golden, albeit illegal, opportunity.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 9, 2021: BLACK WIDOW

Fun on fairly standard action flick level. but look a little deeper, and you’ll see that Cate Shortland is telling a story about women’s agency and right to choose. Not every woman can stick up for herself with knives and acrobatic fight moves, but we can all speak up for our sisters and stand by their side when they need our help. Or a helicopter to fly.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 2, 2021: LYDIA LUNCH: THE WAR IS NEVER OVER

Brash. Confrontational. Provocative. Audacious. Empowered. All of these words describe both No Wave icon Lydia Lunch and Beth B’s engaging documentary about her, Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over. Offering an efficient but comprehensive chronicle of Lunch’s personal journey and professional achievements, the film is both a celebration of a trailblazing woman many fans have known and loved for decades and a solid primer for those who aren’t already Lydiaphiles.

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