MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 11, 2021: HOLLER

The American Dream feels almost as far out of reach as the moon in Nicole Riegel’s compelling feature debut, Holler, which follows an enterprising teenager named Ruth (Jessica Barden) who would do just about anything to escape her inevitably bleak future in a dying Southern Ohio town. She’s smart, and college could be her ticket out, but paying for it means taking dangerous chances with a not-exactly-legal scrap-metal scavenging crew.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 28, 2021: AHEAD OF THE CURVE

Just as Curve has been more than simply a magazine for the lesbian community since it was founded by Franco Stevens in the early 1990s, Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow’s spirited documentary Ahead of the Curve is much more than simply a film about the history of that magazine. It’s an engaging look at the progress of the lesbian movement over the last 30 years — and where it’s headed in the future.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 14, 2021: THE PERFECT CANDIDATE

Empathetic and authentic, Haifaa Al-Mansour’s powerful drama The Perfect Candidate offers a compelling look at what life is like for women in modern-day Saudi Arabia — and how difficult it is for even smart, brave, ambitious and highly skilled women to stand up to the country’s institutionalized gender discrimination. Even when it couldn’t be clearer that their only goal is the betterment of their community’s standard of living.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 7, 2021: KNOTS: A FORCED MARRIAGE STORY

Ultra-conservative religious sects. Girls prevented from getting an education and learning practical skills. Forced marriage between teen girls and abusive men far older than their reluctant brides. No, this isn’t The Handmaid’s Tale; it’s daily life in the United States right now for thousands of underage girls forced into marriages they aren’t ready for and don’t want. And as Kate Brewer’s Knots: A Forced Marriage Story makes abundantly clear, it needs to stop now.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 30, 2021: THE COUNTY

Don’t cry over spilled milk — get even. Or, rather, speak up, protest, organize, and take a stand against corruption. That’s the lesson at the heart of The County, writer/director Grímur Hákonarson’s subtly powerful drama about a grieving widow who takes a stand against the domineering co-op that rules the roost in her Icelandic farming community.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 23, 2021: TOGETHER TOGETHER

The romantic comedy gets a power up in Nikole Beckwith’s effortlessly charming Together Together. Ed Helms is surprisingly lovable and charming as Matt, a single 40-something ready to take the next step in his life: fatherhood. Rather than keep searching for the perfect someone, he opts to go at it alone with the help of a surrogate. Enter Anna, Patti Harrison, a young woman looking to get her life back on tack and she sees surrogacy as a way to get there. What begins as a transactional relationship soon turns into a beautiful and all too real story of friendship and sacrifice. Beckwith’s script is smart and often drifts into too-close-for-comfort reality and its gorgeously brought to life by Helms and Harrison.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 2, 2021: SUGAR DADDY

Stylish and original, director Wendy Morgan’s drama Sugar Daddy is a film that demands your attention. Much like its central character, Darren (Kelly McCormack, who also wrote the screenplay), it’s never gentle, yielding, or meek — rather, it’s bold, complicated, and confident in its artistry. It’s not always easy to watch, but it’s never less than compelling.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 26, 2021: GROOMED

Both heartbreaking and immensely informative, Gwen van de Pas’ documentary Groomed details the trauma inflicted on her as a child by a trusted adult who betrayed that trust in the most heinous way possible. Decades later, when the long-buried memories of the sexual abuse and rape she suffered resurface as nightmares and panic attacks, she uses filmmaking as a way to process the experience and figure out how to move on.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 19, 2021: ROSE PLAYS JULIE

In Rose Plays Julie the anxiety of a daughter’s discontent and her birth mother’s minefield of memories begin to run parallel. The film-makers layer in visuals of euthanasia, excavation, dissection, and horror to amplify a suspense that otherwise might’ve been melodrama. The result is an engrossing thriller made edgier by the performances of Ann Skelly and Orla Brady. From beginning to end, Rose Plays Julie is an effective examination of “what if” and sexual assault, one that leaves no doubt about the harm the latter causes, which is visceral and frightening and long lasting.

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MOXIE – Review by Martha K Baker

When the principal of Rockford High describes her student body as having moxie, two juniors roll their eyes and implore, “Is she 100 years old?” Moxie is a soft drink created in in 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson. He designed the prune-based drink to give the drinker gumption, like pep from Pepsi.

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