MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 21, 2020: THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

Help comes from unexpected places when needed the most in The Kindness of Strangers, Lone Scherfig’s heartfelt drama about a handful of people whose lives intersect amid the bustling anonymity of New York City. Centering on the plight of a woman who flees an abusive marriage with her two young sons, the narrative shows how circumstances — and life itself — can turn on a dime.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 14, 2020: ORDINARY LOVE

There’s a reason why more movies are about weddings than marriages. It’s easier to tie up a story with bells ringing and happy “I do”s than to accurately depict the beautifully complicated thing that is a long-term committed relationship — especially the kind of real, relatable, warts-and-all relationship many people actually live out. But Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s Ordinary Love accomplishes that feat with intimate grace, thanks to honest storytelling and heartbreaking performances by Liam Neeson and Leslie Manville.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 31, 2020: THE ASSISTANT

Not all #MeToo moments are shocking or dramatic; one of the most terrible things about the culture that’s fostered so much abuse, fear, and doubt is its very insidiousness. All of that is made quite clear in The Assistant, writer/director Kitty Green’s eye-opening drama about a day in the life of an entry-level Hollywood hopeful.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: January 10, 2020: THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES

What’s not to love about a passionate, confident Canadian scholar who fought her way to Africa in the 1950s to study the animals she’d loved since she was a toddler? As chronicled in Alison Reid’s engaging documentary The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, the story of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg is full of warmth, intelligence, and — above all — spunk.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 3, 2020: SPEED OF LIFE

What if, instead of being a space oddity, the infinitely creative David Bowie was actually a time and space oddity, and his passing literally ripped a hole in the universe? That’s the intriguing premise of Liz Manashil’s charming indie dramedy Speed of Life, which centers on an avid Bowie fan named June whose life takes a very unexpected twist after Bowie’s untimely death in 2016.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 20, 2019: WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL

In an era in which a cacophony of critical voices competes for potential moviegoers’ time and attention — and yet not nearly enough of those voices represent the diversity of the public they’re speaking to — Pauline Kael’s iconic status seems like even more of an achievement. Her remarkable career is the subject of Rob Garver’s insightful documentary What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 1, 2019: PARADISE HILLS

Alice Waddington’s lush, imaginative directorial debut builds such a convincing dystopian world that you’d be forgiven for assuming it must be based on some intricate, “Hunger Games”-like series of YA novels. But Brian DeLeeuw and Nacho Vigalondo’s tale of privileged young women at a very unusual “finishing school” called Paradise Hills is a true original.

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Middleburg Film Festival 2019 Wrap-Up – Sandie Angulo Chen reports

Now in its seventh year, the Middleburg Film Festival in bucolic Virginia horse country continues to feature a well-curated slate of top-notch narrative and documentary feature films from around the world. Washington D.C.-area AWFJ members in attendance included Nell Minow and Susan Wloszczyna, both of whom participated in the Talk Back to the Critics’ session, as well as Leslie Combemale and Sandie Angulo Chen. Between us, we saw at least 40 films, and we’ve picked our favorite women-focused films and performances from the festival for readers to put on their must-watch lists.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 18, 2019: #FemalePleasure

In a world that has more resonance with The Handmaid’s Tale than anyone should be comfortable with, it’s sadly not surprising that women everywhere are still fighting for their right to be sexual beings. Barbara Miller’s empowering documentary “#FemalePleasure” shows us why that fight is so important — and how it connects women across distances both geographical and cultural.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 11, 2019: DILILI IN PARIS

Michel Ocelot’s Dilili in Paris isn’t your standard animated kids’ fare — not by a long shot. And that’s a good thing. With its sophisticated Belle Epoque setting and parade of cultural and artistic figures and references, it’s almost like taking a trip to a colorful, informative, interactive museum. Which is somewhat apropos, given that we first meet young Dilili (voiced by Prunelle Charles-Ambron) when she’s participating in a living cultural exhibit of the Kanak people.

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