2019-2020 Films

WOMAN AT WAR (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
September 20 & 21, 2019

With a masterful melding of the serious, the comic, the ridiculous and the musical, Woman at War is joyful to experience though difficult to sum up. Halla is a fifty-year old independent woman, who behind the scenes of a quiet routine, leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. In her non-terrorist life, Halla is someone very different, a peace-loving choirmaster who has large pictures of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela on her living room walls and smiles at everyone she meets. One reviewer says that while this film is dealing with elemental matters, the director is having too much fun to get all solemn about it. Woman at War is a beautiful hoot. (in Icelandic) (101 minutes).

SHOPLIFTERS (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
October 18 & 19, 2019

In its quiet, achingly tenderhearted way, Shoplifters, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is a heresy. It suggests that we’re born into families of strangers (or worse) and that we find our true families, the people who genuinely care for us, among strangers we meet in the world. Shoplifters presents a clan of con artists as a force for love.
It’s in theory the worst family movie of 2018—and in practice one of the year’s best films. Another triumph for the great writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda. (Boston Globe) (in Japanese) (121 minutes).

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
November 8 & 9, 2019

Making a follow-up to Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight was a virtually impossible task, and adapting James Baldwin for the big screen was arguably even more daunting. Yet Jenkins accomplished both with his film If Beale Street Could Talk—an intelligent, thoughtfully made love story that depicts society’s grave injustices without letting go of its protagonists’ fierce bond. In re-creating 1970s Harlem, Jenkins paints the frame with luxurious and surprising color, and captures the humor, verve, and considerable complexity of Baldwin’s prose. But none of it would come off without the work of Beale Street’s magnificent cast, including the Oscar award winning Regina King. (in English) (119 minutes).

COLD WAR (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
January 3 & 4, 2020

The director Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a film that tells a vast story through a narrow lens. It plays almost as the shadow twin of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: two lovers, separated by geopolitical events, against a backdrop of music. In this case, though, the lovers are Polish members of a musical troupe, buffeted
by the upheavals of the Soviet empire in the 1950s and early 1960s. The movie packs more raw emotion into its slender 89-minute running time than many good and far lengthier films do. And its black-and-white evocations of Warsaw, Berlin, and especially Paris will take your breath away. “Time doesn’t matter when you’re in love,” one
character tells another. Cold War simultaneously proves and refutes this maxim. (The Atlantic) (in Polish, German and French) (89 minutes).

ROMA* (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
January 31 & February 1, 2020

Winner of Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Roma, which is set in the 1970s Mexico City of Alfonso Cuarón’s youth, is the director’s most personal movie to date and easily his best. From its opening frames to its closing ones, it is a masterpiece of cinematic technique, the story of a well-off family told through the eyes of its indigenous maid. For a while, the film seems like it will be principally an exercise in visual storytelling. (Cuarón handled the utterly stunning black-and-white cinematography himself.) But before it runs its course, Roma will nail you to your seat. It will shock you. It will break your heart and then put it back together again. You will not see a better picture this year. (Variety) (in Spanish) (135 minutes). (*awaiting DVD release)

EIGHTH GRADE (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
March 6 & 7, 2020

Most movies about teenagers, even the good ones, can’t quite capture the sheer emotional intensity of the adolescent experience. Eighth Grade is not most movies about teenagers. Star Elsie Fisher is essential to the film’s resonance, playing painfully insecure, smartphone-obsessed eighth grader Kayla with a vulnerability that would be remarkable from an actor of any age, let alone one too young to drive. You want to hug her and snatch the phone from her hand at the same time. First time director Bo Burnham and actress Fisher deftly manipulate the film into a warm, observant, endlessly relatable symphony of mortification. (in English) (93 minutes).

GRADUATION (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
April 3 & 4, 2020

Acclaimed filmmaker Cristian Mungiu presents this searing human saga about a father driven to extremes in order to protect his daughter’s future. Romeo Aldea is a seemingly honest doctor who regrets having settled in his native Romania, a country still teemi ng with corruption and back dealings. He channels his ambitions for a better life onto his teenage daughter, Eliza, who is just one exam away from securing a scholarship to a prestigious British university. But when Eliza is attacked on the eve of her test, endangering her ability to pass, Romeo takes m atters into his own hands to ensure her success. Graduation is a masterful look at the complex moral choices and compromises some people make when desperation takes hold. It has par ticular relevance this year in light of the U.S. college admissions scan dal. (in Romanian) (128 minutes).

BECOMING ASTRID (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
May 1 & 2, 2020

The biopic Becoming Astrid is a gorgeous piece of heritage filmmaking that chronicles a character-forming period in the young life of the Swedish writer born as Astrid Ericsson, who would go on to worldwide fame as Astrid Lindgren, one of the most beloved children’s authors ever. Doing right by this national treasure in her most formative stage, Becoming Astrid proves that the eventual creator of “Pippi Longstocking” and “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter” was as strong and determined as her characters. With a vibrant performance from fresh-faced Alba August as the lead, Becoming Astrid makes one eager for more episodes from Lindgren’s astonishingly unconventional life. (Variety) (in Danish/Swedish) (123 minutes).

THE CAKEMAKER (Metacritic Reviews & Trailer)
May 29 & 30, 2020

The Cakemaker is a beautiful film that explores love, loss, and religion. Thomas, a young and talented German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who dies in a car crash. Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers regarding Oren’s death. Keeping his secret to himself, Thomas starts working for Anat, his lover’s
widow, who owns a small cafe. The New York Times calls The Cakemaker “sad and sweet, and with a rare lyricism” that “believes in a love that neither nationality, sexual orientation nor religious belief can deter.” (in Hebrew/German) (113 minutes).