Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Alice, Darling” (R) (3) [Language and sexual content.] [Opens Jan. 20 in theaters.] — A panic-attack-prone, trichotillomania-afflicted, stressed-out, anxious woman (Anna Kendrick) in Toronto goes to the lakeside cabin for a weeklong vacation with her two close girlfriends (Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku) and lies to her controlling, smothering, mentally abusive, British artist boyfriend (Charlie Carrick) that it is a last-minute business trip in Mary Nighy’s realistic, poignant, multilayered, taut, superbly acted, well-written, 90-minute psychological thriller, and when her boyfriend eventually shows up to take her home, his plans do not go as he expects as the three friends bond together.
“All’s Faire in Love” (PG-13) (1.5) [Some sexual content including references.] [DVD and VOD only] — A silly, contrived, amateurish, predictable, 2009 romantic comedy in which a class-skipping football quarterback (Owen Benjamin) is forced by his college literature professor (Cedric the Entertainer) to participate in a three-week Renaissance fair in order to pass his class and winds up falling for a beautiful damsel (Christina Ricci) while immersing himself in the Medieval fair with diehard fans (Ann-Margret, Matthew Lillard, Louise Griffiths, Chris Wylde, Sandra Taylor, David Sheridan. et al.).
“The Bang Bang Club” (R) (4) [Strong brutal violence, disturbing images, pervasive language, some drug use, and sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only] — Terrific acting, striking photography, and horrific violence dominate this gripping, eye-opening, factually based, 2010 film, which is based on a memoir by Greg Marinovich and João Silva, that showcases four Pulitzer-Prize-winning combat photojournalists, including Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld), Frank Rautenbach (Ken Oosterbroek), and Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), as they photograph the atrocities in the Soweto, Thokoza, and Boipatong townships of war-torn South Africa between 1990 and 1994.
“Black Slide: Reckoning with Grief at the Water Park” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Available currently on YouTube at https://youtu.be/LNgBJPzBobU.] — After a young, grief-stricken Israeli boy sneaks into a water park with his daredevil best friend and cuts his arm on the fence in Uri Lotan’s award-winning, Oscar-qualified, realistic, moving, heartbreaking, down-to-earth, 11-minute, 2021 animated film, he finds the inner courage to go down a frightening, challenging, twisting water slide and then returns home where he lives with his grandmother to discover while taking a bath and eavesdropping on the phone that his mother may not be coming home.
“Brand New Day” (PG-13) (2) [Sexual content and drug use.] [DVD and VOD only] — Upbeat songs highlight this colorful, wacky, high-energy, 2009 film, which is based on a popular 1990 musical, in which a 16-year-old, love-struck Aboriginal student (Rocky McKenzie) runs away from a strict Perth boarding school run by a no-nonsense Catholic priest (Geoffrey Rush) in 1969 and is befriended by a hard-drinking homeless man (Ernie Dingo), two hippies (Deborah Mailman and Tom Budge), and a prostitute (Madga Szubanski) on his way home to his mother (Missy Higgins) and a comely teenage singer (Jessica Mauboy).
“Death Knot” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Available on Jan. 17 on DVD, Blu-ray™, and various digital platforms.] — After their estranged, shaman mother (Djenar Maesa Ayu), whose husband (Ismail Basbeth) abandoned her years earlier, commits suicide by hanging herself in the forest in Cornelio Sunny’s chilling, intense, suspenseful, creepy, well-written, somber, dark, unpredictable, 101-minute, 2021 thriller, a guilt-ridden psychologist (Cornelio Sunny), his sister (Widika Sidmore), and her boyfriend (Moran Oey) travel from Jakarta for her funeral planned by their uncle (Rukman Rosadi) and learn that superstitious, hostile Indonesian villagers (Landung Simatupang, Raditya Evandra, Ibnu Widodo, Verry Handayani, Ibnu Gundul, Joko, et al.) believe she is responsible for numerous, mysterious suicides over many years due to practicing black magic and her pact with the devil and then find themselves falling under the same curse when the demon tries to take possession.
“The Flying Sailor: Seaman’s Life Flashes Before His Eyes” (NR) (3) [Available currently on YouTube at https://youtu.be/4Rj3FG8vFtk.] — When a large vessel carrying TNT runs into another ship in a harbor and they explode into smithereens in Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby’s award-winning, Oscar-qualified, entertaining, poignant, fascinating, intriguing, 8-minute animated film factually inspired by the devastating Halifax explosion in 1917, a cigarette-puffing sailor, along with his clothing, a frying pan, a shoe, an anchor, a baby carriage, a chair, and fish, is blown 2 km high into the sky where he floats over the city and sees his life suddenly flash before his eyes.
“Ice Merchants” (NR) (3.5) [Available currently on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=mhj74ZjfaQ8&fbclid=IwAR1zfYUUZY–9302CagGBYVnQe9tEj89g_E3yP2Vrbg7Wg7qZPDaPLpV40g.] — A terrific soundtrack and striking animation highlight João Gonzalez’s award-winning, Oscar-qualified, engaging, creative, moving, family-friendly, dialogue-free, colorful, 14-minute film in which a hat-wearing father and his brave, hat-wearing son, who harvest ice daily in the house that they live in with the memory of their wife/mother that is perched precariously on the side of a cliff, routinely don their hats and parachute to the village below to sell their ice, but one day rising temperatures trigger an avalanche that threatens their routine and their very lives.
“In Time” (PG-13) (2.5) [Violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language.] [DVD and VOD only] — Time is money and money is time in this intriguing, action-packed, futuristic, loophole-filled sci-fi thriller in which a savvy, smart, revenge-driven, 28-year-old factory worker (Justin Timberlake) is given a century of time by a well-meaning, suicidal, mysterious benefactor (Matt Bomer) and then finds himself on the run with the spirited daughter (Amanda Seyfried) of an overprotective, wealthy immortal (Vincent Kartheiser) from tenacious timekeepers (Cillian Murphy, Collins Pennie, Faye Kingslee, Kristopher Higgins, and Toby Hemingway) and a time-stealing thug (Alex Pettyfer) and his cronies (Michael William Freeman, Ernest Pierce, et al.) after the death of his beautiful mother (Olivia Wilde) and his best friend (Johnny Galecki).
“Kids vs. Aliens” (NR) (3) [Opens Jan. 20 in theaters and on various digital and VOD platforms.] — While their irresponsible parents (Jonathan Torrens and Jessica Marie Brown) go out of town again on business in Jason Eisener’s entertaining, family-geared, colorful, action-packed, fast-paced, suspenseful, intermittently humorous, gory, violent, 75-minute film based on John Davies and Jason Eisener’s short film “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” a sword-wielding teenage girl (Phoebe Rex), who has a crush on a mischievous bully (Calem MacDonald), is reluctantly left in charge of caring for her movie-making younger brother (Dominic Mariche), and when they foolishly decide to have a Halloween party with foul-mouthed friends (Asher Grayson, Ben Tector, Emma Vickers, Isaiah Fortune, Alexandra MacLean, Jordan Poole, Noah Rafuse, et al.), they end up fighting for their lives after menacing, vomit-spewing aliens (Caleb Allred, Jonni Shreve, et al.) attack.
“Missing” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic material, language, teen drinking, and some strong violence.] [Opens Jan. 20 in theaters.] — When her overprotective, secret-keeping mother (Nia Long) allegedly disappears with her duplicitous boyfriend (Ken Leung) in Colombia in Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick’s intriguing, original, creative, well-acted, twist-filled, 111-minute thriller sequel to the 2018 film “Searching,” her tech-savvy, frantic teenage daughter (Storm Reid), whose father (Tim Griffin) has been out of her life since she was a child (Ava Zaria Lee), in Los Angeles uses her computer skills to seek the help of a Colombian investigator (Joaquim de Almeida), an attorney friend (Amy Landecker), a close girlfriend (Megan Suri), and FBI agents (Johanna Braddy and Daniel Henney) to find her and then ends up uncovering long-held family secrets.
“Night of the Living Dread” (NR) (3.5) [Available currently on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNUQwTaaKbc.] — When the ritualistic nighttime routine of a blue-haired, vibrator-wielding woman (voiceover by Jessica Dennis) already in bed in her blue-tinged bedroom is disrupted due to a power outage and her meditative sleep guru (voiceover by Stephen Fry) cannot sooth and calm her in Ida Melum’s quirky, touching, BAFTA-nominated, Oscar-qualified, colorful, stop-motion, humor-dotted, 11-minute, 2021 animated film, she must deal with disturbing memories and five past versions of herself, including a much younger child (voiceover by Romy Hayhurst), before the sandman and peaceful sleep can return.
“Out of Exile” (R) (2.5) [Pervasive language and violence.] [Opens Jan. 20 and available on various digital and VOD platforms.] — After an armored truck robbery in Texas goes off the rails and ends in the death of an armored security guard in Kyle Kauwika Harris’’ engaging, action-packed, fast-paced, suspenseful, violent, 107-minute film, a recently paroled convict (Adam Hampton), who is trying to reconnect with his estranged, pregnant, abused, waitress daughter (Hayley McFarland) and go on the straight and narrow, ends up being tracked down along with his team (Peter Greene, Rett Terrell, Kyle Jacob Henry, Jake Roberts, Bruce Davis, et al.) by a sheriff (Luce Rains) and tenacious FBI agents (Ryan Merrima, Karrie Cox, and Luke Wyckoff) investigating the robbery.
“Puss in Boots” (PG) (3) [Some adventure action and mild rude humor.] [DVD and VOD only] — A colorful, entertaining, family-friendly, action-packed, 3D, star-dotted (voiceovers by Queen Latifah and Guillermo de Toro), animated comedy in which a boot-wearing, sword-wielding, tango-dancing, feline outlaw (voiceover by Antonio Banderas) reluctantly teams up with greedy Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiceover by Zach Galifianakis), who was a traitorous friend from an orphanage, and a frisky soft-paw cat burglar (voiceover by Salma Hayek) to steal magic beans from Jack and Jill (voiceovers by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) in order to grow a giant beanstalk to catch the goose that lays golden eggs.
“The Rum Diary” (R) (3) [Language, brief drug use, and sexuality.] [DVD and VOD only] — Underdeveloped characters dominate this aimless, humor-dotted, quirky, factually inspired film, which is based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, in which a hard-drinking, drug-fueled, chain-smoking journalist (Johnny Depp) with blood-shot eyes, who lives with an eccentric photographer (Michael Rispoli) and a Nazi-adoring, moonshine-making writer (Giovanni Ribisi), gets hired by a disillusioned, contentious editor-in-chief (Richard Jenkins) of soon-bankrupt “The San Juan Star” to concoct the horoscope column and then finds himself drawn to the flirtatious, blonde fiancée (Amber Heard) of a wealthy, smarmy, real estate wheeler dealer (Aaron Eckhart) and initially to his backhanded, shady land development scam with his equally greedy American partners (Bill Smitrovich, et al.) in 1960s Puerto Rico.
“The Whale” (R) (4) [Language, some drug use, and sexual Content.] [Opened Dec. 21 in theaters.] — Oscar-caliber acting dominates Darren Aronofsky’s powerful, poignant, award-winning, moving, bittersweet, somber, depressing, well-written, multilayered, gut-wrenching, down-to-earth, 117-minute film based on Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play in which a homebound, middle-aged, guilt-ridden, pizza-loving, pessimistic, gay, 600-pound English professor (Brendan Fraser), who teaches writing to university students online, lost his beloved partner to suicide, and is cared for my a longtime friend and no-nonsense nurse (Hong Chau) at his apartment in Idaho, is desperate to reconnect with his estranged, angry, acerbic, cheeky, 17-year-old daughter (Sadie Sink), who lives with her alcoholic mother (Samantha Morton), and forgoes medical treatment and insurance so he can give his daughter his $120,000 in life savings while ignoring the help offered by a duplicitous, teenage religious missionary (Ty Simpkins) from Iowa proselytizing door to door.
The following films screen at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival that runs Jan. 20-29 at Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City, Utah; for more information, log on to http://slamdance.com:
“Charlie and the Hunt” (NR) (2.5) [Screens Jan. 25 at 5:10 p.m.] — When her deaf mother (Lauren Ridloff) believes she misplaced a precious, sentimental bracelet once belonging to granny in Jenn Shaw’s award-winning, family-friendly, witty, morale-driven, 15-minute film, her cape-wearing, African-American daughter (Nifeoluwa Ramroop) confronts her fears and heads out on a mission with her dog (Oscar) to find it.
“Cisco Kid” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 1 p.m.] — Striking photography highlights Emily Kaye Allen’s engaging, poignant, interesting, down-to-earth, inspirational, 84-minute documentary that follows queer, tenacious, hardworking, free-spirited Eileen Muza over a three-year period as she struggles to build a life and eventually a place for artists in an abandoned ghost town established in the 1880s in the desert in Cisco, Utah, and diligently works on refurbishing many of the town’s dilapidated buildings.
“The Cunning” (NR) (3.5) [Screens Jan. 25 at 5:10 p.m..] — When a desperate Englishwoman (Gemma Arterton) and her teenage daughter (Bethany Asher) with Down syndrome are chained together and watched over by a Black housekeeper (Akiya Henry) after being accused of witchcraft in 1724 in Britain and are sentenced by an overseer (Ross Armstrong) to be burned at the stake in Alexandra Maher’s compelling, intense, well-acted, suspenseful, 13-minute film, she devises a risky plan to get out of their shackles and escape before they are burned at the stake.
“Diomysus” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 1 p.m.] — Emily Morus-Jones’ live-action, poignant, satirical, thought-provoking, whimsical, timely, 5-minute comedic documentary in which several candid, British mice (with puppeteers Laura Bacon, Robbie Bellecom, and Emily Morus-Jones and voiceoves by Ruby Rare) discuss their polyamorous relationships (that is, engaging in consensual romantic relationships with multiple people), jealousy, and cheating in Great Britain.
“Downwind” (NR) (4) [Screens Jan. 23 at 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.] — Martin Sheen narrates Douglas Brian Miller and Mark Shapiro’s powerful, eye-opening, educational, ire-inducing, insightful, 94-minute documentary that chronicles the devastating, lingering, long-term effects, including numerous types of cancer, on all of the American population especially those living downwind, such as the Shoshone Indians, even today after the irresponsible and reckless government performed 928 nuclear tests between 1951 and 1992 and their continued denial of the horrendous health impact and consists of candid commentary by actors Patrick Wayne and Michael Douglas, writer and photographer Mark Sennet, Utah medical social worker Claudia Peterson, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment President Dr. Brian Moench, Principal Man of the Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians Ian Zabarte, Shoshone nurse Darlene Graham, author and playwright Mary Dickson, Hollywood production illustrator and historian Joseph Musso, singer and songwriter Keith Andren, Nevada Test Site Public Affairs director Darwin Morgan, military reporter Keith Rogers, radioactive waste specialist Kevin Kamps, and comedian and actor Lewis Black.
“Elsa” (NR) (4) [Screens Jan. 20 at 7:15 p.m.] — Cameron S. Mitchell’s captivating, award-winning, powerful, inspirational, 15-minute, 2022 PBS documentary in which deafblind fiction writer, publisher, media critic, historian Elsa Sjunneson, who loves fencing and hiking, wrote “Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism” and “Sword of the White Horse,” won a Hugo and Aurora awards for her editorial work, and was raised by supportive gay parents, gives fascinating and candid insights and a positive outlook into her world while also working as a disability rights activist.
“Inspire Me” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 20 at 9:30 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 5:10 p.m.] — Sophie Saville’s engaging, satirical, humorous, thought-provoking, 11-minute documentary in which Madeleine Stewart, who was born with a missing hand, interviews the general public and a few disabled people, including paralympic triathlete Jonathan Goerlach, paralympian swimmer Ellie Cole, and disability advocate and writer Hannah Diviney, to find out what makes disabled people inspiring and many people thought the most inspiring were paralympians, so she decides to begin the difficult journey to become a paralympian with disappointing results.
“Just Right” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 23 at 5:25 p.m. at the Student Union Theatre at University of Utah and Jan. 24 at 9:45 p.m. at Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City, Utah.] — After waking up from a bizarre dream in which she was in the street in a yellow duck costume in Camille Wormser’s entertaining, wacky, funny, 15-minute comedy, a woman (Camille Wormser) suffering from OCD decides to do something different with her day and agrees to meet her roommate (Jake Dvorsky) to go skiing precisely at 1 p.m. and then finds herself desperately trying to complete her OCD routines in order not to miss their afternoon rendezvous.
“The Laughing Woo Woo” (NR) (2) [Screens Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 10 p.m.] — Over-the-top, annoying laughter highlights Amir Youssef’s wacky, award-winning, silly, bizarre, occasionally funny, 16-minute comedy in which an Egyptian refugee (Pegasus Ghobreal) flees to San Francisco seeking political asylum, working with a greedy lawyer (Gareth Williams) to get through the immigration red tape, but he ends up on a bus to Tijuana after a local addict accidentally injects him with drugs causing him to laugh hysterically and then contacts his Mercedes-driving attorney in an attempt to get back across the border protected by a by-the-book U.S. border patrol officer (Freddie Diaz).
“Love Dump” (NR) (2.5) [Screens Jan. 20 at 1:15 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 8 p.m.] — After his girlfriend (Lauren Summers) breaks up with him and moves to Los Angeles in Jason Avezzano and Matt Mahaffey’s quirky, wacky, intermittently funny, 50-minute, 2020 comedic parody, a mustached canine attorney (Jesse Kendall) runs into a free-spirited shop owner (Leila Gorstein), who was abandoned by her popsicle-stick-wearing father (Rob Grabowski) at age 6 and sells refurbished trash at her Chicago store, he met 15 years earlier when she repaired his ripped pants at a park and ends up in a tumultuous, rollercoaster relationship.
“Mad Cats” (NR) (2.5) [Screens Jan. 21 at 9:45 p.m. and Jan. 24 at 3:15 p.m.] — Reiki Tsuno’s bizarre, wacky, silly, intermittently funny, violent, unpredictable, 88-minute comedy in which an aimless, bicycle-riding, screaming, clumsy, dimwitted, Japanese man (Shô Mineo) is joined by a cat-food-eating homeless stranger (Yuya Matsuura) and an oddball, gun-toting, mysterious, skilled fighter (Ayane) to find his archeologist brother (So Yamanaka), who found forbidden catnip in Egypt, being held hostage by ruthless, menacing, saber-wielding, sharp-clawed, felinesque women (Amanda B., Asachill, Chiyuki Kanazawa, Maari Iwata, Ruice Mori, Shisae, Yae, Shen Tanaka, Mio, Ayaka Takezaki, Yasuko Tsuji, Moca Kodama, and Hikari Aiko) who are hell bent on killing unscrupulous, mean pet shop owners and taking possession of the powerful catnip.
“The Mad Writer” (NR) (2.5) [Screens Jan. 20 at 2:45 p.m. and Jan. 24 at 1 p.m.] — Zach Kashkett’s fascinating, moving, down-to-earth, insightful, candid, 70-minute documentary that chronicles the struggles that depression-prone hip-hop artist L’Orange copes with after being diagnosed with cholesteatoma and the worry, fear, and anxiety going through multiple surgeries to remove the recurring tumors in his ear canal that may affect his hearing and music career and consists of commentary by audiologist Dr. Larry B. Lundy, sound engineer Andrew Brzozowski, recording engineer Seiji Inouye, rappers Mr. Lif and Cool Keith, Adult Swim Vice President Jason Demarco, fiancée singer/songwriter Leah Lynn Lawson, and parents Karen and Bob Hart.
“Mahogany Drive” (NR) (3.5) [Screens Jan. 20 at 1:15 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 8 p.m.] — When three irresponsible Black men (Jonathan Braylock, James III, and Jerah A. Milligan) discover a dead white woman (Jana Miley) on the livingroom floor after partying the night before in Jerah Milligan’s hilarious, creative, original, satirical, 13-minute comedy, they bicker and speculate what transpired and what to do next as the precarious situation escalates after a horny white woman (Olivia Jude) and two Caucasian police officers (Addie Weyrich and Margaux Susi) show up and keel over upon entering the house.
“Mascot” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 8:15 p.m.] — Remy van Heugten’s compelling, realistic, well-acted, tense, unusual, 99-minute film that focuses on a dysfunctional Dutch family comprised of an angry, disturbed, 17-year-old son (Liam Jeans), who is self-conscious due to his severe congenital mouth deformities; a sexually active, free-spirited, divorced, counselor mother (Maartje Remmers) who gradually distances herself from her children; a younger sister (Frederike van Oordt) frantically seeking a father figure who turns to meeting questionable men online; and the absent ex-husband/father (Geert Van Rampelberg) who callously ignores his daughter and abusively insults his son, which unsurprisingly leads to tragedy and the teenager unleashing his volcanic rage.
“Millstone” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 25 at 5:10 p.m. in Salt Lake City, Utah, and on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. at Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City, Utah.] — Deaf actors using American Sign Language (ASL) perform in Peter Hoffman Kimball’s intriguing, poignant, creative, well-written, superbly acted, imaginative, soundless, 16-minute psychological film in which a distraught, guilt-ridden, deaf couple (Daniel Durant and Bellamie Bachleda), whose dysfunctional, bickering relationship is derailing their marriage, seek help from a deaf therapist (Eddie Buck) who offers an unconventional, experimental treatment to help them deal with the pain and anguish and to forget about the tragic, hit-and-run death of a 5-year-old boy.
“Motel Drive” (NR) (3.5) [Screens Jan. 22 at 1:15 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 2:45 p.m.] — Brendan Geraghty’s powerful, educational, eye-opening, raw, thought-provoking, insightful, 60-minute documentary that chronicles over 8 years the immense struggles of numerous people, including the Shaw family of DeAndra Brewer, Jason Shaw, and Justin Shaw, living among poverty, filth, addiction, gang violence, and prostitution in the more than fifteen 1950s-era motels on the 8-mile motel strip in Fresno, the effects of the California’s High-Speed Rail Project on the residents and consists of candid interview snippets with Live Again Fresno (LAF) founder and executive director Richard Burrell, LAF development director Jed Soberal, Fresno mayor and former police chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno needle exchange volunteers Dr. Marc Lasher and Dr. John Zweifler, Fresno Motel resident widower Dannie, Holiday Motel resident Sky, CA high-speed rail director Diana Gomez, LAF program manager Janessa Williams, The Storyland Inn resident Momma Peaches, and Fresno county fair CEO John Alkire.
“Onlookers” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 21 at 3:15 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 11 a.m.] — Beautiful cinematography and scenery highlight Kimi Takesue’s captivating, poignant, insightful, fascinating, 72-minute documentary that follows tourists as they sightsee in Laos but not really seeing as they take photographs, ride in a hot air balloon, drive land rovers, go ziplining, eat at restaurants, travel on riverboats, buy souvenirs and postcards, and occasionally intermingle with locals while Laotians try to go about their daily lives.
“Our Males and Females” (NR) (3.5) [Screens Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.] — When both male and female Jordanian washers (Moataz Allabadi and Sana Saleh) refuse to wash a transgendered woman in preparation for burial in Ahmad Alyaseer’s compelling, enlightening, eye-opening, somber, well-acted, 11-minute film, a distraught physician (Kamel El Basha) and his equally grieving wife (Shafeqa Al-Tal) are desperate to have Islamic religious traditions followed to have her body washed and shrouded and then must decide whether to take drastic measures.
“A Perfect Day for Caribou” (NR) (2.5) [Screens Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 1 p.m.] — Jeff Rutherford’s low-key, somber, black-and-white, minimalistic, arty, bittersweet, dialogue-heavy, 95-minute film highlighted by striking cinematography in which an unemployed, suicidal, sixtysomething, alcoholic father (Jeb Berrier), whose wife kicked him out two weeks earlier, agrees to meet with his estranged, wannabe meteorologist son (Charlie Plummer) in a sprawled-out Oregon cemetery in the late 1990s in hopes of a reconnection and to get past their dysfunctional relationship and when his mentally challenged, nonbiological, 6-year-old son (Oellis Levine) goes missing, they go on a lackadaisical search to find him while discussing their painful lives.
“Queen Moorea” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 23 at 5:25 p.m.] — Christine Fugate’s inspirational, insightful, down-to-earth, candid, 27-minute documentary that follows ambitious, charming, 17-year-old Asian-American Moorea Howson, who lives with her parents (Robert and Kris Howson) in Laguna Beach, Calif., and was born with Williams Syndrome that causes cardiovascular issues and learning challenges, over a six-year period after she was crowned homecoming queen and as she works to be accepted despite her disabilities, attends vocational school and community college, starts a job, and dreams of working in the medical field and consists of commentary by best friend Arianna Nugent, 13-year-old sister Jade, teacher Mindy Hawkins, boyfriend Matt, and friend Jordan Singer.
“Sexual Healing” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 23 at 4:05 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 2:10 p.m.] — Elsbeth Fraanje’s enlightening, highly personal, inspirational, candid, 55-minute documentary that focuses on 53-year-old, scoliosis-afflicted, witty Dutch woman Evelien Spreitzer, who suffers from a congenital spastic condition and yearns for sexual intimacy, as she explores buying sexy bras and sex toys with the help of supportive caregivers and friends and working with an organization that connects disabled people with sex care workers.
“Silent Love” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 11:15 a.m.] — After the sudden death of her widowed mother from pancreatic cancer in Marek Kozakiewicz’s award-winning, coming-of-age, highly personal, tense, touching, 72-minute documentary, 35-year-old closeted lesbian Agnieszka in Germany returns to Poland with her longtime, cigarette smoking-partner Majka to gain legal custody of her 14-year-old brother Miłosz and then struggles to keep their relationship strong and intact while trying to build a family in the conservative community where many are homophobic.
“Sweetheart Deal” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 22 at 5:15 p.m. and Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.] — Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller’s award-winning, poignant, eye-opening, informative, heartbreaking, unsettling, 98-minute documentary with a surprising ending that follows four addicted prostitutes, including Sara, Amy (aka Krista), Tammy, and Kristine, who walk the dangerous, foreboding streets of Aurora Avenue North in Seattle, Wash., and are desperate to change their tumultuous, difficult lives, and when 63-year-old, divorced, former criminal investigator Laughn “Elliott” Doescher is discovered not to be the friend he claimed to be to “Seattle Times” reporter Christine Clarridge, they find friendship and support in each other.
“Waiting for the Light to Change” (NR) (2) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 22 at 7:45 p.m. and Jan. 24 at 11 a.m.] — When five twentysomething, longtime friends (Erik Barrientos, Qun Chi, Joyce Ha, Jin Park, and Sam Straley) head to a lakeside beach house for a weeklong vacation to hang out and to discuss life, relationships, jealousies, feelings, and ambitions in Linh Tran’s realistic, down-to-earth, slow-moving, $20,000-budget, 89-minute film with confusing subtitles, one woman (Jin Park) who lost a lot of weight finds herself attracted to the new boyfriend (Sam Straley) of her best friend (Joyce Ha).
“Where the Road Leads” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Screens Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. and Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.] — When a mysterious, charming, handsome stranger (Zlatan Vidovic) returns to the mountainous village where his grandfather lived and the electricity unexpectedly goes out at the same time causing suspicion among the villagers in Nina Ognjanović’s engaging, superbly acted, well-written, thought-provoking, 81-minute film highlighted by striking cinematography, a Serbian woman (Jana Bjelica) sees him as her way out of town and is desperate to protect him from two drunks (Vladimir Maksimovic and Ninoslav Culum) who want to kill him after he attends a feast with other villagers (Igor Filipovic, Eva Ras, et al.).
“Who’s Annie?” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 22 at 9:45 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 11:30 a.m.] — Sophia Peer’s engaging, factually inspired, creative, hilarious, 30-minute movie-with-in-a-movie in which a struggling director (Sophia Peer), who just was dumped by her boyfriend, meets ambitious, tenacious, aging actress Annie Pisapia, who is a recovering alcoholic, former inmate, and married five times, at a Queens Burger King parking lot and after by chance seeing her in a television commercial, she decides to make a film with her.
“Wisdom Gone Wild” (NR) (3) [Screens Jan. 24 at 6:20 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 3:25 p.m.] — Rea Tajiri’s engaging, award-winning, enlightening, humorous, nonlinear, insightful, 84-minute documentary that chronicles the life of yoga-practicing, singing-loving, retired beautician, 93-year-old, Japanese-American Rose Noda Tajiri over 15 years as she struggles with memory loss after dementia was diagnosed at age 75 and reminiscences about her life while family, including daughter Rea and son Brion, try to understand the best way to care for her and consists of archival film clips and photographs and connections through conversations and her various wisdoms on topics such as beauty, art, animals, and nourishment.
“With Peter Bradley” (NR) (3.5) [Screens Jan. 22 at 12:45 p.m. and Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m.] — Alex Rappoport’s captivating, informative, poignant, insightful, inspirational, touching, multifaceted, 86-minute biographical documentary highlighted by archival photographs, African-American artists, and varied artwork that examines the tumultuous career of trumpet-playing, resilient, innovative, feisty, positive, talented, 79-year-old Black abstract artist and sculptor Peter Bradley, who lives in his home in upstate New York built in 1709 and worked as an artist, art dealer, and curator, as he talks candidly about his fascinating life, creative process, and the once pervasive racism in the art world.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.