‘Marjorie Prime’ wrestles with loss, the future of humanity

‘Marjorie Prime’ wrestles with loss, the future of humanity

“Marjorie Prime” (2017). Cast: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, Lois Smith, Stephanie Andujar, Hannah Gross, Azumi Tsutsui, Hana Colley, Leslie Lyles, Bill Walters. Director: Michael Almereyda. Screenplay: Michael Almereyda. Play: Jordan Harrison, Marjorie Prime. Web site. Trailer.

Coping with loss is something that most of us have had to deal with at some point in our lives. This can take a variety of forms, too, from the loss of a loved one to the loss of something we value to even the loss of some part of our own selves. How we handle such situations varies from person to person, depending on our individual circumstances and coping capabilities. Some of us soldier on, getting through the circumstances and moving on with our lives. But others among us may need some assistance in approaching these challenges, especially if they’re associated with strong emotions, a tremendous or unrelenting sense of loss, or unresolved aspects that prevent us from progressing. Such are the questions raised in the haunting new sci-fi drama, “Marjorie Prime.” (more…)

‘Normal Is Over’ outlines the need for global change

‘Normal Is Over’ outlines the need for global change

“Normal Is Over” (2017). Cast: Lester Brown, Charles Eisenstein, Paul Gilding, Michael E. Mann, Ian McCallum, Naomi Oreskas, Vandana Shiva, Heike Brunner (narrator). Director: Renée Scheltema. Web site. Trailer.

The world is changing, to be sure. But the degree of that shift is more radical than most of us probably realize, and, if we don’t take steps to deal with it, we may all be in for a very rude awakening – and much sooner than most of us probably think. That’s the message to come out of the engaging new documentary, “Normal Is Over.” (more…)

‘Under the Sun’ chronicles the challenges of self-preservation

‘Under the Sun’ chronicles the challenges of self-preservation

“Under the Sun” (2015 production, 2016 release). Cast: Lee Zin-Mi. Director: Vitaly Mansky. Screenplay: Vitaly Mansky. Web site. Trailer.

In a totalitarian state like North Korea, virtually every aspect of life of virtually every citizen is rigidly controlled. Given the pariah nation’s social, political and economic status, many of its residents often go wanting, be it for material goods, opportunities or any of the other things that make life worth living. In fact, about the only ones who are able to rise above bare minimum standards are those who are willing to become advocates (i.e., propagandists) for the state, extolling its alleged virtues, regardless of how empty or vacuous its claims may be. Nevertheless, there are those who are willing to take that step, especially among the nation’s youth who seek to become members of the Korean Children’s Union, the subject of the compelling documentary “Under the Sun,” available on DVD and video on demand. (more…)

‘The Journey’ analyzes the art of consensus

‘The Journey’ analyzes the art of consensus

“The Journey” (2016 production, 2017 release). Cast: Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Freddie Highmore, John Hurt, Toby Stephens, Catherine McCormack, Ian Beattie, Barry Ward, Mark Lambert. Director: Nick Hamm. Screenplay: Colin Bateman. Web site. Trailer.

Bridging a gap is often quite a challenge, especially when it involves opposing parties who are philosophically miles apart. How can these adversaries be successfully brought together? And will the efforts aimed at that ultimately bear fruit? Those questions loomed large when warring factions sought to make peace in the wake of one of the world’s longest-running bloody feuds, the subject of the new speculative historical drama, “The Journey.” (more…)

‘Letters from Baghdad’ celebrates the life of a visionary

‘Letters from Baghdad’ celebrates the life of a visionary

“Letters from Baghdad” (2016 production, 2017 release). Cast: Tilda Swinton (voice), Adam Astill, Tom Chadbon, Michelle Eugene, Andrew Havill, Eric Loscheider, Robert Ian Mackenzie, Helen Ryan, Pip Torrens, Rose Leslie (voice). Directors: Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl. Web site. Trailer.

Making one’s voice heard amidst a thunderous throng of opposing viewpoints can be difficult, especially in the face of an entrenched consensus and when expressed by someone who possesses qualities that might tempt others to downplay the significance of those divergent opinions. Yet making the effort to get those views heard is important, particularly when the stakes are high. So it was for an incredibly insightful woman seeking to be heard in the geopolitical arena, an area where others often tried to drown her out, an experience outlined in the engaging new documentary “Letters from Baghdad.” (more…)

‘Maudie’ follows impulses, pushes limitations

‘Maudie’ follows impulses, pushes limitations

“Maudie” (2016 production, 2017 release). Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Kari Matchett, Billy MacLellan. Director: Aisling Walsh. Screenplay: Sherry White. Web site. Trailer.

When life seemingly sidelines us due to various limitations – be they personal, physical, economic or otherwise – we may easily become discouraged, reconciling ourselves to our circumstances. But need we be saddled with such hindering conditions? Can we lead a meaningful existence in spite of those obstacles? Might we be able to successfully draw upon impulses that lead us to believe to the contrary? Such is the experience of a challenged young woman who manages to build a creative and fulfilling life for herself in the thoughtful new biopic, “Maudie.” (more…)

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