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Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece ‘Roma’ is now on Netflix — but it’s worth a trip to FilmScene

There’s a fine line between a movie that’s “artsy” and one that’s “artistic,” at least in my mind. Artsy films I associate with a palpable (and largely unearned) sense of importance, originality and depth. They may be unnecessarily abstract, employ an unsteady cam ~for realism~ and cannot end until at least one character has floated […]

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‘At Eternity’s Gate’ is a well-worn story worth the retelling

‘At Eternity’s Gate,’ now playing at FilmScene, offers little new to the lore and legacy of Van Gogh. Nonetheless, an homage to one of the very founders of modern art — as well as the idea of the modern artist — by one of its 21st century practitioners feels right, and Schnabel’s admiration for his subject informs every moment of this film. […]

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‘Wildlife’ transcends Oscar trappings with slow-burn drama and Carey Mulligan

Wildfires rage in the hills surrounding a small Montana town in the 1960s. A father, humiliated by his boss while working at a golf course, joins a group of firefighters battling the blaze for weeks on end at $1 an hour. His wife resents her husband’s pride and temporary desertion of his family, and becomes […]

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FilmScene’s featured Oscar contenders continue with ‘Beautiful Boy,’ a familiar but effective addiction narrative

You know this story. Whether or not you’ve read David Sheff’s memoir Beautiful Boy or Nic Sheff’s memoir Tweak, you’ve likely heard — or lived — the film’s central scenario: a parent tries desperately to save their drug-addicted child, but finds his best efforts further alienate or enable the child’s behavior; the child, meanwhile, struggles […]

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Guadagnino’s ‘Suspiria’ a psychoanalytic playground with uncertain feminist cred

‘Suspiria’ is polarizing, as reflected on Rotten Tomatoes (currently 62 percent approval rating) with critics either praising Guadagnino’s bold and heady filmmaking or deriding the movie as pretentious and boring. Many critics, including this one, find it to be both at the same time. […]

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Up 3,000 feet without a rope: The horror and beauty of ‘Free Solo’

Edge-of-your-seat suspense. Sky-high stakes. Psychological intrigue. Queasy cinematography. And enough unadulterated fear to make your heart pound and palms sweat. Perhaps FilmScene’s most viscerally frightening showing this month is ‘Free Solo,’ a documentary about the death-defying free solo rock climber Alex Honnold.
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‘We the Animals,’ based on the novel by UI alumnus Justin Torres, premieres at FilmScene

There was no way FilmScene wasn’t going to get its hands on We the Animals. The film is not only based on a novel of the same name by Justin Torres, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but Torres worked closely with the film’s director to realize his story onscreen. […]

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Eight things Michael Moore blames for the rise of Trump in ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’

Michael Moore is back to remind us just how fucked we all are. His new documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, starts showing today at FilmScene, just over two weeks out from its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film’s villains are more numerous, and not all quite who you’d expect. Here are Michael Moore’s primary targets.

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‘Sorry to Bother You’ is weird, cool, but not quite wonderful

There’s something extraordinary about Sorry to Bother You. Maybe it’s rookie writer-director Boots Riley’s unique take on science fiction. Maybe it’s the timely discussion of the evils of capitalism and importance of labor unions. Maybe it’s the practical special effects, hearkening back to early sci-fi with a contemporary, satirical sheen. Maybe it’s Lakeith Stanfield’s stellar performance, or Tessa Thompson’s badass hair, make-up and wardrobe. […]

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‘Three Identical Strangers’ takes the idea of ‘stranger than fiction’ to a new level

A cursory glance at the story prompts a thousand questions, one of the prevailing being, “Where are they now?” Enter Three Identical Strangers, a documentary that takes you through the triplets’ story detail by detail. The exceptionally fascinating film is now showing at FilmScene. […]

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‘BlacKkKlansman’ collapses past and present into a powerful statement of black reality

When I went to see ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ directed by Boots Riley, last month, I had thought it was one of the best pieces of absurdist cultural commentary I had seen, even considering Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” Including Spike Lee’s newest, ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ we now have three pieces of art that provide a stark exposition of the racist nature of American power. […]

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Compassion drives Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’

I had never heard of Bo Burnham, who wrote and directed ‘Eighth Grade’ (currently screening at both FilmScene and Marcus Cinemas in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids), but found it fitting that my child — who just completed that educational milestone — was quite familiar with his work. […]

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