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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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‘Hearts Beat Loud’ intertwines musical and human connections

The newest movie from Brett Haley (I’ll See You In My Dreams, The Hero) offers audiences an opportunity to explore the complications of modern life, especially through the lens of family dynamics, and ways that art — music in particular — can provide balms of consolation without needing to fix or solve situations. […]

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‘American Animals’ combines documentary and drama to explore a real-life art heist

“American Animals”, starting a run today at FilmScene, stars Evan Peters of “American Horror Story,” Barry Keoghan of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Ann Dowd of “Hereditary”…And surprisingly enough, it’s not a horror movie. “Animals” is a crime drama, following a group of four college-age men looking to spice up their life by planning and executing an art heist at the library of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.

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‘First Reformed’ is a stark reflection on climate change, hypocrisy and ‘God’s plan’

“Can God forgive us for what we’ve done to this world?” That is the question which Michael, the radical environmental activist, poses to a disturbed pastor at the beginning of First Reformed. It is the question that haunts this small, brutally beautiful film, the latest from writer-director Paul Schrader, the cinema legend who penned the scripts for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull […]

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‘One October,’ from Iowan-turned-New Yorker Kacy Ross, comes to FilmScene

It’s 25 minutes in before anyone in the film One October uses the word gentrification. But every shot, every beat of the film is infused with the specter of that term. Rachel Shuman’s 2017 documentary, showing tonight at FilmScene, is a narrow snapshot of a changing city, on its surface. […]

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‘Tully,’ written by UI grad Diablo Cody, is bound to be a classic film on motherhood

With “Tully,” a film still squarely in Diablo Cody’s wheelhouse, the University of Iowa alumna and 39-year-old mother of two drops (most of) the whimsy and tackles a special sense of fatigue and dissatisfaction. Think “Bad Moms” but with a lot more depression, breast pumping and literary references. […]

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